Tarot Tip #2: Writing It Down

July 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

When you’re learning to read, it’s an excellent idea to keep a note of all the readings you do. But this can quickly turn into a chore, especially if you’re doing larger spreads, and it can make quick, spontaneous readings seem an impossibility.

At the same time, making notes on what the cards seemed to be saying in a given meaning helps you learn more quickly and – more importantly – helps you to start trusting your own interpretations more quickly instead of relying on the interpretations in books.

So what to do? The trick is to keep it short and simple. You don’t need to write down everything little thing. Make a note of the date, your question or the subject of the reading, and the deck you’re using. Jot down the spread positions and which cards you drew in each position. Then write down something specific about the image on each card which catches your eye. Don’t try and write about every detail on every card!

For example, for the High Priestess in an Advice position you might write: “The High Priestess is covering her book with both hands. She really doesn’t want anyone to read it. Maybe I should keep my thoughts to myself for now.”

7 and 9 of Wands, 7 of Swords

July 18, 2010 § 2 Comments

Hi Tarot Doctor, I always have trouble grasping the meaning of the seven of wands , the nine of wands and the seven of swords. Could please explain them to me . Many thanks Eunice.

Hi Eunice,

Thanks for the question!

A lot of people struggle with the 7 and 9 of Wands as visually they are quite similar – that is, they both show someone in a defensive position. But a significant difference between the two images is the position of the wands.


In the 7, the wands are in front of the person, effectively blocking his path. For whatever reason, he’s coming under fire and he’s clearly outnumbered. I think of the 7 of Wands as a test of your convictions. Wands are all about what we do – the actions we take, the efforts we make, the goals we pursue – and the 7 raises questions about our level of commitment. How strongly do you believe in your idea? How much do you want to achieve your goal? How fiercely will you fight for this relationship?

To give a concrete example, say you came up with a brilliant ad campaign at work but your boss doesn’t get it, the head of marketing thinks it’s way too ambitious for the budget and your colleagues are trying to pick holes in it because they’re annoyed they didn’t think of it first. You’re trying to stand up for your idea and they’re all trying to shoot you down. It’s at this point that your belief in your idea is really put to the test. If you don’t believe in it, those jabbing wands are just going to knock you down. But if you’re really committed to getting the ad campaign out there, there’s a much better chance it could succeed. Of course, as this example demonstrates, the 7 of Wands also puts your project to the test. If there are any holes in your idea or if it isn’t good enough, here’s where it will fall down.

In the 9 of Wands, the wands are behind the person. They can be seen as representing his achievements so far and he stands in front of them protectively, as if he’s on guard duty. You could come up with any number of theories about what he’s guarding – whether he’s keeping the bad guys out or keeping them in – but the specifics aren’t really important. What’s important is what he’s having to do. Keeping watch over something requires continued vigilance and effort. If you were to draw this card as advice, it’s telling you to take nothing for granted, to do what you need to do to maintain what you’ve got. Even if you’re at the top of your game and everything’s going great, it probably took a lot of work to get there and this card is a reminder that you should sustain that effort to stay where you are. Or to put it another way, you can’t expect to stay afloat if you’re not prepared to keep paddling.

Being on your guard also means being cautious. It raises such questions as, are you as safe and secure in your current situation as you think you are? Are you doing enough to keep your job or to keep that important client (and if so, is enough good enough – should you actually be doing more than you need to, to keep the competition at bay?)

Of course, the interpretation of any card always depends on the position it falls in. For example, if the 9 of Wands were to appear as “Situation”, followed by, say, the Wheel of Fortune as “Advice”, I might read that as saying I was being too cautious and too guarded, perhaps that I’m afraid of getting hurt, and that I should allow events to unfold naturally and go with the flow.

Okay, finally, we come to the 7 of Swords and here we see someone apparently sneaking off with 5 swords.

Is he stealing or is he taking what belongs to him? Again, the specifics aren’t important (it could be either, depending on the situation!) What matters is how he’s going about it. He’s clearly trying not to be seen and he’s looking back over his shoulder as he leaves. For whatever reason, he’s felt it necessary to take indirect action. Perhaps he’s already tried the direct route by asking for his swords back and it didn’t work. So he’s had to find another solution.

Swords are associated with thought and also conflict. In the 7, we’re seeing an example of how brains can be just as mighty in a conflict as brawn. This card is all about strategy, planning, and tactics. If you can’t defeat the enemy by traditional means, you’re just going to have to outsmart them.

