One of the most difficult aspects in reading tarot is trying to assess when things will happen. Timing becomes particularly of interest when a client wants to know when they will meet their next romantic partner, or how long it will be until they find a job. You will be hard-pressed to escape timing questions when reading tarot for others. To help make this a little easier for beginning readers, I have compiled several ways to answer those difficult “when” questions.
Timing using Suit/Arcana
This is by far my favorite way of determining a specific time frame.
To do this, you ask your question and draw a single card, then use the suit/arcana to determine the time frame. Using this method, swords are days, wands are weeks, cups are months, and pentacles are years. The corresponding number of the card provides specifics. For example, if you asked how long it would be until you got a job offer, the four of wands would indicate a time period of four weeks.
Court cards mean that other things must transpire before a time frame can be determined, so the answer is unclear at the moment.
If a card from the major arcana is pulled, the issue that corresponds to the card must first be addressed before the desired outcome can occur. If someone looking for love pulled the Emperor card, then the advice may be that the structure of their life isn’t conducive to a new relationship. They may be too rigid and controlling with their time, making it impossible to socialize and meet new people.
In Summary –
Swords = Days
Wands = Weeks
Cups = Months
Pentacles = Years
Court Cards = Other events must transpire
Major Arcana = Must address issues first
Golden Dawn Method
This method uses the corresponding season associated with each suit to determine when an event will happen. In this method, wands are summer, cups are autumn, pentacles are winter, and spring are swords. I will often use this method to double-check that the timing suggested by the first method is correct.
Each tarot card has a specific time period associated with it. If you choose to use this method, you will need a source for determining what that time frame is. I have many tarot books that assist with this.
For example, the Eight of Swords corresponds with the first decan of Gemini (May 21st – 31st). If you pulled that card in answer to your question, then that may be when the event will occur. This is far simpler when you are using the major arcana, as many tarot decks will provide visual clues on the card to help you remember what the astrological significance is of the card. For instance, in the Thoth deck, there is clearly a ram on Emperor card, denoting Aries.
Experiment with these methods and see what works for you.
Feel free to explore these methods, and let me know what you think. Do you have a preferred method that you want to share? If so, please tell me in the comments.
After I read for a client, many of them express to me that they want to learn how to read the tarot cards for themselves. The two most frequent questions I hear are, “How do you learn to read the tarot cards?” and “How long did it take you to learn to read tarot?”
I have compiled my top five tips on learning to read the tarot. Other readers may have different opinions, but this is my blog, so I’m offering my opinion. I welcome the feedback of other readers in the comments.
Tip 1 – Purchase the Rider Waite Tarot Deck (this includes the Radiant Rider Waite or Universal Rider Waite).
I believe that this is the ideal deck for anyone who is learning to read the tarot. My reasons for this are numerous. One, almost every book you read when learning the meanings of the cards will feature images from the Rider Waite. This makes it very simple to transfer the knowledge from the book to the cards you are working with. Two, almost all tarot decks available for sale are based on the imagery found in the Rider Waite. If you can learn to read with this deck, you can learn to read with nearly any deck you want to work with. Sometimes when I read with an art deck (like the Wild Unknown), I close my eyes and see the images from the Rider Waite to help me determine the meaning of a card. I am very glad this was the first deck I learned.
Here is a comparison between the Rider Waite and some other popular decks. Can you guess the meaning of the card? Do you see how the card on the right doesn’t convey quite the same meaning? The meaning is the same, but it is harder to intuitively pick up on it.
Tip 2 – Purchase books on the meaning of the tarot cards and read, read, read.
There are a growing number of readers who identify as intuitive readers (meaning they use their intuition alone to determine the meaning of the tarot cards), but I think it is critical to learn the traditional meanings. This will enable you to work with more decks if you choose to expand your collection. It is relatively easy to read the Rider Waite intuitively, especially the minors. But when you work with more abstract decks like the Thoth or the Wild Unknown, it is great to have an index of symbols and meanings associated with each card.
