When Plans Change – A First Aid Tarot Spread

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

You’ve booked the pet sitter for a weekend away because your lover promised to whisk you off to Paris. It’s nearly time to go… you’re sitting on your suitcase to make it shut properly when you get a text message, saying that your lover’s 5-year-old son fell off his bike and broke an arm so he can’t go. You have a couple of different options at times like these. Some reach for a bottle of Jack Daniels… some say a prayer…

Personally, I tend to reach for the cards. (Or I will when it does happen – I have yet to be whisked away anywhere really.) It doesn’t have to be about a cancelled holiday, it could be anything: Bad weather making your night out impossible… The baby sitter not turning up… Coming down with an STI when you haven’t cheated but realise he must have (see your GP before consulting the cards!).  Or even ‘the biggie’ – a text message break-up… because let’s face it, barring death, nothing is worse than being dumped via a text message. Light a candle, take a deep breath, ask your angels to surround you (reading the serenity prayer out loud is recommended but optional) and lay five cards out according to the image above to help you re-align your shocked and scattered energy, as well as show you any underlying reason for why things happened (or keep happening) this way:

1. Surprise – this card represents the bad news. It should probably read nasty surprise but such a card wasn’t included in the Deck of 1000 spreads. However, there are blanks so you can make one if you wish!

2. Conscious desire – this represents what you wish would happen

3. What you can’t change – this card shows you the gap between your desire and what actually happened

4. What you can change – this card shows you how you can turn this into a positive experience and bridge the gap between what happened and what you would like to happen in the future

5. Lesson – this shows you what learning you can take from this experience overall


1. Surprise – The Hierophant: The surprise in this case may well be that this turned out to be just another lesson… one of so many. It can indicate an unwillingness to learn this particular lesson since it’s on repeat.

2. Conscious desireThe King of Cups: This is not the King of Wands, the Fire Element man you are actually dating… this is someone way more caring and empathic. You don’t mind what happened as much as his lack of empathy.

3. What you cannot change – The King of Wands: You cannot change him – it really is as simple as that. He has always put himself first and he will keep on doing so. He has positive traits too, of course but right now his lack of empathy is really bothering you.

4. What you can change – 7 of Pentacles: You can change your idea of timing and that the time is now. Patience is still required if you want this relationship to evolve and become more nurturing.

5. Lesson – 7 of Swords: He is not reliable. Are you? Or are you secretly looking for the King of Cups to appear on the horizon every time he turns his back on you. Could this be the real reason you’re having the repeat lesson?

For this spread, I have been experimenting for the first time with the Deck of 1000 Spreads by Tierney Sadler (a tarot toolkit which comes with an instruction book). These cards were chosen from the deck with the question in mind but you can also create spreads by randomly pulling cards, which I found both fun and enlightening. I recommend this toolkit for anyone who is interested in learning the art of Tarot Spread-crafting.

The deck used on top of the spread position cards is the Steampunk Tarot by Aly Fell and Barbara Moore.

Blessed Be!


Comments 7

  1. thanks for the spread. I used it to help me gain some understanding/perspective about a relationship that suddenly ended. I’m stumped by the last card, the lesson card. The card was the 7 of cups. I cant tell if the lesson is to be more selective in choosing relationships, or I need to stop building up this relationship to be better than it actually was. Any ideas? The other cards were 1. emperor 2. ace of pents 3. judgement 4. temperance. thank you!

    1. Typically, in a relationship, the 7 of Cups as the lesson means going into your next relationship with more facts and less wishful thinking/reading between the lines which inevitably leads to confusion. Be very clear on what your own needs are and things should go smoother next time around. Blessings

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