This blog post has been sitting with me for a while, slowly brewing in the background. This is the first of 3 posts in this series, looking at what and how to ask a Tarot question, specifically those exploring the minefield territory that is a relationship. (Part 2 will look at the more pragmatic side of life such as work and business, and in Part 3 I’ll focus on the divinatory, or fortune-telling aspect – more to come later).
So here’s a hypothetical scenario:
You meet someone you rather fancy. Perhaps you really, really like them, though you are not quite sure how to proceed, or whether you should in the first instance. Perhaps past experiences have scarred you a little, and doubt and hesitation hold you back. Should you, shouldn’t you…. Or maybe, you are already in a relationship, but not really sure where it is heading.
At some point you decide to see a Tarot reader, and after explaining the scenario, you ask the question: Will this relationship work out? Sometimes, this gets rephrased as, Is he/she the one?
And this is where I have to pause and do a delicate dance around this question. It is not that I avoid the question – and I’ll look into the fortune telling aspect of readings in Part 3 of the series. I understand all too well that sometimes, there is a fated element to a relationship (or work, business, and life in general), and there is no avoiding this.
However, my experience, as both a reader and a client, is that in most cases, these are not the right questions to ask. For starters, one is placing a tremendous amount of power in the hands of the Tarot reader – and equally, one is disempowering themselves by doing so. The repercussions of this are vast, but essentially can be summed up in one word: responsibility, or lack of should I say.
Taking responsibility for your own actions, rather than laying the blame somewhere else (our parents, society, or the Tarot reader), if one of the hallmarks of maturity and empowerment. So, you may wonder, what should one ask instead?
This largely depends on each person and what stage the relationship is at, and also on the ethics of the reader, however here are some suggestions:
What does he/she need from me?
What does he/she want from me?
If you are in an existing relationship, you can go a step further and ask, What does he/she need (or want) from me that I am not offering (or not able to offer)?
What do I need from a relationship?
What does he/she think of me?
What are his/her feelings for me?
How do we emotionally relate? Or mentally?
How sexually compatible are we?
What does he/she hope for in this relationship?
What are his/her fears in this relationship?
What is our relationship based on?
How do we communicate?
What are my strengths (weaknesses) in this relationship?
How does he/she deal with conflict?
What do we need to do in order to overcome this issue/obstacle?
What am I not able to see clearly about our relationship?
What are his/her intentions for our relationship?
What do I need to do in order to make this relationship work?
The last one in particular is relevant to my earlier point about taking responsibility – for it’s really up to two people whether their relationship will work out or not, rather than the reader. Again, there are always exceptions to the rule, and I certainly do not mean to diminish or ignore the role that certain karmic energies play in our lives. This post, however, is more about the destiny we create when we actively and consciously work on our own issues, rather than lay the blame at the feet of some divine intervention or the Tarot reader.
If you are exploring the more psychological aspects and complexities in a relationship, here’s a good one: What was his relationship like with his mother? (or her relationship with her father?). Or, what am I projecting onto my partner? etc.
Finally, for those who are dealing with infidelity, a good question might be, what can my wife/husband be (or express) with the other person that they are not able to be with me (rather than, what do they see in the other person).
As you can see, the options are endless. In writing the above, I must articulate that I am not a counsellor or psychologist. I am a Tarot reader who shuffles the cards to help clients to the best of my ability, and that ability has largely been coloured by both life experience and experience as a reader.
In Part 2 I’ll be looking at questions pertaining to work, business, career, and the like.
I’ve wanted to write about this reading for a while. It’s not an uncommon topic, however I recall this particular reading as an example where the cards drawn, and the message they impart, are so clear.
The querent’s main question was around her relationship. I used the Victorian Romantic deck from Baba Studio as I find this deck works very well (and not just for relationship questions).
I fanned out the cards in front of the querent and asked her to draw 3, shown above in the order drawn. I can’t talk about other readers or methods, but for me, the order the cards are drawn is very important. In this instance, chronologically, I read from left to right, with left as the past and right as the future, so that the middle card is the present.
