Sunday, 10 September 2017

Spreads: Q&A

The majority of books / readers will tell you to pick a significator but this is unnecessary and counter productive in my opinion. The significator is a card chosen to represent the person for whom the reading is being done and always a Minor Arcana court card. Take my advice and forget about them, they just deprive you of a card and take up a space .....depending on the spread.

Spreads are similar to the cards in that you need to get a clear definition in your mind of what the spread represents and stick to it. It doesn't have to be a recognised spread from a book, you can make one yourself for your own specific requirements. There are of course well-known spreads to use but I find most inadequate.

As this is a step-by-step guide we will begin with a simple spread you can use with just the Major Arcana. I will reiterate the fact I find these spreads a little restrictive when only using the Major Arcana, but it is a good starting point for novices and will get you used to the cards. You can give more depth to a Major Arcana reading by employing the reverse meanings. This is a six card spread I adapted myself for a question and answers routine. Somewhat predictably I called it the 'Q&A' spread.


The way I use this spread is at the end of a reading. There will always be questions after a reading and this gives the inquisitor an opportunity to home in on what they have been told. Unfortunately the Tarot cannot give yes or no answers, all it can do is give an indication of what is likely to occur if a certain path is followed.

On that basis, I ask the inquisitor to focus on each choice they may have in mind, in turn. For instance, if a person cannot decide whether to go to a meeting or not. The question is not "should I go?", instead I tell the person to get it set in their mind they will go. I then give a reading for that scenario. Next I tell the person to get it set in their mind they won't go and give a second reading. Sometimes there are several options and a spread should be done for each.

In the case above the inquisitor may get one good reading and one bad reading making a decision easy. They may get two good readings and then they have to decide which is best. Alternately they may get two bad ones and then it is a case of the lesser of two evils, or find another option.

To end this part of the tutorial we must look also at how the cards are selected. I only use two methods for card selection. The most common method I use is to shuffle the cards then give them to the inquisitor. The inquisitor shuffles and (with left hand) cuts the pack into three piles, they then put the piles back together again (still with left hand) in their order of preference. From then on I take cards from the top of the pile to lay out the spread.

I use this method for all spreads except the Q&A spread above, but that is merely a personal choice. To select cards for this spread I will shuffle first then ask the inquisitor to do the same. Then - without cutting the cards - I spread the cards out similarly to below.


I say 'similarly' because there are a few issues with the picture. Firstly I find it better to keep the cards in a straight line rather than the depicted curve above. Also the cards must be evenly spread to allow access to all cards. When this is done, invite the inquisitor to select a card by running their hand over the top of the cards, close above but without touching them.

This brings me to another issue with the picture and is a common mistake. The inquisitor's palm should be over the centre of the cards, not the fingertips as above. The reason for this is the reader asks the inquisitor to 'feel' for any change in temperature over the cards and it is easier to sense small changes with the palm. Strange as it seems there are noticeable fluctuations as you run your hand over the cards - slowly - that can either be warmer or cooler. Repeat this until six cards have been selected. Finally, in the picture above the person is using their right hand not their left.

Sometimes an inquisitor will insist they never meant to pick a certain card. Remind them that the Tarot works through synchronicity which in fact means there is no such thing as 'choosing the wrong card'.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

The Cards - Major Arcana

The Major Arcana make up 40% of the Tarot pack and are everybody's favourite. This is largely because apart from the Court cards, they were the only ones with images. That has changed over the years as more and more artistic content is included in the Minor Arcana. A number of books and booklets employ a story method they associate with the Major Arcana. That is to say they go from 1-22 giving parts of a story to each card.

I learnt the hard way and largely dismissed this as nonsensical, then I saw memory-men on television explaining their method which was remarkably similar. Of course I revised my opinion and now see a possible benefit, the problem was they didn't explain in the books / booklets this is what in fact they were doing. Perhaps they didn't know. All I'm saying is that whilst not for me personally, it may benefit some novices. I would suggest you put your own spin on the story though.

Remember there is much conflicting information and what someone will tell you is one thing, someone else will tell you is quite another. Also remember, despite what some may lead you to believe, anybody can learn to read Tarot cards.

In an ideal world, you would learn the way I did, with a normal pack of cards, though I was young. The Tarot pack was the last Christmas gift I received off my Grandmother and I was left to sort it out myself. It took nearly ten years before the fog lifted. However, nobody has ten years to spare so let's look at the Major Arcana.

There are a number of spreads suitable for the Major Arcana. I won't lie, I have doubts due to limitation but it's good to get you started. Most misconceptions surround the Major Arcana, so before going any further here are the most common.

Above are the Lovers, Death, and the Wheel of Fortune, all of which the uninformed associate with the title of the card. The Lovers - as suggested in the imagery - doesn't necessarily mean a romantic liaison or relationship. The card is a card of choice. The Wheel of Fortune and Death are cards of change. Death doesn't mean death although depending on other cards, it could. There again, so could several other cards. Death means a sudden complete change, just as the Wheel of Fortune signifies a change in luck.

