Table of Contents
Before beginning a Tarot reading, there should be some sort of initial preparation. Consulting the Tarot is a contemplative process at the very least, and some believe it is a psychic one. Time should certainly be taken to attain an appropriate frame of mind and to attune to the cards. Some form of simple ritualization may be used to help with this, and many readers stress the importance of some kind of prayer or protecting visualization before the commencement of a reading. Those inclined towards a psychic interpretation of the Tarot view this as a necessary precaution to protect against negative energies to which the reader may be prey, others simply see it as a means to attain the balanced psychological state needed to get the most from the cards.
Framing the Question
Before the reading proper can be performed, its nature must be determined. A reading may be completely general, directed towards a particular area of concern or performed to address a specific question. In the third case, the question must be formulated carefully. Like other methods of divination, such as the I Ching or Runes, the question posed must be simple and unambiguous, otherwise there is too much leeway when it comes to interpretation.
Selecting the Spread
The spread to use for the reading depends on the type of question being asked (if any) and the amount of detail required from the reading. For example, the Celtic Cross spread is often considered to be more suitable for answering particular questions than for general readings, and it provides a deeper level of interpretation than, say, the Simple spread or the Triskele spread. Of course, the more complex a spread is, the more difficult it is to master and the longer it takes to perform a reading with it.
Getting a sense of timing is notoriously difficult with most spreads. Where timing is an important factor, Calendar spreads may be employed, in which time scales are explicitly built into the structure of the spread, usually at the expense of detail and thoroughness.
Certain spreads are designed to deal with decision questions like "Shall I choose A or B?" For most spreads, though, such decision questions are best approached by performing two readings, "What if I choose A?" and "What if I choose B?" then comparing the results.
Choosing a Significator
Some spreads and readers employ a card chosen to represent the querent. This card is called the significator, and it is normally placed face-up in the middle of a spread with the other cards placed facedown around and on top of it. The card is not usually part of the reading, but it serves as a representation of the querent's position in the events and influences that the other cards detail. The significator may be chosen in a number of ways. Purely mechanical methods include selecting a court card based on the querent's astrological sun sign or their age, sex and appearance (such as hair and eye color). The intuitional approach allows the reader to choose any card based on what they know of or sense about the nature of the questioner or question. Sometimes, if a further reading is being performed to clarify a previous one, the 'Outcome' card of the earlier reading is used as the significator.
Selecting the Cards
The cards should be shuffled and optionally cut, usually by the questioner, while focusing the mind on the nature of the reading or the specific question to be explored (in the case of a general reading, the mind should be cleared). The cards are then dealt facedown from the top of the deck in the arrangement dictated by the spread being used. Once all cards required for the spread have been dealt, the process of interpretation can begin, with each card being turned over in sequence and interpreted according to its position and relation to other cards in the spread. Some readers prefer to lay all cards face-up from the start, but the more useful method is to allow the cards to unfold the story of the reading as they are turned up one by one, then to reassess the reading as a whole once all cards are on view.
Spreads and Meanings
The Tarot is normally used to provide a reading in which a particular question is explored or the questioner's life in general is considered. Each card in the Tarot pack has a basic set of meanings and associations attached to it, but interpreting cards according to these attributions alone would be an unsatisfying and one-dimensional exercise. In order to provide a framework that allows a greater richness of meaning, the reader employs spreads: layouts of cards in which the position of a card in the spread modifies the interpretation of the card.
For example, the Nine of Cups is a card of contentment and fulfilling relationships. If this card appears in a spread in a position indicating the future, then it suggests that a time of well-being and fulfillment is on the way. If it appears in a position that shows current difficulties, then it warns that complacency, taking things for granted or stagnation are problems that the questioner must avoid. Our discussion of Tarot spreads considers some specific spreads in more detail.
As well as modifying the interpretation of a card according to its position in a spread, there are a number of further refinements that may be employed to adjust a card's meaning. One of the most common, and arguably the least useful, is that of reversed meanings. With this method, the cards are kept or shuffled so that they may appear either upright or reversed (upside down) in a spread. When a card is reversed, the meaning is modified, usually either tempered or reversed.
As a simplistic example, the Wheel of Fortune appearing in an upright position would indicate the felicitous intervention of Fate through a lucky break or good fortune. A reversed position would be more suggestive of bad luck and a downturn in fortune. Many readers do not use the system of reversed meanings at all, largely because it is a rather clumsy and inelegant mechanism, and there are better ways to refine the interpretation of a card.
