Oracular Mechanics

By Allan Ritchie

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Learning to use an oracle of any kind requires that we understand the symbols what they are and mean. Next we need to understand the way that they interac with each other. When it comes to an interactive oracle we need to find that extra something that is engaging our mental and intuitive sense. Rory’ Story Cubes® are symbolic tokens used to create narratives. Examining the relationship between imagination, intuition and divination the months we are looking the idea of how spreads, patterns and groupings impact a reading.

Last month we looked at the role of a reading ritual. This month I examined the use of spreads. Spread in a reading are predefined positions. In a spread the positions are keys to understand the context of the the information gained in the reading. Spreads, layouts, or throws play an important part in reading because they shape the context in which the cards answer a question. I firmly believe that spreads are not essential to an oracle reading but they are useful in shaping how a person can catalog and understand a reading. Placement of the card in a thoughtful organization enables a clearer conveyance of a single message.

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A good spread is one that will give me the reader the positions to give a complete reading. The practice I have is one that is based on the cards being used to answer questions. If the spread does not get me to an answer then it is not a good one. Tarot reading is an act that in many ways in a magical undertaking. The spread should manifest that energy and power in a representative way. On a basic level there is often a presentation value with the spread. A tarot reading is not a card trick but spreads that have a ritual aspect draw in a client. Finally but not conclusively a good spread has a reveal. A spread needs to give room for the cards to give new information. A good spreads will also confirm what the client already knows, but that is not why they come to us. We are expected to give them new information, a revelation. This is of course tough to plot when we are working with a new spread but there is an intangible quality to the pattern that must allow the cards to work. I only find this final quality through use and practice. Good and valuable spreads prove themselves in use.

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In the new age of smart phones I have become as addicted to my iPhone and I love to use my tarot apps. When I started exploring the Rory’s Story Cubes® I was quick to download the app. The app had a standard grid pattern that gave a three by three pattern to the cubes. In building my experience with the Story Cubes I have found that while I like the idea of the grid pattern as I have used it with both the Tarot and with the Lenormand with relative success. So it seemed natural that this would work in a similar way. While I am able to use my imagination and pull the story from the grid I am not able to use it as effectively with the Story Cubes. This is just a symptom of the my greater issues with Cubes is that they do not respond to spread patterns.

Cubes are dice and dice were meant to be shaken and tossed. The idea of casting may well be the better understanding of the tool. Castings are readings that are generally interpreted by the groups, clusters, spacing and orientation. I am not as skilled in this manner of reading. I am able to read the cards with out the structure of a spread and reading the cubes I expect that I would be able to take up the task. As I do I am reminded of the true intent of this experiment. I want to examine what I have forgotten about the craft of reading Tarot. The cast is the whole spread laid bare at once. I would have never dreamed of throwing a full Celtic Cross face up in my beginning months nor taking up the Lenormand a Grand Tableau until I was ready. It is a humbling feeling to roll a cube at a time and then the next and then the next until are all on the table and in their full composition. It is with care and building ability that I am beginning to be able to hear the voice of my intuition. Mental muscles are built in just this way. Seeing slowing and repeatedly the symbolic syntax that creates a meaning a message. Things are learned in steps.

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Transforming the Story CubesStory Cubes into a working oracle I have to accept that the way I will read them is different than with cards. Taking the step to explore spreads with the taught me that I like them for my tarot readings. I like the work that I have done to understand the spreads I use and the scope of understanding that they provide.

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