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Opening of the Key

Welcome to the final phase of the autumn equinox Opening of the Key reading. Part one can be found here. Hopefully it has been an enjoyable ride so far. I appreciate all of you who have made it this far, and I hope that reading this series has helped you understand the OOTK, and maybe even made you want to try it out for yourself. Here we go!

Fifth Operation

Fifth Operation

This phase is about the “conclusion of the matter,” or how things will wrap up. For me, this means how my spiritual journey will look a year from now. Rather than the signs of the Zodiac, this phase uses the symbolism of the Tree of Life, also called Yggdrasil. It is made up of ten Sephira, which are the aspects of how the Divine manifests in physical and metaphysical reality.

Tree of Life ordering

The cards in the Tree of Life are laid down in a zig-zag pattern going from top to bottom and right to left. They are laid down in the same fashion as operations two and three, with each card being placed one after the other in the next position in the order, as if you were dealing ten hands of cards. All the cards will be used, and if you are good at math you realized that since there are 78 cards in a tarot deck, some stacks will have more cards than others. Once this is done, you flip each stack over and interpret the face-up card according to the symbolism of the Tree of Life, find the stack with your significator, interpret the stack according to the card-counting method previously described, and pair the cards. Simple, right?

Interestingly, there are actually two ways to lay out the Tree of Life, one spread with 10 stacks and another with 11 stacks. Basically the original layout was revised sometime in the 16th century, and then later the two versions were combined. We’ll be using the older 10-card layout.

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?”

Keter – Divine Will. This is the crown of the tree of life, symbolizing the communion between our consciousness and the Divine and the “I Am” declaration. In essence it is how we perceive the divine, and how our spirituality is manifested. It refers to things that are above our comprehension. This Sephirot is ruled by the Two of Cups, which represents peace, forgiveness, and healing. This seems to say that my spiritual journey will become primarily about seeking wholeness. My highest level of consciousness will be fixed on compassion.

Chokhmah – Divine Wisdom. This is the second Sephirot, symbolizing the genesis of existence and uncovering the underlying, axiomatic truth of a situation. It describes the flash of intuitive insight before logic and reasoning are applied. It is ruled by the Nine of Swords, which represents guilt, anguish, and anxiety. This seems to suggest that the way that my consciousness manifests my perception of God is through suffering – or the alleviation of suffering. Since Chokhmah describes the state of selflessness and the power that it wields, It stands to reason that my fixation on compassion will result on resolving to make my mission one of alleviating the spiritual and physical suffering (at this level they are functionally the same) of others.

Binah – Divine Understanding. This is the third Sephirot, symbolizing contemplation and elucidation. It describes the logical processes and deductive reasoning that develop the idea from Chokhmah further. It is ruled by the Magician, which represents realizing your potential, having a singleness of purpose, and practicing what you preach. This seems to say that as a result of realizing my spiritual calling more fully and giving myself over to the driving forces of my consciousness, I will be able to tap into that primal creative force and produce results which seem miraculous. Rather than be drawn into the suffering of others, I will crash against and shatter it. I will be centered, not distracted, in the midst of suffering.

Chesed – Loving-kindness. This is the fourth Sephirot, symbolizing righteousness and covenant faithfulness. It describes love as the “core ethical virtue,” manifested in acts such as sharing hospitality to strangers, charity to those less fortunate, and being a peacemaker. It is ruled by the Queen of Cups, which represents turning away wrath with caring and being guided by the heart. This proposes that as a result of my spiritual healing, I will be able to give myself in the service to others with my whole heart, and open myself to empathy once more. It speaks of unconditional acceptance that leads to a sense of oneness with God and the universe.

Gevurah – Wrath. This is the fifth Sephirot, symbolizing judgment and power under restraint. It describes the flame of God that punishes the wicked and withholds goodness from those who are unworthy. Balanced by Chesed, it is what allows one to overcome his enemies while creating opportunities to exercise loving-kindness. It is ruled by the Page of Swords, which represents championing a cause and exposing what is hidden while trying to remain fair and analyze the problem from every angle before making a judgment call. This could mean that I need to keep a clear head and not get caught up in my role as an arbiter for truth and understanding so much that I let my mouth run away with me before I fully comprehend the situation. It is because of the influence I may come to possess that I must choose my words carefully and always err on the side of grace.

Tiferet – Harmony. This is the sixth Sephirot, symbolizing love, beauty, and self-sacrifice. It describes the divinely beautiful light of God from which creation blooms forth. It holds a special place in the center of the Tree of Life, and is therefore understood to be linked to Keter, becoming a sort of metaphor for its ethereal attributes. It is ruled by the Ace of Wands, which represents the conception of a new dream, having faith in your path, and knowing that things will work out. This card must be weighted a little more heavily, due to the fact that all the Sephira are connected to Tifaret. This means that the single aspect that brings all the others into harmony will be, in a word, faith. This will be the spiritual driving force that makes everything, well, work.

Netzach – Perseverance. This is the Seventh Sephirot, symbolizing timelessness and long-suffering. It describes the endless patience and mercy that God bestows upon his children so that he might lead them to prosperity. Like the Sephirot that come after, it is not a trait that exists inherent of itself, but as a means to some end. It is ruled by the Queen of Wands, which represents having a boundless enthusiasm while also demonstrating a quiet self-confidence. This seems to say that the best way for me to deal with the things that tend to run me down spiritually is to be gracious and focus on the positive side of any situation – or that someone like this will enter my life and show me how.

