Cards Chosen








Cards Drawn

Temperance Reversed


Ace Cups

Page Wands


Hanged Man








Cards Drawn

Swords Reversed


Swords Reversed

Knight Swords



Bold phrases are from the information page for the card, italic phrases stand for the meaning assigned to the card position. (See Yin Yang spread for position meanings.)

In this conflict, there are many people and groups involved, but I feel the two main parties are President Clinton (and his Administration) and the House Republicans. Clinton is key, of course, because he has the power of the veto. He also seems to represent the idea that fiscal responsibility is important, but not at all costs. The House Republicans stand at the opposite extreme because of the fervor of their commitment to conservative fiscal policies. (I'll try to keep my liberal bias at bay, but forgive me if it starts to rear its ugly head from time to time.)

Let's first consider the nature of this conflict as shown by Cards 1 and 2. At the center is

Temperance Reversed. I don't think I could come up with a better symbol of the heart of this matter - the dominant factor. In a sense, it is not avoiding excess that got us into this mess in the first place. If we had been more moderate during the 80s, we would not face such a budget problem now. As for the immediate conflict, however, Card 14 shows us that both sides are guilty of not fostering cooperation, not combining forces and not recognizing all sides. When balance is blocked, nothing can be accomplished.

The 9 of Wands is an interesting selection for Card 2 because it has two different meanings in this case - one discouraging, one hopeful. As the opposing factor, the 9 of Wands represents defensiveness. This conflict is lasting longer than it should because both parties are wary and assuming ill will. Both remember past attacks and don't quite feel they can trust the other side. However, the 9 of Wands also stands for perseverance. This could be the factor for change in this situation. Both parties do seem committed to seeing it through to the end and persisting despite all setbacks. They certainly are keeping up the pace - reluctantly or not.

With this as background, let's consider the two sides. Before laying out this spread, I decided to consider Clinton on the left (naturally!) and the House Republicans on the right. So, Clinton is represented by Cards 3-5-7-9. Card 3 represents Clinton's public face - the image he wants to project. When I saw the Ace of Cups, I gave a little start because this symbol of love and emotional force seems somehow out of place in a budget conflict. What could it mean? I decided that this card stands for Clinton's desire to be seen as caring and sympathetic toward those who will suffer the most under a harsh balanced budget. He wants to be viewed as the champion of the less privileged. Now the House Republicans see this as too much emphasis on giving.

Now what is Clinton really thinking? The 2 of Cups implies that he is sincere in his desire to work out this problem. He wants to establish a partnership with Congress and truly heal their severed relationship. He has truce on his mind and is holding out the hope that the two sides can resolve this conflict by working together. On the other hand, Clinton unconsciously is not willing to sacrifice himself to accomplish this partnership. The 10 of Swords Reversed as Card 7 shows that he is not going to put his own interests last and let himself be walked on by the Republicans. A deeper motivation may be that he does not want to feel powerless.

Now let's consider the Republicans - Cards 4-6-8-10. The Page of Wands as Card 4 shows us that the Republicans want to be perceived as those who are willing to go in a new direction. They feel this is their chance to tackle this challenge, take assertive action and be a leader. In their minds, no one until now has been willing to meet this problem head on. They want others to know they are the ones with the courage and confidence to do it.

At first glance, this would not appear to be consistent with the Hanged Man as Card 6. He usually stands for an accepting, vulnerable approach with little action, but perhaps here the less common meaning of this card applies - reversal. The Hanged Man suggests that the true hope of the Republicans is to upend the old order. (I think they would like to get a Democrat out of the White House.) They want to turn the world around and overturn old priorities. I also get the sense that the Republicans see themselves as willing to sacrifice in order to see the changes they support put into effect.

However, based on Card 8, the Republicans do seem to have another concealed agenda -an unacknowledged goal that may or may not be unconscious. It seems that they are going for the win-lose result as shown by the 5 of Swords. This is not a particularly savory card as you will see if you read through the action phrases - being insensitive, indulging in power plays, gloating, setting people against each other, choosing to battle. The excitement of discord may be playing a role in this conflict.

So, what does it all mean? Let's look at the three cards that represent the guidance in this situation - the keys to how to resolve this conflict successfully. Clinton's is to be found in Card 9 - the 8 of Swords Reversed. This card reinforces Card 7. The 10 of Swords Reversed showed that Clinton has a deep need not to feel powerless in this situation. The 8 suggests that he should keep this thought as he negotiates. He should not give in to feelings of persecution and limitation, but instead feel confident in his understanding of what is happening. He should not second guess the direction he has charted, but pursue it with clarity.

For the Republicans, the Knight of Swords as Card 10 is their key to success. This Knight is outspoken, knowledgeable and authoritative. He knows what he's talking about and has done his homework. Unfortunately, he is also domineering, critical and close-minded. He forces his position on others and tends to treat people as numbers. I think we can safely say that these strengths and weaknesses describe the House Republicans fairly well. This Knight's approach may help them reach their goal, but that goal appears to be, in part, fomenting discord.

Card 1 (Temperance Reversed) told us that a failure to seek the middle ground is at the very center of this conflict. What is needed is to take the best of both sides (isn't it always?). On Clinton's side are the Cups - cards of love, compassion and mercy. These must be kept a part of the equation, and Clinton must keep his resolve to do so. On the Republican side is the ability to analyze information and crunch the numbers knowledgeably. They also have the courage of their convictions to push this effort forward, but they must stop gloating and begin to truly understand that we're all in this together. A balanced budget is not going to help if we're at each other's throats.

Card 11 - the 2 of Wands - suggests that personal power is the key to understanding this situation. Both sides want it; both sides are going to try to get it. Notice that even though this conflict is ostensibly about money, there is not a single Pentacles card. It is power and influence that is the real issue. Well ...OK. Both sides should acknowledge this fact and agree to share the power productively. The 2 of Wands also suggests that a bold, original approach may help. Perhaps both sides should take a risk, abandon their old stale approaches and use this conflict as an opportunity to forge a better working alliance.

A tall order, and the outcome (Card 12) does not look promising. The 9 of Swords predicts worry, anxiety and sleepless nights. It suggests that we will be going over and over this issue for a while. To me it also conveys a sense of sadness and despair. Many people are going to suffer because of this impasse. Both parties need to persevere (9 of Wands) in looking for a compromise (Temperance). Then, maybe, we can replace anguish (9 of Swords) with partnership (2 of Cups).

BIAS - My conservative friends have told me in no uncertain terms that I have not really succeeded in "keeping my liberal bias at bay." On reexamining this reading, I see what they mean. I have painted the Republican point of view in a unnecessarily harsh light. Let me just say that I have tried to stick to the cards and their meanings as much as possible, but my choice of words may have been influenced (nice word) by my own feelings. I do admire the Republicans for their commitment to their ideals and their willingness to fight for them (as seen in the Page of Wands/Hanged Man). Both points of view have merit (isn't that always the case?). Let's just hope we can find a reasonable solution that works.

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