Tarot Card Values
In learning to read the tarot, the listings of meanings for a card should be whittled down to what relates to the information sought, question asked, or surrounding cards, as with a nonspecific reading when the querant seeks only a general idea of current surrounding influences. This means that not all meanings listed for a card apply in any given reading. Nothing can be more confusing to the querant than to have a list of possible meanings rattled off with no clue as to which one is pertinent, so use your intuitive powers to get an overall impression from the cards present so they form a cohesive unit. Visions or sensing a strong interpretation for a card should prevail over all, since the tarot is a tool of mediumship, channeling, and connection with the Divine in counseling. You may want to read each card as it falls, or turn over a laid-out spread one by one, or you may prefer to see the spread all at once for a unified impression. Usually, the cards can be connected into a lucid sequence of events and impressions, and this is how you should read them. Other times, there are specific areas covered in a placement, and the card should be read to relate to that place meaning. Even after following the place settings of the cards, there is still a flow between them that you will perceive and relate to.
I feel that since reversed Tarot cards are a recent innovation, and there are sufficient cards in the deck for a concise reading, these reverse meanings may be ignored as you right the card, or else they may be read as lessening the influence of the card or delaying the influence. Again, you will learn to trust your intuition with practice, and let this be your guide in the interpretations. For me, the Aces are power cards, and I always read them as upright. Remember that in the original tarot decks the number cards were double-sided, meaning that there were no reverses for these. The court cards and Major Arcana were pictures that could be seen as upside-down, but as these were considered power cards or people cards, they were righted for the readings. Today, all the cards tend to be illustrated, so you must decide for yourself what avenue of approach to use, and I will list suggested reverse meanings later on.
There are those who say that you must stick to one style of reading so as to gain proficiency, but I believe that nothing in Nature is stationary, so why should we attempt to be contrary to Nature? If you normally turn reverses right side up, but in a reading your psychic pull tells you that a reversed card should be read as delay or lesser power, then do so. If the spread you use has a set guide for each space where you place a Tarot card, but you see an unfolding series of events, read it the way you see it. The reading is not for you, but for the querant, and if there is something that the Divine wants to impart, it will be there.
In the area of revealing the import of the cards, tact is a major consideration. You need to be careful with how you phrase things. I did a reading for a woman who was trying to come to a decision about a man she said was her boyfriend, and while the cards were obviously telling her it was time to let go, she was the type of person who needed to be told in no uncertain terms what was being indicated. I prefer to let people draw their own conclusions from the influences indicated in the cards, so that they can see what the possible outcomes are for any particular action they might take. This woman, however, was not content with that, and wanted the blunt, in-your-face meaning of the spread. Her strong energy was clearly reflected in the cards, and she was finally satisfied with having this presented to her in no uncertain terms. For her, the reading progressed from showing that the influences for a relationship were not there, to flatly stating that the cards showed the guy simply was not interestedso how could he be her boyfriend much less a candidate for marriage? She accepted that, and I felt she had to already know this, but wanted to ground herself psychically before accepting his rejection of her romantic overtures. For her part, she acknowledged the reality of the situation and even admitted that the man was really only an acquaintance whom she was pursuing, and recognized that she was on the borderline between ardent and harassing. With that understood, she was able to let go without a loss of self-esteemthe chemistry or energy for a relationship just was not there.
Care must be taken in reading cards in a spread that may seem to have a heavily negative overtone. The individual cards themselves depict various influences and conditionsthings that you may interpret as giving warnings about negative energies, about delays or obstacles, and offer alternative avenues of approach to a problem or situation. If you see a physical death in the cards, should you reveal this? Tough decision. By withholding the information, a person may be shocked when the event occurs, but by giving the information, a person may blame you for the event. You need to determine what the person seems willing to listen to, and approach with consideration to the person’s feelings. You could ask if someone is ailing, if this is what you see, or if the querant has checked with a close relative (for example) lately, and if not, that this might be worth doing.
When I see something momentous in a reading, I will try to draw out from the querant what this relates to, and usually the person is already aware of a problem and appreciates the confirmation in order to be prepared. In other cases, I prefer to give a more indirect warning, so that instead of saying, for example, “You will be in a car wreck in two days,” I would say, “You have to be very careful, focused, and aware of your surrounding when driving for the next two days because there is a lot of chaotic energy around you and automobiles.” The first interpretation leaves no opportunity in the mind of the querant to avoid the situation, while the second interpretation offers the querant a chance to avert an accident. Remember that the primary goal of a reading is to see what energies are influencing a situation and how to work with them or deflect them as desired by the querant.
Not all negatively influenced readings reflect the true situation, so be prepared to assess the emotional state of the querant. There are times when the person getting the reading has already determined that everything is awful, and this is passed on into the cards. To overcome this, you must draw up additional energy from the Earth and from the Universe to get a clearer picture of any given situation.
The other end of the spectrum is what I like to call the “happy, happy, joy, joy” readings, where the querant is so enthusiastic and optimistic, and everything turns up gloriously in the cards. Perhaps this is a realistic assessment, since there are people who, without thinking about it, manipulate energy by sheer upbeat personal energy. These are the rare, haloed onespeople who succeed at everything with very little effort, and I can only imagine that they are high up in the spiritual scales. With these people, you have to look through the overlay of optimism to see what is really happening below the surfaceotherwise, all you can say is that everything is just great. By focusing beneath or past the aura, which looks like a bright sparkling haze, you can then make out the sensible information. Yes, this is generally a reading of good things, but beyond that, you can see what is going on when and where, in career or family, and so forth.
Once you have given your reading, there may be some areas needing clarification, so you may want to take one of the cards from the spread and use it as a base for another spread laid over it. In this case, you are focused on the issue represented in the card, and you gather, reshuffle, cut, collect, and cast the next spread to broaden the scope of the information received through the earlier card. With my Tree of Life spread, illustrated later on in this book, I can lay out the spread in a single layer, and if seeking more information, continue to lay out the cards without reshuffling. Another technique is to lay out the cards in a spread, then reshuffle the remaining cards in your hands and lay out one or more to extend the reading of a particular card in the spread. These additional cards form little rivers or branches extending from those cards being further investigated. This type of layout is done after the complete spread is first laid out. If a spread has ten cards, for example, you would cast the ten cards, and as you are reading them, you might pause at one of these cards, shuffle the remaining deck again, and run a few cards off the one that interested you for clarification. An important thing to keep in mind when expanding a reading is to not over-stress your own energy levels. If you feel you are becoming tired, fuzzy-headed, or headachy, draw up more Earth energy for support.
Some people become tarot addicts and want a reading every day, or even several times a day. This is not a good idea, and unless you want to get calls at all hours of the day and night you should advise people that once a month is more than sufficient, with once every six months being the best practice. You do not want to enable the tarot as a tool for someone to put off the decisions of daily life, so you may find you need to put your psychic foot down with the querant who never seems to get enough information before taking any type of action.
As you experiment with the tarot cards and develop your psychic abilities, avoid letting the cards become the end all of your activities. The key to readings is that they provide insight for a situation, but the situation will not be resolved simply by reading the cardsaction or response of some sort must also take place. The cards only offer a glimpse of how things are currently lined up, but that can change depending on what is or is not done by the querant. This is not to say that the tarot may not be used daily by any means. Drawing a single card at random from your deck in the morning while focusing on asking what the tone for the day will be can help you see at the outset what influences are working around you. This does not entail a deep reading with a detailed card spread, just a quick glance at what is in the air, and is much like pulling a daily rune from a rune pouch. Doing a daily spread for yourself is fine for the practice, but after awhile you will probably discover that there simply is not enough time between readings for them to offer much variation, and with mostly mundane matters reflected in the cards, the scope of the readings becomes very narrow.
Numbers and Suits
Numerology can play a part in the readings, and there are additional meanings for multiples of numbered cards. Each number, 2 through 10, has its own significance in the tarot, and is influenced by the suit. Each suit has its own qualities and influences the tone of the spread by the amount represented, so that if, for example, the cards are mostly wands, the reading is mainly career and creativity focused. If there are three or more cards of one number, the number itself indicates the focus of the reading, so that if the spread with the mostly wands cards contains several 6s, you know the reading is more likely attuned to career and an impending decision. The suit of an Ace in a spread of cards may be used to indicate a timetable, subject to interpretation, which is covered in part three.
I see an overall influence in a spread by the general interpretation for the pips or court cards, as well as by additional meanings for multiples of 3 and 4 of the same card. Thus, there are three or four suits represented to achieve the multiples of a number2 of wands, swords, cups, and coins gives you four 2s. An additional number comes from the Major Arcana, so that if, in this example, there is also the Drawing Down the Moon (High Priestess) card in the casting, then there are five 2s, since this is the numeral usually assigned to that Major Arcana card. While doubles of the numbers 2 through 10 in a spread are not normally given special significance, I generally interpret this as a lightweight influence of the number, so a spread with two 10s, as an example, indicates moderate success in the subject of the reading. When there are several sets of multiple cards, I read them as a coherent and interrelated whole based on the other cards and the subject of the reading. Aces and court cards have additional meanings for doubles, with Aces indicating something powerful and impressive, and court cards relating to people interactions and social events. The Aces are also matched in the Major Arcana with the Witch (Magician) as the number 1.
Meditations and Pathworking
Meditation is a good process for gaining a feel for the cards of the Major Arcana, for it involves looking inward without paying attention to the externals, and provides a means of receiving information from the Divine and the Universal Unconsciousthe storehouse of universal experience accessible through altered states of consciousness. There are different ways of meditating, and you should follow the type that suits your needs. When you have an issue requiring clarification, a problem for which you cannot seem to find a solution, or a remedy you cannot quite grasp, meditation will often remove the barriers to creativity and lucid thought. Through meditation you release the subconscious mind to work on a problem that your conscious mind was perhaps too busy or impeded to properly address. Conscious fear of change, inadequacy, hopelessness, or uncertainty can stymie the creative process on that level, so this is when you tell the conscious mind to lie down and take a rest, and let the enthusiastic energy of the subconscious mind take over. For each type of meditation, you first focus on the issue you want to see resolved, then dismiss it from your mindstop thinking about itand proceed to the meditation.
One method of meditation is to simply go for a walk. Your conscious mind is actually occupied with the activities of moving your feet, noting the distances and motions of objects, the scent of the air, the sounds of the birds, and the view of the landscape around you. While this is happening, the subconscious mind is plugging away at the problem, and the answer will burst upon your consciousness as a sudden bolt of insight. You snap your fingers and say something like, “Of course!” and finish your walk with a happy, light step. A second method of meditation is to think about what you are seeking, then lie down and relax, releasing your cares into a half-sleep. During this time you are accessing the subconscious mind, but you are not in a dream state. This method is best for healing and matters of the heart: love, loneliness, remorse, companionship, and the like.
For tarot meditations, there is a third stylesitting comfortably but erect, with both feet on the floor and hands resting in your lap, so that you are ready to gain insight into specific problems or issues by addressing them. The procedure is usually two-fold: breathing and visualizing. Begin with breathing and muscle relaxation exercises to release tension, (a pattern of mentally counting “one, two” then holding a count while inhaling, and exhaling to “one, two” and holding a count before resuming the process, while also tensing and relaxing the muscles from the feet upward and down again), then move into a visualization to take you to a safe place from where you move on to find a solution as presented to you by the beings you encounter in your travels or from looking into a reflective surface at the destination (a pool, well, cauldron, etc.). You can also slip into a meditative state by standing in a relaxed position and letting your thoughts detach and take flight. For meditating with the tarot, the easiest method is to be seated at a table while gazing at a selected card, seeking from within yourself the hidden meanings of the symbols and how they apply to you. This enables you to tap into the Universal Consciousness of symbols and unspoken interpretations, of senses and feelings, of intuition and comprehension.
