Learning how to combine Tarot cards with each other is one of the most exciting ways to deepen a relationship with the Tarot. In fact, this is one of those exercises that anybody, regardless of experience, can benefit from. Although most people advise the ‘card a day’ method of getting comfortable with the Tarot, I on the other hand, advise Tarot card combinations.
What is the ‘card a day’ method?
The card a day method involves dealing out one card each day, usually at the start of the day, with the purpose of assessing that card’s meaning based on the events and experiences that were encountered during the course of that day. This technique is most commonly recommended for people who are just beginning their Tarot journey and it offers a way to compliment the other exercises and techniques provided to take a beginner to a comfortable and confident place.
Why I don’t encourage it!
I don’t encourage this method of study with the Tarot because it conflicts with some of the more abstract ideas that I have on the Tarot. In brief, I do not think that one Tarot card can be applied to represent an entire days events. Far too many possibilities exist for only one card to represent them. For this reason, I’ve found that this technique can actually confuse people needlessly. On a more practical level, I find this technique can actually reduce the person’s confidence, delay the learning process and create tension and stress.
Let’s look at this a bit further:
The ‘card a day’ method is usually suggested to compliment other forms of study. In this sense it is meant to bring together, in a seemingly relaxed way, the different ideas and concepts that the person has been learning. By using the ‘card a day’ method, it is suggested that this simple technique can become a powerful way to bring all these other learning strategies together so the student develops familiarity and confidence.
Here is a list of some of the techniques a person might be using whilst doing the ‘card a day’ exercise.
- The first stage in learning the Tarot is to become familiar with the Tarot deck itself.
- It’s common for most people to spend time learning the Divinatory definitions or DMs.
- Getting familiar with the different sections of the Tarot deck
- The study of psychological and spiritual perspectives within the 78 Tarot cards.
- The ‘card a cay’ method brings all this together each day.
Although this method can be useful, it is limited in it’s ability to develop you as a Tarot reader and as I’ve pointed out, can, if too much expectation is placed upon it, have the opposite effect of reducing confidence.
Why I recommend Tarot Card Combinations
Tarot card combinations serve the same purpose as the ‘card a day’ method but it doesn’t suffer from any of it’s limitations. It is an excellent method for bringing together all the different bits of information that have been learned.
Firstly, by practicing Tarot card combinations you are avoiding any potential confusion that relating one card to an entire days events can lead to. Secondly, it helps people see the Tarot not as 78 separate cards, but as combinations of different forces interacting with each other. This is really an important concept to understand because once you get familiar with the Tarot as a system of patterns and interactions, that’s when psychic abilities, intuition and clairvoyance develop.
A good way of thinking about this is to relate it to people. When I am by myself, in complete solitude I will act and behave in a certain way. However, introduce a room full of strangers and I will moderate and adapt my behavior to the social context. If I’m working then I will conduct myself differently to when I’m playing with my dogs or when I’m speaking to my parents.
This is very much like Tarot cards; on their own, they will behave in a particular way but when you put them in a ‘room full of other cards’ they will act, moderate or adapt their behavior. By learning the Tarot in terms of combinations and not separate and unique individuals, you will get a much deeper understanding of the cards as well as developing confidence when providing Tarot card readings for other people.
Stage One! Looking for patterns
The first stage is to look for patterns. The best way to do this is to start off looking at some really basic patterns. I have a list of things that I like to tick off before I even look at things in any great detail. Check out the list I use:
- What is the ratio of the suits?
- What suit is featured within this spread of cards the most?
- What suit is absent from this spread of cards?
This is an excellent way of getting a sense of the overall energy within the spread.
A spread with an overall focus on Cups for example, might indicate that relationships, creativity and the past might be significant in this spread. Learn some basic associations for each of the suits so that you can easily figure out what the client is focused on within their lives. Secondly, what does the absence of a suit indicate? Does it indicate that the client has that area of their life sorted, or does it indicate something more?
You may also like to read an introduction to the Elements to add an extra method for interpreting patterns.
How many Court cards are there? If there are a lot, does this indicate that other people have an influence over the client’s life and future choices? What does it mean if there are no Court cards at all?
How many Major Arcana or Trump cards are there? A majority of Trump cards might indicate a time of great importance for the client and an opportunity for a deepening sense of their own humanity. Or does it indicate that the client is fatalistic? What would an absence of Trump cards indicate?
