We are all wanderers on this earth. Our hearts are full of wonder, and our souls are deep with dreams.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

It's Only A Matter of Time
It's only natural. We want to know "When?" You're waiting on that call, that answer, your life feels in limbo until you hear about that job, that decision. Will the house sell? When? Will they accept my proposal? When? Will he call? When? When will I know so I can make my decision? We really hate being held captive by someone else's actions or decisions. It makes us feel a loss of control in our lives and if there's something human beings have a really hard time with, it's lack of control in their own environment. So we turn to the cards for clues and we hope they can tell us something, anything, about when an event we've been waiting for is likely to occur. However, the cards aren't imprinted with times and dates on them. They speak in symbols and analogies and time, being a manmade construct, is a rather limited box to try and shove allegorical symbols into. Predicting when something will happen with tarot is not impossible, but it's difficult, and there isn't one, particular way to do it.

First, you need to be really fluent in the language your deck "speaks." The conversations between you must be relatively easy, free-flowing, and reciprocal. This alone takes a while to develop. You should know what your deck means when certain elements present themselves. Do wands represent fire to you or air? Once you have determined the elemental associations with each suit, and understood the individual card meanings (for the most part) you might then be ready to experiment with timing.

The easiest method is to build the timeframe into the question itself. You ask the question in this way: "In the next week, what must I be focusing on in order to get my manuscript published?" That way, you've limited the timeframe to one week's time and any future or outcome cards in the spread will be predetermined to fit in that timeframe. Cheater. Actually, that's a great way to be very specific with your question, and the more specific you are with your question, the more specific an answer you will get. So that's one way. However, it occasionally leads to asking tarot again and again the same question only with different timeframes. How about in two weeks? Three? A month? If anything will get you chasing your tail in circles, asking the same question multiple times in a row will. You're asking for a headache.

There are many and varied methods tarot readers use to determine timing, but what I've found is that they're all dependent on that reader's own relationship and associations with the cards. For example, is fire or air faster to you? Since fire is associated with light (the sun), I view wands as the fastest suit. Swords is slightly slower, as a moving breeze. Cups I associate with water, hence a bit slower than air, like water moving in a stream. Pentacles represent earth which moves very slowly. So these elemental associations with the suits give me clues as to the speed of the event in question. Another clue comes from the numbers on the cards. One (the Magician) and Aces are very quick, almost instantaneous. However, with the Aces, one has to consider the element of the suit as well, as an Ace of Wands will be much faster occuring than the Ace of Pentacles. Fours, on the other hand, the number of The Emperor, are rather static and solid, not going anywhere anytime soon, stubborn almost. So even a Four of Wands, while not as rooted as a Four of Pentacles, is very easygoing and will wait a while. Yet another clue comes from whether the card is a Major or Minor Arcana. The Majors, being "destiny" cards, meaning events that have a major impact on your life, seem to indicate something already in the works. It's going to happen. However, the actual meanings associated with the card must come into play here as well. Temperance, for example, though a Major, takes a while to find just the right mixture between things, and is indicative of patience. We wouldn't need patience if the thing we want to happen comes quickly, so this card says it's going to take a while. It will happen, but not so fast.

Suits can also be associated with seasons. Again, different readers have different associations, and some of these systems are based on the astrological associations of the cards (which is a whole realm in itself!). One of the problems with this system is, again, different people have different astrological associations to different cards. So if you use this system, find one set of associations and stick with it. The key seems to be getting one system embedded into your subconscious so your interaction with the cards bring up those associations more naturally. For me, personally, Swords (air) represent winter, Cups (water) represent spring, Wands (fire) represent summer, and Pentacles (earth) represent autumn.

The numbers on the cards can indicate the number of days, weeks, or months. Or the number of the month, such as 9 being the ninth month, or September. The tricky part is figuring that out. Some people associate pentacles with months, so the Nine of Pentacles then would mean either in 9 months or September. Also, readers sometimes simply pick up cues from the images on the cards themselves, noticing whether the scene in question looks like it's occuring in summer or winter or on a particular holiday.

Combining all these clues and systems and tossing in a healthy dose of intuition and knowing your particular deck's idiosynchracies based on many, many readings and grasping at something so intangible as the sands of Time itself, you still may find you can only come up with a general sense to answer that elusive question: "When?" In my next post, I'll share a wonderful spread a friend of mine developed that is designed specifically to answer that question, but we've found even after using this spread extensively, you still need to figure out your own system and even then it's pretty trial-and-error. There have been times it's been so eerily accurate that it's made us marvel, but other times she and I will bemoan, "Why did Tarot lie? Why does it lie like that?"


  1. Anonymous3:53 PM

    "Suits can also be associated with seasons...For me, personally, Swords (air) represent winter, Cups (water) represent spring, Wands (fire) represent summer, and Pentacles (earth) represent autumn."

    Hi Ginny,
    Could you please elaborate on why you associate Cups with Spring and Pentacles with Autumn?
    Air feels totally wintry to me...so cold, while Fire is hot like summer. The Queen of Wands sitting there with sunflower in hand.
    As for the other suits/elements, I can see how they could go either way. April showers bring May flowers vs. Scorpio-Death-Fall(Water) or the Bull of Taurus in the lush green fields of late spring vs. harvest time in the Autumn (Earth).
    Hmmm...might just have to sit with this one for awhile.

    Thanks for your great blog,

  2. Hi Brad,

    I don't use astrological seasonal associations, though certainly one can and some do. I am more elementally inclined. Therefore, I choose to associate the earthy pentacles with the harvest of the earth, the rich colors of autumn, the time during which the earth is most bountiful right before the winter. And yes, Spring to me is all about new life, water, overflowing rivers and streams, so Cups bring those to mind for me. However, those are just MY associations and they work for me. The astrological associations make just as much sense. The key seems to be to pick one set of seasonal associations that makes sense to you and stick with it.

    Some decks tend to assign the suits to seasons, such as the Brugel Tarot that has all winter scenes for Cups and the DruidCraft has chosen winter scenes for Pentacles. So, it's deck dependent as well.

    You're right, it CAN go either way, so it's best to choose the associations that make you feel happy. :)

  3. Anonymous3:00 PM

    Hi Ginny!

    I just wanted to say that your website, and specifically this post, have been very very useful to me. I started with the tarot a month ago, so I am in the learning process. I don't know anyone around that I can ask to, so your website has become my friend. :-)

    I am also having trouble with the times. I do not seem to be able to predict it, but I wonder if that is just a limitation of mine rather than the systems themselves.

    Thanks for everything.


  4. Even some of the most experienced readers I know don't even try to predict time with tarot. It's a personal preference. Some readers are very good with it while others not so much. It's also not something a beginning can expect to do well. That's because it take a while to become intimately familiar with your cards and begin to hear and sense the little whispers and meanings and often that's what it takes to really get a sense of timing from them. So relax and go ahead and practice, but don't worry if it's not working. As you become more intimate with your cards, they will speak more clearly to you.

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