The Jacob's Wheel Mandala
Tarot Spread

Introduction

This tarot layout is built on the model of Jacob's Wheel. It not only produces a deeply symbolic arrangement of the tarot cards, but by learning to use this tarot spread you will also increase your understanding of the Jacob's Wheel system of kabbalistic astrology.

Getting Started

Ask a question, shuffle the deck of tarot cards, and lay 23 cards on a table-top in the following order beginning and ending with [0/22] in the centre...

[15] [11] [7] [1] [12] [20]
[17] [10] [6] [0/22] [2] [13] [18]
[19] [9] [5] [3] [14] [16]
[4]
[8]
[21]

See the graphical example below.

The beauty of this tarot spread is that each card position is rich with meaning because it falls on a grid composed of the seven spokes and three rings of Jacob's Wheel. It is also extremely useful because it has a built-in 'timing' function that is based on the Jacob's Wheel system of qabalistic astrology.

The cards are read in the following numerical order, from 0 to 22...

[21] [14] [7] [1] [8] [15]
[20] [13] [6] [0/22] [2] [9] [16]
[19] [12] [5] [3] [10] [17]
[4]
[11]
[18]

As you can see, the interpretive order is different to the card placement order. There is an esoteric mathematical reason for this, and you can discover what that reasoning is by visiting The Jacob's Wheel Key.

Basically, the card placement order (as depicted in the first table) derives the magic number 33—that is, when the three numbers on each spoke are added together. Example: 1 + 12 + 20 = 33.

The Three Rings

Ring 1 is the inner ring of cards as numbered [1,2,3,4,5,6,7] above.

Ring 2 is the middle ring of cards as numbered [8,9,10,11,12,13,14] above.

Ring 3 is the outer ring of cards as numbered [15,16,17,18,19,20,21] above.

The symbolism of the three 'rings' of Jacob's Wheel is as follows...

RING 1 RING 2 RING 3
Earth Water Air
Body Soul Spirit
Will Desire Intelligence
Physical Astral Mental
Action Feeling Thinking

The Seven Spokes

The seven 'spokes' are interpreted as follows...

SPOKE 1 [1,8,15] The first spoke represents the initial motivation (or drive) that carries the momentum of the complete cycle/spread. The cards of this spoke sometimes represent subconscious forces that are driving us in a particular direction, or energies that we are strongly, but unconsciously, identified with, and/or that reinforce the 'I' (or ego). The first spoke resonates with the meaning of the numerological '1'.
SPOKE 2 [2,9,16] The second spoke establishes values and reflects the desires that are a significant magnetic influence within the cycle/spread. It is a feminine magnetic influence in contradistinction to the masculine force of the first spoke. These cards often represent what we hope to gain during the cycle/spread. The second spoke reflects the meaning of the numerological '2'.
SPOKE 3 [3,10,17] The third spoke represents the 'intelligence' aspect (i.e. the mental component) that is guiding and influencing the course of the cycle/spread. It indicates where and/or how the mind is preoccupied during the cycle. The third spoke reflects the meaning of the numerological '3'.
SPOKE 4 [4,11,18] The fourth spoke represents the foundation that is relied upon, the work that is being done, and the structures that are being built during the cycle/spread. Card [11] is located at the middle of the time-line of the spread. Card [18] is the 'Israel' card (see below). The fourth spoke reflects the meaning of the numerological '4'.
SPOKE 5 [5,12,19] The fifth spoke adds creative energy to the cycle/spread—that is, it instills the soul's vibration (or 'key-note') into to the cycle/spread. The cards of this spoke often relate to interactions with friends and/or the community. The fifth spoke reflects the meaning of the numerological '5'.
SPOKE 6 [6,13,20] The sixth spoke demonstrates itself primarily in service—most positively, as an act of love or devotion, and more negatively, as an act of servitude, or out of a feeling of obligation, or in thinking that you know what's best for others. Health issues are also sometimes represented by the cards on this spoke. The sixth spoke reflects the meaning of the numerological '6'.
SPOKE 7 [7,14,21] The seventh spoke reflects the inter-relationship (or communion) between Heaven and Earth (or between the spiritual and the material), and it indicates the way that that special relationship is expressed within the cycle/spread. Often these cards represent intimate, privately internalised, and/or hidden influences. The seventh spoke reflects the meaning of the numerological '7'.

The Timing Function

The timing aspect of the cycle/spread is often determined by the nature of the question asked. If you are enquiring about a long-term issue then you might be looking at a 21 month, or 21 week cycle, in which case each of the 21 'spoke' cards would represent either one month, or one week respectively. If the question relates to a shorter term issue then you might like to read the spread as a 21 day (three week) cycle where each 'spoke' card corresponds to one day. If it is a weekly spread that you are analysing then each card is equivalent to eight hours of time (i.e. three cards per day).