Synthesis and Majorities
All but the simplest spreads contain positions that can be considered together for a richer interpretation. Spreads like the Celtic Cross are arranged so that cards in certain locations explicate and refine the meanings of cards in related positions. For example, the Covering and Questioner positions are closely related, as are the Root and Past positions and the three positions dealing with future influences. The House and Inside positions show the external and internal influences on the matter in hand, in an analogous way to the Covering and Crossing showing aiding and opposing influences. There are many ways, some obvious and some subtle, in which the positions in a spread work with each other, and this synthesis of cards is a very powerful way of bringing a reading together as a whole.
Majorities are a way of getting an overall sense of a reading and are another prism through which the interpretation of individual cards may be refracted. In most readings there will be a dominant suit of the Minor Arcana, and this is termed the Primary Majority. The attributions of the suit involved indicate the tenor of the reading. For example, Wands or Pentacles might suggest that the reading largely concerns objective events or objects respectively, and Swords or Cups could indicate subjective thoughts or feelings respectively.
The Secondary Majority is the next most prevalent suit in a reading, and this can impart a subordinate, weaker influence. The compatibility or otherwise of the suits in the Primary and Secondary Majorities (as outlined in the section on dignities, below) can give further clues to the dynamics of the forces at work within a reading.
The other significant majority that readers look out for is the proportion of Major Arcana to Minor Arcana cards. An important time with long-term consequences is suggested by a relatively large number of Major cards. If the cards are mostly Minor, then a less critical time is indicated where events are unlikely to have lasting significance.
Dignities, Resonance and Dissonance
Almost all spreads have positions that explicate other positions, or positions that may be considered sequential or neighboring in some meaningful sense. Some spreads even have multiple cards in each position for a deeper interpretation. In all of these cases, cards are easily linked to others through physical or interpretational proximity, and the meanings of these linked cards can be modified according to a system of dignities.
For this to work, certain suits of the Minor Arcana are considered as being beneficial and strengthening to each other (resonance), whereas others are considered to be antagonistic and weakening to one another (dissonance), and the rest remain neutral to each other. Resonant cards are well-dignified and dissonant ones ill dignified. Suits of a similar nature strengthen; suits of opposite nature weaken. Cups and Pentacles are neutral towards each other, and the remaining resonances and dissonances are as follows:
Suit Resonances Dissonance
Wands Wands, Swords, Pentacles Cups
Cups Cups, Swords Wands
Swords Swords, Wands, Cups Pentacles
Pentacles Pentacles, Wands Swords
When a reading produces groups of identically numbered or titled cards - for example, three of the Eights or all of the Queens - then those groups or combinations may be given further significance. For example, all four Aces appearing together in a reading would be indicative of a momentous time of great energy and new beginnings in which the questioner must take care to make the most of opportunities in a positive way.
Getting a sense of the time scales involved in a reading is notoriously difficult. Some spreads have positions dealing with the 'recent' past, 'near' future, 'distant' past, 'eventual' outcome and so on - all rather nebulous phrases. As a rough guide, the 'present' may be considered as a few weeks either side of the current date, 'near' and 'recent' refer to a small number of weeks or months, and 'eventual' and 'distant' may be months or years away. Some readers employ mechanical methods of suggesting timing, using formulae based on such things as the suits involved in a reading, but these are usually less than helpful. Spreads like the Calendar Spread are constructed around specific time scales, and these may be employed when timing is important.
Certain cards, notably Judgment, can have an accelerating or decelerating effect on a reading. A well-dignified Eight of Wands, for example, can bring an end to delays and move things on at a pace, but if the Eight is ill dignified it can slow matters down and herald delays and cancellations.
The greatest influences on the time scales involved, however, are the questioner's own actions. They may choose to go with the trends shown by the cards and speed things up, or they may oppose them and slow things down or avoid the predicted consequences altogether. The Tarot is actually an empowering rather than a fatalistic system - it helps to put a person in control of his or her own destiny, as long as it is approached in an intelligent way.
Tarot readings can sometimes seem confusing and even contradictory. Occasionally it may be difficult to get a handle on the meaning of some part of the spread as it applies to the situation or question being explored. Some approaches to these issues are considered here.
