My dear student – I feel like I should apologise for the title! You are a “Beginner” no longer!
By now, you have a grasp on the system that Tarot is built on, you have at least a basic idea of how each card may be interpreted, you can work with your deck in the manner you choose – without clinging to myths and superstitions. You have done some background reading, you (hopefully) have found a deck that suits your style, and you are beginning to use your cards in a spread rather than regard them individually.
I am so proud of you!
Now it is time to learn how we can get more information from the cards that are dealt. We will do this by looking at a practise-spread, applying what we have learned so far and then looking beyond…
I have chosen a simple 3 card spread, looking at my Past, Present and Future – and you will be surprised how much information can be gleaned from it.
To start our Reading, we look at the story being told in each card and apply it to my particular situation. This will give us insight in to where I am coming from, how my life is progressing right now, and what I can expect from the future. We try to connect each card to the one before, so they form a coherent story rather than little separate puddles of information.
In the Past position we have The Fool. We see a young witch, excited about leaping off a cliff. She is fully trusting that her broomstick will carry her soaring in to the sky, off on an adventure to see the world. She pays no attention to the clouds on the horizon, they are far behind her and she doesn’t think they will catch up. Her trusted cat can see the possible dangers here, yet does not leave her side. I like that in this particular card, we get a view of what lies beneath the cliff-edge. We see water (indicating emotion), and a boat. So even if this great leap of faith does not go as planned, there is a safety net there. The young witch will likely bruise her pride, and experience some emotional turmoil, but will land in the sea and be rescued by the sailors… to apply this story to my life, we can say that I used to be a happy-go-lucky individual, not afraid to take some risks and trusting in my abilities and skills to help me take off in life. I had friends, family, people I could trust by my side and I even relied on the kindness of strangers to help me out should I stumble and fall. And fall I did, on several occasions!
In the Present position, we find the 6 of Swords – the mood has changed… gone are the clear bright skies, there is some darkness now but I can still navigate by the light of the moon and stars. It is autumn and the wind is blowing… the fields below are still looking fertile and green, but the trees are shedding their withered leaves as I too must shed that which no longer serves me. I no longer try to go it alone, but have learned it is okay to rely on others and accept their help and guidance. I am leaving, looking back at what is no longer for me, but being pushed along by the brisk autumn breeze. I have bagage now, so carrying a heavier load I do not fly so high… My carefree and trusting younger self lead me in to a relationship that was unsafe. I had to flee, literally, relying on my family back home to support me as I find my feet again.
In the Future position, we see the 9 of Pentacles. We can see the witch, a little older and wiser. She looks relaxed and so does her trusted cat. She can afford to enjoy some rest and take time to expand her mind rather than worry about where the next meal will come from. The tree next to her is bearing it’s fruit – she has tended it well and now she can rely on it to feed her, and bring in some money when she sells what she does not need for herself. She is enjoying the wine that was made from her past harvests, but it has grown better, richer, more balanced with age. She has put down her broomstick, it will be there should she choose to move on, but she seems settled, enjoying her life. What this means for me is that my hard work will pay off, I can build a nice, comfortable home and will have enough to get by – more self-sufficient now, I no longer have to rely on others to bail me out.
These are the bare bones of our reading – but what more information can we provide?
As we discussed before, we can turn over our deck and look at the card that lies at the bottom for some more information. In this case, my Shadow Card was the 5 of Cups: This card shows the witch looking forlorne, filled with sadness and regret at the spilled wine in front of her – paying no attention to the lavishly set table behind her. The sea in front of her signifies how emotional she is feeling. There are trees behind her showing she is well rooted, she has stability and grounding, but right now she doesn’t feel any of that… to me, this card warns me that I need to turn around. Stop mourning my past and that which I have lost, get up, dust myself off and look at all the riches my life has to offer that I can be grateful for. It is true that I suffer some melancholly, missing Scotland and the people, places, material things I had to walk away from to put myself out if harms way…
what else can we see?
We see that this reading consists of one Major Arcana card and 2 Minors. This indicates that in our youth, we were ruled by the Fates – we followed the Rites of Passage, being pushed out of the nest and learning to fly for ourselves – we accepted the opportunities Life offered to us and questioned little, going with the flow. Then, as we got older, we were more concerned with the day-to-day ups and downs of our life, we made more conscious choices and took control of our own destiny. A majority of Minor Arcana cards tells us that we hold the key to our future and there are not subject to those big, life changing events that are beyond our control.