So, the first card she drew was The Sun: here we see the passion and consuming love that they experienced as a couple. The Sun is a burning, fiery, life giving force: there is lust, abundance, joy, exuberance. That early, beautiful stage in a relationship – the honeymoon stage. And then we move onto the present.
Gosh, there’s been a battle. Bodies lay bloodied on the ground. Our querent is still alive and standing, but look at the stance and the expression on their face. There has been some serious fighting. There has been war.
I don’t exactly use this direct language, but nonetheless I make it clear what this card is all about. The lady in front of me starts to cry and confirms what has happened. This was a relationship where trust was utterly destroyed through infidelity, and not just once. She tried to heal these wounds, but her partner’s betrayal left some pretty deep scars. She took him back, but was not sure if the relationship was going to make it, and if he in fact was committed.
I have to say, that in my experience as a reader, when a woman sits in front of me with these kind of questions, her gut feeling is already telling her the truth. Our instincts, for all the reasoning and rationale and intellect we cultivate, are spot on. As a tarot reader, I see the cards, over and over, mirroring what the person already knows, deep down inside.
I move onto the last card, the Queen of Swords.
Isn’t she rather fierce? And dignified, I think. My intuition tells me the querent will make a break and leave this relationship – in this card, she basically stands alone, on her own. Which is a good thing, when a toxic relationship seeps out the life energy from you and breaks your spirit.
I am reluctant to say to her, “you gotta break this off”. I don’t think that is my role. It’s up to the person to make that decision, and own up to their actions in life. However, I do explain what this Queen is all about. Her power, her resilience in the face of adversity, how she stands her ground and has the sword ready. She cannot be harmed.
I think my querent understands all this, but I can see it is hard. That Sun energy she experienced early on in this relationship, that is powerful stuff. Love is a drug, they say. She asks about her partner, and where he fits, and what are his intentions, so I ask her to draw two more cards.
The Ace of Swords, by itself, is not good or bad. It is simply a new perspective, a new frame of thinking – a new beginning sometimes, although one that is framed mentally. However, next to the 3 of Swords, it is not a favourable answer by any means. And especially given the imagery on the 3 of Swords, which in this deck deals a blow.
He is simply not there for her, nor does he intend to be (nor was he in the past). Our lady above is left heart-broken while her knight rides away.
I think that, for all the sadness this reading brought, it also brought clarity, and in a way, a resolution for the querent, a way forward. I don’t think there was anything that I said, or that the cards showed, that she did not know already. In many ways, I felt this was a very good reading, because it was clear and concise. There really was no grey area or murkiness, or confusion.
Thank you for reading. Until next time, many blessings to all.
A young woman sees me for a tarot reading. Her question is about her current relationship.
Being a reading about a love relationship, I choose the excellent and topical Victorian Romantic tarot. I shuffle the deck, except this time I spread the cards, face down, in front of her. I ask her to pick three cards, and leave them face down. Once she has done this, I turn the cards over, and this is what comes up:
And in one instant swoop, I know this will be a difficult reading. Anyone familiar with the cards can tell this from the combo above. I proceed with care.
I see the first card, the King of Cups, as describing her current partner. I describe the qualities of the King of Cups to her, although I don’t elaborate on the visual description of this card, since it shows a King enjoying a drink and I don’t see this as relevant in this instance.
Next, I move on to the Wheel of Fortune. Now this is a great example where this card does not bring fortune or great benefic changes – precisely because it is followed by the 3 of Swords which I will discuss shortly. Again, I keep to the core meaning of this card, which is that of a great change. One way or another, the relationship will face such a great change.
And then there is the 3 of Swords: in tarot, this is the card of heartbreak and pain. In this particular version of the card, we see a young woman in distress, possibly crying, while a man rides off in the background. I try to be as gentle as possible in describing this card and what it means, and my young querent has tears rolling down her face. To try and tell her that she is young and has many years ahead of her to find another love, is to downplay the power and genuine feelings of first love, and dismiss my client’s sorrow: this I won’t do.