I also suggest you seek out information from the best and brightest in the field of tarot. My personal favorites include Benebell Wen, Marcus Katz, Rachel Pollack, Mary Greer, Eden Grey, and Joan Bunning. Here are a list of some of my favorite tarot books.
Holistic Tarot by Benebell Wen (I just got this, but I know it’s going to be one of my favorites. It’s thicker than the Bible.)
Llewelyn’s Complete Book of Tarot by Anthony Louis
78 Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack
Tip 3 – Commit to drawing at least one card daily.
Each and every day, draw a card in the morning. Write it down in a journal along with the date. Write down everything you know about the card. As the day progresses, be sure to pay attention to how the energy of that card plays out in your life. At the end of the day, write down any notes from what you observed. Then, look up the meaning in one of your books and jot down any meanings or symbols you may have missed. The best way to truly learn the meaning of a card is to experience it on your own. Journaling is an excellent way to record your personal experiences with each card in the deck.
Tip 4 – Study!
You aren’t going to learn tarot without commitment to studying regularly. When I was learning I didn’t go a day without reading, listening, or talking about the tarot. Podcasts, audiobooks, regular books, blogs… Consume them all.
Personally, I would recommend tackling the meaning of the cards in the following order.
The Major Arcana (you must understand the Fool’s Journey)
The Court Cards
For some reason, court cards were the most challenging for me to master. I suppose that is why I saved them for last. You may wish to tackle them first. The choice is yours.
I also recommend sticking to the upright meaning of each card at first. Reversals can be very confusing for a beginning reader.
Tip 5 – Join the tarot community.
The tarot community is alive and thriving. Where I live, I am lucky to have an entire “fortune-telling family” that supports and encourages each other. If you live in the Tallahassee area, there is a fantastic FREE tarot class held every Sunday by one of Tallahassee’s best and most experienced readers, Leah. Please contact me for details. These are the people you need in your life!
Sadly, this isn’t a possibility for many people throughout the world. Fear not, because as long as you have Facebook, you are among friends. Reach out and join some tarot groups. Here are the Facebook groups I couldn’t live without.
Tarot Tarot Tarot (this is definitely aimed at beginners, and provides new tarot readers a place to exchange readings and get feedback in a public forum)
Tarot Professionals (over 24,000 members and counting!)
Tarot Rebels (just don’t post pictures from Rider Waite here – this is for other decks only)
If I follow these tips, how long until I’m proficient with tarot?
I would say that with six months to a year of devoted daily practice and study you can learn to read for yourself, as well as friends and family, rather fluently.
Under no circumstances do I feel it is ethical to charge for readings until you have completed at least 50 free readings for your friends, family, and strangers. Once you are comfortable with several spreads and can ascertain the meaning of the cards without using a guidebook, you may be ready to charge for a reading. You may decide never to charge for a reading. Whatever floats your boat!
Also, I don’t believe there comes a point in the life of any tarot reader when you are finished learning the tarot.
The truth is, professional tarot readers never tire of discussing and learning about the tarot. As a tarot tribe we all learn from each other. The more we work with others who share our passion, the better we get at our craft. The task of learning about tarot is never done.
It isn’t often that I get obsessed with artists, writers, and poets. But it happens, and when it does I simply can’t get enough of them. As a result, I will read/listen to/watch as many of their creations as I can get my hands on. Some of my previous obsessions include (in chronological order): Stephen King, Radiohead, Quentin Tarantino, Cormac McCarthy, Arcade Fire, Sylvia Plath, and The National.
My latest obsession is with artist/writer Kim Krans, the creator of the Wild Unknown.
To begin with, she is beautiful, creative, and intelligent. But my admiration goes far beyond that. I sincerely admire her creative drive. She has passion and an amazing work ethic that has led her to create music, calendars, a tarot deck, an oracle deck, a children’s book, jewelry, clothing, and more. Her creative vision is unstoppable, and her art will live on forever. As an aspiring writer and artist she is the quintessential role model.
Not that it came easy. Kim worked hard to hone her craft. This is how she answered Portland Apothecary when asked what she turns to for inspiration in her work.
