This week, I decided to share a little bit more of my own journey to discovering the cards, as I actually first heard of them from an unlikely source.
Depending upon your own personal journey with all things Spiritual, some of you may have experiences that mirror my own. Or you may have come across Tarot cards as your first step into the arcane. For me, I became fascinated with astrology at a young age. That interest itself came from a piece of edutainment software that taught me about the planets of the solar system, including Pluto, which was considered a planet back then. From there, I moved onto learning about the deities the planets were named after. This brought about within me an interest in all things mythological. Astrology is entwined with mythology and in turn with the tarot deck, and knowing about it can help your readings.
How does Astrology relate to Tarot?
If you’ve ever picked up a book on Astrology, the chances are that it will be for the western zodiac. We see references to our sign in newspapers and magazines offering to read our horoscopes. Each sign is associated with a set period of time, and always follows on from each other in the same order.
For all twelve of the star signs, there are generally agreed upon associations. The most commonly known of these is one of the four classical elements; fire, earth, air and water.
You may recognise them, as we briefly discussed this when talking about the suits of the minor arcana. Not only are they the same suits, but they share a lot of the same symbolism and meaning too. However, we can take this a step further if we look at the 22 cards that make up the Major Arcana; as each of them has a ‘ruling Planet’, just like the Zodiac signs, and the signs themselves are linked to specific cards. In astrology, the sun and moon are considered planets and you don’t count the Earth, this gives us ten planets and twelve signs to cover all 22 cards.
Deepening your understanding
The best way to explain how this can help, I feel, is to provide you with examples as some of the correlations are clearer than others. Perhaps the two easiest would be the Justice card, which is paired with the sign of Libra, and The Wheel of Fortune which is paired with Jupiter.
Libra’s most recognised symbol is that of the scales and if you look at the Justice card in most decks you can expect to see the scales of Justice to feature in the artwork. If we look a little deeper we find Libra is an air sign, and it’s ruled by the Planet Venus. Both of these can give us clues about how to interpret this card, alongside the position in the reading, the spread being used, and the question being asked.
Now, let’s look at the other example: The Wheel of Fortune and Jupiter. When you see that Jupiter is known as the planet of expansion and good fortune, the reason for the association is rather easy to see. Delving into the other links to this planet we find that it rules the fire sign of Sagittarius, which can add more depth to the card’s message. There are, after all, many ways to be fortunate, or unlucky.
How does this help me?
When I read the cards, I take more into account than simply the identity of the card. For me, knowing the links between these two divination systems gives me more confidence in those times when the card doesn’t feel like it fits. Have you ever completed a jigsaw and been convinced that a piece was in the wrong place, only to come back to it later and find that it was actually where it was meant to be? Or perhaps you found yourself stuck in a video game because you overlooked a clue that didn’t seem to be relevant? It’s a very similar feeling, and I have found falling back on my Astrological knowledge to one of the most frequently used tools in my arsenal.
It’s especially useful if you’re reading for another person; quite often the allure of the cards draws people but they don’t know what they want to ask. This presents it’s own unique challenge: If you don’t have a question how can you give an answer? I’d bet right now you’re saying to yourself, “I can’t”, and for the most part, you’d be right. So how do you get around this? You can ask the client to shuffle until they feel the cards are ready, and I would argue that this is a better approach than pushing them to come up with a question. You want them to be relaxed, or they will simply not be receptive.
You can then fall back on those astrological links to find direction as you uncover the cards. Do you see a lot of Pentacles? Your querant is most likely concerned with finances, look at the other cards for anything strongly associated with career, work or family matters.
Why those topics in particular, I hear you ask. Well, Pentacles as we discussed before when talking about the suits, links to diamonds. In astrological terms it links to the element of earth, and those born under an earth sign are considered to be pragmatic. They’re focused on constructive and productive decisions.
Let’s go a step further. Alongside the predominance of the pentacles cards, you see the Hanged Man. From this you could infer that your client feels stifled, whereas the Fool could indicate that they are considering a career change. In this example you can draw these conclusions based upon the tarot’s key meanings and their links to the zodiac. The Hanged man can be read to represent a pause; things being put on hold. Astrologically it’s linked to the planet Neptune, which rules Pisces, a water sign. The classical element of Water most commonly represents our emotions and feelings. I’m sure that most of you would agree that when our plans get stalled by things beyond our control, it can be frustrating and disheartening. Which can lead to deeper feelings like resentment and feeling stifled. As such I would advise to carefully consider the card that comes after this one in your reading. If it is the last card read, then it would be wise to apply it’s meaning to all the cards you have read as it may be the missing piece to something that came up earlier.
In contrast, The Fool, is linked to the planet Uranus and is traditionally considered the planet of transformation. It’s widely believed by practitioners of Astrology that we experience major upheavals in society when this planet moves between signs, and generations may share the same Uranus placement in their charts. Likewise, the Fool is also representative of change, and would be a potent message if paired with any of the Aces as these are also symbols for new beginnings.
The Cards as Puzzle pieces
For me, the Tarot, Astrology and the Lenormand are all pieces that make up the greater whole. Everything links together and in my experience helps to provide deeper insight. If you’re struggling to find the connection between the cards in your readings then try another angle. It doesn’t need to be Astrology, it could even be Cartomancy or Numerology. If you see multiple Aces, or Knights appear in a reading then it doesn’t hurt to focus on the symbolism of that card’s numerical value.
In fact, I would encourage you to explore the wider connections and symbolism in your deck, and as you discover more, make notes. Make your own reference cards, or cheat sheets, record your findings in your Tarot journal if you keep one.
Most importantly, I want you to know that this is a journey. I’ve been reading for over twenty years and I’m still learning and growing as a reader. The more strings you can add to your bow, the deeper your understanding will be. Knowledge, is always a good thing.