The ideas and
interpretations of the Tarot herewith are of my own choosing based on
popular formulations that can be found globally and are not necessarily
those attributed to A. E. Waite or his publishers. Furthermore, it is not my
intention to profit from the Ryder-Waite
deck. I hold the author in very high esteem and have given him credit
where it is due.
Psychic powers or clairvoyance
are not included in this
manuscript nor am I a true believer in such abilities, however, in my practice I
have had quantum leaps of insight and knowledge that I cannot explain. Perhaps this method of helping and healing people is a different mode of
thinking, or involving less thought and more imagination directed toward a
problem which is causing pain. I do know that mental action cures pain, this is a
fact. The reader is there to guide the querent to a pain free state. I find it
much easier to help the truly needy than the seeker-tourist looking for a
kick. The ability to sense suffering may be an intuitive talent, which is
more of a calling than a skill that I can teach.
What is a querent
Note that I use the words *querent, seeker and client interchangeably and
that I address this paper to the reader, psychic, or student of the Tarot who
wishes to become a reader.
(Old Eng. Law) A complainant; a plaintiff.
1. An inquirer. (not necessarily from Philadelphia)
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, published
1913 by C & G Merriam Co.
What is a Reader
reader you must concentrate on helping to solve the querent's problems and
wishes in a friendly, mind jogging activity rather than be so gassed on your
own mysticism that you convince the person that he is addressing an
omnipotent entity that is not to be questioned.
You are the boss of the interview but not the outcome. Conduct it as you
would if you were an industrial psychiatrist, motivate the seeker toward his
Though quantum leaps are possible I do not recommend that you base your
success on the ability to predict the future. That is not the true purpose of
this calling. It is my hope that you want to help those who cannot help
themselves because they cannot put things together, a process which lies at the
heart of symbolism itself – although technically the word comes from the Greek word for
an identity tag worn around the neck.
Symbols operate, as I will explain later, in a way that poetry and metaphor
operate, that is, through association, likeness, correspondences, similarities and also
as opposites. Just as Astrology is one set of correspondences, so Tarot is another
set. All symbols, however, operate in the same way by growing and changing in
our imagination to freely associate with the task at hand. The stronger the
symbol the better the power to heal, to revive and instill in the seeker a new and relevant,
If you are a free spirited person I suggest that you hold back a little and err
on the side of caution. On the other hand if you are the cautious type, I
recommend that you loosen up and let yourself go a bit more. I cannot put you on
a scale, but use of whole brain thinking is a more balanced way to proceed. Left
brain thinking has been described as thought without any emotion or insight,
while right brain rationality is all raving concerns, worries and out-the-window
beliefs. Somewhere in between is where you want to be. Let the symbols talk to
you, but be careful how you talk to them.
Warner, Dec. 6, 2002
I do not read reverse cards, not because I can't but because there is enough
negativity in them already without looking for more.
Is A Symbol
The major criticism over the actual existence of
symbols is that it's all make believe and therefore unimportant, made up and
arbitrary. In other words you can say it is a symbol of something but that
doesn't make it one. My argument is based on how abstract images and ideas
affect people and their actions, culture and self knowledge. If you don't
want to call that influence symbolism then substitute your own word. Causes
that are complex, hidden, debatable are often lumped with the symbols of the
times and the strong beliefs of popular movements. People don't randomly
make up new symbols, okay, follow this. They start as ideas that grow and
evolve in common use. It is no different from a rumor, wives tale, viral
video or approval rating, further more it does not have to be true or
politically correct. The effect is change over time socially and
historically. The more portable the symbol is the more successful.
The best ad campaign is one based on symbols that are widespread
yet invisible to our motivations. Music is a good example, it's energy
motivates most people to move, tap, even blink and mate. Images do the same
by drawing on memory and association. People respond to symbols that are not
even intellectually recognized as such, causing a popular approval or
disapproval based on gut reaction and the need to part of group opinion. "We
the people" didn't take very long to become a permanent idiom for USA.
