Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs Spread

le fey

It's been strange - after not thinking much at all about it since a sociology course I took a million years ago, Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs has turned up in no less then three entirely unrelated and very different conversations I've been in in the last week or so.

So I decided to look it up, refresh my memory of what the order was and learned that Maslow refined his heirarchy and it has a couple of extra levels than I remember. He also made room for the reality that people can work on higher levels even if they are still lacking fulfillment at the lower levels. The original version indicated that if lower tier needs aren't met, it is very difficult for the person to operate properly at the higher tier levels (that is, a person struggling to meet shelter needs is less likely to be focused on meeting their esteem issues). Where you are in the heirarchy determines much of what motivates you - you're motivated to meet the needs you lack. Another example is in the job arena - if your basic survival and security needs are met, it's more likely that you're motivated on the job by higher tier needs (meaningful work, good social environment) than just by the money.

The final version of Maslow's Heirarchy, with the additional levels, is this (from bottom to top):

* Physiological; hunger, thirst, etc
* Safety and Security
* Belongingness and Love
* Esteem
* Cognitive; understanding, knowledge
* Aesthetic; order, beauty
* Self Actualization; fulfilment and realisation of potential
* Self transcendence; connection with something beyond the ego or to help others fulfil their potential

What really struck me about this version is that they seem to be in pairs, and that the pairs reflect the suits! So hmm.... looks like a spread to me!

This is what I have worked out - I haven't tried this out yet, but I will be soon, and I'd be really happy if others would try it out and suggest any modifications:

.........9......... - Summary/Advice
.......7...8...... - Fire/Wands
.....5.......6.... - Air/Swords
...3...........4... - Water/Cups
1.................2 - Earth/Pentacles

For each position 1-8, the focus is on what the seeker's relationship is to that need and explores how they go about meeting that need.

The final card, 9, offers a summary. A minor suit will show where in the heirarchy they are at the moment (by suit) and offer advice about how to proceed. Card below that area on the tier are more easily handled, while those above are more of a struggle.

A trump card will also offer advice and a summary of the life lesson/purpose the seeker is working through, which should be taken into account as they meet their needs - it should be applied back to each card to see how their current methods complement their life purpose.

The positions:

1. Physiological needs: Hunger, rest, health, etc. Basic survival needs.
2. Security and Safety needs

3. Social Needs - Belongingness/Relatedness/Love from and of others
4. Esteem Needs - Self-esteem - love of self

5. Cognitive Needs - knowledge, understanding, clarity
6. Aesthetic Needs - order, beauty, the arts

7. Self-Actualization Needs - personal fulfillment and realization of potential
8. Self-Transcendence Needs - beyond the ego/mentoring others

9. Where are you now? Advice.


le fey

After more thought, an experimental reading using this spread, and a really helpful PM discussion, I've decided there are a few possible variations of this that might work equally well, although the altered approaches will highlight some different sorts of focus in this spread.

My original intent was to let the cards fall as they may. Majors would highlight the important areas where there are lessons involved in getting that need met, Courts focusing on roles played in meeting those needs, and the pips highlighting activity within that need. Pips that are of the same element as the level they're in indicate a flow of energy - emotional needs handled in an emotional way, etc. When they aren't the same, it spells out how the energy applied to meeting that need isn't approached directly... mental needs being met in a physical way, or according to emotional criteria, etc.

The second variation, worked out in PM, would involve actually dividing the cards into separate piles - Major Arcana and the four suits, and selecting cards from each suit for the level of need that applies - drawing Pentacles for the Earth level, etc. One card from the Major Arcana would be drawn for the last card at the top of the heirarchy, and point to the major lesson/spiritual principle at work and be compared against the remaining cards to note how meeting ones needs is working toward or in opposition to one's higher purpose. This version would, I think, offer a more focused look at how each level is expressed and include some higher guiding principle to keep in mind.

The final variation would bring in reversals, and could be used with either of the above methods - here reversals would flag trouble areas - needs that are being blocked or that are a struggle. Places where we either aren't meeting our own needs or resisting understanding what our needs are or what is needed to make them possible. In this case, the reading is less of a snapshot and more of a diagnosis of troubling areas that we should work on.

Does that make sense?


I think the concept is absolutely brilliant. I'm not in a position to think extensively on this right now, but I'm bookmarking this thread to take a whirl with this spread and variations tomorrow. I'd like to see how the Osho Zen would address Maslow.

le fey

Oh wonderful! Please do share how that goes - I was thinking that the Osho Zen deck would be perfect for this sort of work.


I am a fan of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs as a driver for behaviors - especially for companies (I am always trying to figure out what drives behaviors). I am looking forward to trying this and seeing what others thins.

Thanks for sharing the spread, Le Fey!


le fey

Huh... it'd be interesting to use this to look at a group dynamic/professional environment, wouldn't it?? I bet that would be really interesting, especially with something like the Bright Ideas deck.


le fey said:
Huh... it'd be interesting to use this to look at a group dynamic/professional environment, wouldn't it?? I bet that would be really interesting, especially with something like the Bright Ideas deck.

Or PsyCards. I think it would work well with them.

I am about to reveal my fundamental ignorance of Maslow by asking...isn't his system a modern Western way of talking about the chakras?

really should be harder at work today

le fey

It wouldn't surprise me at all - Maslow published his ideas on this in 1970, so Eastern philosophies and the concept of working with chakras would certainly have been a part of his awareness.

(And *gasp* that means that when I first learned it, it was still a very young idea. the heirarchy, not chakras. They didn't come up.)


I have now used this spread and >wow< is it a lot of work. Lots of infor for the querent though.

Highly recommended, but allow lots of time.



I'd be interested in hearing if anyone knows more about the connection between chakras and Maslow's hierarchy. I had never heard of them in relation to each other before.