Hod – Elegance. This is the Eigth Sephirot, symbolizing praise, splendor, and humility. It describes the unconscious energies awaiting expression being drawn and coaxed into form by the intellect. Hod is the Submission to Netzach’s Victory. It is ruled by the Six of Cups, which represents a childlike innocence, simple contentment, and being taken care of. This could mean that in the future, I will be happy to let others take the lead and just enjoy the ride, leaving me free to indulge in recreational or leisure activities that I may have taken a break from until now.
Yesod – Unity. This is the Ninth Sephirot, symbolizing balance and the unifying of material and etherial planes. It describes the Holy Spirit that resides in us and connects us to God. It is ruled by the Queen of Swords, which represents facing the truth, getting to the heart of a matter, and being able to laugh at yourself. This seems to say that by facing myself and accepting myself, I will be able to tap into my spiritual energy in order to bring “the Above” to “the Below;” that is, the fruit of my spirit will be brought into being here on earth.

Malkuth – Creation. This is the Tenth Sephirot, symbolizing the physical universe and the tangible result of the other emanations. It describes the earthly counterpart of the “Kingdom of Heaven” duality. Malkith is the “bride” to Tiferet’s “bridegroom,” if you’re familiar with Christian symbology. It is ruled by the Seven of Swords. This could mean a few things, since this card can mean something as benign as preferring solitude (I’m a huge introvert), to something as severe as avoiding responsibilities and blaming others for one’s own mistakes. However, it could be as simple as hiding a secret that I would prefer not to be revealed.

This actually gets me to raise an eyebrow, because, believe it or not, tarot is kind of my dark little secret. Only one person in my personal life knows that I’ve begun dabbling in tarot, and it seems that my impulse, even a year after I’ve begun, will be to keep my tarot experiments a secret and allow the people in my life to keep seeing me the way they always have; in essence, the person they knew me as will become a mask I wear around them because it makes it easier for me to deal with them and helps me avoid unnecessary drama.

Now that the Tree of Life as a whole has been interpreted, it’s time to find the stack carrying my significator, which happens to be Hod. This means that the interpretations for these cards must be framed by the idea of intellectuality and reaching up toward the higher levels of consciousness. If you were wondering where all the Pentacles went, you’re about to find out.

Hod - Elegance

The Ace of Swords is flanked by Eight and Ace of Pentacles. As we have established, the Ace of Swords is the card of Awakening, but also has connotations of overcoming adversity and cutting through illusions. The Eight of Pentacles is the card of diligence and learning new things, and the Ace of Pentacles is the card of focusing on what works and getting results. This seems to imply the need to judiciously apply those spiritual lessons I have learned in order achieve tangible outcomes in the material world.

Counting five from the Ace of Swords we come to Justice, flanked by the Six of Cups and the King of Wands. Justice is the card of cause and effect, balancing the scales, and settling old accounts. The King of Wands represents a forceful personality which naturally commands authority and respect, or someone who has reached a certain level of influence and is watched and talked about. These cards, together with the Six of Cups, seem to suggest that events will conspire to allow me to redress my debts, possibly by way of a gift or gifts from influential people. Thus I can finally “wash my hands” of certain things and return to a state of “innocence” or debtlessness, as per the Six of Cups.

Counting twelve from Justice we come to the Eight of Pentacles, flanked by the Two of Pentacles and the Ace of Swords. The Two of Pentacles is the card of Balance, with a lean toward adapting quickly and seeing the humor in a situation. This puts a new slant on the other two cards, and seems to speak to a renewed need for diligence in my spiritual life as a means of staying emotionaly and spiritually balanced and staying objective about my life circumstances. It could be that at this time, disciplines such as meditation and prayer will become harder to find time for but ever more important to maintain.
Counting eight from there we come back around to the Two of Pentacles, this time flanked by the King of Wands and the Eight of Pentacles. Taken together these cards suggest that the way I will achieve balance is primarily from complete dedication and sheer force of personality. It may be that the things or people threatening my carefully maintained balance will need to be confronted directly (with tact, of course).

Counting two from there we come to the Eight of Pentacles, and since we landed there previously that ends this step and brings us to the pairing of the cards. As usual, I’ll make this quick.

Justice & Six of Cups

Being relaxed and content starts with a commitment to honesty and having all my bases covered

King of Wands & Judgment

I get to play the mastermind and orchestrate a great awakening

Two & Ace of Pentacles

Being flexible will allow me to flourish

Eight of Pentacles & Ace of Swords

I must be ever diligent in my search for truth


Thus ends the final operation of the Opening of the Key. Congratulations, you made it to the end! While this wasn’t the “grand finale” of a reading I was hoping for, it definitely had its high notes. I learned A LOT by researching this spread, and I hope you learned a lot by reading me work through it. As a disclaimer, my interpretations are wholly my own and I don’t presume to think that what I decided the cards mean for me personally would apply equally to all people. Every card has a multitude of meanings, often overlapping with other cards, and I may even be completely off-base with the way I interpreted them here. However, for my first tarot reading ever I think I did pretty well.

Thanks to everyone who stuck around and got through all five operations. If this demonstration helped you or you have an alternate take on how a card might be interpreted, comments are always welcome. I hope to continue to learn and flesh out my understanding of the cards and perhaps revisit this reading occasionally to see how my view of it changes in light of my new perspective.

See you on the other side.


Most of my information about the card meanings was pulled from

Most of my information about the Tree of Life was pulled from this wikipedia article.

To learn more about the Opening of the Key, take a look here and here.


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