When a reading goes against the questioner's experience - It may be that the cards are accurate, by chance or otherwise, and the questioner is mistaken or unwilling to admit the truth, but let's consider the case where the reading seems to be genuinely wrong about some matter. For example, the cards suggest that you are going through a prosperous time, but you are struggling to find the money to pay the bills. Are the cards amiss? Not necessarily: there are several possible explanations in addition to this one.
Firstly, there is the question of interpretation. Each card has a variety of meanings, and these are usually narrowed down by context and the card's relationships to other cards in the spread. Sometimes, though, it isn't entirely clear which way to interpret a card, particularly if the reader knows little or nothing about a querent's situation. In the example we started off with, the prosperous time would most likely be suggested by Pentacles, but this suit can refer to physical health as well as material and financial matters. So even though you may be finding it difficult to make ends meet, the cards may be reminding you that you still have that most vital of commodities, your good health, and that this can enable you to overcome your current difficulties.
Another possible explanation is that of timing.
Misinterpretation is also a possibility: a reading is only as good as the reader. More accurately, a reading is only as good as the reader and the questioner taken together. An open and honest approach by both is the best way to get the most from a reading.
Another point to consider is that of generality. If the questioner has asked a specific question, then the cards are all interpreted with this question in mind, and the chance of vagueness and misunderstanding is reduced. General readings have more leeway and are more difficult to place without help from the questioner.
The final reason for discrepancy could be that the cards are simply wrong, either because of some breakdown in the unknown method by which the Tarot works or because there is nothing truly presaging about the random selection of cards: it depends on your point of view. Even in this case, perhaps particularly in this case, the reading can still be valuable, as it encourages you to explore possibilities that you would not normally consider, offering new ways of looking at a situation or confirming existing knowledge. Realizing that something is not the case is an increase in understanding over not being sure.
When a reading seems contradictory - Life is contradictory, and it's quite possible for the cards to show opposing views of a situation. Let's say the cards suggest that relationships in general should be going very well at the moment, and at the same time they highlight disagreements and conflict with others:
If relationships overall are positive for the questioner but they are having trouble with their boss, then the cards would be accurate and may even imply that work is the source of conflict. If relationships are not going well at all, then the cards are suggesting that, though there are problems, relationships should be very positive and the querent has the means at their disposal to make them so. If there don't seem to be any conflicts with others at all, then the cards are likely to be showing that things are not what they seem, that problems are hidden for now and will surface at a later date. In such a case it would not be surprising to find a card like the Moon in a prominent part of the spread.
And, of course, the cards could be wrong.
The Simple Spread
The simplest possible Tarot spread is the drawing and interpreting of a single card, and this is the type of spread you'll see if you get your free weekly reading at the start of each week. The simple spread above goes a little further by employing three cards, and the meaning of each card is modified according to the position it occupies in the spread. To prepare the reading, three cards are selected and dealt in the order shown. They are then interpreted in turn as follows:
1 The Past -Events or influences from the past that have affected the present but are now passing away
2 The Present -The important events, issues, attitudes or influences around the question or current situation
3 The Future -Future events and fresh influences about to come into play that will operate in the near future
If a specific question has been asked, then each position is interpreted in a manner relevant to the question. Of course, the spread may be varied in any way the reader sees fit, with greater or fewer cards, or different attributions to the three positions. The important thing is that the form and meaning of the spread are known in advance. For example, the simple spread could be interpreted as follows if this suited the reader's purposes and preferences better:
1 The Present -The important event, issue, attitude or influence around the question or current situation
2 Obstacles -Current obstacles, problems, conflicts and opposition that the questioner must deal with
3 The Outcome -The eventual outcome of events shown by the other cards
Five Card Spread
You could try this spread for determining a course of action
Card 1: The present or general theme of the reading
Card 2: Past influences still having effect
Card 3: The future
Card 4: The reason behind the question (this will probably shed light on 2)
Card 5: The potential within the situation.
This is a very useful spread when trying to decide a given course of action. Card 4 will often reveal a subconscious impulse - perhaps a blockage that is stopping you from achieving your desired result. Card 5 shows the possible results from taking a given course of action. The spread works best if, whilst selecting the cards, you concentrate on one aspect of the decision, rather than either/or type questions.
The Calendar Spread
Obtaining a sense of the time scales involved in a reading is quite difficult with most spreads. Calendar spreads, however, are designed around specific time scales, though timing is usually made explicit at the expense of the depth and interdependence found in the larger, non-calendar spreads.
