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Past Life Tarot Layout:
The Unshattered Vessel
(c) Cheryl Lynne Bradley 1999-2006

If there is anyone or anything in the world that thinks they can separate me from you, let them try.
For I know that even if they took every cell in my brain and divided them, one by one and then by halves.
Somewhere, somehow, in one half of one cell
there would still be a memory of you.
Author Unknown

"Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God."
John 3:3 KJV

Every springtime is proof of reincarnation.
Author Unknown

"Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. Then shall the dust return to earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."
Ecclesiastes 11: 6,7 KJV


Past lives are an area of interest for many of us and for many varied reasons. We all have had experiences of "deja vu" - a feeling of having been somewhere before. In some schools of thought it is felt that if you are carrying the debris from a past life's subconscious which is out of synch with your present conscious, you will have conflicts, phobias, physical, mental and health problems and even birthmarks manifest in your present life. If you have a drinking problem in this life, you died of thirst in a past life. If you are struggling with your weight in your present incarnation, you died of starvation in a previous incarnation. It is felt that the symptoms only manifest in the present if the injury or death was wrongful in the past life. For the sake of clarity, the dictionary defines the terms incarnate, incarnation and reincarnation as follows:

incarnate - to clothe with flesh; to embody in flesh. Invested with flesh; embodied in flesh or a human body.

incarnation - The act of assuming flesh or taking a human body and the nature of man; the state of being incarnated; a visible embodiment; a vivid exemplification in person or act (he is the incarnation of wickedness).

reincarnation - The belief that the soul returns after death to live in a new body.

Recall of past lives is called retrocognition and it manifests in three ways. The first is a perception of scenes from the past in which the perceiver seems to be physically present in the situations. The second occurs when a person in a trance or waking state describes a past life, and seems to be the previous personality and is still in the previous life. The third is an extraordinary knowledge of the past associated with objects, this is called psychometry.

It is difficult to document a retrocognitive experience as they often also involve elements of lucid dreaming, altered states of consciousness, reincarnation and spirit communication. They are sometimes called "time slips" and tend to occur abruptly, are an extended experience, the sense of being in the situation is real and there is a trigger which set the wheels in motion for the experience. Noise is clearly present and there is no change in light condition.

From the Kabbalah we learn that the first thing that was created was the desire to give. The desire to give created vessels that could only receive. The light of the Ein Sof could only be born by Kether since it was the purest of the vessels. The next sephiroth, Hokhmah and Binah could not bear the light and they fell from their positions. The light continued to descend creating six points of light or six fragments of what had been a single point of light. This is the shattering of the vessels.

In the Kabbalah, the Tree of Life is identified with the sephirothic tree of life. The Sephiroth represent the emanations by which the infinite is in touch with the finite. The tree forms a link between heaven and earth and has manifestion in the Four Worlds of emanation, creation, formation and actualization. Ein Sof is the sap which runs through the Tree of Life. There is a distinction to be made between Ein Sof and God, the two are the same in the way a candle and flame would be. The Sephiroth represent the worlds of light which manifest the darkness of Ein Sof. The Sephiroth underlie life as a collection of experiences for the body as perceived through our senses. They are a present and active force in everything that exists.

Most of the light from Ein Sof ascended back and the shattered vessels, with a few sparks of light adhering to them, fell into the world of creation. When the light began to emanate again it only extended to the edge of the world of emanation although the fragments of the shattered vessels descended to the world of actualization and were transformed into the elements of earth, air, fire and water. It is our purpose to gather these points of light and fragments of the vessels, and everything we do to help or hinder the gathering, delays or hastens the return of the Messiah. The Messiah will come on the day after his arrival, when he is no longer needed.

The Zohar teaches us that the Sephiroth is a process by which the Ein Sof becomes a personality. The first three Sephiroth represent the Ein Sof deciding to "be" - Ein Sof becomes "he". In the next three Sephiroth "he" becomes "you" and when God becomes present in the world - He exists in us, as us - "he" becomes "I". It is at this moment that we begin our journey into mystical experience. Only when you have acquired an understanding of your deepest self can you become aware of and embrace the presence of God within.

For this layout, I have reversed the flow of the tree of life so that we may attempt a journey back to a previous incarnation. Incarnation occurs at the place where hope, as a conscious state of mind, and fear of God, as the beginning of Wisdom, converge.

This is a powerful reading so a peaceful atmosphere is essential - eat or drink something of the earth before you begin. I recommend burning a white candle for protection and remembrance, using Psalm 112 or a protection prayer of your choosing. If you would like, you may also use a yellow candle for clearing your vision and enhancing your spiritual gifts, Psalm 59 or another blessing of your choosing would be appropriate. Yellow is a colour which brings maximum healing. An orange candle to make you and your energy more attractive, using Psalm 46 or another blessing of your choice, could also be beneficial.

You may approach this reading in two ways. You may do a single layout as below using the Unshattered Vessel Tarot Layout or, using two distinctly different decks, layout a double Celtic Cross reading plus one extra card from each deck for enhancement. This will give you 22 cards in all - 11 from each deck - two layouts. One cross relates to your present life and the other applies to the past life in which you are inquiring about. The first group of position numbers apply to both types of readings the second is an enhancement for The Unshattered Vessel (Reversed Tree of Life) layout but please feel free to consider it for the Celtic Cross readings. Shuffle and deal your cards in your usual manner.

