Shorthand Tarot – What makes a Tarot card?


When doing Tarot readings, I consistently look at all my deck and then carefully select….the RWS. Or at least an RWS based deck. I love to work with the Marseille deck privately, but seldom use it with a client. I like Thoth and Deviant Moon to explore, but seldom use them with a client. When I am finished with a reading, I take a photograph (or screenshot in online readings) to “write down the reading” for reference and to give it to the client.

A while ago I thought it would be a good idea to have a way of noting down readings by hand. To be able to do something wihtout a smartphone, internet access and all that comes with it. Of course one can simply write the names of the cards, but that was not what I looked for. I wanted something quick and unique. I am familiar with a lot of systems to write down information quickly, such as shorthand notation, Juan Tamariz’ system of symbols to write out magic performance instructions and others. But they all suffered from a serious drawback: For me and the client they do not capture the essence of the reading. The client has to recall what the card looked like in order to recall the reading, which is difficult from abstract symbol. My abilities as a graphic artist are seriously limited so drawing each card was no option.

I tried to work out what exactly I wanted to have and came to the conclusion that I wanted a sort of Icon which would convey the Gestalt of the card, its general look and its numerical, elemental and astrological symbolism without words. These are the things I most often refer to in readings, so they needed writing down. Do these things constitute what a Tarot card is? I think not, there is more, obviously and less as well. To some a Tarot card is an artwork, nothing more. To others it is a projection of a full esoteric system on a symbolic representation, nothing less. Still, I tried to have this information as my minimalistic tarot shorthand.

Each card should be drawable as just line art with a single thickness pen, and in less than a minute. Plus my sore head needs to remember 78 silly pictures, so too much detail could not be included. Thus I developed what I now call the Shorthand Tarot, by no means the only version of a simplistic handdrawn cards, but to me, useful ones. I now use them for notation and also for other activities, subject of future discussion.

I would love to see what you think and what you make of the two cards below.

Shorthand Tarot (c) 2013 Markus Pfeil

Shorthand Tarot (c) 2013 Markus Pfeil

Shorthand Tarot (c) 2013 Markus Pfeil

Shorthand Tarot (c) 2013 Markus Pfeil

I am a Germany based Tarot enthusiast available via http://www.Tarosophy.De