Why were you first drawn to the Tarot? Why not runes or I Ching or another divination method? Chances are, you were drawn to the Tarot because of the rich imagery, the beautiful artwork, the alluring figures and symbols that populate the cards. Tarot is a visual medium, and the symbols that we see in the cards serve as portals, gateways, and openings to wisdom and deeper understanding of ourselves.
When we are learning to read Tarot, studying the system and the traditional meanings of the cards is crucial. You just can’t avoid some good old fashioned book learning. Also crucial, though, is building a connection with your cards, so that when you look at the images you have a natural, flowing, intuitive response to what you see. We want to look at the card as a whole, and also be aware of particular symbols in the cards that may be jumping out at you or clamoring for your attention.
When you are getting to know the various symbols in the cards, or if a specific symbol keeps coming up for you and you’re not sure why, here is a Tarot spread that can help you get a deeper understanding of what that illusive message may be.
First, before you draw any cards, identify in your mind the symbol that you want to explore more deeply. Ask the cards what you most need to know about this symbol and the role it plays in your life. Then, use this spread to guide you:
Did your symbol appear in any of the cards you drew? If so, please pay extra attention to what it may mean, why it is appearing in that position for you.
Here’s a quick, abridged version of a spread I did for myself. The symbol that keeps coming up for me these days is feathers/wings/birds. Now let’s think about what that symbol may mean in general…feathers are related to air, they can help us to fly, they can take us to places where we can gain a wider perspective, they have connections with messengers/messages, they are connected to the divine and can give us access to higher realms…I’d like to get an idea of why this symbol is appearing for me, and what the message may be.
1 – What role does this symbol play in my life right now? THE DEVIL. Wow, starting with the big guns here! So we have some wings here, but they are not light and feathery. The Devil sometimes likes to mock us, here I see those wings as the dark opposite of everything that feathers represent. This card is telling me that I have an opportunity to soar, to elevate myself to new highs spiritually and professionally, but fear or negative behavior patterns are holding me back.
2 – How did it affect me in the past? JUSTICE. So in the past, perhaps I felt it was easier to make decisions, that I was more confident that I was doing what is right. Also, I see some conventionality here…my previous path, especially professionally, was a lot more conventional, and there was a feeling of idealism and justice there as I worked mainly in the not for profit area. More clarity. Maybe a little self-righteous or judgmental.
3 – What about this symbol is hidden from me? TWO OF PENTACLES. I see those Pentacles as weighing me down, I am so busy juggling mundane matters that it doesn’t leave much time or energy for more spiritual pursuits, and this is something that I need to address. Also time to break out of a loop.
4 – How might this symbol challenge me? NINE OF PENTACLES. So more practical, material Pentacles…I love this card, I see the woman in the card (with her BIRD, by the way), as being full of ease and abundance. The message may again be, however, that a fixation with the material, the income, of creating financial affluence may not be the best place to focus my efforts. That bird is reminding me to keep my spiritual discipline…to not be overly concerned with matters of money and things, but to continue to strive for higher wisdom and wider perspectives.
5 – How can I make the most of the energy/potential in this symbol? SIX OF SWORDS. Move on, move forward, carry myself away from a place of stress, worry or despair. I may have been in a bit of a trying time, but now I can leave that behind, hope lies ahead.
So that was really useful for me (if I do say so myself)…time for me to let those feathers and wings lift me up, to let my spirit and imagination soar, to reconnect with the Divine. As far as money and material things, it just may be time for a new perspective. And, most importantly, some of my challenges are in the past and the time is right for heading towards a better place, a place with less stress and more ease.
Is there a symbol that keeps coming up for you in your cards? Give this spread a try, it may help you to more clearly hear and understand the message that is there for you.