How many Minor Arcana or Pip cards are there? A majority of Pip cards might indicate that the client is in control and can make changes or could it indicate something else? What would an absence of Pip cards indicate?
Three or four of a kind
Another way I like to look for patterns is by seeing if pairs, threes or four of a kinds come up in a spread. For example:
- Four Aces might indicate great Power and force.
- Three Aces might indicate riches and Success.
- Two Aces might indicate a change in career – possible a relocation.
- Four Kings might indicate swiftness or speed.
- Three Kings might indicate unexpected meetings or news.
- Four Queens might indicate authority and influence.
- Three Queens might indicate powerful and influential friends.
- Four Knights might indicate meetings with the great.
- Three Kings might indicate honour and rank.
- Four Pages might indicate new ideas and plans.
- Three Pages might indicate ‘young society’.
- Four Tens might indicate anxiety and responsibility.
- Three Tens might indicate buying, selling and commerce.
- Four Nines might indicate added responsibility.
- Three Nines might indicate much correspondence.
- Four Eights might indicate news.
- Three Eights might indicate travel.
- Four Sevens might indicate disappointments.
- Three Sevens might indicate treaties and contracts.
- Four Sixes might indicate pleasure.
- Three Sixes might indicate gain and success.
- Four Fives might indicate order, regularity.
- Three Fives might indicate quarrels and fights.
- Four Fours might indicate rest and peace.
- Three Fours might indicate industry.
- Four Threes might indicate resolution and determination.
- Three Threes might indicate deceit.
- Fours Twos might indicate conference and conversations.
- Three Twos might indicate a reorganisation or recommencement.
The above list of correspondences are based on the Golden Dawn. Please feel free to use your imagination to come up with your own personal associations for this type of pattern or something that is more relevant to your deck.
In my opinion looking for this type of pattern within a spread of cards really helps to get a sense of what the combination of cards within your chosen spread is indicating. This technique combined with the other patterns discussed earlier will give you plenty of information to help you ‘get into’ the reading. The next step is the most important.
I know that may sound obvious, especially if your reading for someone else, but the beauty of talking is the natural build up of momentum. Simply by talking about what you see, by going with the flow, a momentum will be built up where more and more insights and connections between the cards will start to unfold. Try not to be to concerned with what you say. Use the above techniques to get a sense of the energy within the cards and the patterns the cards form to help develop your story. Keep talking even when you are unsure what the cards mean. The momentum of talking will help clear your surface mind for other connections to be made; perhaps via your unconscious mind. How does this happen? Simply start talking.
Naturally, if you are reading for somebody else, listening is an essential component of giving a reading. Although this contradicts the point I’ve just made, it forces us to recognise the tension between talking and listening. Every reading you will do will be unique and different, as will every person you read for. Each session will demand that you adapt the ratio between talking and listening to fit naturally within the context of the reading itself.
However, listening is a great way to learn about the cards. Simply by listening you will be able to make connections between the cards, almost ticking them off as the client speaks. Not only are you developing a natural rapport with the client, you are also learning about Tarot card combinations.
Let the reading guide you, don’t guide the reading
By going with the flow, you will be in a nice receptive state of mind which is ideal for reading Tarot card combinations. By going with the flow you will be open to the fact that the client wants to talk and engage with you just as you will be if the client refuses to talk. Regardless of what circumstances you find yourself in, by going with the flow, by not expecting a ‘reading to go a certain way’ then so many connections and hidden patterns within the cards will reveal themselves to you. Sometimes you will be able to involve the client, and other times you won’t. It doesn’t matter, remember, go with the flow.
Tarot card combinations
Besides reading for other people, there are many ways to practice Tarot card combinations. The only thing that limits you is imagination. For instance, one of my favourite ways of practicing is to try and see images, locations and events with two card combinations.
This combination of cards (The Hierophant and Eight of Swords) reminds me of a prison, and suggests somebody going to jail.
This combination of cards (Four of Swords and Temperance) brings the image of recovery to mind. This combination looks like somebody is recovering from illness.
I would recommend you practice Tarot card combinations as often as possible. You may like to practice using a Celtic Cross Spread, or perhaps using just two or three cards. Regardless, the more comfortable you become with reading combinations, the more relaxed and intuitive a Tarot reader you will become.
Have fun finding different ways of using Tarot card combinations to develop your relationship with Tarot and let me know how you get on.