The “Forked Road As Divining Rod” Tarot Spread

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The Truth About Enlightenment: Get Lost to Find the Path

For the fall blog hop, wrangler Jay Cassels of Jay’s Mystic Blog offered a buffet of assorted topics. But what most resonated with me was the title of the posted event, “A Fork in the Road to Enlightenment.” In today’s post, I share three stories of getting lost and what I learned about enlightenment on my summer vacation. And there’s a tarot spread too! The “Forked Road as Divining Rod” Tarot Spread helps you reframe every “which way do I go?” conundrum into a direct path to your best outcome. Scroll down for the free downloadable tarot spread!

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Hal and I returned yesterday from vacation in southern Washington near the Columbia River Gorge. We rented a car from a car sharing app. Hal mostly drove and I navigated. Usually I’m a good navigator, but this trip we got lost a lot! However, getting lost doesn’t have to lead you astray from the road to spiritual enlightenment. In fact, sometimes you have to get lost to find the path.

When Go With the Flow is a No

Whales swim in a pod in The Chariot card from The Pacific Northwest Tarot by Brendan Marnell, published by Rocdove LLC, 2021.
We got caught in the flow of traffic and missed our exit. “VII The Chariot” from The Pacific Northwest Tarot by Brendan Marnell, published by Rocdove LLC, 2021.

Hal and I have lived in Burien for four years. Not having a car, we rely exclusively on professional drivers, whether bus, train, or Lyft, to take us anywhere further away than walking distance. One of the down sides of that is that you don’t learn the roads. Our town doesn’t connect directly with the major interstate highway. I didn’t know this two weeks ago. (There’s a highway at the town’s edge, I honestly thought that was the interstate. Seriously, without a car you don’t learn the roads.) I now know that there are two ways to get to I5. One, you can take the very road we live on and drive due west for a few miles, then turn onto the road where Hal works and that takes you straight(ish) there. That would have been the easy way. But we took the Google way.

Google sent us through a convoluted maze of interchanges and cloverleafs. Then just when we thought we were finally on the interstate and headed down to our blissful house in the woods, Google refreshed and took us through yet another even more stress-inducing, brain-twisting labyrinth. Somehow, following the directions to a T, we had ended up going the wrong way and had to turn around.

Getting a New Perspective

When we returned the rented car at the end of our trip, Google directed us through that exact same mousetrap sequence. I was determined to follow every twist and figure out where we had gone wrong the first time. Then I saw it. This time, we were going a different direction, so I was able to watch the exit onto I5 South from a new perspective. We were supposed to have merged off our highway, to the right, into two lanes of traffic and THEN exit to the right. Merge, cross two lanes, then exit. As I looked at the flow of traffic from above this time, I saw how easy it was to get confused. When we merged we thought we had exited. We just went with the flow. But the flow was taking us back onto the highway (I think?) we had just (I thought!) exited from.

There is a truth about the path to enlightenment that can be dangerously misleading. I hear it said over and over that when you’re on your path, it’s easy. That all you have to do is go with the flow. There is a certain amount of truth to this. Just like we had an easy path once we were on I5 (drive straight for 166 miles), the path to enlightenment can also be easy once you’re on it. But the interchanges to get there can be a nightmare. If you’re caught up in this nightmare, you are not necessarily going the wrong direction! And even if you are, you can navigate back to the right path.

Getting Back on the Path

If you’re lost on the path to enlightenment, one of the key solutions is to know where you’re going. It sounds obvious, but clarifying this is itself the journey that leads to your desired destination. And to clarify where YOU are going, you need to get off the beaten track and find your own way. My first piece of enlightenment advice: Don’t go with the flow! If it’s easy and everyone else is doing it, chances are it is not aligned with your best interest. The flows of this world are designed to keep us serving someone else’s best interest. Be in service, yes. But the easiest — and very most difficult! — way to connect with Divine Unity is to fully know yourself and what you want. Follow that and nothing else. And adjust. Until you’ve exhausted all the wrong directions and are finally on your personal path to paradise.

The Sweet Treat in Tangled Brambles

A cute rodent finds hidden flowers in the roots of a tree in the 6 of Pentacles from The Pacific Northwest Tarot by Brendan Marnell, published by Rocdove LLC, 2021.
Paying more attention to the beautiful scenery than where we were going, we missed our stop, but instead found a hidden treasure of blackberries. “6 of Pentacles” from The Pacific Northwest Tarot by Brendan Marnell, published by Rocdove LLC, 2021.

Hal and I rented a house on the Washougal River, which flows into the Columbia a few miles downstream of us. Our vacation home was on a winding river road. You needed to keep your eye on the twists and turns while gorgeous scenery and glimpses of the river below flashed by. As we were driving back from town the second day, we drove right by our AirBnB! Here’s what happened.

Hal and I had gone into town to try the Chinese Cafe for lunch (a delicious feast!). Afterward, Hal wondered aloud if he should use the bathroom or if we were going straight home. I replied that we were headed straight home, but I couldn’t promise there would be no detours or getting lost.

This time, I was driving. As I drove up our twisty road, I kept noticing things that I hadn’t noticed before. But when we came to a turn off called, “NE Vernon Drive,” I knew there was no way I would not have noticed that. We had missed our place! I signalled and turned onto my namesake road. Right away there was a little spot to turn around. As we pulled in there, I said, “Blackberries!” We had stumbled upon a huge thicket of blackberries. Of course, the season was past, but I was able to pluck a few late bloomers off the brambles.

Getting Back On the Path

I remember someone in my past regularly proposing, “Let’s get lost!” They meant to explore, discover new things, and bring freshness into their day. My mother was always good at that. She knew every back road to get anywhere. My suggestion here is to find the back road to enlightenment. Find the long way round. Miss your stop. Wander. Wonder. And savor every little sweetness you find.