The Unshattered Vessel Tarot Layout
Pillar of Mercy Pillar of Harmony Pillar of Severity
Position 10: Future Life Progressions. Malkuth/Shekinah: Outer Manifestation, the entire physical world. The feminine face of God.10
Position 8: Past Life Ties to you Mother.  Your Sorrows, Burdens and Sacrifices.  Hod: Reason, Analysis and Logical Outlook. Splendour, Form and Intelligence.8 Position 11: Past Life Ties to 
Awareness.  Daath: Hidden Factors11 Position 9: Past Life Ties to your Father.  Yesod: Potential and non-physical patterns in place. Storehouse of Images.9
Position 6: Past Life Connections to Destructive Issues and Relationships.  Tiphareth/Rakhamim: Goals and Aspirations. Beauty and harmony. God manifested and living among us. Compassion.6 Position 7: Past Life Connections for Abundance and Posperity. Netzach: Emotion, Inspiration, Imagination.  Victory of Achievement.7
Position 5: Past Life Connections to Health and Emotional Well Being. Geburah/Din: Challenges, Adjustments and Defensive Energies.  Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom. Strength and severity. Power. 5
Position 3: Past Life Connections to Education, Truth, Communication and Sciences.  Binah: Frame of Reference. Understanding.3 Position 4: Past Life Connections to your Relationships.  Chesed: Encouraging Support and Energy Assistance. Mercy and majesty. Protector and Preserver.4
Position 2:  Why things happen to you the way they do.  Chokmah:  Vital force, purpose. Wisdom.2
Position 1:  Where you are now.  Kether: The Source - the impelling force. Knowable only to us. Supreme Crown1

Position 1: Where am I? or Where was I?
Position 2: What is my obstacle? or What was my obstacle?
Position 3: Where am I going? or Where have I been?
Position 4: What is happening? or What was happening?
Position 5: What is in store for me? or What was in store for me?
Position 6: What are my options? or What were my options?
Position 7: Who do I think I am? or Who did I think I was?
Position 8: What is/was out there for me?
Position 9: What do I expect? or What did I expect?
Position 10: Where does all this lead? or Where did all this lead?
Position 11: What else should I be aware of? or What else should I have been aware of?

Position 1: Who you are now.
Kether: The Source - the impelling force. Knowable only to us. Supreme Crown

Position 2: Why things happen to you the way they do.
Chokmah: Vital force, purpose. Wisdom.
Property of Soul: Will

Position 3: Past Life Connections to Education, Truth, Communication and Sciences.
Binah: Frame of Reference. Understanding
Property of Soul: Understanding

Position 4: Past Life Connections to your Relationships.
Chesed: Encouraging Support and Energy Assistance.
Mercy and majesty. Protector and Preserver
Aspect of Grace: Pleasure

Position 5: Past Life Connections to Health and Emotional Well Being.
Geburah/Din: Challenges, Adjustments and Defensive Energies.
Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.
Strength and severity. Power.
Aspect of Grace: Restraint

Position 6: Past Life Connections to Destructive Issues and Relationships.
Tiphareth/Rakhamim: Goals and Aspirations. Beauty and harmony.
God manifested and living among us. Compassion
Agent of Soul: Seeks what is sweetest

Position 7: Past Life Connections for Abundance and Posperity.
Netzach: Emotion, Inspiration, Imagination.
Victory of Achievement
Agent of Soul: Seeks what is highest.

Position 8: Past Life Ties to you Mother.
Your Sorrows, Burdens and Sacrifices.
Hod: Reason, Analysis and Logical Outlook.
Splendour, Form and Intelligence
Agent of Soul: Seeks what is best

Position 9: Past Life Ties to your Father.
Yesod: Potential and non-physical patterns in place.
Storehouse of Images
Property of Soul: Memory

Position 10: Future Life Progressions.
Malkuth/Shekinah: Outer Manifestation, the entire physical world. The feminine face of God

Position 11: Past Life Ties to Awareness.
Daath: Hidden information

I recommend journalling this reading for "future" reference. After you have completed the reading, snuff your candle(s) and say "Though extinguished in the physical, you still burn in the astral. Lit burn there always." Eat or drink something to re-establish your ground. Most past lives were pretty mundane - we weren't all Cleopatra or Alexander the Great - please try and bear this in mind and try to focus on resolution, relief and release as the positive attributes and potential outcome of this reading. Sometimes you must look to the past to know the future. This reading is an attempt to keep us from standing and dwelling on the past with our backs to the future, a state of being which prevents us from being clear, aware and firmly in the present.



"Please don't let the term 'past lives' mislead you into thinking you've arrived this time around as a separate person from who you've been before, alive, then dead, then alive again. No, what you're living right now is simply the current phase of one life, the same eternal life your spirit has been living and will go on living forever."
from "Past Lives, Future Healing" by Sylvia Browne

"There's nothing wrong with you that reincarnation won't cure"
Jack E. Leonard (1911-1973) to Ed Sullivan (1902-1974)


Other Sources

The Holy Bible
King James Version

The Essential Kabbalah
Translation by Daniel C. Matt
Quality Paperback Books
New York, 1998

Guide to Tarot of the Sephiroth
by Josephine Mori & Jill Stockwell
U.S. Games Systems
Stanford, Connecticut, 2001

A History of God
by Karen Armstrong
Ballantine Books 1993


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This page was created April 12, 2002 and updated on September 25, 2006.