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

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Tarot Symbolism – That Monkey is always distorting my truth!


By Andrew McGregor

A little while back I wrote a post about what to do when you get lost in a reading or don’t know what a card means. This week it happened to me in pretty stellar fashion so I thought I’d share how I got myself out of the block.

I was reading for a client recently about how to deal with an institution. It was a reading all about advocating for their own rights in the face of being processed and not having their story heard. I am sure we have all run up against the machine of bureaucracy when trying to sort out problems with big companies. I get really frustrated when the person on the other end of the line says, “The computer won’t let me do that.” It may be true, but it sure doesn’t make me happy to hear it.

On to the Monkey business in this story

The Magician appeared in this reading to talk about actions to be taken to get the best results. If you look at the Magician in the Thoth deck you will find a monkey hanging out with him. You might have to look close in some variations as he is sneaking around in the background. Crowley, in the book for this deck, says of the ape that this little fella’s job is to distort the word of God. The Magician speaks the word of God and his primate cousin distorts it so that the truth is hidden. The whole business is like playing broken telephone.

I don’t often find myself stuck on a card these days. I ran through the common meanings that often surface with this card – exerting your will, balancing inside yourself, using truth and illusion to achieve your results, or the persons power to manifest things. BUT… the Monkey just kept staring at me. Perhaps its because Monkeys stole my lunch once but I just started to get a bad feeling about it. I tried to think it out to no avail, so finally I asked him straight out. The conversation went something like this:

“Okay Monkey Man is the client not being clear in their communication?”
“Oook, ook”
“Two ‘ooks’ for yes, one for no?” I asked.
“Ooo aaaahhhh”
“Okay I am on the wrong track, are their emotions getting in the way?”
“Haaa haaa”
Starting to feel a bit silly for talking to a picture of a Monkey I thought “Okay you are being too heady about all this.”
Out loud I asked politely “What do you have to say in this reading Mr. Cynocephalus Ape?”
In a charming voice the answer came “You are not hearing what I have to say, because they are not hearing what she has to say.”

So there it was, the institution was distorting the communication between my client and their service provider. This was something I knew about dealing with, and luckily, the card itself conveyed the solution. The magician is the master of truth and illusion, and as such, knows when he is not being understood. By accepting the reality of the broken telephone, the client could focus on checking the feedback loop to ensure accurate communication. It’s a perfect setting for asking the question like “Can you repeat back to me what you heard me say?” and other techniques like it to get the wax out of the ears, or in this case the institution out of the way, and get on to communicating as two people intent on finding a workable solution to the problems at hand.

Oooook Ooook…

Got some monkeyshines of your own to share? Jump in by posting a comment.

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