Sample Tarot Reading - Bosnia

I decided to do this reading after Clinton announced plans to send troops to Bosnia. It seems to me that this decision and the Dayton peace agreement represent a turning point in the Balkan conflict, and I was curious to see what the cards might say about these developments.

Tensions have long been a problem in the Balkans because of the uneasy mix of ethnic groups - Serbs, Croats and Muslims. They reached a head when war broke out in June 1991 after the breakup of Yugoslavia. Rebel Serbs refused to recognize the new states and fought to expand their area of control, particularly in Bosnia. Now the warring parties have come to a tentative agreement, but there is still unrest. A multi-national peace implementation force is planning to move in to assure that the settlement is carried out successfully. (See War in Bosnia Index and Bosnia Homepage.)

I decided to focus my question on the critical next six months, so on December 1, 1995, I did a Celtic Cross Reading based on the following:

How will the situation develop in Bosnia over the next 6 months and what are the prospects for a lasting peace there?

Cards Chosen -

  1. Position 1 - Page of Wands
  2. Position 2 - World Reversed
  3. Position 3 - Magician Reversed
  4. Position 4 - 3 of Wands
  5. Position 5 - 10 of Cups
  6. Position 6 - Knight of Cups
  7. Position 7 - 7 of Pentacles Reversed
  8. Position 8 - 7 of Cups
  9. Position 9 - Emperor Reversed
  10. Position 10 - 3 of Cups Reversed
Bold phrases are from the information page for the card, italic phrases from the position page.
This reading is a good example of how much we can learn by looking at the overall distribution of suits. Nine out of 10 cards are either Wands (2), Cups (4) or Major Arcana (3) which suggests that we are dealing with a situation heavily steeped in action and emotions. There is a noticeable lack of thought (not one Swords card) and practical grounding (one Pentacles card). Let's see how this plays out in the individual cards. (I use the term "we" below to mean all those involved in the Balkan conflict whether actively or as concerned witnesses.)

When I placed Card 1 - the Page of Wands - I felt an inner "Yes!" I saw this card as representing the golden opportunity we have created with this peace agreement. We finally took assertive action, tackled the challenge, and came up with a solution. Quite a positive sign for a card showing the dominant characteristic (primary factor) in a situation.

I think this is due to the changes in the tides of war that occurred over the Past year. This created an opening for negotiation that was seized by the parties involved. The 3 of Wands represents the leadership that was shown; the participants looked for the possibilities and rallied their groups behind them, even if only long enough to reach an agreement. Positive, strong Wands energy in action.

Unfortunately, Card 2 - the World Reversed - definitely puts a damper on things. As the opposing factor, it suggests that the integration of these warring groups is not going to be easy. Although there is a movement to bring parts together and work in unison, the dynamic balance necessary to achieve this goal is going to be blocked. I thought of the phrase "world community" when I placed this card. The world community is going to be frustrated in its attempts to intervene here. We may not find a beautiful solution immediately. [ more ]

Why is this? Let's look at the strong Cups energy first. When I placed the 10 of Cups in Position 5, I was surprised at my reaction. Normally, I like this beautiful card, but somehow it struck a false note. In this context, it looked too pretty, too perfect. (Dancing children in Bosnia?) This card is our ideal - what we hope to achieve - but also our illusion. The 10 of Cups is our dream of peace, pure and simple; an end to the hostilities in a lasting truce. We're seeking harmony within the "family" of ethnic groups/countries. Of course we desire this, but it must be a robust hope. One based on reality as well as a sweet dream.

The Knight of Cups in Position 6 reinforces this understanding. He shows us that there is an excess of high emotion in this situation. The participants are all very temperamental and moody right now - blowing hot and cold and ready to take offense at the least slight. It is not a solid cease fire. In the near future, we will be marching into Bosnia, just as the Knight appears to be. We must do so with an awareness that the negative side of this Knight is in the air - a tendency to indulge in unrealistic hopes and big ideas that come to nothing. [ More ]

By the time I placed the third Cups card - the 7 in Position 8 - I was not at all surprised to see this sign of wishful thinking. We are operating in an emotional climate that is based on illusion. Are we kidding ourselves about the facts? Do we lack the focus and commitment to release our addictive patterns of hostility? It's not wrong to hope for peace, of course, but this dream must be grounded in the knowledge that this is a tough problem without easy solutions. Note that these three Cups cards are all upright. Emotions are being given free rein here, and the only Pentacles card - the 7 in Position 7 - is reversed.

The 7 of Pentacles gives us a sense of where we are - what our approach to the problem is. To me, it says that perhaps we are not properly assessing the challenges. It is important to take stock of the true situation in order to make the necessary choices. The 7 of Pentacles can also indicate a direction change. We certainly have opened to a new strategy, but reversed, this card suggests that we are not evaluating the circumstances adequately. The figure on this card is clearly taking the time to pause and reflect. There is a need for this, but it is not being recognized.

Indeed, there are many energies being blocked in this situation (reversed cards). The Magician in Position 3 describes the source of the problem. It is the failure of the world community to take meaningful action up to now. We have had a deep fear of involvement and have avoided any bold moves toward intervention. We also lacked the singleness of purpose and commitment needed to take effective action.

The Emperor Reversed in Position 9 shows us the fundamental truth of the matter. We want structure; we want rules; we want to establish law and order, but it appears that for the next 6 months at least, this goal will not be easily obtained. The peacekeeping forces will probably have difficulty establishing authority and gaining control. [ More ]

The sense I have about the Bosnia conflict based on this reading is that we have made an important first step toward peace by finally taking action, but there are many obstacles yet to overcome. Nevertheless, I feel that they are not insurmountable. After all, there are no Swords in this reading which suggests that the major armed conflicts and serious fighting may be behind us. The 3 of Cups Reversed as the outcome is disappointing, but not crushing. It holds out the promise that the parties involved will be able to work as a unit and help each other toward a common goal if only the blocks can be removed. (Friendship may be too much to hope for, however.). This card also implies that there will be some resistance to relying on outside help and showing "hospitality" to the peace-keeping forces. We should be prepared for this.

I think this reading describes what we can expect in the next half year - obstacles. The sense I get is of a tide of action running up against a wall of resistence. Unfortunately, the cards did not give us a clear idea of what can be done to remove these blocks. (Normally I try to include a request for guidance in my question, but I did not do that this time.) It does seem that we can improve our chances for success if we stay aware that emotions are running high and so pursue our mission with steadiness and realistic expectations. We must have persistance and confidence that we are moving in the right direction.

On December 2, I had the following thought:.

As I was reading about the current problems in Sarajevo, I remembered that just a few years ago the Olympics were held there. The woman on the World reminds me of an Olympic runner carrying the baton at the games - a symbol of cooperation and harmony among nations. We *will* see this again in the Balkans, but maybe Sarajevo will be a major stumbling block before that can be realized.

** From December 5, these thoughts -
Knight of Cups
It occurred to me that the Knight of Cups could also represent the de facto mood of the American people. We are marching in to assist, but we also seem to be reluctant to "face this unpleasantness" and "get our hands dirty." We fear another Vietnam. (Not a criticism, must an observation.)

Reversed Cards
Note that reversed cards are not necessarily negative. When a card appears in a reading, even if reversed, it usually means that its energy is present in the situation somehow. It may be blocked or thwarted, but it is there. Here the energy of effective action (Magician), Order/Respect for the Law (Emperor) and Group Harmony (3 of Cups) are all potentially available. We just have to find the means to allow them free expression.

Sample Readings.

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