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Card Meanings:

The Major Arcana...

0 or 22 -The Fool
1 - Magician
2 - High Priestess
3 - Empress
4 - Emperor
5 - Hierophant
6 - Lovers
7 - Chariot
8 - Strength
9 - Hermit
10 - Wheel of Fortune
11 - Justice
12 - Hanged Man
13 - Death
14 - Temperance
15 - The Devil
16 - The Tower
17 - The Star
18 - The Moon
19 - The Sun
20 - Judgement
21 - The World

The Minor Arcana...

Wands (Rods):
King of Wands
Queen of Wands
Knight of Wands
Page of Wands
Ten of Wands
Nine of Wands
Eight of Wands
Seven of Wands
Six of Wands
Five of Wands
Four of Wands
Three of Wands
Two of Wands
Ace of Wands

King of Cups
Queen of Cups
Knight of Cups
Page of Cups
Ten of Cups
Nine of Cups
Eight of Cups
Seven of Cups
Six of Cups
Five of Cups
Four of Cups
Three of Cups
Two of Cups
Ace of Cups

King of Swords
Queen of Swords
Knight of Swords
Page of Swords
Ten of Swords
Nine of Swords
Eight of Swords
Seven of Swords
Six of Swords
Five of Swords
Four of Swords
Three of Swords
Two of Swords
Ace of Swords

Pentacles (Coins):
King of Pentacles
Queen of Pentacles
Knight of Pentacles
Page of Pentacles
Ten of Pentacles
Nine of Pentacles
Eight of Pentacles
Seven of Pentacles
Six of Pentacles
Five of Pentacles
Four of Pentacles
Three of Pentacles
Two of Pentacles
Ace of Pentacles

Tarot Layouts or Spreads
Tarot readings involve "layouts" or "spreads," namely the placement of Tarot cards on a table in a pattern. In most readings, the position of each card within the layout's pattern has meaning.

The most common layout is the Celtic Cross (covered below), a 10-card spread, but there are many Tarot spread patterns based on months of the year, all matters past-present-future, vocation vs. romance vs. financies, and countless others. Most books on Tarot explain several possible layouts, and some books are dedicated entirely to layouts. In addition to structured layouts like the Celtic Cross, layouts can also be invented by a reader. If a reader concentrates on the layout used while shuffling the deck and selecting cards, the layout should work whether it comes from tradition or invention. However, some claim that the number of people using and meditating on common layouts like the Celtic Cross give those particular layouts more power or clarity than layouts used less frequently.

There are many recommendations from many experienced readers on how to perform good layouts. Some claim that readings should always be done on a wooden table because wood reflects vibrational energy well. A quiet room is preferred to a noisy locale, meditation is recommended prior to each reading, cards should be kept in a bag or wooden box with citrine and other crystals to keep their energy clean, and so on. While each reader should try techniques and evaluate how well they work, Tarot can be read almost anywhere, with remarkably good results. I've closed my laptop at times and read on the lid, with impressive results. In my experience, the most important skill for a good reading is the concentration of the reader on the intuition received.

The "reader" is the person performing the reading, while the "seeker" or "querent" is the person receiving the reading. A "reading" is both the layout of cards and interpretation of their meanings with any insight or intuition added as an additional layer to those meanings. As the deck is shuffled, a good reader will concentrate on the question the querent has posed. For privacy, if a querent doesn't want to verbalize the question, the reader can simply concentrate on answering the querent's question while the querent concentrates on the question. Sometimes the cards don't answer the question posed, but rather show something the querent needs to know, perhaps what the "spirit guides" feel ist best. For general readings (readings without a question in particular), the reader simply concentrates on the best reading for the seeker, what the querent needs to know at the time of the reading.

Click to visit Shuffling Method
The most important thing to remember while shuffling is to concentrate only on the seeker's question, or on giving the seeker a reading that he or she needs & wants.

Different sources recommend different methods, for example some advise letting the seeker shuffle the deck, or to turn some cards upside down while shuffling. I never have the seeker do the actual shuffling, although I've found that the seeker always does a good job of choosing the correct pile in a cut deck. I also don't deliberately turn cards upside down while shuffling, as the cards offer enough meanings to get their message across without it.

Personally, I've found that the following method for shuffling works very well:

1.) Concentrating only on the seeker and his/her question, shuffle the deck while trying to follow your intuition on how to shuffle. For example, if you feel you should only drop a few cards on one side of the deck, then put the remainder on the other side before continuing the shuffle, do that. If you feel that a few cards should be pulled out and re-positioned, follow that intuition. Shuffling correctly using intuition is one of the most important techniques of giving a good reading. In fact, if the reader concentrates and uses intuition well during the shuffle, usually the standard card meanings combined with their positions will work well without much added intuition or psychic insight during the cards' interpretations.

2.) Decide whether the seeker should cut the cards, or if you want to cut the cards. If you allow the seeker to cut the cards, explain that he or she should cut the deck into 3 piles, breaking the deck where it "feels right" for them. I usually avoid the term "intuition" when giving instructions to seekers, as some seekers might not understand the term, or may have come to the reading in an emotional state where using intuition seems like an intimidating responsibility. The term "feels right" makes the task seem easy, as it should be.

