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Tarot cards are probably the first thing that come to mind when you think of the occult. It’s the quintessential tool so naturally you want to learn about Wiccan tarot card reading. People from all walks of life practice tarot readings– young and old, women and men, and in every country imaginable.
In fact, tarot has become particularly popular with the younger set as of late. It’s become a trendy way to be cool and different and a way for younger people (I’m talking about you, millennials!) to express themselves spiritually.
Tarot is a powerful skill to master, and it can benefit not only you in your own life, but also others. Let’s get you introduced Wiccan tarot card reading and some of the basics– Tarot cards, their meanings, and how to do a reading.
What is Tarot?
Tarot is a method of divination using a special set of cards (It’s pronounced TARE-oh). The cards are used as a way to connect to and receive messages from the spirit world.
It’s a way of receiving divine inspiration with regards to a particular question, course of action, or future event. It is asking for insight from the divine, gaining a view into things which we wouldn’t normally have.
The first known Tarot deck originated in the late middle ages in Italy. It was originally designed to be a playing card game. They were played as a card game for centuries throughout Europe. In France, they started being used for occult purposes in the 1700s.
Later on in Britain about a century later, they received attention from occult groups like the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Aleister Crowley, a former Golden Dawn member and visionary who laid the groundwork for what would become modern-day Wicca, used the Golden Dawn Tarot deck.
Pamela Coleman Smith and A. E. Waite created what is now one of the most popular tarot decks in the world. It is called the Rider-Waite deck or the Waite-Smith deck.
Wicca and Tarot
Why do Wiccans practice the Tarot anyway? You may wonder because Wiccans you’ve met or read about use Tarot cards. You might be surprised to know that some Wiccans and witches don’t use the Tarot. It’s purely up to that person’s desire about what to use within their practice.
Tarot cards are great divinatory tools, which is why many witches like to use them. They also have four suits which are related to Archetypal imagery of the four Elements and also with altar tools, depending on how you view the cards.
The four Tarot suits are swords, coins, wands, and cups. Besides divination, Tarot cards can also be used for astrology, which many witches use. In addition to each suit being associated with an element, we can extend this to include the astrological signs under that element.
Tarot cards can also be used for numerology. Many of the cards in the deck are numbered, so aside from interpreting the images of the cards, you can incorporate the number of the card as well.
|Swords||Athame||Air||Gemini, Libra and Aquarius|
|Coins/Pentacles||Pentacle||Earth||Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn|
|Wands||Wand||Fire||Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius|
|Cups||Chalice||Water||Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces|
The Tarot Deck
Now that you have a bit of familiarity with the Tarot’s four suits, let’s describe the standard deck in more detail.
A deck consists of a total of 78 cards. 22 cards belong to the Major Arcana, and 56 belong to the Minor Arcana.
Within the Major Arcana, there is much symbolism to be found. These cards have a large influence on your Wiccan Tarot card reading, so always pay attention to them, especially if you draw more than one Major Arcana card. This signifies that something big is just about to happen or already happening.
Each card has a number and an archetype associated with it. The archetype influences the implication of the card. If you are practicing numerology, the number affects it as well.
The archetypes are representations of stations within our spiritual odyssey, and indicate what we might learn at the current point in time. They help us become more self-aware and open to change. Since Major Arcana cards are the most powerful cards, they are often referred to as “trump cards.”