Both these cards can be positive or negative and you don't need a reverse meaning to determine which. It is safe to say that if you are currently down on your luck, both are good cards to draw as change is imminent. Conversely if you have been having a lot of good fortune then they are cards you don't want to see.

These are just a few examples from the Major Arcana on how cards can have both positive and negative connotations. Again it is down to correlation with other cards in the spread. The Minor Arcana is no different. 

Friday, 8 September 2017

The Cards - Minor Arcana

The Minor (or Lesser) Arcana comprise of 56 suit cards, with fourteen in each suit. The only way these suits vary from the now more familiar packs of cards, is the four extra cards depicting the Knights. There are the regular spot cards from Ace (one) to ten, followed by Jack (or Knave represented by the Page in the Tarot), Queen and King.

The suits are the same, or similar, though are known by different names.
  • Hearts  =  Cups / Chalices representing the element Water and concerns Emotions
  • Clubs = Wands / Staves / Batons representing the element Fire and concerns Communications
  • Spades = Swords representing the element Air and concerns Obstacles
  • Diamonds = Coins / Pentacles representing the element Earth and concerns Wealth
These of course are just rudimentary descriptions and not all cards of a particular suit will necessarily indicate the above. As ever it is all down to correlation and interpretation, above is just an outline. So why do we need to know the elements? This is particularly helpful when interpreting the Court cards (Page/Knight/Queen/King), when trying to identify a person in a spread. For example the King of Cups would likely signify somebody who is one of the astrological Water signs.

The Court cards can be a little confusing to the novice reader, and indeed to some of the so-called experts - if there is such a thing in this field. Kings and Queens aren't so bad as they represent people. However Knights and Pages can also relate to situations. It can be difficult on say a Celtic Cross spread when a Court card turns up for reasons outlined in the Spread section. To further complicate things, the Page representing a young person can be male or female.

To further assist identification of an individual, the Court cards can be both physically descriptive and / or give an indication of temperament. Care again is required (and intuition?) as the card could be an either / or, or both.





















Cups as you would expect, relate to an emotional person. This could indicate a very loving person, but conversely it may point to a selfish or jealous person. The person may be generous or spiteful, the key is with the other cards. If it is a physically descriptive sense, then the person is fair-headed. Due to the emotional connection it is often a loved one but may just be someone with a kindly disposition.

Wands like the others are pretty straightforward. They indicate a chatty, communicative person, they can be intelligent or the court jester. Generally they indicate middle colouring, auburn or brown hair. The Fire element does suggest they may not be a person to be trifled with. Often the Wands relate to work and the King / Queen could be an employer or significant colleague.

Swords are difficult people. They could be an Air sign and often this relates to a pale skinned person with dark hair. They can be petulant and quick to anger. Swords also relate to authority and legal matters or those in a medical practice.

Coins relates to monetary matters and that is no different with the Court cards. Bank managers, gold-diggers, anybody whose main motivation is finance. The positive and negative connotations are quite obvious. In a descriptive sense, Earth signs are the astrological connection but I find this a little tenuous with Coins and Wands. Physically, these cards can represent people with darker complexions.

Now we have a basic grasp of the suits and court cards, let's take a look at other ways to simplify the learning process.

Ace these cards all represent a kind of new beginning but some lateral thinking is sometimes required when correlating. The cards also have other meanings but they amount to the same thing. For example the Ace of Cups is also known as a fertility card, or a gift usually in the form of a ring. Think about the possibilities for now, a full description is given in the Ace of Cups post.

Two as you might expect the two is a union or coming together of some kind. Many believe the Lovers to be the relationship card but it is in fact the Two of Cups. The Two of Coins is a little different but as with all cards a full divination will be given on the relevant post.

Five is not very nice in all four suits. A five usually means a loss of some kind although the Five of Wands turns out well with the correct way of doing things. The others are self-explanatory but remember, it is all a matter of scale. The loss can be insignificant and other cards must be taken into consideration before worrying someone over trifles.

Six is a card I like to see. It is positive, an achievement card of sorts, but you have to make sure you take full advantage or it could be a missed opportunity. The Six of Coins is a little different to the others on the surface but with thought it applies.

Seven whilst not awful gives a feeling of treading water or achieving little with much effort. The Seven of Swords is the least productive of the sevens, but none are particularly appealing.

Three - Four - Eight - Nine - Ten all vary considerably between suits.

Page a young person of undetermined gender, a situation, and / or merely a physical description.

Knight the same as a Page except if relating to a person, it is male generally 21-35 depending on mental maturity. Females mature quicker than males and in all but a minority of cases, when describing an immature woman, ladies in this age group are depicted as Queens.

Queens - Kings almost exclusively relate to a more mature age group of people, those with a significant influence, or those in authority.

That gives prospective Tarot readers plenty to be going on with. Remember the most important thing is getting in your mind some concrete meanings for each of the cards. As long as your mind is set on a meaning, that is what the card will reflect regardless of other interpretations.