When I finish, she tells me that her current boyfriend is looking to move with his family, as one of his parents recently obtained a job in a different part of the country (and Australia being as vast as it is, this is no small move – in essence it spells the end of the relationship). This, to me, is that Wheel of Fortune card at play. Because my querent is so young, making the move herself is not an option. So her boyfriend will move, and she will feel the pain of loss acutely – this is the 3 of Swords above.
While this was not an easy reading, and it was not a happy reading, I see it as a good reading: what I mean by that is, it is a very simple reading with 3 cards, that delivers the message so well and clearly. There is no guess work here, though such readings always challenge me as a reader to be compassionate and to carefully describe the cards with gentleness.
Another music festival. One of the stall holders, whom I befriended at an earlier festival, asks for a reading in exchange for some of her merchandise. I am always open to trading a reading for a beautiful dress, or an acupuncture session, hand-made soaps, and anything in between 🙂
We agree on the best time for both of us, what with busy trading days, which is after dinner. I have to say that reading tarot by candlelight is a beautiful experience and rather different to the daytime energies. I would do it more, if it wasn’t for the good music and evening merriment which I certainly enjoy partaking in.
So she arrives for her reading, and tells me of her worry. Her partner is French, and he tried to re-enter the country after being back home to France. He was pulled up for questioning by the airport staff, and he was declined entry, on the grounds of using the wrong visa. Australian airport border security can be pretty strict, from what I have heard.
Anyway, this was a devastating blow and now the future was really up in the air. She wanted to know whether he should try and re-enter the country again, and if this would be successful. She planned to travel and meet him in Thailand, and for both of them to try and enter the country on their way back.
So I’m shuffling the cards, trying to remain unbiased, trying to focus on the moment, and let all other thoughts go. But the mind chatter sneaks in, and I catch myself thinking the chances of success are slim. I push the thoughts out of my mind and do my best to focus on the shuffle.
I don’t remember all the 3 cards I drew, but they were very positive, and I do remember the final one as being the 3 of Cups.
There’s no denying the answer is positive, and I discuss this at length with her.
She leaves feeling upbeat and I am ready for a glass of wine under the stars. I try not to think too much about the reading – it’s a key rule that once it’s done, it’s done, but you know, I definitely do. I wonder what if, and then I just have to let it go.
A few months pass by, and I get the courage to ask her what happened. She replies they were indeed successful, although it took some time going through the situation and explaining it to the airport authorities. She’s ecstatic and looking forward to all their upcoming travels through the country at music festivals.
I breathe a sigh of relief, and wonder why the sweet Jupiter do I doubt myself sometimes?! I make the resolve to trust my ability and really, do more meditation to still my busy thinking mind (with Moon in Gemini, this is awfully difficult). But really, I’m just very happy for them, and for me too.
It is May 2013 and I am reading tarot at a local festival. It is hot. The sun beams down on the awning shade cloth above me, and the cosy tarot nook I carefully set up starts to heat up like a sauna.
A woman of middle age comes in for a reading. She sits down and I can tell she is slightly nervous, or worried rather, though she doesn’t make a fuss about it. I do a general spread first, which I usually start off with, and go through the cards. Being general in nature, my answers mirror this. At the end, I ask her if there is anything specific she would like answered. She replies yes, and asks about having children.
I remember drawing 3 cards using my Rider Waite Smith deck, and they strongly indicated a yes. I explained what I saw, although at this stage my mind had its doubts. These primarily focused around the woman’s age, which although I did not know, I guessed around early to mid forties.
Now I am well aware of the advances in modern medicine concerning pregnancy and so on. Still, my mind had its doubts.
The woman then proceeds to tell me that she has had a number of IVF treatments, which resulted in pregnancies, however none were successful. I think it was around 3 or 4. She then told me this was the last round of IVF she was prepared to go through, due to its emotional and physical toll.
This only served to increase my doubts about giving her such a positive answer. You might think that as a tarot reader, I never have such doubts, or at least I never should have. That is wrong. I am not God. I live in a world where for most of my early years I was exclusively taught to rely on my mental faculties. You know, worship of the IQ and all that. It was only in late twenties that I truly opened up to the other realms of intuition, gut instinct, etc. After swinging the pendulum from one side (mental) to the other (intuitive), I am now finding a balance between the two.
