How to use directions in Tarot readings

How to Use Directions in Tarot Readings

Have you ever done a past-present-future Tarot reading? Thought so! Most of us read the Tarot from the left to the right and the natural way for us to organise the information we see before us is to have the past to our left and the future to our right. Many forms of divination use this understanding of how our brains work to yield more information about whether or not events happened in the past or the future, or whether or not a main character is more concerned about his future or his past.

I’m thinking primarily of the Lenormand style of reading. In the grand tableau, for instance, events to the left of the significator card usually lie in the past. It is also important to consider which way characters are facing when interpreting the grand tableau, i.e. are they facing the past or the future? When doing an open Tarot reading with the Marseille Tarot, directions are often used to divine if the energy of the reading is flowing more toward the past (characters looking to the left) or the future (characters looking to the right).

Directional Experimentations and Ponderings

After studying both these methods of divination, I was curious about experimenting with directions in readings. My main intellectual objection was with regard to the court cards. For instance, let’s say the King of Cups (who can be rather sentimental) does that mean that my Piscean client who uses this card as her significator is always future-oriented in a reading?

Of course not, is the obvious answer. I don’t actually use significators for most of the readings I do, so that instantly lifts one objection. The other way I have come to understand this is that the cards themselves let me know when direction comes into the reading in a big way, just like the cards themselves let me know if the court card signifies a person or serves more as action advice for the Seeker.

Let me illustrate some ways to read with directional meaning…

Sample Readings

Reading 1

Top row: I finally feel confident in my skills. I’m looking into starting my own business soon (Page of Wands facing the future)
Bottom row: This relationship didn’t turn into the ‘happily ever after I imagined.’ I feel like a prisoner but when my confidence levels rise, I will leave him for good. (6 of Wands facing the future)

Reading 2

Top row: Secrets of the past are keeping me from moving forward. I will revisit my past to gain clarity and free myself. (Knight of Wands facing the past)
Bottom row: I’m looking to the future, hoping my wayward husband will return. He will come back and revisit the past because we are co-dependent and can’t break the pattern. (Queen facing future, King facing past – energies connecting in a dysfunctional 5 of Pentacles sort of way)

Reading 3

Top row: Things were moving forward really well with my business as a solopreneur but then the competition got one up on me. I need to go back and get the proverbial spanner out of the works. (Queen of Pentacles as biz woman looking at what went wrong in the past)

Bottom row: I feel ready for future romance and happily ever after. It will be thus. (Knight of Cups facing the right/future)

Top row: A reversal of fortune was brought about by my trusting the wrong people in business in the past (9 of Wands). Now I’m holding on tightly to what is mine.
Bottom row: I was talented and could have made a career for myself but I sacrificed my own needs and desire for the person I love. Now I often look to the past and think ‘What if…’. (Queen of Cups grieving past choices)

Top row: By being generous with myself and my gifts I have generated abundance for myself and now I’m looking at future investment possibilities. (Successful female client facing the future)
Bottom row: Even though this project is extremely stressful, I’m determined to finish it because I can see future benefits clearly. (10 of Wands and Ace of Pentacles both facing the future/right)

Court Cards Facing Toward or Away from Each Other

There are other ways to read with direction too, of course, as someone kindly pointed out to me when I shared these thoughts on Facebook. How people cards interact is often directional too, such as if they have their backs turned to each other they are typically not likely to reconcile.

Try this exercise for yourself by pulling three cards randomly and allowing the directional element of the reading to guide your interpretation. As previously noted, this will not always be the case for every three-card draw you make, or indeed for other layouts. This exercise is merely intended to help you start using directions when your intuition nudges you in that direction (pun not intended).


Comments 5

  1. Hi lisa would like some insight on a magic door spread I’ve made but haven’t been able to post on your blog post. Is there a way where i can post it for your advice? Thanks, Paulo

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      Hi Paulo, sorry I have to close threads after a while. I have over 200 spreads published and thousands of visitors daily – I wouldn’t be doing anything else if I spent my days helping people understand their spreads… and I*m trying to earn a living here. Happy to do you a reading though! 🙂 Blessings, Lisa

      1. Hi Lisa, thanks for your reply. I understand and appreciate it. Regards a reading i might take you up on it in a few weeks but not just yet… Will try and read through your posts to find some light on my doubt :). Thanks once again, Paulo

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