A symbol is a picture or drawing of a representational object, plant,
animal or person, sometimes a place that can be communicated in a word or
phrase, which suggests that there is more to the image than what can be seen. At
face value it may have a literal message or interpretation, but on closer
examination the picture may tell a more complete story and offer up many other
associations. This phenomenon is called correspondence, a connection between the
picture and a reality that never seems out of date. Samuel Taylor Coleridge
defined three types of symbols:
math or literal symbols used in everyday communication,
+ - = %
allegorical symbols (veiled language) found in antiquity and used for representational heroes in literature,
theater. Most allegory relies on people and animal subjects. Examples are The
Bible, Livy, Frye's Faerie Queene, Allegory found in astrology, Plato,
masques, Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy, John Bunyan's Pilgrims Progress,
and the works of William Blake, Tolkien and Baum. Nietzsche's Übermensch
from Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883) has evolved into the popular caped man of
steel. Rodger Rabbit also has allegorical innuendo as class struggle, the
ultimate triumph of a picture.
organic Symbols, also found in antiquity, but because they are primal, timeless and never
run out of new applications, they are considered to be growing, alive or
animate such as religious, spiritual or cult figures of the ancients. If
necessary they can be revived.
An organic symbol is different from the hero of an allegory because it
has an inexhaustible supply of relevance, meaning and philosophy which could be
interpreted as helpful, inspirational or enlightening. Think of super heroes as
crossovers from stiff allegory to symbol because of the popular imagination
invested in them. It is the difference
between an allegorical character who, for example, represents truth, honesty and
integrity as identified by his drapery, insignia or what have you, and a
numinous mythical figure, possibly religious or prophetic, who may be many
characters wrapped into one and who comes with a philosophy which can be readily
applied to a situation. Time is the only test of a good symbol. Good or bad it
can always be revised for any contemporary culture.
Is A Tarot Symbol
The making of Tarot cards
began in the 15th century as home projects to illustrate trump cards with
pictures of family members posing as gods, royalty, virtues and other
whimsical figures. Most noted are the Sforza and Visconti families of
Renaissance Italy (1441, the marriage of Francesco Sforza and Bianca Maria
Visconti). In the same spirit I have created a home project to
promote my own Tarot deck to the Internet. The richness of Tarot philosophy
and symbolism has inspired me to share it with the world.
The deck used online is not the one I use at home. Both have taken 20 years
symbols are traditionally taken from allegorical medieval images of family life and
devotions. This is not to be taken literally as how we must live, but as
what is important, universal and positive about our way of life. You will
find similarities to Tarot principles in every culture, demonstrating the human condition,
a primitive psychology, or what the ancients called 'the perennial philosophy'.
often cited as an example, The Cult of Hermes, or Corpus Hermeticum, may be a
good source to investigate. This work was proven long ago to be a 2nd century
hoax, never-the-less, it is an excellent depiction of pagan thought, belief and
symbolism. The work's promotional intent was to suggest that Christ was long
anticipated by pagan religions.
Use of the Cabala is also not a way to learn
the Tarot. One does not stand in a pentagram and wish ill or vengeance
toward one's neighbors. Wag of the finger.
Because these symbols are used meditatively they
have evolved an organic
quality, a living essence, (you allow them to grow) which makes them easy to use as a mental
nudge or reminder when looking for solutions to problems. They
for example, like the sun, always returning for a new day or like a famous
or heroic person who has attributes, qualities, an agenda or
a list of good deeds and bad. The Tarot uses mythology and astrology to
that which was believed to originate in the stars and planets, (as above, so
below) but which need only originate
in the idea which you form in your mind after study and experience. The
larger metaphor of the pictures in the stars is applied here below.
Pursuit of this knowledge has faded from popularity and reemerged over the
centuries. Meditation use is newer. Symbols grow because of the power given to
them, but can be stronger than the
will of a society, culture or individual. They can kill. See what I mean in my
new article in progress -
Occult Symbolism ...and how it works.
I am not going to cite one deck
over another to show organic symbols, but the way the cards are used is a
key to how they are evolving. Whenever you mentally picture your own link to
an idea and then redesign a personal deck you are expanding the symbolism
symbols go beyond the pictorial face of the card and do not end with a few
philosophical summaries, platitudes or scenarios of life. Like the lotus or rose there is an
inexhaustible supply of petals, meanings, applications, and inspirations. It is
possible to meditate on a single card and never come to the end of its
is a problem
layout of the spread has a top and a bottom. The top cards, referred to as what
is "crowning" the client, are to be viewed in a more favorable
light than the bottom cards, referred to as what the client is "sitting
on". Top cards 5 and 10 are generally good or helpful indications, while
the bottom cards, 3 and 7, suggest problems. Don't expect the client to readily
accept your word that something they feel more at ease about is a problem.