So in a reading like this, I have the cards telling me loud and clear one message, while in the corner of my mind there’s a few other thoughts going on: she’s too old, she’s had IVFs and pregnancies that did not succeed, etc etc. This was a particularly charged situation: someone who is nearly at the end of their patience, endurance, and hope, on a matter that, to most women, is as vital as the blood flowing through our veins. You can forget all about women’s role in life via a career, or running a business, or political leader, or scientist: try telling someone who wants to have children more than anything else in the world, and cannot, that being a mother is not the only thing there is to life. Let me know how it goes…
I know I have to trust the cards. I reinforce what I see, and explain the cards to her in detail. As she gets up to leave, I say, “well, you may have a son”. I don’t know why I said that, it just came to me. And then she leaves, and I am left thinking about the reading as the sweat beads drip down my back, and I know I shouldn’t think about it for now it is done, but it stays with me.
I actually saw two more women that day with the exact same question, though they were younger. It seems to be a very common question, and I understand the pain and hunger that sometimes accompanies it.
It is May of 2014. Same festival, same heat. I am almost done reading for the day, and looking forward to a cool soak in the crystal river that graces the festival fringe. I am just about to leave the stall, when a woman rushes towards me with a pram.
Initially I didn’t. And then I did. She was beaming, and in that radiant glow introduced me to her baby son.
That experience really shook me. Again, there are those who will say it shouldn’t – but it did. Experiences like this mean a tremendous amount to a tarot reader. Not because of some ego drive, not because of some power trip, or anything like that. On the contrary, as I soaked in the river afterwards, and looked at the blue skies and the hills and the trees and all the goodness of this Earth, I actually felt really, really humbled. I was also happy, very happy of course. Her radiance diffused all around me.
I guess I am writing this in part for myself, for those moments when I doubt what I do and why I do it. But I also write this for anyone who has doubts and questions what they see. It’s a natural part of being human, but if your intent is good and honourable, the cards will not lie.
That’s our lovely bus, parked up for the weekend at Ball Bay, a small coastal village. It’s a quiet and rather sleepy place, which is just how I like it sometimes.
The camp site is next to the beach, and it’s soothing to have the sound of waves as a backdrop in the evening. A glass of wine, a candle, and some cards, and that’s pretty much heaven for me. My partner went fishing off the rocks, and I even joined him for a bit of beach fishing in the evening.
I then spent Sunday at the Cape Hillsborough Lifestyle expo, which was a thoroughly enjoyable experience – if only to enjoy the Old Station Tea House and its wonderful surroundings. Sadly I didn’t capture any photos of it – it’s a relocated old Railway Station house, full of that old world charm, and decorated as such too – even the toilets are full of nostalgia and old posters.
Anyhow. The point of this post is to talk about one of the readings I did, which is not something I do often – but maybe I should? I’ve contemplated writing a “Case Studies in Tarot” Workbook or similar, but frankly, I’m a long way away from even starting something like that. I digress again.
A woman came to see me about a difficult relationship with her daughter (coincidentally, this is not uncommon and perhaps a mirror of my own challenging relationship with my mother. I digress, again). She wanted to know what she could do about this.
I fanned out the old trusty Rider Waite Smith, and asked her to choose 3 cards, and leave them face down. Once she did this, I proceeded to turn them over, and this is what I received:
We both had a laugh seeing the two Queens. And then I paused for a while, because, well, that Emperor just felt so heavy. And rigid, and stubborn, and wearing armour, and not looking like budging one little bit.
I pointed out that the two Queens – which stand for mother and daughter – are not facing each other. They are looking away from each other. And between them, stands what looked to me like an impenetrable force – the Emperor. I proceeded to just describe the qualities of this card, and then the woman told me that her daughter had taken out a legal restriction against her, and that legally she was not allowed to contact her.
