This spread is based on the idea of turning over a new leaf, each new year as a chance to start fresh. The hourglass is a symbol often associated with the new year and the passing of time. This reading is perfect anytime you are reflecting on the past and setting goals for the future, such as New Year's, winter solstice, or birthdays. To see a completed example, click here.
The spread has five levels, with 3 cards on the bottom, two cards above that, one in the middle, two cards above that, and three cards again at the top. The spread is read from bottom to top as follows:
Base Level (3 cards): This level represents the sands that have already fallen, and the cards in this level represent things to reflect on about the past year - accomplishments, major changes, any significant problems, overall focus.
2nd Level (2 cards): This level represents sands that have recently fallen, and energies that are passing out of your life or need to be released.
Middle (1 card): This is a snapshot in time, as the sand passes through the narrowest part of the hourglass, representing where you are at this exact moment in your life.
4th Level (2 cards): This represents sands about to fall, and energies or influences that will soon enter your life in the new year.
Top Level (3 cards): This level represents the vast potential of the coming year, the sand reservoir and all the things that may come to pass. Here you will find the potentials and possibilities - things that you can accomplish, major transitions that are coming, and issues that are ready to be dealt with in the coming year.
Because this spread is so personal, I feel it works best if done for oneself, rather than for another person. If done for a client, it is helpful to actively involve them in interpreting the cards of the past year and in setting goals for the coming year. The reader can give ideas about what types of events or energies the card represents, and then the client should determine what this means personally to them.
Reversals - Here are some ideas about how to handle reversals in this spread. Reversals in the base level may indicate significant problems that have occurred within the past year. Some thought should be given to why these problems occurred, whether they are now resolved, and what lessons could be learned from them. Reversals in the second level represent negative energies that are passing out of our lives, or are ready to be released (a good thing!). Reversals in the center are read normally. Reversals in the fourth level indicate challenges that will need to be met and overcome in the near future. If there are reversed or unwelcome cards in the top level, it may be an indication that the current direction or path is not going to bring about a desirable or positive result. In general, this spread is about reflection and goal-setting, rather than prediction. If it appears that a negative situation may arise as a result of the current path, this provides a perfect opportunity to change the course of the coming year by choosing a different path.
The above is a fairly traditional way of reading reversals, and there are other methods as well. For example, reversed cards may be seen as inwardly-directed energies, and upright cards as outwardly focused actions. Reversed cards may be more subtle energies, hidden, or manifesting later in the year. If all or nearly all of the cards in this spread are reversed, there may be a more literal sense of time flowing backwards, or past issues resurfacing in the coming year.