Perhaps a test question is in order to get to know the client's personality.
Example: When a tree is lying in the road blocking your path do you get your
chain saw out of the trunk or backtrack several miles to another route?
The four suits are part of the medieval structure one might find in Dante's
Divine Comedy, Earth Air, Fire Water, (coin, sword, wand, cup). Although
allegorical in principle, one can simplify or personalize them to mean Material,
Intellectual, Spiritual and Emotional concerns. In the Fool they surround him,
in the Magician he uses them. Temperance is pouring them from cup to cup,
serving the right mixture. Justice is best obtained through (sword) intelligent
solutions. Naked hope, the Star is best expressed by watery ablutions, emotional
outpouring and the seven planets shining
(the Sun is a planet) the only ones known in Medieval times.
My method of reading
any card in a Celtic Cross Spread
according to its position. Try it before inventing
Palmleaf Cross TAROT-Basics © Jimmy Warner
0. Significator card
When playing with a physical deck the significator card
is tucked under the subject card.
a Significator card
position - subject, crossing, urgent, past, best etc.
Layout using Ryder-Waite Deck
(extra cards to the right)
click to zoom
This shows my actual spread with extra cards played on the court cards.
The King of Cups is my significator next to the (Sun) subject. I usually
the subject card on top of my significator. The King of Wands represents a
close friend. Because there are four other personae in the spread I play on
each one for more info. It sometimes appears that every court card is
about an aspect of the same person.
ANY TAROT CARD IN POSITION 1 - 10
In a reading as the topic or subject:
This card is the subject or topic of the reading. It should reflect on the
querent’s question if he asks one. The reader should do his best to relate
this card to the querent’s question. Tarot philosophy is flexible enough to
relate to most any question. Rephrasing the question also helps.
You can eliminate chance by choosing a subject card that best represents the
question. You can always play on a card that is unclear. Add cards for
The reader can ask if the subject of the card is a more important topic than the
topic posed by the question. Serendipity can work for you as well.
In a reading as the crossing, value comment, good or bad:
Value means for example, who is this helping or hurting, who is
benefiting. Who does this effect the most for good or ill? What good is it? What
use, and is this a good time for it? Play the commenting card value against the
subject. EXAMPLE: Lovers crossed by Devil asks the question is this a viable
choice? Lovers = marriage, choice, Devil = survival, responsibility, trap. One can make other
associations, will the marriage be a trap? Will this choice increase or lessen
In a reading as the urgency, the heart of the matter:
If there is a problem associated with the subject this card should spell it out,
although the problem doesn’t always appear to the seeker to be what the
problem really is. The heart of the matter is more likely to be the real problem
that is giving concerns to the seeker regarding the subject of the reading.
Example: Fool, crossed by Magician, urgent card is High Priestess. Just an
average guy, right? Does he have all the necessary tools to meet his goals? He
already knows the answer, but it bothers the hell out of him. Question is what
is really bothering him about himself (Fool), is it really just about the tools?
(Magician). The background philosophy here, says, if you really know yourself
(High Priestess) and your limitations you can do the job ... but does the client
In a reading as the past, what led up to this:
is a readable line that goes all the way across the spread like a time line. 4,
1, 2, 6, 8. The lateral axis of the spread provides a history of the seeker from
some point in the recent past, through the present topic to a point in the
future. Usually this time line does not extend more than six months in either
direction. A past event often affects a future one unless the subject,
value, and problem are dealt with and the advice (card 5) is taken. (6 is
future, 8 is an omniscient view or commentary on what surrounds the seeker at home or work.)
In a reading as the crowning, the best advice:
Make a positive case for the card and what it symbolizes. This is the best
advice you can get to solve whatever problem is at hand. Compare the problem
indicated by card in 3rd position, heart of the mater to the 5th
card. Determine whether the advice suggested is a reasonable strategy to solve
the problem. Example: Card 3 is Lovers, Card 5 is Strength. Lovers = problem
making a choice of a marriage partner. Advice is based on character assessment.
