Whoosh! Issue 19 - April1998


Second Spread

Ah...You will be placed in oil...or is it

[38] At this point in the episode, Xena is at the brink of these motions (rebirth into grace and balance). It is here that she is confronted by Gabrielle, even as she cradles the slain Illusia "Gabrielle's" body. The "real" Gabrielle simultaneously stands over her. So, assuming that Xena is again the underlying significator of this spread, I have chosen Gabrielle's significator-card to begin the second spread.

1 - Queen Of Staves

[39] The first card represents the present situation; it is said to "cover" the subject, immersing her in its influence: Queen of Staves. (Any of you "shippies" out there want to talk about the connotations of a person "covering" another...?) At any rate, Gabrielle's influence is paramount in the second half of the tale, dealing with healing and redemption.

[40] Gabrielle is the perfect Queen of Staves, being fair-haired, blue-eyed, and the bearer of a staff. She is the personification of female creativity. She is sympathetic, loving and capable of meaningful expression of her emotions. Her interest is sincere, and she understands the rewards her devotion will bring to herself and those around her. Xena becomes immersed in learning the lessons Gabrielle has to offer, learning to see Gabrielle as more than a sidekick - instead, as a person who is essential to Xena's own being.

2 - Strength

[41] This card "crosses" the subject. It hints at the obstacles she may face, the sphere of influence in which she is immersed at this moment in time. Gabrielle's costume is obscure, but has generally been interpreted as "Fortitude" or Strength.

[42] I like to think that the Lion usually depicted on this card is a metaphoric reference to Xena. The Strength referred to in the card is not limited to physicality, though it does not exclude it. Moral courage, the willpower to see things through no matter how painful, is the basis here. This is a card that indicates the need for self-sacrifice and vulnerability, neither of which are Xena's strong suits, hence their place as obstacles to her growth. Xena has heretofore equated Strength with physical prowess, downplaying the importance of spiritual power. She has viewed such internal power as a facet of cowardice (she doesn't always subscribe to the notion that discretion is the better part of valor). The aspects of Strength that are obstacles to Xena are the very powers which aided her before: defiance, action, putting matter over mind, being strictly goal-oriented.

3 - The Tower/House Of God

[43] Xena's goal, her destiny, "Crowns" her. This is the best she can hope for, if she is wise and heeds/takes advantage of what comes her way. It also indicates her hidden or as-yet-unrealized dream for herself: The Tower/House Of God.

[44] A great tower is struck by lightning and falls in ruins, a pair of people fall or leap from its heights, while the roof opens to heaven and its influences. (Just an aside: was the building in this scene derived from the "Hagia Sophia" in Byzantium or from Disney's Agrabah, city of Aladdin?) Now, I tried to lay these cards just as I saw them, in the upright position, but The Tower laid itself in reverse, thereby giving new meaning to the reading. The House of God is also known as the Fire of Heaven and/or the Tower of Babel -- both apt as Xena and Gabrielle arrived in their current location via lightning and once there, found their speech changed/distorted.

[45] The Tower symbolizes complete change, and justice. It speaks of pride and arrogance thrown down, that the safe wall Xena has built around herself must fall. While in its upright form, the Tower might allude to severed relationships. The reversed meaning draws attention to the open roof and its access to heaven, indicating that there is great hope on a spiritual plane. Those who have fled the destruction escape, though not without wounds, to begin anew. Xena and Gabrielle can attain a destiny in which they can heal their wounds and are crowned by what they have learned from being exposed to the Fire of Heaven.

4 - Ten Of Staves

[46] This card is behind Xena and discusses her deep past: the basic instincts and influences upon which the present is based. Now, I don't know if this is too much of a stretch, but I found something provocative in the setting within the Tower of a great room with ten standing columns. I translated this into: Ten Of Staves.

[47] Most images of this card show a figure burdened by the weight of the Staves he bears, or a collection of Staves so interwoven as to form a barrier. The columns in the Tower are also indicative of the massive spiritual weight being borne by both Xena and Gabrielle. These are pressures that may soon be resolved, but first the duo must overcome the sense of treachery and betrayal, and clear the air of all lies and deceits between them.