The particular calendar spread shown above is an excellent way of obtaining a six-month forecast. Thirteen cards are used, and during the preparatory phase of the reading, the cards are selected and arranged as above, with the upright card of each pair laid down first and the second card immediately placed across it. Interpretation is in the order shown, with card pair one dealing with the current month, two dealing with the following month, and so on. For each pair, the upright card is the Covering for that month, indicating the important events, issues, attitudes or influences active during that month. The card placed across it is the Crossing, which highlights the obstacles, problems, conflicts and opposition that must be dealt with during that month. The final card, labeled seven, sums up the overall influences and outcome of the whole six-month period. A simpler version of the spread can also be used, in which only one card, a Covering, is drawn for each month:
For an annual reading, 25 cards are used: one pair per month plus a final outcome card. In this case, the cards are laid out as shown below left and read in the same manner as the six-month reading.
The simpler version employs only one card per month.
The Ellipse Spread
Card 1: Past influences now having bearing on the situation
Card 2: Now - the influences surrounding you at the minute
Card 3: Future influence having bearing
Card 4: What to do
Card 5: External influences having bearing
Card 6: Hopes and fears
Card 7: Final outcome of this situation.
Card 4 is particularly useful, especially if you read it against the 'Working with' section. It allows you to get a handle on the things you need to be doing to help yourself in this situation now.
The Celtic Cross
The Celtic Cross (sometimes called the Grand Cross) is probably the most common spread used to read the Tarot, though it is not the easiest to master. It is often stated that this spread is only suitable for answering a specific question, but in actual fact it works very well for general readings, too. The Celtic Cross is usually (though not always) used with a significator, selected during the preparatory phase of the reading. The significator is placed face-up on the table and the selected cards laid out as above, with the first card being placed face-down over the significator, the second across it and the rest around it. Some readers opt to say the following phrases as each card is laid down in turn:
1. This covers you (or me, him, her or them, depending on who the reading is for)
2. This crosses you
3. The crowns you
4. This is beneath you
5. This is behind you
6. This is before you
8. Your house
9. Your hopes and fears
10. What will come
The interpretation of each of these positions is as follows:
1 The Covering -The important events, issues, attitudes or influences around the question or current situation
2 The Crossing -Current obstacles, problems, conflicts and opposition that the questioner must deal with
3 The Crown -The best that can be achieved or attained from current circumstances
4 The Root -Past events or influences that have played an important part in bringing about the current situation
5 The Past -Events or influences from the more recent past that have influenced the present but are now passing away
6 The Future -Future events and fresh influences about to come into play that will operate in the near future
7 The Questioner -The questioner's attitude and how they relate to the current situation
8 The House -How other people around the questioner affect and view matters in hand
9 The Inside -The questioner's hopes, fears and expectations with regard to the question or the current situation
10 The Outcome -The eventual outcome of events shown by the other cards
A few readers consider that if they feel the tenth and final card does not indicate the ultimate culmination of the reading, another reading should be performed using this card as significator, for clarification.
The Mirror Spread
This spread works primarily on existing relationships, but can assess anything from a budding love affair to an established partnership.
It will often reveal inconsistencies between viewpoints - for example if the cards at 2 and 3 contradict one another, there is a need to re-assess and re-adjust points of view, or take into account the input of the other person.
Obstacles will sometimes produce very positive cards - look carefully under the surface if you find this, rather than assuming everything is fine!
The probable result card is drawn with circumstances as they currently are - but if changes recommended by the reading are effected, then this final card can change.
Card 1: The querent.
Card 2: The way you see the other person in the relationship.
Card 3: The way they see themselves.
Card 4: What the person represents to you.
Card 5: What you represent to them.
Card 6: Obstacles within the relationship.
Card 7: Strengths within the relationship.
Card 8: Probable result.
The Mandala Spread
In its purest form the Mandala spread assesses one's spiritual path. It can be adapted to address specific issues, and questions, or an open reading with no overall question can be posed.
This spread reveals the strengths, weaknesses and desires which lead one toward a growth in spirituality, indicating pitfalls and positive points in a way that it is possible for the querent to put together a much more clear view of their own progress.
Card 1 must be read against cards 2, 4, and 6 to give an overview of the way things actually are, then against cards 3, 8 and 9 to assess potential. After that reading Card 1 against cards 5 and 7 to reveal possible problems and areas that require further work.