“Aritsts memoirs, biographies, and interviews. Its easy to look at others and think wow, they have it all, their life is perfect, their success came easy, etc. This leads us to feeling disconnected and bummed out. But when you read the actual stories of people’s lives, you hear all that they have gone through to get where they are, all the resistance that could’ve stopped them at any point. Its very uplifting to read stories like this, to know the truth of an artist’s life instead of a projection.”
It wasn’t long ago that I purchased the Wild Unknown Tarot deck, and I was instantly smitten. It is incredible. So when I learned there was an accompanying oracle deck called the Animal Spirit deck, well, I couldn’t exactly wait until Christmas to get it. I encouraged my husband to buy a new video game and I placed my order ($56 with shipping) guilt-free. He gets his, I get mine.
The Animal Spirit oracle is the perfect accompaniment to the Wild Unknown tarot. While the Wild Unknown Tarot provides a clear glimpse of all elements of day-to-day life, the Wild Spirit oracle provides a big picture view of our personal development. As you all know, the person we are today is not the person we were last year. We are constantly growing and evolving, changing and morphing. Using this deck in tandem with the tarot deck provides a deeper glimpse at ourselves and our current place in life, as well as where we are going.
Kim fashioned this oracle deck and the animals therein around the five elements – earth, fire, water, air, and spirit. This further enhances the connection of this deck with the world at large.
I decided to use this deck to enhance a reading with the Wild Unknown. The example is below. In recent months I have felt a strong desire to write my own story with tarot and/or continue to education on a completely new path, so I decided to probe that issue.
Question: What do I need to know about my calling to work professionally and/or write about tarot?
I jumped into reading professionally and developing a website and blog with a lot of unbridled energy. My efforts were bold, and I certainly didn’t ask for or consider the input of others in moving forward. My efforts were exhaustive and I didn’t take it slow. Within the course of a few days I had a blog and a website completely operational.
This is the final card of the Animal Spirit deck, and it represents cosmic completion and the seventh chakra. The decision to move forward with reading professionally and writing about tarot was based on the long journey I took in exploring it. It was only after a long period of dedicated study and practice that it was set into motion. Only when I felt I was fully developed in this area did I proceed.
At this point I am reading professionally but certainly not enough to justify leaving my career in education. I have choices to make about where I go from here. I need to decide what my next steps are. I have been feeling torn about where I should focus my attention. Should I return to school for another advanced degree to further my career in education or psychology, or should I honor my creativity and spirituality and pursue learning that supports my spiritual desires? Or, should I continue my day job and dedicate myself to a daily writing practice? Whatever I choose, I must honor and nourish my relationship with the tarot. It is my passion.
The turtle is grounded and connected to life. It collects life experiences and preserves these ideas under its shell for the future. The turtle energy is the energy of writers and storytellers. My current experiences are teaching me where to go from here.
A welcome sign – there is fulfillment and abundance in the future! The groundwork I lay now will result in success and achievement in the material plane. Whatever I choose to pursue will ensure a firm financial footing for myself and for my family.
It is imperative that I remember to take care of myself even as abundance abounds on the material plane. There is a tendency in the frog to become overworked and undernourished. Connecting to the source is paramount. Though frogs spend much time on land, water is critical to them! Water is rejuvenating to frogs, so when I feel bogged down I should seek renewal in lakes, rivers, or the ocean. This is an easy task as I live in Florida and am surrounded by all of the above!
I hope you have enjoyed this peek at the Animal Spirit deck. If you enjoy the Wild Unknown I would suggest adding this to your collection when feasible. As the Wild Unknown is the deck I purchased exclusively for my own readings, I simply couldn’t resist and I find it compliments my readings with the deck nicely.
The Importance of Ethics in the Psychic Realm: A Story from Cassadaga
Earlier this year I visited the mecca of the psychic world: Cassadaga, Florida. This quaint, sleepy town is the hub of the modern spiritualist movement. It has been termed, “the psychic capital of the world,” with more psychics and mediums per capita than anywhere else across the globe.
How did this come to be? Were individuals with psychic abilities drawn to this region of Florida like a moth to a flame? I’m afraid it isn’t that interesting, but still notable.
