The Queen Of Swords In the initial spread, I selected a significator for Xena. A significator is a card which represents the subject, in this case, The Queen of Swords. She is a dark-haired woman, capable and sharp-witted. In a man's world, she is any man's equal. She can turn conflict and crisis to her own advantage. She has borne much, suffered greatly, and experienced tragic losses. Still, she continues to act nobly, though her trials have left her preoccupied and austere. She is perceptive, subtle, solitary. Her negative traits, or the internal issues she is trying to resolve are: bitterness and vengefulness, high temper and deceitfulness. When she allows her darker nature dominance, she will use any means, fair or not, to destroy those she sees as enemies.
1 - The Fool The first card represents the present situation. It is said to "cover" the subject, immersing her in its influence: The Fool (Anyone notice the shrieks as Callisto kissed Xena to life?) Callisto is represented interestingly in this guise, which speaks much of the elemental, unthinking nature of her actions heretofore. Consider how her former life was destroyed by Xena, and that her response (to lash out and become likewise destructive) was almost childlike. (I wonder, however, whether the events of MATERNAL INSTINCTS [57/311] have brought Callisto to a place of possible rebirth, after all, she was returned to an earthy womb at the end of said episode). The Fool is innocence -- not goodness, but, rather, not thinking or weighing the morality or results of one's actions, just acting -- as a child does.
 The Fool is typically placed at the edge of a precipice, but s/he is unaware of impending disaster. So we see that The Fool is not just Callisto's role, but Xena's mirror: Xena is confronted by what she has become. She too was at the cliff's edge, with Gabrielle, and her falling with Gabrielle brought her to Illusia. She is confronted by her own lack of self-control, by her insecurities, and the results of extremism in her actions. The Fool signifies the barest beginnings of change.
2 - The Wheel of Fortune The next card "crosses" the subject -- it hints at the obstacles the Queen of Swords may face, the sphere of influence in which she is immersed at this moment in time. Though it is only beginning its construction, this image is first seen as Callisto/The Fool creates the image in her hands, and resolves itself to the full image in the following sequence: The Wheel Of Fortune.
 The eight spokes of the Great Wheel represent stages of life (for women: Birth, Child, Maiden, Lover, Mother, Matriarch, Crone, Death). The letters and signs represent: the elements -- knowledge that is at hand; the Tarot -- knowledge to be sought; and God -- knowledge to be given or revealed through vision. The Serpent of Wisdom is balanced by animal instinct. The sphinx crowns the circle with inscrutable knowledge bringing (+) equilibrium or (-) stagnation. The eagle, bull, and lion are generally considered representations of the biblical gospel writers, as is the Angel -- here Gabrielle.
 (It's interesting to note that when Xena asks, "The one who betrayed me, is she here?", Callisto avoids answering, because in a spiritual sense it was she/ Callisto who betrayed Xena, not Gabrielle, against whom she tries to direct Xena's anger. I know I am such the "shipper", but I also think it significant that Gabrielle is Xena's angel. All of these point to a need to look to a higher plane for the answers required.)
 The overall sense is also, importantly, that life is a cycle of birth and rebirth. Xena faces a situation in which she is challenged to examine her life (something she generally avoids doing) in order to turn the Wheel from negative to positive. The opportunity for change is possible depending on how Xena reacts, and on the path or energy she chooses. She must seek/seize the higher path or fall into darkness.
3 - The High Priestess Xena's Goal, her Destiny ,"Crowns" her: this is the best she can hope for, if she is wise and heeds/takes advantage of what comes her way. It also indicates her hidden or as-yet-unrealized dream for herself: The High Priestess.
 If ever a card were appropriate for Xena in this place and time, this is it. The High Priestess is a woman of great internal power. She challenges masculine domination, appropriating typically masculine roles for herself. She is at once the triple goddess of womanhood -- the Maiden seeking Life's knowledge, the Mother who bears life, and the Crone who is wise and who knows sorrow. She is crowned with the moon, that most feminine of heavenly bodies, and is robed with honor.
 Xena seeks (and has an internal motivation to and for) the calm strength and Power of the High Priestess. She must use what comes to her to aid her in her search for divine wisdom, sound judgment and healing. She will turn her innate qualities of intuition and self-reliance to practical use to attain serenity.
