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Opening of the Key

Welcome to part four of my autumn equinox Opening of the Key reading. Part one can be found here. We’re nearing the end now, so just hold on for a little while longer. This is going to be another long one but I hope that I made everything understandable.

Fourth Operation

Fourth Operation

This is the phase of the “further developing of the matter.” It builds upon the concepts of the previous two operations, but uses a different approach. This phase skips right to the card counting and unfolding of the “story” that the cards are telling. There are five steps.

  • After shuffling, find the significator. Take all the cards under the significator and place them on top of the deck, then remove the first 36 cards AFTER the significator from the deck. (Actually it looks like I missed a card, but we’re gong to go with it anyway.)
  • Place the significator (and the deck, if you wish) in the center of the table and deal the cards in a circle around it, starting with the first card following the significator.
  • Interpret the cards in relation to the ones of either side of it, starting with the first card you laid down and continuing on in the direction the cards were dealt (which is the same way as the last two operations, which is to say, counter-clockwise).
  • Take note of which sign has the most cards in it that you landed on
  • Pair the cards.

These 36 cards relate to the 36 Decans (or Decanates) of the Zodiac. The decans were determined by the smaller constellations in the sky that alternated daily,which eventually gave rise to our 24-hour clock. Each sign has three decans, or “tenths,” one division for every 10 degrees. So in this spread, each sign of the Zodiac gets three cards which fall under its influence.

As a reminder, the question I chose at the beginning of this reading was: “How will my spiritual path unfold in the course of the next year?”

We start with the Six of Wands, flanked by the Page of Wands and the Four of Swords. The Six of Wands can represent triumph and being acknowledged, whereas the Page of Wands stands for being courageous and daring, and the Four of Swords represents taking it easy and tying up loose ends. This seems to suggest a sort of spiritual breakthrough, a sense of having finally “made it,” where I begin to wrap up my current affairs so that I can be ready for the next step of my spiritual journey.

Counting six from there we land on the Four of Wands, flanked by Death and the High Priestess. The Four of Wands can represent celebration and being open to new possibilities, whereas Death represents the ending of a cycle and being cast into the unknown, and the High Priestess stands for being passive and using your intuition. It seems that as the curtains close on the latest chapter in my life, I will be compelled to surrender to the higher power that guides me and simply wait patiently for new opportunities to arrive, rather than trying to assert my will or intention on the direction my life is taking. I must trust my intuition to alert me to the right course of action.

Counting four from there we land on the Three of Wands, flanked by the Empress and the Two of Wands. The Three of Wands can represent exploring uncharted areas while exercising foresight and leadership, whereas the Empress stands for having more than enough and harmonizing with nature, and the Two of Wands represents commanding respect and being a pioneer. This seems to say that I will enter a period of being “spiritually rich” as I continue to “boldly go where no tarot reader has gone before!” While I might choose to give up my position as a sort of leader in my respective community, I will still be seen as an authority in the field whose insight can be trusted.

Counting three from there we land on the Knight of Cups, flanked by the Two of Wands and the Five of Swords. The Knight of Cups can represent a certain visionary idealism, as well as being sensitive and, perhaps, a bit of a hopeless romantic, while the Five of Swords can represent encountering selfishness in yourself or others and finding yourself in a hostile environment. It would appear that in the course of following my ideals and pioneering those uncharted waters, I find myself in the midst of conflict despite my efforts to be gracious and make myself vulnerable. It could be with people with very different philosophies band together against me, or simply that I end up in the middle of people whom I make uncomfortable and who aren’t receptive to my message. Either way I face spiritual opposition.

Counting four from the Knight of Cups, we land on the Star, flanked by the Chariot and the King of Pentacles. The Star stands for experiencing peace of mind after regaining motivation and looking forward to success, whereas the Chariot can stand for a sustained effort and faith in yourself that leads to achieving your goals, and the King of Pentacles represents being a stabilizing influence and being a rock that others can lean on. This seems to say that in the midst of opposition I will see my “light at the end of the tunnel” which will renew my energy and allow me – and those who depend on me – to eventually come out on top.

Counting twelve from the Star, we land on Judgment, flanked by the Seven and Ten of Cups. Judgment often stands for making hard choices and then immediately acting on those impulses, whereas the Seven of Cups can represent facing an array of choices, and the Ten of Cups represents embracing happiness and serenity, as well as reducing stress. This would seem to indicate that when I reach the light at the end of the tunnel I will have a very important decision to make that will greatly impact my spiritual development, but making that choice will lift a heavy burden from me and allow me to finally relax and enjoy spending time with those close to me.

Counting three from Judgment, we land on Justice, flanked by the Ten of Cups and the Queen of Pentacles. Justice is the card of taking a stand for your principles, always seeking to do what is right, and being Batman, whereas the Queen of Pentacles represents being versatile and creating a warm, secure environment. So it could be that in the future I will use my vast fortune to take up the cowl and fight crime to rid the city of its most heinous civil offenders. Or, alternatively, that my unwavering allegiance to my principles will be the foundation of my spiritual harmony that attracts like-minded people who have the same level of loyalty and integrity that I do.