Pathworking is also a method for developing your insight for each card of the tarot. It is very much like a sitting meditation, only what you are doing is encountering specifically the beings on each card, walking with them for a while in their setting, listening to what they may speak or indicate through gesture and action, and learning directly from the card what meaning it holds for you. The technique is often used in association with a Kabbalah pattern for magic called the Tree of Life (different from my card spread), which depicts three pillars containing ten forms of being, interlinked through pathways. The whole is a blueprint for showing the process of bringing something into being through the application of manifesting force into a formthat is, creating through concept. The cards of the Minor Arcana are aligned with the forms by suits and court cards, while the cards of the Major Arcana are the twenty-two pathways between these ten structures, or emanations. This area of study was popularized by the Rosicrucians and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and plays a strong role in Ceremonial Magic. It is because of two separate ideas of where the Major Arcana cards should be placed on the Tree of Life that the Strength and Justice cards may be reversed in their numbering, with the Golden Dawn changing the numbers from 11 for Strength and 8 for Justice to 8 for Strength and 11 for Justice. Today, depending on the tarot deck, these cards have either number, with most of the older numbered decks favoring 11 for Strength, but the newer decks (as with the various interpretations of the Rider-Waite Tarot) using 8 for Strength since it actually fits on the Tree better at that position. However, the earliest decks from five centuries ago were not numbered at all, and any numbering is only a couple of centuries old, so use what you feel is appropriate.
The archetypes of the Major Arcana may be applied to any magical system simply because they are universal concepts. Pathworking, then, may be done with or without the Tree of Life method, simply by moving with the card imagery, or through envisioning the starting and ending points on the Tree and traveling along the bridgeway linkage with the card imagery. In either situation, you are opening yourself to the subtle meanings of the card. Pathworking may also be done as a guided meditation by having someone else work with you, or by using a recording that you have purchased or created for yourself.
Now that you have a little background information on the tarot, take out your deck to use along with the next two parts, or use the illustrations provided, and let’s get started on the cards. Part two is devoted to the Major Arcana, and part three looks at the Minor Arcana, including the multiples. After this the cards of the individual suits are addressed, followed by information on using spreads and looking at the relationship between paired cards. Finally, a list of key words, tarot exercises, and a record-keeping chart rounds out the text. The idea of tarot reading is to enjoy what you are doing.
If you would like to consecrate your deck before using, you may do so by stating, “I call upon the Goddess and the God, the Power of the Earth and Sky, Moon, and Sun, that this deck be consecrated to my use.” Then sprinkle a little sea salt over the deck as you state, “by Elemental Earth”; pass the deck through incense smoke, “by Elemental Air”; pass the deck quickly through a candle flame as you state, “by Elemental Fire”; and sprinkle very lightly (so as not to damage the cards) with spring water as you state, “and by Elemental Water” (wipe off any water spots), “is this deck cleansed and made ready for my use, so mote it be.” An alternate method is to pass the deck through incense smoke and set it on the pentacle while stating words of purification and consecration: “Through incense smoke is this deck cleansed and purified, grounded by the pentacle, and consecrated to my use by the power of the Lady and the Lord. So Mote It Be!” Wrap the deck in silk or cotton cloth without the box it came in. Any color may be used for the cloth, but it should have significance for you, such as black for protective power and warding negativity, purple for spiritual power, green for Earth power, red for success power, silver for Lunar power, or gold for Solar power. Place the wrapped cards in a box or other special place where you may safely keep them when not in use.
Authors Details: From the book “Tarot for the Green Witch” by: Ann Moura