 Note also that The High Priestess signifies platonic relationships and smoothed emotions (for all you "shippies" out there)! This signifies, perhaps, that Xena had need to cool her relationship with Gabrielle and step away to reassess Gabrielle's role in her life (and vice versa) in order to determine where they would go next.
4 - The Hanged Man This card is behind Xena and discusses her deep past, the basic instincts and influences upon which the present is based: The Hanged Man.
 I am delighted at this role for Joxer, who I see as greatly underestimated. He is one of great spiritual energy, almost all of it positive. It is also touching that he is the one who gives Gabrielle life again, by drawing her forth from the waters of transition. He may act the buffoon, but he is a man of honor and a creature full of love. Note that, just as the Hanged Man he plays, Joxer is fully aware (I think more than he is given credit for), but he is bound by his jester's role.
 In this role, he speaks not only FOR himself, as the Hanged Man is a sterling embodiment of his characteristics, but TO both Xena (as the reading's subject) and Gabrielle (with whom he interacts). The Hanged Man counsels both Xena and Gabrielle that sacrifice, a releasing the things that bind them to negative energies, is required. He also recognizes that sacrifice has been an integral part of their pasts, and that they have felt trapped within the events of their lives and the roles they have chosen.
 It is interesting that as I laid this spread, this card somehow came up Reversed, so, we must also note the past's negative energies in the forms of self-inflicted trial, an enjoyment of the pain encountered, and a preoccupation with the self. Xena, and Gabrielle, must take the lesson the Hanged Man offers (he cannot give it to them as he is bound; they must take it themselves and make it their own): Let the past go, and be reborn.
5 - The Emperor And King Of Swords This card is beneath Xena and calls into play recent past events that span from the deep past to the immediate past. This is the past that may most directly influence what happens.
 The Emperor is most commonly expressed here by other observers, but I must also use my own intuition to draw upon the King of Swords. I will meld these two as I can. This was a tough call, and I draw strongly upon these cards' negative energies in my interpretations.
 Ares is the quintessential man of darkness, both physically and spiritually. He is sensual and charismatic, and wields his power without thought. He is a war maker, an instigator. He is authority, confidence and the things of the world personified. He will pursue a matter unto ruination. He is conceited, selfish, petty, cruel and tyrannical. And, yet, he is undeniably alluring, purely male, and full of an almost palpable sexual energy. He is in control and wealthy in material and spiritual matters. He uses reason (though sometimes perverted to his own whims) to overcome emotional or spiritually-guided opposition.
 Oh, baby -- Xena, be wise, Xena beware! This is the force behind so many of your woes, and yet, despite being a god, he desires you as a man. He wishes to bind you to him through strife. He offers power and wealth, but what he offers is not the centered wisdom and spiritual bounty of the High Priestess. It is a facade for the bondage into which he will place you should you succumb to him. His recent influence upon your life has brought you pain, strife, and division. Is this what you really want?
6 - The Empress This card lies before Xena -- it shows the powers upon which she can (could, should?) draw to attain resolution and reach her goal(s): The Empress.
 Gabrielle is right on the mark in this role, crowned with stars and surrounded by signs of the earth and its fertility. She is the female in action. She is home, family, the sister and life partner (hello, "shippies")! She signifies attainment and accomplishment. She motivates and has a gift for intuition. She demands faithfulness, but offers unquestioning support and loyalty.
 However, none of us is without our negative properties. Gabrielle's village is replete with negative energies: the snide way in which her sister says, "If your child had lived, we'd love her too", the way they spoke of "we never even change our minds", how they hypocritically shouted for Peace while bearing implements of killing (disguised as the tools of harvest)...
 The Empress' negatives are the tendency to stubbornness, to become overbearing, over protective and jealous. Her negative trait of being indecisive has often put both Xena and Gabrielle in the place where "he who hesitates is lost". Her indecision about what to do with Hope led to Solan's death.
 Nonetheless, Xena, follow the teachings of the Great Wheel and heed the High Priestess within: look beyond this moment's pain and strife, and take the higher plane, over Gabrielle's baser qualities (and your own). Remember that, in the context of this reading, Gabrielle as the Empress is your mirror. You will see that she is an Angel or redeemer for you. She is your balance, and the spiritual home you seek. You must cultivate the Empress' gentler qualities within yourself. You needn't be a goody-goody, but you can integrate some of her positive energies. Otherwise (I mention this as Gabrielle takes up the scythe for the harvest killing), you must also remember that another of the Empress' qualities is that she has a fierce desire for vengeance when she senses betrayal...