[48] Xena has wielded power for its own sake (much as Ares does), giving a sense of having abused a position that was granted by both luck and fate. She has been tyrannical, and, at the same time, she is burdened by her success and achievements.

[49] To a lesser degree, these qualities have been Gabrielle's too. She has been stubborn, and has done things to separate herself from Xena.

5 - Five Of Pentacles

[50] This card is beneath Xena and calls into play recent past events that span from the deep past to the immediate past. This is the past that may most directly influence what happens. I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought she saw in Dahak's Crypt the image of: The Five Of Pentacles.

[51] This is a card that sings of creativity drawn from chaos -- a phoenix card, but its power is not realized. Xena is still crippled in her quest to attain resolution of her problems. Here she must confront spiritual destitution and loss, and admit wrongdoing on her own part. One powerful message of this card ("shippie" alert!) is discord in life partnerships, a serious rift in a vital relationship. But, this is also a rift that can be healed if the parties will allow themselves to see the light of reason. They are outside looking in at fulfillment, and must find a way to open the doors between them and step into the light of love. New relationships can be formed which will take the parties in new directions. This is not about helplessness in the face of chaos, it is about turning chaos to order with the light of love and understanding.

6 - Judgment

[52] This card lies before Xena. It shows the powers upon which she can (should?) draw to attain resolution and reach her goal(s): Judgment.

[53] Dahak bursts from his foul tomb, sounding a trumpet blast that raises the "Dark Sleepers" in both Xena's and Gabrielle's past. This is a card indicating the making of decisions, and the accepting of rewards or punishments for our deeds. There is the opportunity for rebirth in this card, but before it can be attained, each of the "Dark Sleepers" must be recognized, dealt with and either accepted and integrated or banished from the soul.

[54] It is fitting that Dahak, as a demon or Anti-Angel, be paired with Gabrielle who is often cast in an Angelic role. (Sometimes I think that it is her denial of this dark facet of herself that inhibits Gabrielle from being what she might be. It is Xena's insistence on reveling in this dark side of herself that has restrained her as well.) Both need to reach past the Demon who is now harrying them, to the Angel of Heaven who will sound the final trumpet, demanding their honesty in the face of God (who, in this context, is our true selves).

[55] The message here is that, in front of Xena (and within her), is the power to raise up her demons and to effectively deal with them.

[56] We have completed the Circle of Being, which mirrors the Great Wheel in its examination of influences past, present and future. Now we read the Spirit Rising from the subject to the final outcome of this series.

7 - The Devil

[57] Next is the Questioner. This places Xena squarely in the Now and assess how she is (so far) making use of the tools at hand and discusses what she needs to do to focus. This may be another reach for some, but at this point in the story, with both Xena and Gabrielle bound and the darkest of powers upon them as they strive to make their decisions, the feeling of this card was very strong for me, and so I chose The Devil.

[58] Remember that this card addresses issues of the flesh, of the body. This is yet another card that, when I laid the cards, decided to come up reversed. I will work the adjustments in meaning into my interpretation.

[59] On most cards, the Devil is a typical Beast-figure, horns, tail, teeth, what-have-you. Before him are two bound figures, even as Xena and Gabrielle are bound in the crypt. (You "shippies" may make what you will of the ideas of Xena and Gabrielle being bound to one another, caught up in a bondage of their own making as they cater to their own fears and angers, etc.) I prefer to think of the Devil as our own darker, shadow-selves, internal conflicts of the powers of evil for evil's sake, wrong for wrong's sake. Violence and anger have been prevalent. However, the binding of those who allowed themselves to be enslaved is also metaphorical and can be broken with will and positive energy.

[60] It is a card of negative power, but reversal ameliorates some of its impact. This card speaks of the Karma of those involved, of past deeds coming home to roost, and of taking responsibility for our actions. In reversal, there is the throwing off of bonds, recognizing another's needs, overcoming severe handicaps to our progress, and taking the first steps toward enlightenment. It is important to note here that the "Dark Sleepers" are destroyed not by any physical power but rather by the powers of will, faith, truth, and love.

