My Equinox Reading: The Fifth Operation

At long last, we have reached the final stage of my walkthrough of the Opening of the Key reading I did for myself at the 2018 vernal equinox. If you’re not caught up, feel free to read the First Operation, Second Operation, Third Operation, and Fourth Operation. I do an OOTK eight times per year (once at each of the Sabbats of the Neopagan Wheel of the Year), and this year, I decided to share a detailed analysis of one such reading, so that people could get a look at how I string the cards together as a reader. Hopefully, this series was also interesting to people looking for examples of the Opening of the Key, who wanted to see how others use this massive, difficult spread. However, all of that said, this analysis has proven immensely personal (as all Tarot inevitably is), so for anyone who’s made it all the way to the end with me, I apologize for oversharing and I thank you for sticking with me.

A brief note before we dive into the Fifth Operation: I was looking through some OOTK materials the other day, and I realized that in this series of posts, I haven’t called attention to one of the ways I deviate from the traditional spread. In the original spread, the Second Operation was the astrological houses, and the Third Operation was the signs of the Zodiac. A couple of years ago, I decided to switch the two in my personal readings. The reason for this was fairly minor–when I’m looking at an astrological chart, I always look at the signs first and the houses second–and to be honest, I should probably go back and put myself in the habit of doing it the traditional way. But I wanted to call attention to that difference for anyone who might be following along.*

Now, without further ado: Let’s complete the Fifth Operation of my Opening of the Key.

The Fifth Operation.

In the Fifth Operation, you lay the deck out into ten piles, corresponding to the ten Sephiroth of the Tree of Life. Here, we have:

  • Kether: The Wheel of Fortune
  • Chokmah: The Fool
  • Binah: Six of Pentacles rx
  • Chesed: Queen of Cups
  • Gevurah: The Tower
  • Tiphereth: Strength
  • Netzach: The Hermit
  • Hod: Ace of Cups
  • Yesod: Justice
  • Malkuth: Page of Cups

The first thing I notice is the presence of the Major Arcana. Six out of ten cards here are majors. That’s not surprising, considering that the Fifth Operation of the OOTK is meant to be the Big Answer to the reading, but it’s significant nonetheless. Of the remaining four cards, we have the Six of Pentacles rx (which I’ll come back to in a moment), and then the rest are Cups. Finally, in a reading that has proven to be about my love life, we see some Cups.

The distribution of the Cups is also significant. As we’ve seen throughout this larger reading, we have the presence of two Court Cards, but now they are feminine as opposed to the Kings and Knights we were seeing earlier. This, I think, represents a radical shift in perspective, a different way of understanding and relating to the people around me. I’m inclined to say that the Queen and Page here are not specific representations of the two other people this reading has been about (previously identified with the King of Cups and the Knight of Swords; then, in the Fourth Operation, with the King of Pentacles and the Knight of Wands). Rather, I think the Queen and Page of Cups are a broader representation of the way I relate to people in my environment, both potential love interests and Platonic companions. The great virtue of these two cards is passivity, receptivity, the ability to listen to and engage with others on their terms rather than on one’s own. This, it seems to me, is the greatest shift in behavior that I need to look for in myself.

The last time we saw the Queen of Cups was in the Third Operation, where she occupied the Twelfth House. She was part of a message about self-deception and the ways in which I undermine myself. Now, we see her in Chesed, the Sephirah of mercy and compassion; specifically, I’m picking up on the energy of Chesed as having to do with self-compassion. In the Queen of Cups, I see encouragement to be gentle, to be yielding, to be vulnerable–and above all, I see the message that this kind of vulnerability is not weakness, but rather a kind of strength I haven’t yet allowed myself to find. This message is underscored by the placements of the other Cups cards in Hod (which has to do with the individual and the ego) and Malkuth (the foundation of the soul in the practical world). The way these cards connect, I see a real focus on releasing the ego and giving myself permission to be more Watery.**

A couple of other cards in this spread are noteworthy for their recurrence. We see the Tower again, for the first time since the First Operation. The placement of the Tower in Gevurah is a natural one, but it’s also the only Major Arcanum on the Pillar of Severity. This tells me, again, that I really need to focus on bringing the presence of Chesed into my life more strongly. Likewise, we see the Six of Pentacles inverted, which had previously represented some concerns I had about the potential social fallout of me saying or doing something foolish. I laughed when I saw that this card was placed opposite the Fool; the message couldn’t have been clearer. If I make a fool of myself and say things I regret, so be it. It’s not the end of the world, and it’s all but impossible for my love life to unbalance my social life as severely as I seem to fear it will.

I’m really delighted to have seen the Fool at this stage in the reading. He’s been absent from the rest of my OOTK, and I’ve felt that absence. Something was put to rights when I turned this card over.

Broadly speaking, I think the Fool embodies a certain notion of “letting go” that I had been having trouble putting my finger on. I’m aware that I need to let go of my crush on these two fine friends of mine, but I’d been having a difficult time of it. The reason, I think, is that I had been thinking of “holding on” as the default state–the thing that doesn’t require any effort–and of “letting go” as something active that I would have to undertake. Seeing the Fool, though, reminds me that this is not at all the case. It always takes more effort to hold onto something like this than it does to let it go. I don’t have to learn how to do a new thing called release; I just have to stop expending my energy on a white-knuckled grip so that I can use that energy better elsewhere. That’s one of the great lessons of the Fool, and it’s something I very much needed to hear.


It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that I found my significator (the Empress) in the pile of Chokmah, under the Fool. And for the first time in this entire reading, the Empress appears upright. Finally, after our encounter with the Fool, we find her seated atop her throne and ready to bring in new growth.

The card-counting progression takes us from the Empress to the Fool, then to Temperance. From Temperance, we proceed to the Five of Wands rx, then the Seven of Wands rx, which takes us back to Temperance and closes the loop.

The story here is an interesting one. The Empress, by way of the Fool, finds a certain sort of balance. Temperance is a card that represents transmutation, so the balance that the Empress finds here is going to be something unexpected, unpredictable, and likely untraditional.*** Regardless of what it ends up looking like, though, she’ll find her footing. From there, the road is less certain. The inverted Five and Seven of Wands are a sign that even once I’ve dealt with this situation, there will be other problems in the future. That’s just the way life goes. The absence of the Six of Wands in between the Five and Seven is a potent reminder that sometimes, I’ll have to take losses. That’s just the way life goes, and sorting out this one issue does not in any way mean that I won’t have to keep doing this sort of work in the future.

That’s about all I have for this analysis, so that’s where I’ll leave off. If you’ve managed to stick with me through all five parts of this post, I appreciate your tenacity. I’ll be back next week with something much more digestible. I have a really exciting plan in the works, but we’ll see if I can make it happen. It might have to wait until the week after. I hope this series has been interesting; it’s certainly been rewarding for me to go through and write out a formal analysis of my whole Opening of the Key reading.

*This isn’t the only way my method deviates from tradition. I also use a different card counting system, for example.

**This is a general theme with me. It always comes back to learning to love Water.

***Under other circumstances, I tend to read Temperance as quite favorable to polyamory in love readings. But since this whole reading has been about how I need to let go of my fantasies of polyamory with these specific people, at least, I’m going to leave that interpretation by the wayside.

3 thoughts on “My Equinox Reading: The Fifth Operation

  1. I have been reading all of these via email, and have to say the system sounds complex but seems to produce some worthwhile insights. Thanks so much for going through it, and also for being so honest. Best wishes for knowing that you can love anything in the worlds, and not have to do it in specific ways in order for it to be great–

    Liked by 1 person

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