As a descriptive card, it can suggest that someone isn’t being entirely upfront – they may be keeping something from you or working on a secret project. As advice, it’s telling you to work smarter, not harder. You need to find a creative solution to your problem. It can also simply signify working alone and keeping your plans to yourself – not to be sneaky, but maybe just because the time isn’t right to reveal them yet.

Anyway, I hope this helps a bit.

Tarot Doctor

The Sun

July 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

Dear Tarot Doctor, I ended things with my boyfriend yesterday but then I did a reading last night and the card I drew for him was The Sun. In the book it says it means “joy, happiness, success”. Does that mean I shouldn’t have broken up with him? Thanks, Alys.

Dear Alys,

Thank you for your question!

First, I don’t know you or your boyfriend so I’m not qualified to say whether you should have broken up. I assume you had (good) reasons for ending it with your boyfriend, in which case you shouldn’t let a pack of cards change your mind. However, there’s nothing wrong with spending some time evaluating what went wrong.

Second, there’s more than one way to read the Sun card (as there is for every tarot card). For example, two possible meanings immediately spring to mind:

1) Like the real sun, your boyfriend always wanted to be the centre of attention. That might have made you feel like you weren’t important in the relationship.
2) Your boyfriend was too intense and full-on and didn’t give you any space. The sun’s wonderful, but if there’s no shade anywhere it can be difficult to take. Similarly, a boyfriend who’s constantly calling, asking how you are, and wanting to be with you can drive you mad – even if he’s just doing so because he really, really likes you.

I’ve deliberately plumped for more negative interpretations there, just to show the range of meaning the Sun can have. Which meaning is correct? Whichever rings true for you. You were there, after all.

Anyway, I hope that helps.


Tarot Doctor


March 15, 2010 § Leave a comment

Dear Tarot Doctor, should I keep my tarot cards wrapped in a silk cloth? Thank you, Jen xx

Dear Jen,

Only if you want to.



2 of Pentacles

March 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

International Icon Tarot 2 of PentaclesAdrienne asks: Hi, can you help me to understand the 2 of Pentacles please?

Hi, thanks for the question. Actually, the 2 of Pentacles always used to give me problems too! There seems to be a big difference between understanding book meanings and actually “getting” a card well enough to feel comfortable interpreting it in readings. So, I’ll do my best to help you “get” it.

Imagine somebody surfing. They have to keep their feet firmly on the surfboard and they have to keep their balance. But they also have to stay flexible, to let their muscles relax and move in sync with the motion of the waves. If they’re too stiff, they won’t be able to go with the flow – their body will fight against the natural movement of the ocean. And if they’re too loose, they’ll just fall off. It’s this easy, relaxed attitude that the 2 of Pentacles is all about.

When you watch someone surfing, it looks so easy but there’s actually a lot going on to make that happen. A surfer uses their brain – to gauge wave strength, direction, and to keep their balance – as well as their body. Think of all the subtle muscle adjustments that are going on all the time. It takes a lot of practice to get in sync with the water, just like it takes a lot of practice before you can make riding a bike look easy. You have to be constantly aware of what’s coming up and yet you also have to relax and let your body take over.

A good phrase to bear in mind when the 2 of Pentacles comes up is “bend, not break”. That’s really the essence of the card. Stay relaxed and keep in sync with your environment or whatever’s going on around you – that way you won’t be bowled over by it but can move with it and harness its energy.

I hope that helps.

Learning to Speak Tarot

February 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

Tarot readers are great at spending oodles of time pouring over books, posting on forums, making notes, trying to get to know our cards. What we sometimes forget is that there are easier ways. Tarot is a language and when you learn any language there are objects of reference you can use to help you understand. For example, a French person can point to a dog and say “le chien”. If you happen to be standing next to the French person when they do that, then you’ve just learnt how to say dog in French.

There are a number of ways to use this method to learn to speak Tarot. Here’s one thing you can try:

1. Ask your cards to tell you about the top news story before you see it. Be specific. Ask: “Tell me about the top news story on Radio Two at 8am this morning.” Ask about a news programme that’s coming up soon as a lot can change in just a few hours and that could affect the accuracy of the cards.

2. Shuffle your cards thoroughly and then draw 1, 2 or 3 cards – whatever you feel comfortable with.

3. Put the cards aside until the allotted time when you will get to hear the news. Try not to interpret them ahead of time as you’ll just be enforcing your own idea of what the cards should mean. This exercise is all about letting the cards teach you. If it’s easier, leave the cards face down when you draw them.

