Hello my friends, and welcome to February 2022. We just had the New Moon on Tuesday, along with the lunar new year, so it’s already been a very energetic week, but it’s not over yet. Today, Mercury stations direct, thank the gods. He’s still in his shadow for another little while, but we are through the worst of it. We have a bit of a reprieve from planetary bullshit for a couple months now, nobody is going to be in retrograde again until the very end of April when Pluto stations retrograde, followed on May 10th by Mercury again. But let’s not worry about that just yet. Let’s just enjoy this breather.
I wonder how all of you fared though. How was Mercury retrograde for you? We were hit kind of hard by it in the Ro household, to be honest. It really threw my husband for a loop in particular; he was struggling to keep his head above water for a little while there. But that’s why it’s important to stay aware of what the planets are doing so that when we do feel the effects we can try to keep it all in perspective. And I really have had to keep reminding myself to be gentle, to be understanding. It is really easy for me to be reactive sometimes, so I’ve definitely had to stay mindful of retrograde and hold a little extra grace for people around me.
I spent two weeks of retrograde sick at home, so I missed the worst of retrograde’s effects at work, for which I am actually grateful. Merc retrograde always causes havoc in my workplace, and honestly this retrograde was no exception. So although I burned all my sick days and half my vacation days in the first month of the year, I’m just going to cut my losses and count myself lucky. I think this may have been one of those blessings that’s disguised as a curse. Yes, I was very ill and I am still trying to catch up at work, but if I had been at work, trying to put out all the fires, I don’t know that I would have been able to be present in a significant and non-reactionary way for my husband. And he really needed me to be. So, we take the wins where we can find them.
But on to the topic at hand. I’m really happy to be talking about tarot today. I freaking love tarot. Tarot is one of my favorite tools for witchcraft, and it’s without a doubt the tool I use most often. Not every witch uses tarot, and not every one who uses tarot is a witch, and I get that and it’s valid. But this episode is for the witches who do, or at least for the witches who would like to.
One complaint that I do frequently hear is that tarot seems intimidating. My own mother has trouble connecting with tarot, because it really can be a bit overwhelming. The typical tarot deck has 78 cards, each with unique meanings and significance. Tarot relies on a lot of symbolism, and numerology, and intuition, so it really can feel like… a lot. But it doesn’t have to be that way, so let’s break it down a bit. Demystify it. It ain’t that serious.
The origins of tarot are found in Italy beginning in the 1400’s. Tarot was originally just a card game, but over time, it sort of morphed and evolved and became what we know today as a divination tool. Sometimes people are caught by surprise to find out that tarot began as just a game, but that really shouldn’t surprise us. Ouija boards are produced by the same company that makes Candy Land, for crying out loud. Like everything else in witchcraft, anything can be a tool; it just depends on how you use it.
Now, if you don’t really want to learn tarot, or if you’re not really sure if you want to bother, something that can be helpful to at least dip a toe in the tarot waters before you spend money or time that you aren’t sure if you want to invest yet, is to try a tarot app. You know I love a free app. There are several tarot apps that are available, and many of them are completely free. The one I like is called Golden Thread tarot. I just like the minimalist look of the app, but there really are a lot of apps to choose from. As always, this is NOT a paid endorsement.
These apps will have a card a day function, where you’ll open the app and it will pull a card for you and give you the meaning. It may have other functions as well, but the point is to get to know the cards and get a feel for tarot before you spend any money. These apps are also helpful if you’re not in a living situation where it would be safe to have physical tarot cards lying around. Everyone’s lives are different, and we are all under different constraints, and sometimes it isn’t possible to be as open about things like tarot. People love to have opinions about what other people do.
