May 04, 2018

The Walpurgis Working: a 78-card Celtic Cross

celtic cross tarot spread
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This past 30 April was the annual celebration of Hexennacht, also called Walpurgis Night, and it's kinda-sorta Halloween on May eve. As it happens, it's kinda-sorta New Year for Satanists, and a great thing to do on New Year is to take inventory of the past, contemplate the present, and prepare for the future. And as it it happens, because it has so much aesthetic overlap with Halloween, it's also a good time for magical workings of all sorts, including for Tarot readers' massively complex arrangements that are performed only once per year.

Seeing as I don't have any 78-card arrangements that I would ever use, this previous Hexennacht it occurred to me that I could devise a variation of the Celtic Cross which uses all 78 cards of a standard Tarot deck to create a severely complex arrangement suitable for a once-annual Tarot reading. I wanted to call it the Hexennacht Working, but "Walpurgis Working" just sounds better.

The Walpurgis working follows the assigned positions of the traditional Celtic Cross, but multiplies the number of cards per position. If you're such a Tarot reader who doesn't mind reading cards as unspecified clumps, then by all means you can just dive right in and use this arrangement however you like. But me being the Tarot reader that I am, I don't just want a place for everything (and everything in its place), but a purpose for everything (and everything done purposefully.) For this reason, there's a method to my madness and each group of cards is more than meets the eye. Want to learn how to perform the Walpurgis working? Here are the rules:
  • General Principles
The positions in this arrangement aren't numbered sequentially, and there is no requirement that when laying cards on the table they be laid in a specific sequence. Just shuffle the deck and lay the cards down in whatever order you like. The point is, just put the God-damned cards on the table (and fortune-telling is surely damned by God.) Likewise, there is no requirement to read the arrangement in a particular order. Past, present, future, final outcome, advice, who even cares? This arrangement is an elephant, and the secret to eating it is, "One bite at a time." Just cut a meaty mouthful out of the elephant wherever you can get it, and you'll eat the whole thing bite at a time...