We take note of the Elements and Suits represented. The Fool card shows a body of Water, as well as clouds massing in the sky – so we can consider both Water and Air represented here. The 6 of Swords again brings Air, the Suit of Swords representing Thought, Clarity and a Sharp Mind. The 9 of Pentacles brings in the element of Earth, where we can put down Roots, grow fertile Crops, and find Gold to satisfy our Mayerial longing. The Shadow Card teaches us that it is Water, Emotions, that may keep us from enjoying all that we have. Wands are not represented, that is something to be mindful of too! Maybe we are lacking some Fire, some Inspiration?
Now – Lets look at how the characters in the cards are interacting with eachother. The young Fool has her eyes closed, she is boldly turned towards her future, but is not really thinking ahead. She lives in the Now, the joy and exhilaration of the moment. If we look at the next card, we can see the figure glancing back, is she looking at her younger self with some sadness? Or is she reproachful? Does she mourn for how carefree she used to be? Or does she blame her young, naïve self for leading her here, to this point in her life where she has to leave everything behind except what she can carry in her bag… and even then, she chose to bring sharp swords, the pain of what happened to her. Or is she in fact looking straight at us? Now, here? Are the swords there to defend herself should she need to? Maybe she would do well to look ahead… There her future self is facing her way, but not in distress or anger. She can see where she is coming from, and she knows that her experiences made her who she is now – Maybe she still keeps her travelling-hat and broomstick close, because she has learned to be prepared in case life forces her to move on, but she can be content with her lot. What advice would she have given her younger selves if she could speak to them now? Something to think about…
As you can see, looking at the card interactions gives us more information than if we had just considered each card individually.
But we can see even more! We looked at the story within the cards, and at the people in them. But we haven’t yet looked at the numbers! In basic numerology, each number has it’s own meaning attached. Numerology is a broad and complicated subject, and would be a study in itself should you wish to learn more. But knowing a few basics can already provide us with more insight.
So, going by the (brief) insights above, we can choose to consider each card individually:
In the Past, The Fool carries the number 0 – all opportunities are open to us, we have endless possibilities.
In the Present, the number 6 tells us that we are making changes based on our aknowledgement of the facts – we are emerging triumphant because we are not suffering our situation but rather taking the necessary steps to improve our wellbeing. We might feel some pain as we think of our memories, but we know we are heading for better things.
In the Future, the 9 speaks to us of satisfaction, knowing we have come a long way and are almost at the end of our cycle – where we have come to terms with the path our life has taken and can see, looking back, that our struggle was necessary to lead us here, to this point. Now, enjoy! Who knows what the next cycle brings?
We can also choose to give an overall number or value to the spread – we do this by adding up the individual numbers (note that I do not add the Shadow Card, as it was not technically part of the spread but rather an adendum, providing extra insight and information):
0 + 6 + 9 = 15
As the outcome is greater than a number between 0 and 10, we add the numbers again:
1 + 5 = 6
6 is the overall number for this particular reading, telling us that no matter what has happened or what is still to come, we can be proud of our accomplishments and we have triumphed over adversity!
As you can see, a simple 3 card spread has given us a lot to work with! I will recap for you the different ways we have used the cards to get insight in to the situation:
– Read the story depicted in the cards
– Apply it to the individual situation, making connections so the story flows
– Look at the Shadow Card at the bottom of the deck
– Note the amount of Major and Minor Arcana cards
– Look at which suits/elements are represented (and which are lacking)
– Inspect the way the cards interact with eachother
– check basic numerological values
If you do all of this when executing a reading, you will have a wealth of information at your disposal!
I sincerely hope that you have found at least some of my guidance useful, and that you take pride in how far you have come. You are now no longer a Novice, but a real Tarot Reader, ready to practise your craft!
My advice is: Keep practising and studying – there is always more to be learned! Don’t be so vain as to think you know it all, but stop second-guessing yourself and thinking you don’t know enough…
Find your balance, and most of all: have fun!
I will still put out the Adendum with card keywords, but this is it folks! The Beginners Lessons are over – keep your eye out for a more advanced class…
I thank you for your attention and send you out in to the big wide world of Tarot, my Love and Affection will always be with you.
P.S: I add a link to the previous lesson, should you have missed it – each lesson contains this link to the one before, so you can go back to the beginning if you want to review your progress.