4. After you’ve listened to or watched (or read) the top news story, jot down a summary of it. Then look at the cards you drew and see how they fit with the story.

As an example, here’s one I tried earlier, at 8:55am on Saturday 21st February to be exact. I asked, “Tell me about the top news story on BBC Breakfast News on channel 503 at 9am”.

I drew The Emperor, the 2 of Swords and the Knight of Cups:

International Icon Tarot EmperorInternational Icon Tarot 2 of SwordsInternational Icon Tarot Knight of Cups

The top story was along the lines of “Downing Street strongly denies allegations printed in the Observer newspaper about the Prime Minister’s temperamental and moody behaviour.” 

It’s easy to relate to the Emperor as the Prime Minister in this instance. What is the Emperor if not the leader of a country?

The 2 of Swords tells me about denial. The figure in this card is blindfolded and has his arms crossed. He’s not willing to acknowledge or discuss the subject at hand.

I guessed that the Knight of Cups was referring to the Prime Minister’s alleged moody behaviour. Knights can be volatile and the Knight of Cups is concerned with emotions and emotional behaviour. You could also look at this card more literally, as it showing the Knight riding roughshod over other people’s feelings.

Make a note of your thoughts but don’t feel you need to understand every card. The more you repeat this exercise, the easier it will become. This is a great way to get a lot of reading practice without actually doing any readings!

Tarot Tip #1: Phrasing Questions

February 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

In the DVD you’re shown how to rephrase yes/no questions to get more out of a reading. This is because how you phrase your question has a huge impact on how successful your Tarot reading will be. 

By far, “how” and “what” are the strongest words to use when phrasing your question. For example, you could ask “How can I achieve x?” or “What is going on between me and Bob?” and simply draw one card. That card would then show you your answer. That is, the image on the card demonstrates how you can achieve x or depicts what is going on between you and Bob. This makes interpreting the card and getting your answer really easy – all you have to do is read the picture.

Two Queens

February 9, 2010 § Leave a comment

Deanres21 asks: Hello, I’m so happy that I can come to the Tarot Doctor, I have only been learning the Tarot a few months and I still don’t understand when I get the Wands and Sword Queens in a reading. As I know that each of these have Fire and Air elements but when I ask a general question these usually pop up in my reading and I must add I’m a male and single.

Hi, thanks for the question Deanres. I can’t tell you why those Queens keep appearing in your readings or what they’re trying to tell you, but I can hopefully give you some tips to help you figure them out next time they turn up.

Let’s take a look at them.  Here are the Queen of Wands and the Queen of Swords side by side. The deck shown is the International Icon Tarot which closely models the popular Rider Waite Smith Tarot. Don’t worry though if your deck doesn’t look like this. The important thing is to always use the images you see before you – that is, your cards.

International Icon Queen of Wands

International Icon Queen of SwordsThe Queen of Wands sits facing us, holding a wand and a sunflower. Her body language is open and welcoming and the card is warm and friendly. There’s even a cat at her feet – how homely!

The Queen of Swords is turned to the side, not facing us. She holds an upright sword in one hand and the other hand is pointing in the direction she’s looking. She’s pictured rising above the clouds, with lots of clear blue air around her. The card is cool and fresh. 

One thing you’ll often hear said about Queens is that they “express” or “embody” the essence of their suit. What does that mean exactly? Well, it means that if you believe Wands represent fire, passion, creativity and action then the Queen of Wands is fiery, passionate, creative and active. In that sense, Queens are quite straightforward but of course that isn’t the whole story. Those are just keywords after all and it’s trying to remember keywords during a reading that can make a lot of readers come unstuck.

One good way to get inside the head of a Queen is to imagine you’ve been invited into her home. Try to picture what the place looks like, what she’s doing there, how she treats you as a guest. Use the image on your card to feed your imagination. So, for example, I imagine this Queen of Wands’ home to be sunny and warm, with yellows and oranges and comfy throw cushions and big bright flowers everywhere. There’s a cat sunning itself on the windowsill and a half-finished painting on an easel in the corner. The Queen herself is a great conversationalist, talking about artists and traveling and parties and life. It’s a place where I feel free to relax, explore and create.

The Queen of Swords’ house is cool and white. She keeps the windows open to let the fresh air in and so she can hear the birds. There’s a desk by a window where she’s writing but she’s very private about it, she won’t show me what she’s working on. There are doors to other rooms but they’re all closed. She likes to know my thoughts on things – politics, literature, science – and she’s sharp and witty. The Queen of Swords’ home is a place where I feel challenged and expected to keep up. It’s not as comfortable as the Queen of Wands’ house but that’s okay because it fulfils a different purpose. I feel I can learn a lot from this Queen and I enjoy her direct manner. I feel I know where I stand with her.