And with that explanation, the whole thing made sense – there was absolutely nothing she could do. The cards mirrored that. Fractured relationships come up in tarot readings very often – court cases, legal disputes, custody battles, the whole lot. A question such as “What can I do” is a great one to ask, in instances where one is actually in a position to do something. In this case, that was not possible.
So where to after this? I drew 3 more cards for her daughter, which showed hope for reconciliation (I received the Star and Knight of Cups) as well as remorse and sorrow (9 of Swords). And sometimes, hope is all one needs in such cases. And hope is all I can give, as a reader. I continue to be astounded and amazed at the people that sit in front of me and their tales. And I realise that Tarot is such a powerful and important craft for carrying us through both light and dark moments. I need to step back and reassure myself sometimes, of this, and of my path. And I digress, again.
This reading is done in two parts, as the querent had two separate issues/ questions.
Part 1 Question: I have recently had two of my major freelance jobs end, and am without an income. My spouse is not financially supportive, and we live in a rural area where there are not a lot of choices for jobs. I’ve begun baking a variety of food products to sell at the local farmer’s market. My question is, could this turn into a viable income for me in time, or are there better places to focus my hopes for a financial return that could support me? I would love to hear what the cards advise.
Above we have the spread I did on this issue using the sweet Paulina Tarot. You can click on the image if you would like to see a larger version with more detail (the cards in this deck are wonderfully executed, with rich details throughout).
From left to right, the positions and cards drawn are as follows: 1. Situation: Two of Pentacles 2. What you need to know: Four of Pentacles 3. Advice: King of Cups
This is an old spread I saw long ago (and I apologise for I can’t recall whereabouts), simple but effective. In a nut shell, the business venture is looking good and you are encouraged to continue this. The situation card – Two of Pentacles – shows that it’s a careful balancing act, this is the card of juggling more than one responsibility or project at once. So the situation you are in shows you may have to balance this gig with other forms of work, but you are capable of doing this. It may be a tricky thing to do, but it’s something you are confident with – I note how the character in the card is riding the unicorn, on one leg – scary stuff by the looks of it! Yet the facial expression is happy and relaxed.
With regards to what you need to know, this is the card that encourages your new business venture. As a card of order, structure, stability and organisation, the Four of Pentacles is a really great card for manifestation of practical, material endeavours. It’s unfortunate this card is often referred to as a card of greed or avarice, but for me it’s a great card of stable, successful outcomes when setting up new a business. The advice, King of Cups, speaks of confidence in your skills and experience and taking ownership of this.
Part 2 Question: I am angry and resentful toward my spouse for past and present mean and hurtful words and selfish behaviours and condescending, critical attitudes and judgments. I work hard at letting past hurts go, but the anger and bitterness keep coming up anyway. When I am really frustrated with him, I am quick to think that if there was an obvious next step, or place for me to go, I’d rather live alone. I long for it at those times, but don’t see a first step to take, and am over it the next day anyway and wondering why I was considering re-mixing my entire life over my man being a doofus once in a while. On the other hand, I think it’s normal to feel like this sometimes, in every long-term relationship, and surely not every woman wishes she had a way out, every time. Or does she? I don’t know. I don’t know if I am being an escapist, a dreamer, a child who insists on everything her own way and easy, or if there really isn’t much left for me in this relationship and I might as well face it and get the hell out now instead of letting it drag on and on and on and on. When I’m not pissed off at the man for being a dinkeye, I’m perfectly content with everything else about my life! I don’t want to live anywhere else, or really even to do anything else. My days are full and generally happy. But my relationship with this man is not what I wanted or want, sometimes, and … What do the cards advise?
First, thank you for your honesty. A lot of women I think can relate to this. I have encountered similar questions when I have read for the public, and sometimes the cards say go, sometimes they say stay. In this instance, the three advice cards above tell you, as advice, to:
– not act in a rash or impulsive manner (The Hanged Man). In fact, this is a card of not really taking any action at all, just letting the flow of life come and go;
– approach the relationship with new, fresh energy (Ace of Wands);
– deepen the bond you have with your partner (Six of Cups).