Put it all together and you have quite a good overview of your querent's position and opportunities.
Card 1: An overview of the self.
Card 2: Ambitions, goals.
Card 3: Ideals, dreams.
Card 4: Real achievements at this time.
Card 5: Dependencies, faulty beliefs.
Card 6: Strengths and positive traits.
Card 7: Faults and weaknesses.
Card 8: Self-perception.
Card 9: Desires.
The Relationship Spread
Card 1: Distant past.
Card 2: Recent past.
Card 3: Now.
Card 4: Future influences.
Card 5: External influences.
Card 6: The querent's attitude.
Card 7: Helpful energies.
Card 8: Obstacles to be overcome.
Card 9: Hope and fears.
Card 10: Final result.
The Triskele Spread
Just as the figure from which this spread gets its name consists of three branches radiating from a common center, so the Triskele Spread shows present concerns at the focal point of past, future and ultimate influences. This compact yet powerful spread can be used to address a specific issue, or it can be used for a more general reading. To prepare the reading, five cards are selected and dealt in the order shown. They are then interpreted in turn as follows:
1 The Covering -The important events, issues, attitudes or influences around the question or current situation
2 The Crossing -Current obstacles, problems, conflicts and opposition that the questioner must deal with
3 The Root -Past events or influences that have played a role in bringing about the current situation
4 The Future -Future events and fresh influences about to come into play that will operate in the near future
5 The Outcome -The eventual outcome of events shown by the other cards
The Horseshoe Spread
The Horseshoe is a simple spread of seven cards arranged, unsurprisingly, something like a horseshoe. This spread is often considered to be more applicable to a specific question than a general reading, though it may be used for either. To prepare the reading, seven cards are selected and dealt in the order shown. They are then interpreted in turn as follows:
1 The Past -Important events, issues or attitudes that have given rise to the current situation
2 The Present -The prevailing circumstances around the questioner
3 Hopes and Fears -The questioner's hopes, fears and expectations about the question or situation
4 Obstacles -Current obstacles, problems and conflicts that the questioner must deal with
5 Environment -The attitudes and actions of other people around the questioner
6 The Future -Future events and fresh influences about to come into play
7 The Outcome -The eventual outcome of events shown by the other cards
The Major Arcana
0 - The Fool - Looking before you are leaping; not paying attention. Also can mean having not a care in the world; being free from any constraints. In the decks that I have seen, there is a dog tugging at the ankle of the young man; he doesn't even notice. Reversed: Can mean cautiousness; could also mean taking a chance that didn't or will not work out for you.
1 - The Magician - To me, this card signifies someone who can take what they are given and mold it to suit them. Being able to control the forces around you. Reversed: being clumsy; unable to get anything to go right.
2 - The High Priestess - A wise woman or person; able to make good decisions. Reversed: cloudy decision-making; unable to see where you are going.
3 - The Empress - Fruitfulness; personal growth and fertility. The woman in this card is very resourceful and providing. Reversed: no growth; stagnation. Unable to acquire something you need.
4 - The Emperor - Power, being in control or in a position of authority. Reversed: a loss of a powerful position; a weakening of some sort.
5 - The Hierophant - This card suggests to me someone looking for spiritual guidance. Can also mean a pattern; something someone does even when it doesn't always make sense. Reversed: Breaking out of the mold; finding ones' self and one's niche in society.
6 - The Lovers - Love; a partnership or union. Pretty self-explanatory card. Reversed: The loss of someone; a break-up of some sorts.
7 - The Chariot - Resolve to do something; power. Triumphing over an obstacle. Reversed: The loss of some sort of battle; fear to do something you have wanted strongly to do.
8 - Strength - Another self-explanatory card; having resolve and strength. Reversed: Weakness; inability to accomplish something in the face of an obstacle.
9 - The Hermit - Solitude and introspection; a card that has deep meditative meaning. Retreating to find something within yourself. Reversed: Retreating inwardly to escape reality; fear and withdrawal.
10 - Wheel of Fortune - No this is not the game show — this card signifies Fate and luck. Taking chances and seeing where it leads you. Reversed: Luck isn't with you; everything is going the wrong way.
11 - Justice - Balance and harmony; everyone gets what they need. Reversed: bias, injustice. Unfairness.