Be true to yourself. If you cannot be who you are and true to your character
married to this person, it is obvious you do not belong together. In order to
get at the advice the reader may have to ask some test questions. Does the
person you choose want to change you
something you don’t want to be? Advice is saying be fair to yourself. Does the
person you choose have a reasonable expectation of you? Notice any strange
beliefs that are not covered by religion? Intentions must be pure not profane.
In a reading as the six month forecast, what’s coming:
Prediction is not the total aim of the Tarot, only preparation and
openness to possibility is the name of the game. What is sewn in the past often
has an implication in the future. Cards 4, 1, 2, 6 reflect what leads up to a
future event. To say that card six will come true is a bit presumptuous,
however, this is how life works unless one does something to prevent it. One can
prepare for the possibility or do something now to prevent the possibility.
Possibilities do not come with a set of guarantees.
In a reading as the querent's fear, what blocks progress:
Fears and phobias indicated by the card should be faced and
dealt with immediately. A good reader can prepare the seeker to face his fear,
his worst nightmare, or a scene he is dreading. One way to master a fear in your
mind is to change it, modify a color, place, tone, texture, even a sound. As
indicated in card 5, fear is not the only way one’s progress can be blocked.
Expectations and beliefs do an even better job of undermining a goal. Example:
card 7 is Temperance. The reader might ask the question, “How do you expect to
get along, co-operate, make do? Are you willing to give a little, bend a little?
Does it worry you that you can’t make do?”
In a reading as the querent's surroundings, how other's see him: Card 8 will
show a little of what is suggested by card 6 and possibly 10. This overview is
an observation not colored by any personal point of view or concern. Only the
facts that surround the seeker are symbolized. It is like looking down from a
higher plane. The seeker may not be aware of all that is going on around him.
In a reading as the hopes and wishes, the querent's goal:
Air castles need mortar, practical and realistic steps toward
attaining them, not more cloud billows and faith healing. Belief in a grand
future can help a mental state, but nothing could be better than taking action
to further ones dreams.
card sometimes gives a method by which the goal can be achieved rather than just
a reflection of the seeker's wishes. You cannot presume that all opportunity
comes to your door and knocks, you must do as Abraham, leave the house, have
faith that the journey will take you somewhere worth your while.
In a reading as the outcome, summary, or test:
outcome is always positive, upbeat and reflecting favorably on the seeker even
if the card is somewhat negative. The outcome card uses the paradigm of the
world card to point the way. It is both celebration of reaching a stage of
development and a time to up periscope and come to a new heading. It can be as
much of an indication of outcome as what will be the next thing, the results of
a test, or the next test to follow.
The surrounding suits
a slant to be 3 or more of a suit, court card or Major Arcana. Three Majors
indicate a Serious Reading, one you should pay close attention to because of its
weighty and more profound symbols. The subject will not be about rotating the
tires or whether to serve celery with dinner. There could be life changing
wisdom in the spread that the querent needs to know. Three or more Court cards
is an obvious hint that a fair number of individuals are involved in this latest
episode of life. By playing extra cards on the Court cards it is possible to
determine who the individuals are. Three or more Cups give the spread an
emotional slant, showing an active role in which the heart may have more power
than wit. Three or more Wands I call a spiritual guide where intuition, faith,
inspiration or creative energy plays the dominant role. Swords clear the way for
a purely intellectual solution to whatever problems arise. Coins will indicate
that it may be OK to throw money into something, or that nothing less than
physical action will be needed.
The Ryder - Waite Deck
The Waite index
A. E. Waite
in his 'Key to the Tarot' published his list of meanings to be applied to
the recurrence of numbered cards such as two aces, three two's, four tens,
etc, and the recurrence of court cards for example two Knights or three Queens.
I have included this index in my Free Tarot Online automatic self readings which
is now up and running. Free
Learning the meaning of the
cards of the Major Arcana
(The Fool is numbered 0 on the card)
is a medieval synopsis or short story to help us remember the meanings of the
Major Arcana which goes like this: