First published on Autostraddle.
I know, I know. I’m not a predictive tarot reader, and neither are many of you.
But. There’s this whole fascinating school of thought around using tarot cards to predict roughly – or precisely – when a thing is going to happen, and today I want to take a look at some of the approaches you can use to do this.
If you’re not a predictive reader, don’t be too quick to write this stuff off. The suggestions below work not only for predictive work, but also to answer other kinds of ‘when’ questions, such as ‘when should I…?’ or ‘when is a good time for…?’ Even if you’re not into using tarot for prediction, you can incorporate these ideas into your planning work.
You can mix and match from the suggestions below, none of these are ‘rules’. Or you can come up with your own methods. You do you, folks!
Seasons and suits
The four suits of tarot may correspond to the four seasons, giving you a very general idea when something is going to/should happen. You could remove all major cards so you’re left only with the minors, then shuffle and pick a card. Alternatively, you could use this as part of a bigger reading, looking to see which suit features the most heavily in the entire spread. (This applies to most of the techniques listed here.)
Here are the correspondences I work with:
Spring – Swords
Summer – Wands
Autumn – Cups
Winter – Pentacles
Note that other readers use different pairings of suits and seasons. These feel really right to me – the energy of each of these suits fits well with the feeling of each of the seasons. As always, it’s 100% okay to form your own correspondences, depending on what feels right to you.
You might decide that any card in this suit could represent the season. Another approach is to say that it is only the Ace (or some folks say the Page) of that suit.
Days of the week
Each day of the week is associated with a Greek/Roman god, and thus also a planet. And guess what? Each planet has a corresponding tarot card!
Monday – Moon – The High Priestess / The Moon
Tuesday – Mars – The Tower
Wednesday – Mercury – The Magician
Thursday – Jupiter – The Wheel of Fortune
Friday – Venus – The Empress
Saturday – Saturn – The World
Sunday – Sun – The Sun
Q. Which day should I set aside for my tax return?
A. The World – Saturday (Saturday? Seriously, tarot cards?)
Again, you could pull just these seven cards from your deck, then pick one at random to find your answer, or you could do a bigger reading around your question, and look to see if one of these pops up in an auspicious position.
Look for symbols and other clues in the card images to tell you when to act. This has got to be my favourite method, as it’s much more interpretive, and less defined. You can go as simple or as nuanced as you like with this.
Q. When should I write a heartfelt letter to the friend I’ve fallen out with?
A. Knight of Stones: When you next see a horse, it’s time to write.
A. The Forest Lovers: When the birch tree has fresh green leaves and calla lilies are in flower.
One fun practice for figuring out how many days (or weeks, months or years if you like) it will be until a certain event is to flip cards. Choose a card that represents the event you’re asking about – for example, the Six of Swords for a journey, the Four of Wands for a party, the Two of Cups for asking someone out, the Tower for quitting your job.
Shuffle your cards, whilst asking a clear question: ‘How many days should I wait until I ask for her number?’ or ‘How many days til she asks me out?’ Then turn them over one by one until your card appears! The number of cards you’ve turned over is your answer!
You can approach this with a ‘how many days/weeks/months…’ question like those above, but here, instead of counting cards, shuffle and pick one. The number on the card is your answer! Ace is one, Page, Knight, Queen and King are 11-14.
Each astrological sign has an associated major arcana tarot card:
Aries – The Emperor
Taurus – The Hierophant
Gemini – The Lovers
Cancer – The Chariot
Leo – Strength
Virgo – The Hermit
Libra – Justice
Scorpio – Death
Sagittarius – Temperance
Capricorn – The Devil
Aquarius – The Star
Pisces – The Moon
The most obvious answer derived using this question would be ‘when the Sun is in the sign of…’. (Here’s a quick guide to the dates of each sign.) You could decide that the answer is any time during this phase, or alternatively, the exact date (and even time) that the sun enters that sign.
You might prefer instead to go by the moon, as in ‘when the full moon is in Aries’ (which it was last weekend) or ‘when the new moon is Sagittarius’, again giving you an exact date.
PS: I’ve taken these correspondences from Amelia Quint’s brilliant ebook, #StarsAndCards. It takes you through every single tarot card and it’s associated astrological phase, so if you really want to explore using astrological timings in your tarot practice, this is a really helpful (and free) resource!
I would absolutely love to hear from other folks who use tarot for prediction, or to decide the best dates for doing things. If you’re a predictive reader, what methods do you prefer? Has anyone out there made up their own?
Cards shown are from the Wildwood Tarot. Calendars and diaries are the Earth Pathways Diaries.
I’m a 30-something writer, artist, tarot reader, and perpetual explorer of the space between thought, feeling, and action.
I believe that spirituality and ritual are for everybody. I’m about the journey, in all of its messy, non-linear, chaotic iterations. I am excited by anticapitalist business and living with my whole entire self present. I use tarot cards to bring forth hidden truth, and ritual to affirm my commitment, over and over, to my ever-shifting path.