Most tarot decks, as we mentioned, have 78 cards. And I’m going to be mostly using the Ryder Waite cards as a reference just because it’s so iconic. There are four different suits, usually cups, pentacles, swords, and wands, although the suits vary a bit across different decks. There are 14 cards of each suit, making 56 minor arcana cards. The minor arcana cards are numbered ace, 2, 3, 4 and so on up to ten, and then there’s the page, the knight, queen and king. The four suits correspond with the elements, and also with the signs of the zodiac. Which makes it a little easier sometimes to figure out what a particular card might be trying to tell us.
So for example, the swords correspond with air, and the air signs are Libra, Gemini, and Aquarius. And of course air is also associated with reason, decision-making, and communication. The cups are associated with water, and therefore with Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. Cups are associated with emotions, intuition, and relationships. Wands are the fire cards, corresponding with Leo, Aries, and Sagittarius, and also with creativity, energy, and passion. And finally the Pentacles are associated with earth. They correspond with Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. Pentacles will show up in a reading related to money, careers, and your physical health. And so anytime you draw a card, if you’re having trouble connecting with the meaning, you can always ask yourself, “what do I know about the zodiac element that this suit represents?” to at least give yourself a starting point.
So, when we’re getting to know the minor arcana cards, it can be tricky and really just overwhelming to try and memorize 56 different card meanings. But, in addition to knowing the elements that a suit represents, it can also help to just get familiar with what the different numbers represent. So if you’ve drawn the Ace of Pentacles, you may not remember exactly what that card means, but if you can remember that Pentacles are the earth suit, and they represent finance, careers, or health, and if you know that Aces represent potential, you can work out that the Ace of Pentacles may be alerting you to the possibility of some sort of material prosperity or manifestation, or even a new job.
So, in the minor arcana, Aces represent potential and opportunity. Twos represent duality or balance. Threes represent communication and cooperation, and also sometimes they will represent groups. Fours represent stability and structure. Fives represent instability and often conflicts. Sixes represent growth. Sevens represent knowledge and faith. Eights represent change, and also mastery or accomplishment. Nines mean something is coming to fruition, and tens represent completion, or something coming to an end.
The face cards, the page, knight, queen and king, have their own meanings. The face cards may represent people that you know or they may represent concepts. So the page may be a person you know who is at the beginning of a journey or a new phase, someone with fresh energy. If you pull a page of swords, this may represent like, your kid who’s about to start college, for example. Or, because the swords are associated with air signs, that card might also represent a young person who is an air sign that you may know. But it may not represent someone else at all; it could represent a concept as I mentioned. In tarot, the page is a messenger. So the page of swords in a reading may be bringing you a message that you’re about to experience a change in your way of thinking or communicating.
The knight card is always on a mission. He isn’t the page; he’s not at the beginning of a journey. When he appears in a reading, something is already set in motion. The knight is goal-oriented, he is here to make things happen. So when we see him, we need to be ready for whatever is coming. Because the knight is going to make things happen whether we are ready or not, and not necessarily in the most diplomatic way, so keep that in mind. The knight is kind of a blunt instrument.
The knight of swords might represent an important conversation that you maybe weren’t ready to have yet because you’re worried things may get heated and you might say something you regret. It might also represent a person you know who is like that; someone who just kind of says whatever is on their mind. Knight of wands is passionate and energetic and adventurous, the knight of cups is very charming and romantic, this could represent a love interest you may have. The knight of pentacles is very efficient and dependable, but he may also represent being stuck in a rut, you know, just feeling like you’re stuck in a routine.
The queens represent the feminine aspects of a suit, but that doesn’t mean she always represents a woman in a reading. Anyone you may know who embodies the feminine aspects of a suit may be represented when you see this card in a reading. It may also be encouraging you to embody those qualities when you’re doing a reading for yourself. So the queen of swords is very quick-thinking and perceptive. Queen of wands is vibrant and positive and creative, the queen of cups is incredibly intuitive and compassionate, and the queen of pentacles is really motherly and down to earth.