12 - The Hanged Man - A spiritual quest; this person is seeking knowledge and spiritual gain. In the Norse tarot, this card is represented by Odin hanging from the tree of Yggdrasil and grasping the runes, which signify knowledge and wisdom. Reversed: Not seeing the spiritual side of a situation; maybe not realizing how important something is. This is a difficult card to give a general interpretation to; it is different in every reading.
13 - Death - This card will probably never really literally mean death (see Notes on the Death Card). It means a transition of some sorts; a changeover. A very powerful card, this generally means a life altering transition. Reversed: Stagnation; not going anywhere. The querent may have an opportunity to make a positive change in his or her life and is not taking it or not seeing it.
14 - Temperance - This is not temperance in the sense of toleration; it means temperance as used in the art of metallurgy. Temperance means to be able to mold and shape something the way you want it. This card could mean being able to take a situation and make it your own. Reversed: Out of control; not able to control the situation your in; feeling powerless.
15 - The Devil - This is not an "evil" card as some may see it. The meaning I often get in this card is a sense of powerless and feeling indebted to something or someone; possibly an addiction or vice that is causing problems. In the Rider-Waite deck, this card shows what many would picture as the Devil; however, I believe the interpretation Robin Wood decided on in her deck is best — two people in a dark tunnel trying to drag a heavy treasure-laden chest to the end, but they can't make it, yet they are unwilling to let go of it. In the Norse deck, this card portrays Loki's punishment by the gods of Valhalla — he is chained to a rock while a venomous snake drips poison onto him. His wife catches the poison in a bowl, but eventually the bowl fills, and each time she must empty it, causing the poison to momentarily drip onto Loki. You get the picture now of what this card represents. Reversed: freedom from pain and suffering; the ability to defeat that part of yourself that holds you back or hurts you.
16 - The Tower - This card usually represents some sort of setback or possible disaster in the querent's life; perhaps an irretrievable loss. Reversed: Perhaps loss with something left over. Something terrible may have happened, but there is still something to gain from it.
17 - The Star - This is a difficult card also to give a general interpretation to; it usually signifies for me darkness with a hint of light; possibly the querent is totally in the dark about something, but they have a little glimmer of an idea of what would be going on. This also could be interpreted as meaning that the querent sees that they are in a bad situation right now and don't think they could get out of it; this card would suggest that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Reversed: Could suggest that the querent has the wrong idea about a situation. Again, this is hard to say definitely; you will get a feeling for what it means in each reading.
18 - The Moon - I often find that this card is usually closely allied with the Star. This usually means secrets that are hidden from the querent. If you are Wiccan like myself, however, this card can sometimes take on a more spiritual meaning. Reversed: Something hidden from the querent that could be hurting them; possibly lies or someone cheating them out of something.
19 - The Sun - This card suggests happiness and luck, which maybe the gods are smiling on the querent. Also suggests good fortune. Reversed: Bad luck maybe following the querent; things don't look so good right now.
20 - Judgment - Having to account for all the things one has done, good or bad, is what this card usually represents. I find that with many who consider themselves Christians, this card takes on a spiritual meaning for them. This also means taking stock of your life and taking responsibility for your actions. Reversed: Not taking responsibility for yourself and your actions. Not realizing that everything that you do has far-reaching consequences.
21 - The World - This is another hard-to-generalize card. It usually means coming full-circle; maybe a completion of some sorts. Could also mean something very important to the querent and everyone surrounding him or her. Reversed: Not finishing what you started; feeling like there are loose ends that need to be tied up.
The Minor Arcana
This suit is generally associated with spirituality and personal growth.
Ace of Wands - Generally means the beginnings of personal growth; a new beginning for someone. Reversed: Stagnation; boredom with one's life at this point.
2 of Wands - A wealthy man looking at his goods being sent out to sea. Represents taking action to achieve results. Reversed: taking no action; not bothering to do something that may be important.
3 of Wands - The same man in the 2 of Wands, seeing his ships come into port. Represents the fruits of labor; having acted on something and seeing the results. Reversed: having something go bad; taking action and seeing nothing come of it.
4 of Wands - Having a solid roof over one's head, both figuratively and literally. Good security. Reversed: Questions about one's security; fear of something being taken away from you.
5 of Wands - A battle or skirmish that isn't really meant in anger; a minor argument. Reversed: Something gone wrong that was not meant in seriousness.
6 of Wands - A man coming back from a successful battle. Represents victory and triumph; you got something you were after. Reversed: A loss in a personal battle.
