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Tarot Reflections


  January 1, 2004

Wisdom Reading - Spirit and Soul
James Wells

James Wells is a Toronto-based Tarot Consultant, Reiki Master, weaver of rituals, and workshop facilitator. His mission is to provide sacred space for soul work and constructive feedback so that all may enjoy insight and healing. He can be reached through his website.


Recently, a friend and I were discussing spirit and soul. Some people use these words interchangeably, as if they are one and the same. Others feel that they are similar, but with subtle nuances. Still others perceive them as completely different. I asked the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot about this.

When I asked, "What is spirit?" I received the Two of Swords, reversed. The reversal hints at something ambiguous, amorphous, not entirely knowable. This is further driven home by the nighttime scene and the deep, dark waters in the background. We can see mountains, often thought of as places where we can meet the divine, but these mountains are distant. The blindfolded central figure is reminiscent of the High Priestess, guardian of holy mysteries - still, balanced, objective, cautious, cool. Her hands, crossed over her heart chakra, hold two swords. But the image is upside-down. The woman and her swords now form a sort of compass, such as used by an architect or mason.

    Two of Swords reversed


Upon asking, "What is soul?" I drew the Fool, upright. The upright orientation and an image of daylight suggest something more perceptible or tangible. This scene's mountains are much closer - we can almost touch them. A young brightly-dressed figure wanders through the landscape, precariously close to a precipice - there is motion, color, risk expression. A journey is under way. The Fool is the Zero card. Zero is round, no beginning and no end, a perpetual cycle. This card is also Aleph, the Ox, the beast of burden who performs earthy, menial tasks.

These cards indicate that there is a difference between spirit and soul. Spirit is the ancient, objective, formless mystery which is the architect of all that is. Soul is the ever fresh human essence, taking on perceptible form in an ongoing cycle. Spirit is distant. It just is. Soul is near. It works hard and gets dirty when it needs to. Spirit is poised and still, even serious. Soul moves, plays, and takes risks.

So much more could, I'm sure, be extrapolated from this reading. I would love to hear more insights from you.

Rich New Year Blessings,

Illustrations from the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot Deck reproduced by permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT 06902 USA. Copyright 1971 by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

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