In the early 20th century a group of people within the budding spiritualist movement left their home in upstate New York following their leader, George Colby. As a young man, Colby was told during a séance that he would someday be instrumental in founding a spiritualist community in the south. In 1875, that prophecy was fulfilled when he was led through the wilderness of Florida to an area surrounded with hills by a spirit guide named “Seneca.” There he established the Cassadaga Spiritualist camp, fondly named after the city of Cassadaga, New York, that he and the others had left behind.
The first night there my husband and I enjoyed dinner at the historic (and haunted) Cassadaga Hotel, which hosts séances twice a month with one of their seasoned mediums. We did not attend the séance, though I did have a session with esteemed medium Rev. Judy Cooper while I was visiting. One night, 15-minute tarot “mini-readings” were being offered during dinner, and I encouraged my husband to get one.
It was disappointing to say the least. The reader was insistent that my husband, if not currently in the medical field, would work in the medical field soon. When he explained that he actually manages a very successful pest control office, she was insistent that he would go back to school and become a doctor.
Now I don’t claim to know the future, but this really missed the mark for us. The odds that my husband will quit his job, go to college for the next 8 years, and become a doctor are about as likely as winning the lottery. Nonetheless, he shelled out $20 for the reading and returned to dinner with me disappointed with the experience.
Later that night during our coming and going from the restaurant, we overheard the conversation of several readers in the lobby, one of which was my husband’s. They were discussing business as readers and we distinctly heard his reader say, “You have to fake it before you make it, right?!”
When it comes to psychics and mediums, there are quite a few phonies out there who spoil it for the rest of us. These individuals bring shame upon us lightworkers who honor spirit and only operate from the highest good.
I have spent most of my life as a public servant and a teacher, and I am committed to working with the tarot with only the highest ethical standards. I will tell you what I see in the cards, honestly and clearly. If we do not connect during a reading and I cannot be certain of the message, I will not take your money.
Please take a moment to review my ethical principles and business policies that govern my work at Namaste Tarot Readings and let me your thoughts below.
Control is an Illusion: An Experience with the Tower
While you make decisions that help shape your life, you are not in control. Did you understand me clearly? You are NOT in control.
For some of us this can be hard to accept. And for some, it is just a fact of life. It really is a matter of our life experiences.
Childhood and Control
How we understand our power over the circumstances in our life stems from our childhood. Some people are raised in very unstable families where things are always changing. Perhaps they moved frequently, experienced the divorce of their parents, or they were abused. These individuals grow up in environments that remind them daily that they do not have control of their lives. Now, many people who grow up this way end up just fine. Others develop very controlling behaviors in their own lives to compensate for the lack of control they felt growing up. Others never gain control of their lives and move into adulthood with a sense of victimhood and powerlessness that never leaves them. It’s luck of the draw.
On the other end of the spectrum, some people grow up feeling very empowered and in control. These people have a solid family, make good grades, get the right degree, and land the right job. Perhaps they meet their soul mate and settle down, begin their family… They take all the right actions and believe that they are soundly in control of their life.
There enters the Tower.
Sometimes, life has other plans for us. It comes in many forms, all equally terrible and upsetting, such as a cancer diagnosis, the loss of a job, a car accident, a school shooting, etc. You can never be prepared for the twists, turns, and tragedies of life that come up seemingly out of the blue. They will undoubtedly leave us in tears, shaken, frightened, and completely uneasy about life.
These events remind us that we are never 100% in control of our lives. There is always the element of fate and the wisps of karma intertwining their way through our daily lives. We must be prepared for them when they strike. This may mean putting aside money, drafting a will, being insured, and never leaving your loved one with a harsh word. You never know when it will be the last time you speak to someone.
The Tower reminds us to love harder, speak kindly, treasure the present, and be grateful for what we have. We need to thank the universe daily for what we have and the people we treasure because everything is fleeting.
And while the shock of the Tower leaves us shaken, we look forward to the next card in the major arcana, the Star, which promises us a new beginning and a renewed hope about life. We can always look forward to that moment when the world will seem hopeful again. And it will.