3.) If you decide to cut the deck as a reader, cut it into three piles, again dividing it in places that seem like the right spots to break the deck for this particular seeker. I usually prefer to break the deck myself, but rely on my intuition to make that decision.

4.) Ask the seeker to choose which of the 3 piles feels right to him or her, to start the reading. You as the reader can also choose which pile, if desired. Trust your intuition on what to do for the best result. If you allow the seeker to choose, but have a strong feeling that the seeker chose the wrong pile, set the pile you would have picked aside. Later, if the reader doesn't seem satisfied with the reading, take the pile you would have chosen and say "maybe this pile would have been better", and do the layout again using the pile you wanted. After you've done a number of readings for different seekers, you'll develop a preference for who cuts and who chooses during your readings.

5.) Starting from the top of the chosen pile, lay the cards out in order of the layout used (see below for some basic Layouts). Some readers prefer to lay the cards out face-down, then turn them over one at a time during the reading. I prefer to deal them face-up always. When finished with the layout, set the pile of remaining cards to the side of the layout.

6.) You're ready to start the reading!

The Celtic Cross Layout
Some claim the Celtic Cross is the most powerful spread used in Tarot, because it's the one used most often, and its frequent use generates some sort of collective energy around it. Some readers don't vary from the Celtic Cross, thinking that other spreads won't produce a reading quite as accurate. My experience is that many other layouts work well, each serving its own purpose.

Celtic Cross, version 1 The Celtic Cross has a few different variations, most centered around how the cards are dealt around the first card. All variations work well, as long as the reader remembers which varation was used and what the card positions mean. In the diagram to the right, the card over the central cross is the third card, and so on. The second card is also laid over the top of the first card, instead of the middle or bottom. The Celtic Cross is best suited for answering questions, as the final card, #10, is the outcome. However it can also be used for general readings, showing the general direction of the seeker's life, or trusting the divination to find an important issue that the seeker will understand.

Like the Celtic Cross' card order, card position meanings also vary. For the variation shown here, card meanings are often as follows:

Click to visit the Tea House Psychic 1.) The first card laid on the table represents the seeker, the starting point, or the immediate circumstances of the seeker. Sometimes this card is deliberately pulled from the deck by the reader or seeker, called the Significator card. The reader may chat with the seeker about a few of his or her personal traits, then choose a card which seems the closest to the seeker's personality. Or the reader could pull out a few cards which may represent the seeker, such as the four queens for a woman or the four knights for a younger man, and ask the seeker to choose the first card. (The cards could be face up or face down during this process.)

Personally, I prefer to let the cards do the talking, and just deal the first card after the seeker has selected which pile from the cut deck he or she wants. I find that allowing the divination to speak for itself will bring up points that help the reader understand the issue at hand. The first card may only deal with part of his or her personality, or perhaps signify a different person entirely -- someone important in the seeker's life, or someone they're acquainted with recently.

2.) The second card is laid over the first card because it represents the immediate influences over the seeker (or whatever the first card represents). It could also mean obstacles the seeker must overcome.

3.) This card is placed above the central cross in the reading, because it represents that which the seeker is reaching for. It could represent the goals of the seeker, or what is best for the seeker.

4.) This card is placed below the central cross because it represents the roots or foundation of the seeker. It could be the influence of past events on the present, or something the seeker already has available to use.

5.) This is placed to the left of the central cross because it is behind the seeker. It represents the past and its effects on the current situation or question. NOTE: Some sources recommend that if the main face on the first card is looking to the left or right, the fifth card should be placed on the side that the face is looking away from. This is to represent something behind the seeker. Other sources simply place the 5th card on the left, using a left-to-right motion to indicate direction as seen in Western languages.

6.) What lies ahead of the seeker, or something in the future. Again, some sources say that if the first card's face is looking in a certain direction, the 6th card should be on the side that the face is pointed toward. This is to indicate something that the seeker is moving toward.

7.) This represents the seeker's inner attitude and disposition, and perhaps his or her relation to the issue at hand.

8.) This could represent the seeker's influence on others and position in life; it could also be immediate influences over the seeker, such as people, events, surroundings, and the general environment of the seeker.

9.) This could represent the hopes and fears of the seeker, or outside influences and the seeker's outer image.

10.) This is the outcome card.

The European Layout
European Layout My personal preference is to begin readings with a European spread. It's a good introduction to the seeker. As shown here, 9 cards are laid in a row, in groups of three. The first group (cards 1-3) represent the seeker's past, the 2nd group the present, and the 3rd group the future. Supposedly, the entire timeline goes from the most distant past to the most distant future, so card 1 would be the oldest experience in the seeker's life, card 9 the most distant future.

However, as with most divinations, the cards will tell their own story. I've found that sometimes cards are grouped to complement each other, for example one seeker's past grouping contained a card showing a hard life (verified by the reader) grouped with the apprenticeship card, probably to indicate that past hard times were part of his education and conditioning, or perhaps that his training was able to save him from that hard life.

I've found that seekers always understand the message as the card meanings and positions are explained. They'll recognize significant information as it is presented, and divination will find its own techniques to get the message across.

Other Layouts
There are many, many other Tarot layouts; entire books have been written on the subject. The above layouts are just a starting point. Many different layouts can be selected and tried by the reader over time, and layouts with the best results can be incorporated into regular readings.

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Last updated 24 October 2011
All original content © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2011 by and Pam Rotella

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