 **We have completed the Circle of Being, which mirrors the Great Wheel in its examination of influences past, present and future. Now we read the Spirit Rising from the subject to the final outcome of this series.
7 - The Chariot Next is the Questioner. This places Xena squarely in the Now, assesses how she is (so far) making use of the tools at hand, and discusses what she needs to do to focus: The Chariot.
 Uh-Oh. Xena is allowing herself to be swayed by anger and base or negative energies as she rides forth with Ares. She is surrendering her self-determination to be his pawn. Oh, certainly, it is a magnificent vehicle, but notice that the Sphinxes guiding the chariot are not reined. No one drives this vehicle, just as action without examination and direction is heedless of destination; it will surely find trouble.
 The Chariot's messages are not all negative. They speak of change drawn from defeat, but Xena must recognize the cost. Responsibility comes with power: the conquered must be integrated, lest the wounds they bear fester unseen to open again later. She must pay attention to detail. She needs to rein in her negative energies, and give direction to her emotions. Conquest will not eliminate pain. Xena cannot just defeat Gabrielle, as she is an integral part of Xena. Instead, Xena must accept and integrate Gabrielle into herself to attain peace.
8 - The Hermit And The Magician The influences and effects Xena has on others, and they on her, are answered by Joxer in yet another introspective role. Again, I was torn between a number of images. The general consensus was The Hermit, however, Joxer's garb and person lead me to also consider aspects of The Magician. Again, I am melding two cards.
 As the Magician, Joxer brings the qualities of the Messenger. (Any of you still wondering about his Mercury aspects?) He is a mediator, but he is not always what he seems. He can assume the role of the trickster.
 However, the overriding influences of the Hermit, with his ceremonial garb, and the light he bears, speak to Xena about how the things she does have greater a impact than she has been willing to acknowledge. She must look within, and cease throwing her energies to the four winds in an attempt to deny the inner messages that MUST be addressed! The negative energies she has generated by her actions have brought Xena barrenness of soul, isolation and cynicism. In slaying Illusia's "Gabrielle", the spiritual desertion that Xena felt was inflicted upon her by Gabrielle, she has now returned in kind.
9 - Death Xena's inner emotions and unspoken desires, her anxieties, hopes and fears are played out in her dance with Ares, when she is gowned as Death. Xena's soul is in crisis. She must make some deep decisions immediately. She has reached the end of a part of her life, and is about to experience rebirth -- but to a higher or lower plane? Note that Death is associated not with "ending-and-that's-all", but with the cycle of rebirth. However, this rebirth is caused by and characterized by drastic changes. Unnecessary baggage must be let go.
 Now this is a good twist: when Ares "dips" Xena and she is laid side by side with Gabrielle, Death is reversed, bringing into play the message of narrow avoidance of disaster, the dawning of a crucial realization of life's priorities, and a need for new beginnings.
10 - Justice The final card in this spread speaks of Results and Outcomes of this phase of Xena's journey. After centering itself in the Great Wheel of the first 6 cards, her spirit has risen from herself through the realms of Body (7/Chariot), Intellect (8/Hermit), and Spirit (9/Death), to Transcendence (10/Justice), and its potential for a completely different plane of being. If the message of the cards is played out, this is what may be expected.
 Again, I find it most interesting that Callisto is called upon, this time, to play the role of Justice. Once again, her quality of "blindness" in what she does is pointed up. Perhaps she too is learning through these events. Together with Strength and Temperance, Justice is one of the Virtue cards in Tarot. Justice may be blind and yet her eyes are not covered, suggesting that whatever blindness there has been, has existed by choice. She seeks equanimity for all parties involved, a balancing of power and the vanquishing of the unjust (note that both Callisto and Ares fades away at this point). A new light is being shed on the circumstances.
The Overall Message... This spread counsels Xena to examine her motivations, to release old fears and angers, to accept and balance herself, and to find a place where she is centered in spiritual self-knowledge. She needs to look to Gabrielle as her friend, ally, and partner for cues on how to develop and integrate her own positive energies. She must reject rash acts and realize the effects of what she does. Only then can Xena experience a rebirth into a state of grace and balance.