8 - The Stars And Temperance

[61] The influences and effects Xena has on others, and they on her, are answered by the wall of water that separates Xena and Gabrielle after Gabrielle passes through to a place of light and Xena is stranded behind it. Again, I was torn between a number of images. The general consensus was Temperance. I felt, however, that the spiritual message was a bit different and the fact that the water flowed not between two vessels, but into a stream of flowing water (hearkening back to the transitional waters which brought both Xena and Gabrielle to Illusia).

[62] I choose instead The Stars. Again, I am melding two cards. Remember, too, that this card addresses the intellectual slant of what is happening and/or may happen.

[63] True to Temperance, there is a renewed call for moderation, harmony, friendship. There is a need for Xena to accept what she does and how her actions affect others, and to develop a self-examination that allows her to see through her own carefully crafted falsenesses.

[64] However, the message of the Stars is the attainment of a state of grace. Xena is on the verge of realizing the High Priestess' centered peace and tranquility. However, she is still intellectualizing this (What, all-action Xena?!?) It is still an unrealized idea. Her current state of grace is temporary, but it is a moment of epiphany. Xena will still be her old self in most ways, but a seed has taken root.

[65] The past and the present are melded beneath the Stars; spiritual love flourishes. There is fulfillment, satisfaction, pleasure, the balance between desire and work, and Xena may just walk away with an enhanced ability to express the things she feels. That is, if she can go beyond "knowing" to actually doing (thus, closing the circle from her former all-action life, to the intermediate state of Illusia's passive experience where things happened *to* her, back to temporal reality where Xena will again be an active participant in her life). With the banishing of the final barrier of her deceit regarding Ming T'ien, Xena has moved from mere understanding to a spiritual integration of what she has learned in Illusia. She is accepting how what she does affects herself and others, and accepting the value that they (specifically Gabrielle) have in her existence.

9 - The Sun

[66] Xena's inner emotions and unspoken desires, her anxieties, hopes and fears are taken yet another step closer to resolution when she encounters the spiritual influence of The Sun.

[67] Xena's son, Solan, is a creature of pure spirit, bathed in light and offering her the same light in his forgiveness, understanding and acceptance of her, despite AND because of what she has and hasn't done, and what she has and hasn't been. He is positive energy embodied, and in her child (though he is lost to her on the physical plane), she is reborn.

[68] The Stars indicate happiness, tranquillity, and Xena's having attained the centering she sought in her High Priestess' role. The Sun turns her happiness to active use, encouraging devotion, unselfish sentiment, the expression of emotions. ("Shippies", note Gabrielle's looking on in approval, knowing that this warm-and-fuzzy moment will reach her too, in the course of Xena's reactions to her.) Warmth and pleasure in a partner are indicated, as are empowerment and liberation. Xena, who has in many ways appropriated traditional male qualities, is further enhanced by the increased potency and strength imparted by the Sun. When she embraces the positive energies of the Sun in her son, she is transported out of Illusia.

10 - The World

[69] The final card in this spread speaks of results and outcomes of this phase of Xena's journey. After centering itself in the Great Wheel of the first 6 cards, her spirit has risen from herself through the realms of Body (7/Devil), Intellect (8/Stars), and Spirit (9/Sun), to Transcendence (10/World), and its potential for a completely different plane of being. If the message of the cards is played out, this is what may be expected.

[70] Gabrielle replaces Solan as the light in Xena's world, when they find themselves, whole again in body and spirit, being reborn in the waters of the sea. As on the card, their figures are surrounded by a wreath of plant life, a recalling of the Great Wheel of Fortune. On the card, the central female figure is also surrounded by repeats of the symbols found on the Wheel's borders: Eagle/Water as the Sea, Lion/Fire as the Sun, Bull/Earth as the sand of the beach, and the Angel/Man as Gabrielle or as Xena and Gabrielle together. This is the fulfillment of the Great Wheel's message, the place where the realization of hopes has been attained. The situation is transformed radically for the better, and a sense of wholeness exists. All that has come before culminates in union, triumph, and the synthesis and integration of life's facets. Xena and Gabrielle are clearly bound for further adventures together. What has transpired has wounded them, but as the saying goes, "What doesn't kill me, makes me stronger," and they arise like a phoenix from their trial.

The Overall Message

[71] Battle on, Xena!

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