The king represents the male aspects of a suit. And so we have the king of swords who is very intellectual, but can also be a little condescending. We have the king of wands who is a visionary, he is also very entrepreneurial. The king of cups is very much in control of his emotions, but on the other hand he can sometimes have trouble expressing his emotions. And then there’s the king of pentacles who is very self-disciplined but can sometimes be too controlling. So anytime you see a face card, they’re also called court cards, consider the qualities this card represents and ask yourself if this is something you need to embody more, or if a particular face card seems to remind you of someone you know, perhaps the deck is giving you a message about that person.
So without ever looking at an actual tarot card, if we have this basic information down, we can understand at least to an extent what a particular card is trying to tell us. So you could randomly pull the five of pentacles. If I know that pentacles represent money, or physical health or my career, and I know that fives indicate adversity or instability, even if that’s all I know, I can get some idea what this card is trying to tell me.
Depending on what’s going on in my life, using only that information, I might consider this a warning to stop spending so much money. Maybe it helps me realize that I better stop slacking at work and showing up late, or if I have been having a nagging health issue that I’ve been ignoring, this might be the sign for me to make an appointment with my doctor and get checked out. And we can deduce all of that, without even looking at the imagery on the cards themselves. Once we add that to the equation, we can really start to get a deeper understanding of what the cards may mean.
The 22 major arcana cards, which are also called trump cards, have their own thing going on. With the minor cards, the imagery can be useful sometimes, but because we can rely on the numbers, the suits, and the elements to give us clues, we aren’t totally dependent on the imagery. But with the major arcana cards, it is all about the imagery. So the first card, which is the zero card as we mentioned, is the Fool. He is a young man standing on the edge of a cliff, he has his little dog with him, and he’s got a little bundle full of probably food and a change of clothes. He is very obviously starting a journey. He represents new beginnings and also taking a leap of faith. It’s a very optimistic card.
The number one card is the Magician. His right hand is pointing toward the sky; his left hand is pointing down to earth. As above, so below. He is standing at a table, and there’s a cup, a pentacle, a wand, and a sword laid out, and there’s an infinity symbol above his head. This card says that we have everything we need to create the reality that we want. This is a card of power, action, and manifestation. The high priestess is card number 2, she symbolizes mystery and intuition, and also sacred knowledge. Card three is the Empress and she represents nurturing and abundance. When I think of the Empress, she is always the quintessential mother. The very best qualities of what it means. And the Emperor therefore is the quintessential father, he represents the very best of masculinity, and structure and stability. The Emperor is also representative of Aries. Again, these cards don’t necessarily only refer to men or women, just those qualities, the archetypes.
Card 5 is the Hierophant, also called the Pope. This is the card of Taurus. He is the masculine counterpart to the High Priestess. So he represents traditions, conformity, and religious beliefs. But he can also just represent a teacher or an instructor. If you’ve like, been trying your hand at a new hobby or something but you’re becoming discouraged, drawing the hierophant may just be a cue that you should take a proper class, or join an online community. The Lovers card is number 6, this is the card of Gemini, and that’s pretty straightforward. It represents love, a union, or your romantic partnership.
Card 7 is the Chariot, this is the card of Cancer. This card tells us to grab the reins and take control. This card encourages willpower and forward momentum. Card number 8 is Strength, and represents exactly that; strength and courage. It also represents Leos specifically. There’s a big ass lion on it. So consider both of those possible meanings. Card 9 is the Hermit. This card represents Virgo, and this card encourages us to be introspective, and to step back from the rush and the hustle. True story, about 3 weeks ago, the last time I drew the Hermit I was so annoyed because I had a lot going on at the time and I couldn’t really afford to pull back. And then that day I tested positive for the Vid. So the cards were basically telling me, you better clear that calendar because you aren’t doing shit for a while.