... having said that, though, the way that I read the cards -- and therefore the way that the Walpurgis working is performed -- the most important card is the middle card of the horizontal arm of the cross: Habits. In the this arrangement, the 77 remaining cards are all read in context to the the Habits card which indicates the essential nature of the subject of the working.
  • The Internal Cross -- General Principles
There are two components to the Celtic Cross arrangement: a cross and a staff. The cross sits on the left, and the staff sits on the right. In the Walpurgis working, the cross is composed of five parts: past, crown, future, foundation, and self. The middle of the cross is where we're starting, and it is itself another cross. The horizontal and vertical arms of the internal cross are included to indicate hypocrisy or integrity, but also honesty or deception. When the horizontal and vertical arms of the internal cross are considered as a whole, they compose the full body of the aforementioned traveler.
  • The Internal Cross -- Horizontal Arm
The horizontal arm of the internal cross is composed of three cards that communicate 1-Needs, 2-Habits, and 3-Desires. The horizontal arm is an open-ended way of looking at what the subject of the working generally lacks, how the subject generally behaves, and what generally motivates the subject. Is the subject denying his or her desires in order to fulfill his or her needs? The horizontal arm of the internal cross specifically includes the card "Habits." The Habits card colors every other card in the arrangement. For this reason, all other 77 cards are read as one half of a pair, which the other half always being the Habits card. The other 77 cards in the arrangement can be considered the road, but the Habits card is the traveler him or herself. Without placing the traveler on the road, it's impossible to judge how the traveler affects, or is affected by, the journey.
  • The Internal Cross -- Vertical Arm
The vertical arm of the internal cross is composed of three cards that communicate 4-Thoughts, 5-Words, and 6-Actions. The vertical arm is used to show varying degrees of activity, if the subject's words and actions are consistent, how the subject's thoughts are reflected in word and action, and how thoughts, words, and actions contribute to his or her needs, habits, and desires.
  • The External Cross -- General Principles
Circled around the internal cross, the external cross is composed of four pyramids each of which are themselves composed of six cards. Each individual arm of the external cross will be discussed momentarily, but as a general rule they all follow the same pattern: each layer of the pyramid is a fraction of the whole. In other words, each layer of the pyramid represents the same duration of time, but expresses that duration differently. The bottom layer of the pyramid indicates thirds, the middle layer indicates halves, and the top layer indicates the whole. Additionally, each layer overlaps with the one beneath or above it: the first third overlaps with the first half overlaps with the whole, and so on. The reason for the overlap is to see the quality of the transition between the span indicated by each fraction, but also to identify which influences are longer-lived than others. Finally, the pyramids have been numbered in the picture at the image at the top of the page so show their progression: the left and right arms of the external cross are read from bottom to top, and the bottom and top arms of the external cross are read from left to right.
  • The External Cross -- Past
The left arm of the external cross -- although it doesn't have to be the first arm that you read -- shows where the subject has just come from. Because the Walpurgis working is intended to be an annual affair, the full duration of the left arm of the external cross is 12 months. Looking at the fractional layers of the pyramid, the following pattern emerges: the three-card layer is 4 months per card, the two-card layer is six months per card, and the one-card layer is 12 months per card. This pyramid is read from bottom to top. In this way, we can explore the distant, intermediate, and recent past while also seeing which issues were longer lasting and more impacting, and -- depending on how the cards tie into the other 72 cards present -- we can see which issues from the past year are still operating in the present and can be expected to reappear in the future.
  • The External Cross -- Future
The right arm of the external cross is shows where the subject is going. Just like the left arm of the external cross, the right arm indicates the coming twelve months and operates according to the same fractions: the three-card layer is 4 months per card, the two-card layer is six months per card, and the one-card layer is 12 months per card. This pyramid is read from bottom to top. In this way, we can look at the near, intermediate, and distant future to know which challenges or opportunities are shorter or longer lasting, and if there are any brief but severe speed bumps to be aware of. And of course, considering how the cards in this arm of the external cross tie into the other 72 cards on the table, it allows us to see how the future hinges on other things that have already happened or are happening right now.
  • The External Cross -- Foundation
The bottom arm of the external cross is the foundation and is used to show not only what hidden factors influence the subject of the working, the past, and the future, but also to see if the subject is building a foundation on sand or bedrock. Like the left and right arms of the external cross, the Foundation operates according to the same fractions of thirds, halves, and a whole, but unlike the left and right arms, it covers the entire 24 month duration of the past and the future. For this reason, the three-card layer is 8 months per card, the two-card layer is 12 months per card, and the one-card layer is 24 months per card. The final difference here is that the middle card in the bottom layer -- which uses three cards as fractional thirds to express 8 months at a time -- is divided four months into the past and four months into the future. Because of who I am, I'm reluctant to say that the bottom arm of the external cross is more important than any other segment in the Walpurgis working, but it needs be said that these cards are heavier than any others present and should be considered as second in importance to the Habits card in the middle of the horizontal arm of the internal cross.
