Telling Time with Tarot


By Andrew McGregor

I do a lot of divination for myself and for others. One of the most awkward questions for me to answer has always been, “when will this particular thing happen?” Some cards have obvious associations with timelines but others do not. How long a time is suggested by the knight of cups? What point in time is indicated by this card? Well the question can be resolved easily when one sees how the cards fit onto the wheel of the zodiac as depicted in the model we are looking at. This is the first advantage of working with this visual tool, answering the difficult question of “when” actually becomes actually quite simple.

The second advantage to knowing this model is that it can help give clues as to which kind of energy one might want to work with in relation to the question. Sure there are the elemental attributions of cards but these may be too limited, or if you are working on a more macrocosmic level they may not be enough by themselves, and you’ll be asking, “where do I look next?”

So as we go through each card below take a look at the illustration. It may look a bit complicated but it will be simple if you read along and keep referring to the illustration.

The Wheel of the Year and the Tarot

Tarot cards laid out on the wheel of the year.

So we all know there are 12 signs of the zodiac. These each rule 30º of the zodiac. It’s a no-brainer we just divide the wheel of the year 360º by 12 to get the amount each sign will rule. But note that the Astrological year starts in Aries, in March, and not as we are used to in January.

The confusion starts to creep in with the small cards and the court cards. Each quarter of the year is ruled by one element as represented by its Ace. So, for instance, the first quarter is ruled by Taurus and Earth. It is also ruled by the Princess of that same suit. After subtracting the Princesses and the Aces we have 36 small cards and 12 court cards left over.

The small cards each rule 10º of the zodiac, three to a sign. Each small card is also governed by a planet. Its meaning is actually the product of that planet in the sign that gives it its meaning. For instance the 2 of Wands is Mars in Aries, in the Thoth deck Dominion, Mars in the sign it rules amplifies the martial energy to create power and control. Each of the small cards can be understood in this manner.

The court cards, like the signs of the zodiac, rule 30º of the wheel. However due to their intermingled elemental nature they are offset from the signs of the zodiac by 10º so each card rules from 20º of on sign into 20º of the next sign. This can also help to determine what energy a person would have in their personality. Sort of like a mini astrological chart.

I have found this to be and invaluable tool for expanding the way I relate the tarot to both the year and to time in general. I hope it helps.

Andrew McGregor

Comments

  1. For those interested in using this technique, you can also use the timing-cards to indicate Portions of the Day. The Courts would represent ~2-hour periods, and the Number Cards would represent ~40-minute (2/3-hour) periods.
    So, for instance, the Knight of Cups represents the first 2 hours after Sunrise. It is up to the reader whether that period is measured according to “actual sunrise” or the 6am determination. The Pages would then represent the four general periods between Sunrise, Noon, Sunset and Midnight.

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