My decks are so sassy. Anyway, card 10 is the Wheel of Fortune. This is a messenger of karma, and destiny and it’s kind of letting us know that however things have been going recently, they’re about to change. What goes up, must come down, what has been down, will come up. Card 11 is Justice. This is self explanatory, if there’s some shadiness that’s been going on, it’s about to come to light. If you have a pressing legal issue, it’s about to be resolved. This card also represents Libras, so it may be an indicator that there’s a Libra in your life who needs attention.
Card 12 is the Hanged Man, and he represents surrender, or sacrifice, or seeing things from a different perspective. Card 13 is the Death card, this is the Scorpio card, and this is the one that freaks new tarot readers out. But it isn’t really a harbinger of literal death. I mean, not usually. Death signifies the end of a cycle, or a significant transition in your life. Card 14 is Temperance, this is the Sagittarius card. This card tells us to find balance, purpose, and to have patience. Card 15 is the Devil. This is the card of Capricorn. This card represents addiction, or vice, or bondage of some kind. If you’re in a toxic relationship with a person, or with a substance, or even if you’ve been doing too much of something that is taking focus away from what’s important in your life, the Devil card will appear to set you straight.
The Tower card represents the Tower of Babel, which according to the bible, reached to the heavens so that man could dwell with god, until god blew the shit out of the tower and punished them for their hubris. This card warns us that a house of cards is going to come crashing down. Everything is going to come to a grinding halt and we are about to be humbled. This card warns of disaster and upheaval. Card 17 is the Star, this is the remedy to the Tower. It represents hope and renewal. The Star is also the card of Aquarius. Then we have the Moon, this is the card of the moody, broody Pisces. This is the card of illusion, subconscious fears, but also intuition. The Sun card is the anti-Moon card. This is always a message of hope and positivity, and warmth. The number 20 card is Judgment, and again, it is exactly what it claims to be. This card promises absolution for better or worse. And finally the 21 card is the World. This card represents the completion of a cycle, and great accomplishment. It also, in a very literal sense, represents travel.
Now, the minor cards usually indicate something we need to know now. The messages are shorter-term. On the other hand, when we pull the major cards, we can be assured that the message is a little farther reaching and longer lasting.
I pull a tarot card every single day, first thing in the morning, rain or shine, no matter what’s going on or how I’m feeling. I do this so that I can have more information about my day. It’s just nice to have a heads up if there’s something I need to be looking out for. So if I draw the five of swords, I’ll be ready to watch for someone who may be trying to get away with something. If I draw the six of cups, I’ll call my sister and see how she’s doing. Sometimes I’ll draw a card that tells me how I need to approach things. So if I pull the Queen of Pentacles, I might be extra conscientious of how I interact with my kids.
But I always pull that card. And I jot it down too. I have a planner and I always make a note of what card I’ve drawn because sometimes you’ll pull the same card over and over, and it helps to recognize patterns. And that’s really the best way, at least in my opinion, to get familiar with those meanings and to start to develop a relationship with your deck. Tarot is so useful for giving us a guidepost, or a heads-up, and I really would love for more people to use it
Sometimes, I’ll do a three card spread if there are events going on in my life that I’d like clarity on, or if I have a big decision to make, if I’m worried about someone that I know, or if someone is being a pain in my ass and I want to know to what extent this person is going to cause issues for me. The three card spread is super helpful. A quick google search for three card spreads will give you hundreds of results for different kinds of spreads for every question or situation that you may have.
And of course there are larger spreads you can do, but for our purposes, when we are just trying to get familiar and COMFORTABLE with the cards, this is a good jumping off point. A lot of witches have tarot decks that are just collecting dust, and I hate to think of anyone letting such a wonderful tool just sit on a shelf. Tarot can give us so much insight and so much knowledge. And I know that there are a lot of cards, but once we strip away all the mystery and just focus on what the cards are telling us, we can get a lot of information out of it. It’s such a valuable practice.
And I am always looking for new decks, so if you have a favorite, drop me a line. I would love to know what decks you’re using and how you use tarot. You can reach me on insta and fb at @middleagedwitch, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Join me next week when we talk about love spells.