Counting twelve from Justice, we land on the Chariot, flanked by the Five of Swords and the Star. This interesting combination seems to be sending the message that I will succeed (at being Batman), but not without experiencing resistance that takes a toll on my motivation. It could be the same opposition that I experienced before, or stem from a new source; or even come from within myself. What is clear is that something will be attained, but not without a cost.

Counting twelve from the Chariot, we land on the Seven of Cups, flanked by the Six of Swords and Judgment. The Six of Swords can represent feeling listless or somewhat depressed, dealing with the effects of trauma, or experiencing a change of scene. This seems to speak to my tendency to indulge in daydreaming and losing focus in the face of having too many options. Unlike before, there is nothing at hand that will make my decision easy, and the wanderlust I begin to feel may lead me on a little detour of self-discovery. Perhaps what I find on the way will help me come to a final decision.

Counting seven from there we land on the King of Wands, flanked by the Fool and the Ten of Wands. The King of Wands stands for using self-expression to inspire confidence in others, whereas the Fool can represent recapturing innocence or taking the “foolish” path, and the Ten of Wands represents taking the blame or cleaning up someone else’s mess. It may be that the only answer for me is to accept the consequences of my situation with grace, and in doing so give others an example to follow. While I may have to swallow my pride and facing undeserved criticism, ultimately doing anything else would cause me to lose the respect that I fought so hard for.

Counting four from the King of Wands, we land on the Nine of Wands, flanked by the Seven and Eight of Swords. The Nine of Wands stands for defending yourself, taking extra precautions, and persisting despite setbacks. The Seven of Swords can represent being a lone wolf, having a fierce sense of independence, and the Eight of Swords represents feeling fenced in or powerless. This seems to say that despite successfully navigating what could have been a huge public disaster, the stress of it will cause me to fall back into my old pattern of soldiering on alone and keeping people at arm’s length emotionally; but because of my self-imposed isolation I will start to feel overwhelmed and might possibly start slacking off and avoiding responsibilities.

Counting nine from there we land on the Nine of Pentacles, flanked by the King of Pentacles and the Devil. The Nine of Pentacles stands for wanting to be alone and handle things yourself, but remembering to show restraint and be gracious, whereas the Devil hints at a loss of independence or forgetting the spiritual side. This seems to point to a sort of spiritual relapse, forgetting the lessons I learned earlier in my journey and failing to trust in the situation to resolve itself. However, it could be that cooler heads prevail and by refusing to have a pity party for myself, I can get back into the flow of things and get back onto the right path.

Counting nine from here we land on the Seven of Cups, and since we landed on this previously, that wraps up this step and leads us into the pairing of the cards. As ever, we’ll keep it sweet and simple.

Six & Page of Wands

Taking a novel approach is the key to my success and acclaim

Four & Eight of Swords

I need to remember to take a break before I get burned out and lose direction

Seven & Nine of Wands

I need to stick to my guns and not give in to criticism

The Sun & Seven of Swords

Finding the sense behind the chaos will lead to a spiritual breakthrough

Death & Ten of Wands

I must learn to lay my burdens down and submit to grace

Four & King of Wands

I need to remember to reflect on what I’ve accomplished and dare to be different

High Priestess & The Fool

Sometimes it’s better to stay passive and let things happen than to chase fruitless endeavors

Empress & Queen of Pentacles

I can’t forget to cherish and nurture the relationships that brought me this far

Three of Wands & Justice

Setting and example of being fair and unbiased will be my calling card

Two of Wands & Ten of Cups

I feel content with being different and diverging from the crowd

Knight of Cups & Judgment

Seeking understanding and self-improvement will drive my decisions

Five of Cups & Seven of Swords

Suffering a lost will drive me into solitude

Chariot & Six of Swords

Mastering my emotions will allow me to move toward a more positive place

The Star & Temperance

I need to reign in my desire to give freely without reservation and find some sort of middle ground

King of Pentacles & Page of Cups

Intuition informed by experience will lead me to success

Nine of Pentacles and Queen of Swords

Making sacrifices to reach goals is necessary, but sacrificing my integrity isn’t

Devil & Six of Pentacles

I will find myself in bondage to my lack of resources

The Lovers

Throughout everything I must not forget the ones I care about


As I mentioned before, I accidentally left out a card, so this phase is “missing something.” I’m not sure what impact that might have had on the reading. I didn’t go into great detail on the implications of the Zodiac influence on these cards, but perhaps I will revisit this sometime later and add that in. This phase started out really hopeful but then seemed to end badly, so maybe taking that into account will shed some light on why.



Most of my information about the card meanings was pulled from

You can learn more about astrological decans from this wikipedia article.


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