7 of Wands - A man fighting six staffs from below. Represents fighting what looks like a losing battle but you have the advantage. Reversed: Losing the advantage in a battle you were trying to win.
8 of Wands - Wands if flight. Can mean taking action to achieve a specific goal; can also mean travel or getting somewhere. Reversed: Stagnation; staying in one place too long. Not taking action that could benefit you.
9 of Wands - A man looking warily behind him at eight staffs. Represents being cautious about something; knowing when to be careful. Reversed: Not looking around and being careful; not noting the dangers of something.
10 of Wands - A man carries a very heavy load on his back. Can mean feeling like you are being burdened with something; carrying excess baggage around with you. Reversed: Feeling a weight lifted from your shoulders. Getting rid of that which has been holding you back.
Page of Wands - A young person who is very thoughtful and spiritual, very personable. Reversed: A withdrawn person who perhaps is very shy.
Knight of Wands - A very "dashing" young man who is very thoughtful and spiritual. Reversed: a man who seems withdrawn and maybe angry; someone very shy.
Queen of Wands - A woman who is very confident, spiritual, and has a pleasant personality. She is a fair and strong leader, though she may not seem like the leader. Reversed: A shy woman who seems withdrawn and quiet.
King of Wands - A man who can be authoritative but fair. He is very personable and kind. Reversed: A older man who is shy or withdrawn; doesn't meet people very well.
This suit is usually associated with emotions and matters of the heart.
Ace of Cups - The beginnings of a relationship; new romances. Reversed: Telling the querent to get out and meet people.
2 of Cups - A union of two people; the formation of a new relationship between friends or lovers. Reversed: The break-up of a relationship between two people who care about each other.
3 of Cups - A happy relationship between friends or family. A good situation. Reversed: Some tension developing between family and friends.
4 of Cups - A young man looks at the cups he has and is being offered a new one, yet none satisfy him. I find this to be a powerful Minor Arcana card. This generally represents dissatisfaction with the status quo; the querent wants something more in life, but doesn't quite know what it is. Reversed: Contented to stay with what you know even if it means being bored; missing out on something in life in order to remain safe.
5 of Cups - This is another powerful Minor Arcana card. The person in the picture is mourning the loss of the three spilled cups in front of them, but there are still two full cups remaining. This signifies a bad loss, but there is still something to salvage from the situation. Reversed: Not seeing that there is still something to gain from the loss one has recently experienced.
6 of Cups - Children in a garden playing. This signifies relationships from your childhood or distant past that are affecting the present. Reversed: Ignoring what the past can teach you; there is something from the past that is coming up that the querent isn't seeing,
7 of Cups - A person looking at the cups in a vision. Represents having grand ideas for something; having big plans. Reversed: Having big dreams but not acting on them. Being all talk and no action.
8 of Cups - A person walking away from many filled cups. Could mean searching for more meaning out of the current situation; realizing that the material isn't important. Reversed: Clinging to something that really has no meaning; putting too much attachment on the material.
9 of Cups - A man sitting in front of a table full of cups. Represents being proud of your accomplishments; showing off what you've gained. Reversed: Hording that which is only symbolic; being miserly with your emotions and not giving much.
10 of Cups - A happy family under a rainbow with ten cups above. Represents happiness and tranquility; stability in a relationship. Reversed: Instabilities in a relationship; not feeling secure enough.
Page of Cups - A young person who is very loving and caring. Could be someone currently at the stage of first love. Reversed: a young person who is emotionally withdrawn.
Knight of Cups - A young man who is sensitive and caring. Reversed: A young man who holds his emotions back from people.
Queen of Cups - A caring and emotional woman who doesn't hide her emotions. Reversed: A woman who tends to be more choosy about who she opens her heart to.
King of Cups - A very loving and caring man who is even about his emotional state. Reversed: A man who tends to be emotionally withdrawn or cold. Doesn't show his emotions often.
This suit generally represents anything forceful — arguments, going after something, etc.
Ace of Swords - The strong beginnings of something; going after something new with gusto. Reversed: Not choosing to take action on something you really want to do; suggests cowardice.
2 of Swords - Represents balancing two strong ideas; being caught in the middle of the storm. Reversed: Loss of balance; not knowing what to do next; confusion.
3 of Swords - Three swords piercing a heart. Represents a loss; someone hurting or who has hurt the querent. Reversed: Recovery form a loss.