I then drew three more cards just to be sure (it happens!) with the following positions:
1. Advice for you – what to do: The Empress
2.Advice for you – what not to do: The Emperor
3.Outcome: 2 of Cups
1. Advice for you – what to do: The Empress
The Empress is about creativity, nourishment, sensuality, abundance. She is happy and has confidence in herself as a woman and is able to create a rich and fulfilling life – whether this is as a business woman, a gardener, a baker, a lawyer, it doesn’t matter really, although in general (and in this version of the card as well), she is associated with the more earthy, sensual side of life. Let her be your guide and mentor, and learn to bring in your life and relationship her attributes – particularly the softer, feminine side.
2.Advice for you – what not to do: The Emperor
Well, the Emperor for what not to do! The opposite of the Empress, as I see it: he is discriminating, dominating, critical, objective.You have to be, if you are the Emperor and have a kingdom to protect – none of these qualities are bad in themselves, but for you, they are not what you’d want to adopt in supporting and continuing your relationship with your partner.
3.Outcome: 2 of Cups
This is such a beautiful card for a renewed bond between you and your partner. It is the quintessential card for a loving, harmonious relationship. I almost couldn’t believe I got this card as the outcome, so I hope this gives you inspiration and guidance to continue on this path. The couple shown in this card are sharing a drink in a flower blossom, and it’s a truly beautiful setting the artist has painted.
Feedback update (23 July):
Re: just letting the flow of life come and go.
Interesting, as this is exactly what I have been working on in my life, in general. I use affirmations as a cathartic mixture of manifestation and personal therapy, and a current sentence in daily use is “It is safe for me to relax and trust the process of life.” It makes sense that this applies to my relationship, too, and not just to anxiety about money, work, daily accomplishment, and so on. Some angst comes from thinking that I need to figure this problem out, solve it once and for all, do something different to create a different result, not settle for anything I’m less than content with, and so on. Maybe I need to get off that particular worry wheel; it hasn’t gotten me anywhere. It creates a lot of stress, actually, because the solutions aren’t immediately visible. As a matter of fact, it appears sometimes there are no suitable solutions, or no comfortable ones, or none with desirable endings. Maybe my current challenge is to relax and see what life brings, rather than trying to make certain things happen (or not happen).
Re: What Not to Do (Ace Wands): the Emperor! Ha! Ha! This is funny, because my partner behaves like the Emperor, and I try very hard not to act like he does (critical, dominating [well, he tries]), but I’m sure I do without realizing it. I see your reading of this card as support for my ideal of taking the high road, no matter how he behaves. I’m no doormat; I always take a stand or stand up for myself, which is why there is conflict around our home. But I am getting tired of having to, and it is why my friends who hear my “story” are surprised I am still with this man. They don’t see me as a person who takes much guff from anyone, and yet … “What has happened to you?” they ask me, because I am clearly unhappy with this man much of the time.
What’s happened is that I’ve learned not to expect my partner to be perfect, any more than I am perfect. I’m not unforgiving or ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater. There is so much grey area; only in my angry or hurt moments do things seem black and white, and that’s when I long for a door to appear, so I can walk away without doing a lot of damage to anyone, including myself. It does seem as if some catalyst is needed, some major change, so that a new way of being can fall into place. And until the stars align, I may just have to wisely stay put, practise patience and tolerance, and keep trying to grow myself up. I’m having trouble being patient, and I have never been tolerant of rude or inconsiderate words or behaviour. I sometimes don’t want to live with this man anymore, though I also don’t want to lose him altogether. Or do I? We shall see.
But the Empress card that you drew does fit, as I believe strongly that “It is better to be kind than to be right,” and that is my modus operandi: do the loving thing.
Not that I do it perfectly. Ha! Far from it.
Re: Outcome (2 Cups): Deepened bond.
This card gives me hope that we will manage to get back to loving each other as I wish to love and be loved. Between us there is still enough affection and passion that I can almost believe it.
I’m going to think on this reading some more, of course, but I want to give you some feedback before waiting any longer.
Thanks again. You did a fine reading – articulate and wise! I really appreciate it.