June 08, 2018

Reverse Tarot Reading: Do you look into the Tarot, or does it look into you?

satanic tarot and satanism

I'm going to preface this blog entry by saying that this approach may not be unusual for anybody else, but me being the reader that I am and the way that I approach a reading, this for me is the exception, not the norm. Having said that, one of the rules that I observe in reading cards is that the cards themselves are the flesh of a reading, but a specific arrangement is the skeleton which gives shape to the flesh. Absent a skeletal arrangement, the flesh is no more than a loose, undefined bag of potential. For example, I'm the kind of reader who very nearly always uses set or improvised arrangements which specify, "This card represents the past; this card represents the subject of the reading; this card represents the obstacle," and so on. This is how I was taught to read Tarot, and it's worked so well for me over the past 15+ years that I've never been convinced of a reason to change it.

But having said that, I do on occasion when I'm reading for myself like to take a more contemplative approach to the cards where I have less control over the process and also less ability to predetermine the kind of answers I expect to find in a reading. On such an occasion, I'll use something that I call a reverse Tarot reading in which I lay out cards for the past, present, and future, but not a single card for anything else. For me, this kind of arrangement breaks what is perhaps my preeminent rule that every reading must have a primary anchor card to represent the subject of the reading. There are readers who don't use anchor cards -- they probably call it a "significator card" -- but I think they should because the anchor card represents the subject of the reading, whereas all the other cards on the table are at best representative only of extended aspects of the subject, and at worst the territory through which the subject is travelling. Without an anchor card, the reference cards are orphaned planets without a star around which to orbit. But in a reverse Tarot reading, absent a specified anchor, my perspective within the reading is free to change depending on what among the total number of cards on the table is most important to me. 

So to give you an idea how this works, remember that of course each individual card in the Tarot deck means something. Some are representative of health, money, or power; others are representative of the self, passion, or perspective. And so on and so on, to the conclusion that instead of stating a question ("What will my finances look like in the coming month?") and then drawing cards to fit my query, I draw cards and then let them tell me the things which I may ask based on what is present. So for example, I myself may be concerned about my finances, but if none of the nine cards present in this arrangement indicate money, then finances aren't up for discussion. 

But if there is any of the nine cards present in the arrangement which indicate money, then each in turn is used as my anchor card and read in pair with every other card on the table as a point of reference. Additionally, because each position in this arrangement indicates not a person, situation, or thing but a point in time, then I must consider not only when this money did appear, is appearing, or will appear, but how it allied, neutral, or opposed to other points of reference within my past, present, or future.

You might think that just nine cards on the table isn't a big deal, but when you select one card as the anchor and then read it reference to the other 8 cards present, this is not a matter of interpreting nine cards on the table, but of evaluating 36 different two-card combinations (which ends up feeling a lot more like a 72-card arrangement than a nine-card arrangement, but who's counting?)

So to give you an example how this works, let's go over a few rules for this arrangement:
  • There is one position for the distant past.
  • There are two separate positions for the recent past.
  • There are three separate positions for the present.
  • There are two separate positions for the near future.
  • There is one position for the distant future.
  • Don't pose questions to the cards. Instead, look at the meaning presented by each card to see what you're allowed to discuss in the reading.
  • When you find something that you want to discuss, no matter where in time this card is present, it becomes your anchor card against which all other cards are measured.
  • One by one, read your anchor card paired with a reference card to see how it is supported, is antagonized, supports, or antagonizes other points in time.
And just in case this isn't clear from the image at the top of the page, the black lines don't indicate cards that are read as a group, but is instead only a visual reference to help easily identify the diagonal orientation of the arrangement.

Continuing our discussion, let's return to that question about money. What do you suppose that this arrangement has to tell me? First, I've got figure out which cards if any discuss what I want to know about:
  • PRESENT (top left): King of Diamonds
    • RECENT PAST (bottom middle): XXI, The World
  • DISTANT FUTURE (top right): Ace of Diamonds
  • RECENT PAST (bottom left): Ace of Hearts
So right away I can see that there's a discussion about money in the present that continues into the distant future, but because of my eccentricities in how I read the cards, it's also important to say that the King of Diamonds is only able to discuss money when paired with a trump card, and the only one present is in the recent past (XXI, the World). Also owing to one of my eccentricities as a card reader, I consider the King of Diamonds the governor of the Ace of Diamonds, so this links part of my present directly to the distant future, but in this case the King of Diamonds ceases discussing money and shifts instead to a discussion about power, influence, and reputation contributing to the Ace of Diamonds which does discuss money. The other thread in this increasingly tangled web is the Ace of Hearts which doesn't specifically reference money, but does reference debt and other people's money, and owing to it sharing the same pip value as the Ace of Diamonds represents a link between the recent past and the distant future in terms of money lost and money earned. Getting sufficiently convoluted for you yet?

In this hypothetical reading, there are three cards which will tell me about my finances. There's a whole lot else that I can discuss, but just hitting the high point we see a largely encompassing matter of debt in the recent past which has motivated me toward doing the best I can with what I've got in terms of my professional abilities and also created a strong drive for balanced financial accomplishment in the future. In the present, I am still accumulating debt but without the burdens of past financial mis-steps based on wishful thinking, and am instead welcoming a more balanced approach to managing my finances and income. Moving into the distant future, after much effort to wield discipline over myself and also to improve my standing in the eyes of professional peers and potential clients, finances are reestablished, debt is repaid, and my own foundations are strengthened despite the weakening economic environment in which I find myself representative of larger issues that go beyond my own personal concerns.

See how this arrangement works? I don't decide in advance what I want to discuss. Instead, I lay down cards and then discuss only that which the cards offer to me. This kind of Tarot reading is something I don't offer for my clients because it's the sort of reading where I like to sit at the table, drink a beer, and eat some tomato-and-cheese on toast while thinking quietly to myself. This arrangement invites solitary contemplation and an open mind free of specific desires in order to appreciate the tangled nuance it's capable of offering, and is also something that I might spend 45 minutes or more just stewing over. In my estimation, this is as close as it gets to having somebody else read my cards for me. Maybe it'll be the same for you? Try it out and let me know what you think.


  1. I look forward to giving this a try one day soon.

    1. If you try it, let me know what you think? It'd be fun to see how other readers receive this arrangement.


Freedom of Expression =/= Freedom from Consequences