Any tarot reader will tell you that despite your best efforts to use tarot for guidance and to encourage only open-ended questions from your clients, people inevitably want to ask yes/no questions.
And who can blame them, really?
The truth is that we all want to know what’s going to happen. Despite our best efforts to live in the present and not to worry about the future, WE DO. I bet even Eckert Tolle (author of The Power of Now, who I adore) will occasionally lie awake some nights wondering how his next book will be received or how his next overseas tour will go.
If tarot readers are being honest, even they have probably used the cards to attempt to answer a yes/no question from time to time. I know I have. In fact, learning how to answer yes/no questions was one of the first things I attempted to learn when I began to learn tarot. I wanted to know the future, damn it!
In this method, you will use the following guidelines in deciphering the cards:
Major arcana and even-numbered minor arcana indicate YES
Court cards and odd-numbered minor arcana indicate NO
To perform this spread, you will shuffle the deck while considering the question at hand. You lay the deck down, then you cut it twice to the right so that you have three piles. You then leave the three piles on the table.
Starting with the pile on the left, lay down one card face-up. Then lay down a card from the middle pile, and then finally a card from the pile on the right.
Lay down another card from the pile on the left and the center pile. You should have a total of five cards.
At this point you will consider how many cards indicate “Yes” or “No.”
5/5 indicate “Yes” – An enthusiastic YES!
4/5 indicate “Yes” – Very probable YES.
3/5 indicate “Yes” – Probable, but not certain.
2/5 indicate “Yes” – Not likely, but possible.
1/5 indicate “Yes” – Very unlikely.
0/5 indicate “Yes” – An enthusiastic NO.
One of the best things about this spread is that the cards will provide additional information on the question, and will help you determine why something may or may not occur.
An example would be helpful, so I’m going to address a question about some land that my husband and I are trying to sell. I decided to do a quick spread on the question, ”Will my husband and I sell our land soon (in the next three months)?”
I decided to use one of my favorite decks, Thoth. Before you get hung up on my caption, please know that in the Thoth deck the Knights are actually Kings in the traditional sense of the tarot.
In order from left to right: Two of Disks (YES), The Fool (YES), The Lovers (YES), King of Cups (NO), 4 of Wands (YES)
Thank you, cards! Managing this land has been a juggling act, as it required that we jump through a ton of hoops to get it listed. There was also the expense of having it surveyed and paying to have it advertised. To be honest we could have handled the process in a much more expedient manner, but we were distracted by other more fun things and didn’t get the land listed for six months. We were also a bit foolish in our initial asking price and had great faith that it would just sell, and it didn’t. We recently made the decision to lower the price despite my husband’s initial feelings that it wasn’t enough, but with the 4 of Wands I’m certain we will have cause to celebrate soon. We just lowered the price this week. (If the cards are right, it should sell by the end of January).
I hope that you will find this method helpful in your own readings when you have a yes/no question or if a friend or client persists in asking them. However, I encourage everyone not to put too much stock in yes/no readings. The tarot is not intended for this purpose and to reduce it only to these kinds of questions is to miss out on the wealth of hidden knowledge that it contains.
Seriously… Tarot can’t really tell me anything about my life – can it?
Many people want to get a tarot reading, but don’t because they are afraid they will be disappointed.
It’s normal for people to have doubts about whether a tarot reading can really reveal things about their life if they have never received a reading before. Skepticism is alive and well in today’s society. This is especially true for matters of faith and other things beyond the lens of science.
I began my journey with tarot many years ago when I received my first tarot card reading at seventeen years of age. I was at a crossroads in my young adult life. I had just found out I was about four weeks pregnant. Confused and frightened, I turned to my friend’s mother that I adored who had keen intuitive abilities and many years of experience with reading tarot cards. I watched, fascinated, as she unfolded a beautiful piece of crimson silk and took from it her trusted tarot deck. On the kitchen countertop she laid the cards out in a cross and studied the cards with her piercing blue eyes. A moment passed and she began to speak. I sat, stunned, as everything she said aligned perfectly to my current situation.