  • The External Cross -- Crown
The top arm of the external cross is the crown and may be treated as the subject's desires, but also more generally as an expression of the subject's willpower and attempt to steer the flow of events in both the past and the future. Like the left and right arms of the external cross, the top arm operates according to the same fractional method -- thirds, halves, and a whole -- but like the bottom arm of the external cross represents not the 12 months of the past or future, but the combined 24 months of both the past and the future. Accordingly, the three-card layer of the pyramid expresses 8 months per card, the two-card layer 12 months per card, and the one-card layer the full 24 months. Also like the bottom arm of the external cross, the middle card of the bottom layer is divided four months into the past and four months into the future. Use the top arm of the external cross to look precisely at the subject's expression of desire, and this will reveal if he or she is making wise choices, is creating more problems than he or she solves, and if the internal cross of his or her combined identity is effectively changing reality according to his or her will. Because each card in the top arm of the external cross is more heavily weighted compared to the left and right arms, it should be considered the third most important segment after the bottom arm of the external cross and the Habits card.
  • The Side Staff -- General Principles
The side staff of the Walpurgis working is composed of four blocks of cards which in turn are each composed of 12 cards each. Each segment of the side staff has something specific to say, but each segment of the side staff is similar in that each one reflects a different face of the 12 houses of the Zodiac. Now, let it be said that if you enjoy astrology then by all means don't let me stop you, but you should know that the 12 houses reflected in each segment of the side staff are not reflective of the 12 houses in the subject's natal chart. Instead, the 12 houses are used here as ways to look at how each segment of the side staff operates within the different categories of the subject's life. The final note about the side staff is that each segment (Advice, External Influences, Hopes & Fears, Final Outcome) spans the entire 24 months of the past and the future, and its relevance to either the past or future is indicated by context as well as how the cards present in the side staff tie into the other cards present on the table. Look for connections by suit, number, face, and septenary to know where the cards are pointing.  
  • The Side Staff -- Advice
The first segment at the bottom of the side staff is the category of Advice and offers specific direction to the subject of the working relative to the house of the Zodiac in question. Depending on where the subject wants to improve in his or her affairs, or needs to improve in order to avoid unpleasant consequences. Perhaps the subject needs to be more supportive or antagonistic in one area, but willing to be supported or be appreciative of antagonism in other areas? Advice is where you'll find answers to these questions.
  • The Side Staff -- External Influences
The second segment from the bottom of the side staff is the category of External Influences and offers insight about how other people, circumstances, or influences that originate exclusively from outside the subject are supporting or antagonizing, or supported and antagonized by, the subject him or herself relative to the house of the Zodiac in question. Is the subject benefiting from the help of allies, or being harmed by the interference of enemies? Or is the subject distracted with others' drama, or distracting others' with his or her own drama? Answers to these questions and more are present in External Influences.
  • The Side Staff -- Hopes & Fears
The third segment from the bottom of the side staff is the category of Hopes & Fears and offers insight into what the subject of the working hopes or fears will come to pass relative to the house of the Zodiac in question. What causes the subject the most anxiety, and what brings the most happiness? What most frightens the subject, and what most encourages him or her? And more importantly -- depending on the quality of these cards' relation to other cards on the table -- how many of these hopes and fears are based on real concerns, and how many are pipe dreams or paper tigers? A much needed reality-check is available through the 12 houses contained in Hopes & Fears.
  • The Side Staff -- Final Outcome
The fourth segment from the bottom of the side staff is the category of Final Outcome and offers answers about the final outcome the subject can expect to encounter relative to the house of the Zodiac in question. This might seem strange to you that there can be so many final outcomes for one person, but nobody's life is ever a single road -- instead, the different aspects of oneself walk a winding path, and so say I it's a primary task in one's life to reconcile these different pathways. By looking at the subject's final outcomes divided among the 12 houses of the Zodiac, we can see where he or she will ultimately find success or failure, and then may choose to either invest more or less time into those areas in order to either change or avoid the fate they predict. And of course, depending on how the 12 cards within this final segment are related to other cards according to suit, pip, face, or septenary, we can see who or what in the past, present, or future -- or even within conditional choices? -- governs the final outcome.

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This arrangement is something I've spent the last week developing, and it's a beast. Because I approached this with a patient and contemplative mindset -- and I've got to fit this in around all the other stuff I do on a daily basis -- I'm only just completing my first annual Walpurgis working. I suppose I could do this faster if I just devoted an entire Saturday afternoon to it, but speed-reading the Walpurgis working feels not in the spirit of the ritual. In some ways I'm a very public person, but in others I'm very private so I won't be sharing my final notes of this working on my blog, but if you ever decide to perform this working for yourself, let me know you liked it?



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