4 of Swords - A resting figure surrounded by four swords. Represents peacefulness and serenity. Can also mean contemplation. Reversed: restlessness; nervousness. Unable to concentrate on the task at hand.
5 of Swords - A man looking back at the group of people leaving him. Represents Childishness or pettiness. Reversed: Willingness to overcome jealousy or childish behavior.
6 of Swords - A man on a boat ferrying passengers. Generally is associated with travel; a change of location. Reversed: Staying in one place; could mean stagnation in a broader sense. Not going anywhere physically.
7 of Swords - A man stealing swords away from an encampment. Represents someone taking something from the querent; can also mean revealing secrets the querent doesn't want anyone to know about. Reversed: Exposing fraud or someone who has lied to the querent.
8 of Swords - A woman bound and surrounded by eight swords. Means helplessness, inability to control the current situation and having to just let things happen. Reversed: release from feelings of helplessness; being able to take action on a situation after not being able to do so.
9 of Swords - A person weeping in a bed with eight swords hanging over them. Represents feelings of doom and failure, possibly guilt as well. Reversed: still some feelings of shame or doom, but not as severe.
10 of Swords - A person lying dead from being stabbed with ten swords. Pretty powerful image; represents someone stabbing you in the back; can also mean a tragic end to a situation. Reversed: Freeing yourself from torment over something. Ability to survive in hard times.
Page of Swords - A young person who is very fiery and vigorous. Tends to be active all the time. Reversed: Someone who doesn't pay attention to things for very long; has an inability to control their temper.
Knight of Swords - This card often shows up representing the "Knight in Shining Armor". Represents a young man with a fiery spirit who tends to sweep people off of their feet. Reversed: A young man whose moods are often extremes; tends to be happy one instant and angry in the next.
Queen of Swords - A woman who is assertive and knows how to lead. Tends to act on what she wants in life. Reversed: A woman who has mood swings and tends to lose her temper easily.
King of Swords - An assertive, authoritarian man who is a natural leader. Reversed: A man who tends anger easily and loses self-control.
This deck usually represents financial matters, or anything in a material sense.
Ace of Pentacles - New ventures in financial matters; could mean a new start in money matters. Reversed: Hard times financially; a warning not to start new financial ventures as they could be bad ideas.
2 of Pentacles - A man juggling two pentacles on a tightrope. Represents having to juggle things financially; feeling like you are waking a tightrope financially. Reversed: Losing control of a situation.
3 of Pentacles - An artist working in what looks like a church. Represents hard work, labor, and the fruits of labor. Reversed: Can mean not working and expecting the world to take care of you.
4 of Pentacles - A man clutching the pentacles he owns. Generally means being miserly or just careful with your possessions. Reversed: Being able to let go of material possessions.
5 of Pentacles - A poor couple walking through the wind and snow past a church window with five pentacles in it. Can mean being destitute; represents financial hard times while those around you are wealthy. Reversed: Overcoming financial insecurities. Being able to save money.
6 of Pentacles - A man distributing his wealth to the needy. Represents being charitable; ability to attach little meaning to physical possessions. Reversed: Can mean not being charitable and giving when you are able; being possessive.
7 of Pentacles - A young man looking at the fruits of his labor. Can mean seeing the results of hard work; working hard and getting what you deserve. Reversed: Having worked and are not seeing results. Can also mean not putting the effort you need to into something.
8 of Pentacles - A man at work on his art. Represents the creation of something; hard work. Reversed: Not working at something; laziness.
9 of Pentacles - A woman in a garden with a bird. Represents security; feelings of happiness and contentment. Reversed: Feelings of insecurity; withdrawing from the world.
10 of Pentacles - A family in a garden of pentacles. Represents happiness and security. Reversed: Insecurity; not knowing what will happen next.
Page of Pentacles - A young man who is serious and intelligent. Tends toward the sciences. Reversed: A young man who probably isn't book-smart; someone who maybe lacks common sense.
Knight of Pentacles - A man who is good with money and probably the sciences. Reversed: A man who may not be very good at finances. Tends to be possessive.
Queen of Pentacles - A woman who is very good with money and is very good at the math and sciences. Very quiet and thoughtful. Reversed: A withdrawn woman who may not be good with money. Tends to be possessive.
King of Pentacles - An authoritative but fair man, who is very smart and is very good at the math and sciences. Reversed: A man who probably doesn't manage finances well; also is probably lacking common sense.