Reading the Elements

The readings reflect the garden of life—wanted and unwanted elements alike that can be planted, moved, or enhanced.

Generally it’s best to read the cards while keeping the interconnected web of nature’s elements in mind: In the Elements model, nothing in our exterior world started in isolation. The seed of life experiences are our thoughts, beliefs, and emotions. Illness, conflict, and financial difficulties all started in either our conscious or unconscious mind. We can use our outer world as a portal, tracing difficulties back to our inner world in order to discover Trefoils we are otherwise unaware of.

We can use the cards in different ways—the three card spread and the tree spread, which are adapted from more traditional spreads.

Three Card Spread

One simple way to do a reading is to keep the card groupings—Plots, Markers, and Tools—separate.  Shuffle each group or category, then lay down the top card from each from left to right, as shown below.

Plots on the left, Markers in the middle, and Tools on the right.

The Left Card

The card on the left is the Purpose Card. This card is a Plot Card, letting us know the general area as the focus of the reading: our life’s purpose. The card’s color also has significance. The purple reminds us that the card has spirituality as its theme. It follows, then, that the card’s significance, purpose, is on a spiritual—or life direction—level. A spiritual purpose is slightly different than, say, a purpose at work or at home. It is bigger in scope.

The Middle Card

The middle card is from the Markers category, so it’s a marker for some kind of hidden (or partially obscured) “seed” or influence. The Belief Card indicates that the reading is about some kind of belief—probably not readily apparent—influencing our life’s purpose. This might be a belief that came from the past, our family, or our culture. It might, for example, be a belief that women don’t belong in positions of leadership. Or it might be a belief that we are not worthy of having our dreams come true. It is up to the reader to intuit what the belief—the one indicated by the card—means.

Keep in mind that some thoughts and emotions are conscious while others are below the level of our consciousness. When we drive, many of the tasks that keep us on the road are automatic. We apply the gas and the brakes and move the wheel that keeps us centered on the road in a habitual way, while we think thoughts, listen to the radio, maybe even sing along. These automatic ways of doing are closely connected with automatic ways of thinking. We often create from our automatic, or unconscious thoughts, just as powerfully as we do from our conscious ones.   

But we can use what isn’t working—in the mind and in our physical reality—as a portal. Symptoms and circumstances are brilliantly intelligent in their ability to wake us up. That is part of the purpose of these cards. They will help us discover and learn more about some of these unconscious thoughts. In learning to tap into a subconscious level, we’ll also increase our ability to be intuitive—a side-benefit of doing this work.

The Right Card

The right card is the “Go” card: Generate Opposite. It suggests that at the time of this reading, our best chance of changing this belief is to generate the opposite of the belief indicated by the middle card. Write it down and repeat the written phrase as often as possible. If our belief turns out to be that we are not worthy of having our dreams come true, we would write this down:

I’m worthy of having my dreams come true!

Then we would use this as an affirmation, repeating it daily or several times a day. Write it on several Post-it notes and put them around the house and in the car, put it on the phone, send it as a daily e-mail. Whatever it takes.

The three card spread is a simple style of reading to be used as a daily spiritual practice or simply a way to learn. We can also do the reading whenever the mood strikes. The more it is done, the better we’ll be at intuiting messages and zeroing in on our spiritual to-do list. And most importantly, the more quickly we will rewrite our personal story to reflect our hopes and dreams.

The Tree Spread

Shuffle the Plots, Markers, and Tools Cards into one single pile. Cut the cards by dividing the deck into three piles. Then put the piles back in a different order. Do this a few times.

Lay out the cards as shown here:


Notice each position of the card is marked, some with words, and the top middle card with a heart. The differing colors in this diagram are there to help learn the pattern and have nothing to do with the colors of the actual cards. The better part of this spread, and its individual cards, corresponds to the parts of a tree or any plant in the garden.

On a farm it is not uncommon for chicken or other feed to attract rats—and generally they are the most unwelcome of pests. Rats in the Tree Spread indicate something unwelcome in our life—a problem. The heart crossing the Rat Card indicates a solution. The problem and solution cards are also at the heart of the reading. To the right and left of the heart card are shoot cards. Below is the root card, and above is the bloom card. The fruit cards are off to the right. Lay down as many as four fruit cards, but generally two will do it.

Card Interpretations

Rats—Problem or question; generally, whatever prompted the reading.


Left Shoot—Past.

Right Shoot—Future.

Roots—What is rooted in our personality and character that we can call on to help with resolution. It is typically something that is established deeply and firmly within already: the way in which we ground, support, or nourish ourselves.

Blooms—A flourishing, healthy condition that can be contributed to a spiritual or higher self connection. It is what we can bring down from the ethers. Ethers was once known as the material that suffused the realm of the Gods.

Fruits—The result or reward of inner work or activity (or even this reading). Fruits also produce seed capable of multiplying what is good, nourishing food.

This tree reading will stretch our abilities even further than the three-card spread because it is the position of the card pared with the card’s meaning and color that will provide the elements of the reading.

Make the three to tree jump when the challenge presents itself.

What if a card is upside down?

This is generally known in oracle readings as a reversed card. A reversed card can simply be read as having or being associated with too much, too little, or blocked energy. Let’s look at the same spread we looked at earlier but with a reversed middle card.

Recall that earlier we said that the Belief Card indicates the reading is about some kind of belief—probably not readily apparent—that is influencing our life’s purpose. With a reversed belief card, we might assume that this belief is creating an especially challenging imbalance because the energy behind this belief has been depleted, amplified, or blocked for a longish period of time. So a belief that we’re not worthy of having our dreams come true would be something that might be more of a challenge to reverse.  It might even be a life theme; something that we were born to work with and heal.

That’s it! Take it from here.