What card was in the current situation? You guess it… The Empress.
Tears came to my eyes as she spoke about the recent challenges I had experienced. I had big choices to make in the coming weeks about what I was going to do about this pregnancy. She said my life was about to change in a very big way – and for the better. It looked as though I may even get married. This I would never have guessed, because at this point my child’s father was most certainly not ready to be a father and did not want me to have the baby. She assured me that if I continued on my current path, and trusted in my baby’s father, I would be glad I did. Things were looking up for my future. I left her house that days feeling relieved and my burden was lightened knowing that maybe, just maybe, everything was going to be okay.
Two months later I married my high school sweetheart, and a few months later I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy little girl. This year my husband and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary, and that baby is turning 18 in a few weeks. After that first reading, I was given my first Rider Waite tarot deck on my 18th birthday. I have been a student of the tarot ever since.
That first reading forever changed the way I viewed the tarot cards, but I was most certainly a skeptic before then. There is no shame in skepticism. Why shouldn’t we question everything in life and decide for ourselves?
As a child we blindly follow the beliefs of our parents, and later that of our peers. The major arcana series in the tarot captures the experience of growing from a child into an adolescent. The Lovers best represents this turning point in our lives. In adolescence we begin to question, rebel, and make choices for ourselves. The choices we make will then power us forward on our path (via the Chariot).
As we mature we do not need to believe things simply because we are told. Independent thinking and making our own choices about what is right is what makes this time period so interesting to be alive. Aleister Crowley (magician, founder of Thelema, and father of the Thoth tarot) believed that the 21st century marked humanity’s entry to the Aeon of Horus, a new era in which humanity would take increasing control of their destiny. This exciting time comes on the heels of the Aeon of Osiris, in which religions like Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism dominate the world.
As a species (mankind), we are growing up! We live in an age where humanity as a whole is maturing out of a childlike state to that of a rebellious teenager – questioning everything and deciding for ourselves. The spirit of Horus is the spirit of rebellion as society’s artists, poets, musicians, writers, and activists actively push for social reform and justice. It shakes traditional paradigms and brings radical change to individuals and countries, as well as dramatic changes to religious ideals and beliefs.
This new age is evident in church attendance rates that have been in steady decline for the past 20 years, with people shifting from weekly to monthly or just holiday attendance. Sociologists have attributed this trend to a number of reasons, from boredom during services and lack of motivation, to generational incompatibility of belief systems and social changes attributed to modern life.
Skepticism isn’t a new concept. One of the most famous skeptics in history dates back to Bible times – the Apostle Thomas. Thomas refused to believe that the resurrected Jesus had appeared to the ten other apostles until he could see and feel the wounds received by Jesus on the cross for himself. We use the term “doubting Thomas” to refer to a skeptic who refuses to believe without direct personal experience.
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:24-29)
Calling all tarot skeptics!
Thomas simply could not believe until he saw it for himself. I use the example of Thomas to introduce what I jokingly and lovingly refer to as a “Doubting Thomas Reading.” Now, I’m not claiming in any way to be Jesus or even be like him (though I aspire to – Jesus was pretty awesome and a total social justice pioneer in his day). I simply want to give any doubting skeptics the opportunity to experience a tarot reading for themselves and draw their own conclusions.
The “Doubting Thomas Reading” is a concise, 20 minute reading on a question of your choosing for only $20. Within 24 hours of the conclusion of the reading, if you are unhappy with the reading and feel that it did not address your question or concern, I will refund your money, no questions asked. All I ask is that you have a well-formulated question or issue on which you would like insight and be open to the process. If you clam up and do not provide input along the way, chances are you won’t get the full benefit of the reading. A reading is a conversation between reader and querent who work together to get the most concise interpretation out of the cards as they present themselves.
Readings can be conducted in person, on the phone (U.S. only), through email, Facebook Messenger (live), or Skype. With an email reading, you may reply back with three additional clarifying questions on the reading which I will then address. Readings will be completed within 48 hours of sending payment.