Those are some of my thoughts – yours can differ entirely. And all this is very well but how does it help in a reading? Well, the idea is that the better you get to know your cards the less you have to struggle to work out what they’re telling you in a spread. There are generally two type of spread positions: descriptive (e.g. situation, problem, outcome, etc. ) and advice. When a Queen turns up in a descriptive position, try describing the image on the card and use that as your starting point. If it’s a general reading with no specific question, assume the Queen represents you. If a Queen turns up in a position of advice, then ask yourself what that Queen would do in your situation – or perhaps, what she would advise you to do.

I hope that gives you something to work with. The main thing to remember is be patient. You can’t get every card straight away but they all do fall into place eventually!

The Knight of Wands vs the Knight of Swords

January 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

Emma asks: What’s the difference between the Knight of Wands and the Knight of Swords? They seem the same to me.

Hi Emma, thanks for being the first to ask a question! It’s true the Knight of Wands and the Knight of Swords have many things in common. For example, in the International Icon Tarot, both ride horses, both face left, both carry the symbol of their suit and both are leaping into action. But let’s take a closer look…

International Icon Knight of WandsInternational Icon Knight of SwordsCheck out the Knight of Wands. See how his horse rears up on its hind legs? See how its mane resembles flames? This knight wants to make sure he gets noticed. Sure, he’s going to rescue the damsel in distress but only after the paparazzi get a shot of the brave hero setting out on another dangerous mission. The Knight of Wands can’t do anything under the radar – it’s just not his style (and style is of great importance to the Knight of Wands). 

Now look at the Knight of Swords. While the Knight of Wands is still adjusting the collar on his leather jacket, the Knight of Swords has charged off, brandishing his sword, probably yelling “aaaargh” or something equally warrior-like. He’s moving at top speed, galloping down a hill, clouds zipping past. He’s off to set things straight –  right the wrongs, slay the dragon, rescue the girl (or guy), then his work here is done. 

A good question to ask any of the knights is “what motivates you?” For the Knight of Wands, it’s glory. Wands are the suit of fire and fire isn’t shy. He likes to make a spectacle – it’s good for his self-esteem and other people get a kick out watching him too. The Knight of Swords, on the other hand, is motivated by honour. He has to do what’s right. He couldn’t live with himself if he didn’t act knowing that evil is out there doing evil things. So, all the knights are on a quest but what makes them different is why. Once you’ve figured that out (and it may vary from deck to deck so don’t forget to study your particular cards), you should find them easier to understand.

I hope that helps.

Free Will

January 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

Okay, it’s time to get the ball rolling. And whilst I, the Tarot Doctor, wait patiently (ahem) for someone to consult me, I’m going to talk about free will. Because that’s an issue that always crops up somewhere along the line when you’re learning to read Tarot.

There’s a commonly held misconception that consulting Tarot cards cancels out free will. That is, if you do a Tarot reading asking for advice, you are no longer in control of your destiny.

This is nonsense. Why should asking Tarot cards for advice be any different from asking, say, a friend, or a teacher, or some random stranger on the street? If you’re at the point where you’re asking anyone for advice it’s safe to say you’re having difficulty making a decision yourself. Ergo, any external input can only be a good thing. It helps to spark your brain and gets you out of your same-old same-old thinking patterns.

However, I understand that it is generally more challenging to contemplate resting your fate in the hands of 78 pieces of cardboard (which, for starters, don’t have hands) than in the lovely friendly familiar hands of a friend. The important thing to remember is that you’re not.

When you do a Tarot reading, the idea is not to say “tell me what to do”. The idea is to say “hey, I’m stuck, give me a hand here”, which is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. You draw a card (or more – often one is best in these situations) and then you ponder it. Your brain looks for ways in which the image on the card relates to your problem. Brains (being intelligent creatures) love making connections. Yours will invariably start firing out lots of different potential interpretations. Take everything your brain throws at you. Jot down some words and phrases if they pop into your head. Something there will prove useful, I promise.

It’s not about which interpretation is “correct” or about what the card is telling you to do; that way lies madness. It’s about what your brain does with what you see. The answer you seek comes from you – not from Tarot cards or the Universe or the big floating bodiless thing in the sky. And that means the question of whether Tarot undermines free will is a non-starter.

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