Mistaking the Pointing Finger for the Moon

Seen from underwater, a damselfly hovers over a lily pad in the 7 of Cups from The Pacific Northwest Tarot by Brendan Marnell, published by Rocdove LLC, 2021.
Looking up at the illusory sign pointing to the exit, we failed to look around and see the actual exit. “7 of Cups” from The Pacific Northwest Tarot by Brendan Marnell, published by Rocdove LLC, 2021.

You know how when you drop a treat for the cat and it bounces? And he doesn’t see where it went? So you point. No matter how much psychic energy you send down your finger to trace a path to the actual position of the treat, the cat just stares at your finger. This truth is not for cats alone. There’s a Buddhist story about the Buddha pointing at the moon, but everyone simply stared at his finger. Sometimes we mistake the sign, the pointer, for the path.

This happened to me in a weird way on our last day of the trip. We had gone into Portland and, after a great day, were headed back to our rented house on the river. Hal was driving, I was navigating. Google clearly explained. To get on the highway (I5, it’s everywhere), we had to exit at an angle to the right. There was also a 90 degree right turn, that one was wrong. 120 degrees was our goal. I explained it to Hal.

Then we got to the exit. The sign, painted in that vibrant DOT green, had an arrow pointing to the right. Not angled. I had a moment of cognitive dissonance. Hal asked if that was it. I sat dumbstruck. We missed the exit and had to left-left-left to hit it from a better angle.

That exit was dark, not well lit. The reflective paint on the sign lit it up bright. Now, this is the type of thing that can confuse me, and apparently Hal, but not most people. But it’s a very good example of the finger and the moon. We were so enrapt in looking at the sign, that we didn’t look around to see the shadowy, angled, exit.

Getting Back on the Path

Most people can find an exit when a sign points directly to it. But when it comes to enlightenment, a majority get enthralled by the signs, and never bother to look for the path. The primary example that comes to mind is angel numbers. I have never been interested in finding or following a set of repeating numbers. But so many people are. Clients ask me, what does this repeating number mean? The short answer is that it is the sign. The number is nothing but the brightly lit sign. Don’t pay attention to it, look around for the humble, hard-to-see exit onto your way home.

A Tarot Spread to Help You Find the Path When You Get Lost

I designed the “Forked Road as Divining Rod” Tarot Spread to help you turn a quandary into a clear path. Like my “Earned Success” Tarot Spread, it helps you find a solution by reframing the problem. For instance, instead of thinking of getting lost as wrong, think what good can come from it. Does it encourage you to fight the flow and break away from what everyone else is doing? Or find hidden gems off the beaten track? Or does getting lost remind you that sometimes the right path can be hard to see no matter how bright the sign?

In this spread, watch your forked road morph into a divining rod that leads you straight to your best outcome. Lay the spread out on a lazy susan or board so that you can turn the whole thing around.

Instructions for the “Forked Road as Divining Rod” Tarot Spread

“Forked Road” Tarot Spread. By looking at the pictures on the cards, intentionally choose a Significator card to represent a choice you have to make. Then using random draws, lay out cards 1-4, following the spread positions in gold font. Interpret.

“Divining Rod Tarot Spread. After completing the “Forked Road portion of the spread, turn the whole thing around (laying the spread out on a lazy susan makes this part easy!). Re-interpret the same cards, this time using the “Divining Rod” spread positions (in green font). This spread works great with reversals, but is equally revealing without.

The "Forked Road as Divining Rod" tarot spread helps you turn your confusing options into a straight path to your desired outcome!
Click on the image to open a pdf you can download and print!

Your Path

What spiritual lessons have you learned from getting lost? Please share in the comments! And if you try the spread, please let me know how you like it! Meanwhile, the path of the blog hop may be dim, but hold up your lantern and take a courageous step into the unknown, following the links below.

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Joy Vernon
Joy Vernon

Joy Vernon is widely recognized as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty-five years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup grew into one of the largest and most active tarot-specific meetups in the world. Now Joy runs the Greater Seattle Tarot Meetup. Joy works as a tarot reader, astrologer, and teacher in Burien, Washington. To learn more, please visit JoyVernon.com.

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4 Comments

  1. Ah Google, gotta love the convolution and ambiguous driving instructions, that for the most part leave you wondering, why I didn’t take a map or Grunkle SatNav as a backup. Fabulous post as always Joy, thank you for hopping and being an endless source of wisdom and friendship.

  2. Ah! So many connections with this post, Joy! The cat following the finger especially left me feeling seen. ???? I never heard that story about the Buddha and the people behaving just like cats! Also, my high school boyfriend and I used to purposely get lost in the car just for the experience of having to figure out our way back home. And this was before GPS and smart phones! I think I just yearned to be in the midst of a mystery that didn’t involve murder. Thank goodness I found the tarot. Thanks for another great post!

  3. Joy, your post resonates deeply with me! The anecdote about the cat following the finger captures the essence of seeking truth and the different paths we may explore in our quest for understanding. The story of the Buddha and the people behaving like cats is a powerful metaphor for the human tendency to imitate without truly comprehending. Your reminiscence of intentionally getting lost with your high school boyfriend, relishing the mystery without the dark undertones, brought a nostalgic smile to my face. The connection you draw between these experiences and the solace found in tarot beautifully illustrates the diverse ways we navigate life’s mysteries. Thank you for sharing these reflections!

    Have you ever had an experience where intentionally embracing the unknown, like getting lost without GPS, led to unexpected discoveries or insights in your life?

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