CYCLE CARD VALUE
21 Months 1 Month
21 Weeks 1 Week
3 Weeks 1 Day
1 Week 8 Hours

Of course you can, prior to laying out the cards, designate in your mind any time period that would then apply to the reading.

Regarding the time-line of the spread... the 21 'spoke' cards are read sequentially from one to 21 when determining the timing of events. So, for example, in a 21 day spread the 18th card (indicated as [18] above) would be read as representing the 18th day of the three week period represented by the spread.

Interpretation

The two cards numbered 0 and 22 [0/22] together represent the 'key' to the reading. They represent a 'seed' (i.e. a potential energy) that is emerging, or a process that is unfolding, through the vehicle of the other surrounding 21 cards. This process of emergence also necessarily involves a process of personal transformation (and possibly of creation). Thus card [0] is read as the 'initial conditions' or 'starting point' of the reading, and card [22] can be read as the 'final outcome' of the reading. Card [22] represents the complete unfoldment (or 'realisation') of the unrealised potential contained in card [0]. The journey from the potential of card [0] to its full realisation in card [22] is achieved by treading the path (i.e. going through the process) of the other surrounding 21 cards.

The 'seed' analogy holds true on many levels. A seed goes through a process of major transformation as it grows into a mature tree, but whether or not it bears any fruit—i.e. is creative—depends upon the success of the cycle. The quality of any fruit produced will likewise depend on the cycle's success. Our personal actions and reactions during the cycle are the determining factor.

The positions of the surrounding 21 cards have significance according to their ring/spoke placements. To give you an example, card [18] in the spread falls on the 3rd ring (Air) and the 4th spoke (Foundation) of the spread. Therefore this card is interpreted as a mental influence, or as effecting the mental realm (i.e. 3rd ring), and also it represents a foundational aspect (i.e. 4th spoke) of the issue (or question). The cards on each spoke also need to be read as a trinity and interpreted in relation to their overall spoke meaning. There is a great depth of symbolism and of meaning that can be gleaned from these card positions.

Here are some key-words that I use when interpreting the card ring/spoke positions...

1st Spoke 2nd Spoke 3rd Spoke 4th Spoke 5th Spoke 6th Spoke 7th Spoke
1st Ring (Earth) [1]
Physical Actions
[2]
Material Resources
[3]
Physical Focus of Mind
[4]
Physical Support
[5]
Physical Ego Involvement
[6]
Physical Application/Work
[7]
Physical Expression
of Spirit
2nd Ring (Water) [8]
Emotion-based Actions
[9]
Emotional Desires
[10]
Emotional Thinking
[11]
Emotional Support
[12]
Emotional Ego Involvement
[13]
Emotionally-based Application/Work
[14]
Psychic/Emotional
Expression of Spirit
3rd Ring (Air) [15]
Motivating Ideas
[16]
Value System
[17]
Problem Solving
[18]
Psychological Foundation
[19]
Mental Ego Involvement
[20]
Mental Application/Work
[21]
Spiritual Inspiration
& Illumination

Another interpretive key (i.e. the astrological key) to the 22 card positions is illustrated by the following table...

[Scorpio] [Virgo] [Taurus] [Moon] [Sun] [Pisces]
[Capricorn] [Leo] [Aries] [Pluto] [Uranus] [Libra] [Venus]
[Aquarius] [Cancer] [Mars] [Saturn] [Neptune] [Sagittarius]
[Jupiter]
[Gemini]
[Mercury]

Each of the card placements reflects the nature of its associated astrological archetype (as set forth in the table above).

The 'Israel' Card

In every reading card [18] should be carefully considered because it is located in the 'Israel' position. You will notice in the card placement table (at the top of this page) that the 'Israel' card is the last 'spoke' card dealt (i.e. numbered [21]), and in a sense this card does represent the conclusion of the cycle/spread. It symbolises the result (success or failure) of the 'alchemical process' that is occurring within the spread. If the tarot card in this position is a challenging one then it is a warning that your current course of action may need to be adjusted.

The 'Israel' position represents something that is critical and foundational, and is indicative of the greatest challenge posed by the cycle/reading. Its most positive manifestation involves a personal 'initiation' of sorts, as well as a creative expression.

The reason that the 'Israel' card/phase is so challenging is because it represents your psychological foundation. It symbolises the basic preconceptions of your mind that cause you to view the world around you from a particular perspective. This foundational aspect of your psyche contains in-grained ideas that you are rarely inclined to question because they have been conditioned into your consciousness over a long period of time. Often these ideas are part of the collective mental paradigm of the society in which you have been raised. The path to Self-realisation however, requires that some of these foundational ideas be uprooted and replaced with more enlightened understandings.

In the following example the Nine of Swords is the 'Israel' card.

Example Card Layout