|0||The Fool||Naivety, originality, spontaneity, excessiveness, intoxication, squandering||Laziness, sloppiness, neglect, risky behavior|
|1||The Magician (The Juggler)||Finesse, expertise, poise, navigating politics, assurance, determination, nuance.||Disordered, lost potential, mishandling|
|2||The High Priestess||Female counterpart to The Hierophant. Knowing mysteries, intuition, spiritual knowledge, feminine divine rule, subconscious mind||Secrets, shallow perception, easily influenced or swayed by external forces|
|3||The Empress||Mother archetype, Femininity, the Earth, nature, pregnancy, nurturing||Subordination, codependence, creative block|
|4||The Emperor||Father archetype, security, stability, influence, authority, greatness, recognition||Weakness, lack of restraint, stubbornness, micromanagement|
|5||The Hierophant (The Priest, The Pope)||Male counterpart to The High Priestess. Dogma, structured education, respect authority, status quo, conformity, group identity||Self teaching, trust yourself, question, look beyond status quo, distrust authority|
|6||The Lovers||Love, relationships, attraction, beauty, cooperation, consensus||Imbalance, discord, incompatibility|
|7||The Chariot||Conquering, success, taking action, triumph, willpower, perseverance||Aimlessness, lack of restraint, unmotivated, obstacles|
|8||Strength *||Strength, bravery, power, influence, magnanimity, honor||Lack of confidence, weakness, ruled by emotions, dispirited|
|9||The Hermit||Introspection, solitude, contemplation, self examination||Desolation, seclusion, disengagement, seclusion|
|10||Wheel of Fortune||Fortune, destiny, luck, prosperity, the unpredictable, chance||Bad luck, ending momentum, losing rhythm, helplessness|
|11||Justice *||Rule of law, fairness, equity, good triumph, honesty||Dishonesty, corruption, bias, unlawfulness, wrong|
|12||The Hanged Man||Wisdom, discernment, intuition, sacrifice, fresh perspective||Opposition, lagging, uncertainty, doubt, procrastination|
|13||Death||Change, endings (for new beginnings), closure, letting go, metamorphosis, evolution||Stagnation, staying the same, stasis|
|14||Temperance||Patience, balance, equilibrium, moderation, restraint, discretion, duty||Overindulgence, excess, disparity, disharmony|
|15||The Devil||Your dark side, evil, hedonism, obsession, materialism, sexual excess, lust, overindulgence, substance addiction||Material detachment, facing fears, using discretion, freedom from attachment|
|16||The Tower||Disturbance, upheaval, great change, distress, calamity, ruin||Prevention, defensiveness, accepting change, adaptation, identity crisis|
|17||The Star||Hope, prospects, rebirth, faith, purpose, mental stability, meaning||Overwhelm, lost faith, victimhood, gloom, discouragement|
|18||The Moon||Fear, illusion, deception, hidden dangers and enemies, uncertainty, problems with perception, shadows||Facing fears, listen to inner self, shining light into dark corners|
|19||The Sun||Happiness, vitality, contentment, success, positive outcomes, optimism||Pessimism, low enthusiasm, overconfidence, connect with inner child|
|20||Judgement||Judgement, forgiveness, rebirth, second chances||Reflection, missed opportunities, guilt, shame, negative self-talk|
|21||The World||Integration, wholeness, completeness, voyaging, accomplishment, fulfillment||Need closure, cutting corners, finding hold ups, lost endurance|
*Sometimes card 8 (Justice) and card 11 (Strength) are reversed.
Try as you might to keep your cards all facing the same way, but as you shuffle and draw cards, they will sometimes get flipped upside down or backwards. Some Wiccans assign special meaning to these reversed cards, but others do not. It’s a personal choice for how you read the cards.
The main thing that matters is that you are consistent in your treatment of reversals. As long as you interpret reversals in the same way every time you do a reading, the correct message will always get across to you.
Here are some ideas:
- Ignore reversals. Just read the card as though it were right-side up.
- Interpret the reversed card as the opposite of what it would mean right-side up.
- Attribute a reversed meaning to each card (shown in the table).
- Assume the area the reserved card represents is blocked and requires more attention.
The Minor Arcana consists of the four suits we’ve just discussed, with fourteen cards in each suit. As you can tell, it comprises most of the deck. The cards here represent different aspects of our everyday lives.
They are not associated with important life events or spiritual shifts. They represent things which are a bit more commonplace and things you encounter in your day-to-day: your job, your friends, your family, etc.
|Swords||Morals, ethics, conflict, thoughts|
|Coins||Material wealth, career, security, stability|
|Wands||Intuition, spirituality, wit|
|Cups||Emotions, relationships, creativity|
If you are doing a reading for another person, this person is called the Querent. The Querent is the one asking a question. As you do a reading, you are narrating the story being told in the cards, as you see it. Although you’re not the one asking a question, your story will have meaning for the Querent and help answer their question.
It helps to have the Querent shuffle and cut the deck to get his or her energies in touch with your deck’s. You can then purify the deck after the reading, or maintain separate decks to keep one “clean” deck for your own use.
You can select a card to represent the Querent if you would like, which is called a Significator card. The card you choose can be based on characteristics of the Querent. For example, if the Querent is a young man, you might select The Chariot for him. If the Querent is a nurturing woman, you may select The Empress. If the Querent is a religious woman, you might select The High Priestess. And so on.
Remember, reading cards for someone else is a responsibility. Bear in mind that words are powerful, so be sensitive to a reading that speaks negativity or bad luck for the Querent.
Also be careful with your words for positive readings too. Do not give the Querent exaggerated news or false hope. Just please be mindful that readings affect the Querent’s emotions.
First and foremost, reading is mostly about intuition. The representations and archetypes described are good places to start, but they are the “textbook” or traditional definitions. Reading is a very personal experience, and the act of reading is more about how you personally interpret the cards, rather than the textbook definitions.
It’s not about getting the reading “right,” it’s about how it makes you feel. Plus, there is a variety of deck types, card interpretations, spreads, and styles of reading, so there is really no right or wrong when working with the Tarot.
The act of Wiccan tarot card reading is actually using your own intuition to draw connections between the question posed and what the cards subconsciously speak to you. You are effectively using your psychic instinct to uncover knowledge hidden in the cards.
You uncover knowledge by listening to how the card and its symbolism makes you feel. A reading is interpreting what the forces at work are, and given that, what is the most expected outcome.
Before doing a formal reading, take some time to get acquainted with the cards first. Sit with each card, one by one. Hold it. Look at it. Listen to your thoughts and emotions. What thoughts spring to mind when looking at the card? What emotions does the card bring out?
Write all of these things down for every card. You don’t have to do this all at once. You can do this over several days or weeks– whatever is comfortable for you. 78 cards is certainly a lot!
Once you’ve inspected and recorded your interpretation of every card, you now have a reference book for yourself. This will help guide you as you start to do readings. It will help you interpret the cards according to YOU. It will help build up your intuition as you do more and more readings.
It’s also a good idea to have someone else do a Tarot reading for you, if you haven’t had a reading before. This will let you see how the general process works. It will show you someone listening to their intuition and bring it full circle as they answer your question.
Forming Your Question
The key piece of getting an accurate reading is the question posed. It should be direct, clear, and thoughtful. If you are not the one asking the question (you are doing a reading for a Querent), then make sure that you understand what they are asking. Have a short discussion and ask follow-up questions to make sure you understand their question fully.
Open ended questions are the best, since the answer will give you more information than just a yes or no answer. For example, don’t ask, “Should I quit my job?” Rather, ask something like, “What is unfulfilling about my current career path?” Not only will this inform you if you should keep your current job, but it will also tell you about what to look for in a new job or ways to improve your existing job.
A spread, also called a layout, is a specific arrangement of Tarot cards. Spreads can be simple, consisting of cards in a line. They can also be complex consisting of several cards in a more elaborate shape, each position in the spread having a different context to the question posed.
Aside from each card’s individual position in the spread having meaning, each card affects the other cards in the spread as well.
Check out my companion article on reading spreads for more information.
Doing a Reading
Shuffle your cards and lay them out in a spread of your choosing. Take some time to look at the cards one-by-one, then overall as a group. Consider a few things:
- Which cards stand out to you?
- Are there more Major or Minor Arcana cards?
- Are there more cards of one suit than another?
- Is there a common color scheme? If not, is there a pattern in the coloring?
- Are there several similar cards? Do you see mostly one suit or one number?
- Do the cards seem to have a common theme or tell a story to you?
Keep in mind that each card is not “good” or “bad.” Every card has its own unique properties, which can be beneficial or not with a given situation.
Just because you draw The Death card does not spell doom. It could have a positive meaning, for example that something will be lost to make room for something better. Besides the card itself, there are other factors at play like its number and its position in the spread.
Also keep in mind that each card doesn’t have to have one fixed meaning. Readings are based on interpretation, and so a card may mean one thing in one reading, and something different in the next reading.
Do not worry if you’re struggling during the reading, and it doesn’t feel like it’s flowing very well. Like all things, Wiccan Tarot card reading takes practice. The essential skill you are building up is intuition, and this takes both repetition and time.
The more readings you do, the more you will see something larger rather than just individual cards, and the more confidence in your reading you will have.
What Else Can I Do With Tarot Cards
Wiccans sometimes incorporate a deck of Tarot cards into their magickal tools, or even one or two cards in particular. For example, before doing any spells for manifestation, you may do a reading to see what it is you should try to manifest in the first place! Use the Tarot cards to give you some context as to how you ended up in this situation and what an appropriate remedy will be.
You can also include a specific Tarot card for placement on your altar, or for use with a specific spell. If your intention has to do with prosperity, try including the Sun card. If you want to let go of something, include the Death card, and so on.
There are many deck types and designs of cards which you can buy. For beginners, the easiest way to start is with the Rider-Waite (also called the Waite-Smith deck). This is one of the most popular Tarot decks around, and it’s usually the deck featured in instructional books and articles.
As often as is comfortable for you. Remember that Wiccan Tarot card readings are best combined with some amount of reflection, decision, and effort on your part. Life changes slowly over time. So doing a reading every day doesn’t give enough time for you to make adaptations and take action based off of your prior reading. A good rule of thumb is to do a reading whenever you feel you need to “check in” with yourself, or you are at a critical juncture in your life. If you go weeks or months without reading, it’s ok!
Yes, but the key piece of getting an accurate reading is the question posed. It should be direct, clear, and thoughtful. You should understand the question totally and thoroughly, and know what it’s intent and implications are.
Absolutely! There is zero danger to work with Tarot cards. In fact, they are great tools to work with because they encourage introspection and intuition. So they actually help with mental and spiritual health.