Using tarot for effective planning.
One of the first things I often tell clients is “the future is not fixed, but our minds often are. Think of tarot as a living map- helping you to explore possible outcomes.” Which is probably why I love using tarot as a planning tool.
I always keep in mind when using tarot for planning...
#1 If you don’t believe the future is fixed, then keep an awareness on the cards to decide how “concrete” the reading is. This is also why I like to do several smaller readings looking at the issue from different angles to get a feel of how changeable the outcome is.
#2 Focus on you (or the querent) as you are the only thing you can have complete control over.
#3 If you get negative readings, then use the cards to navigate this and explore why. Is it a matter of making a few simple changes, is it a self limiting block, or are the cards saying the plan isn’t workable.
#4 Always check for things outside of your control- sometimes a plan is excellent but de-railed by something you have no power over.
The bigger picture. I often use the Tarot as a tool to help me reflect, word map, and explore the “edges” of a plan. I use a 9 card spread that I will often use as a tool to base journaling, meditating, and self reflection on.
Where the first three cards represent the idea as a concept, the next three cards gifts/blessings/the best this plan could bring me (I will read these all with a positive slant). The final three cards problems/warnings/issues (I will read these all with a negative slant). The card at the bottom of the pack is the general direction the cards suggest going in with this plan.
I rarely stop a plan based on this spread- rather it gives me a heads up for what I need to consider, is it likely to be quite straightforward or really quite complicated, am I fully aware of the issues- or are there personal blocks I need to consider.
Working with a client- if they have thought the plan through carefully they me be fully aware of everything contained in this spread- so it may be explored quite quickly. Or it may be very enlightening to them and take some time to explore.
In my reading for myself recently- a joint creative project- I got the 5 of swords at the bottom of the pack. I associate this with not letting words hurt you, of being able to discuss issues without taking things personally. I know when it comes to certain areas of my life this is a block, so it was helpful to remind me to step out of the personal when discussing the plan with my co-host.
Lets get down to details
I love the balance of a 9 card spread, and I love the numerology of 10 when you include the card at the bottom- so I use this layout a lot. This spread is more about the direction of the plan- where is it likely to lead me. I keep a close eye on repeat cards from the first spread and if there are repeat cards I look to them as important.
The first three cards show the state if the plan/project as it is right now. I think it is vital to have a point of validation in a tarot reading, something you can really understand as accurate to ensure you I am connecting with the reading accurately.
Th next three cards are advice. Practical advice as to how to best manage this plan/project- because if the future isn’t fixed who wouldn’t want advice! (I have a printable crib-sheet on practical meanings for the cards which you can find here. )
The final three cards are likely outcome. If this isn’t what you hoped for then working more carefully with the advice cards may be able to influence this positively. If its amazing, then still look to the advice cards to ensure you keep the project on track!
The card at the bottom of the pack is things outside of your influence- its good to have a heads-up if your plans are wonderful but there is an outside influence that might slow the process, cause stress, or aid your plan.
In my spread I now have the 5 of swords as outcome. I also have the 3 and 10 of pentacles- which are wonderful outcome cards for this project, but I am aware it is a project that will push me more in to the public light, and that it is likely to not be well received by everyone so I will have to grow a thick skin to go with this project (not tarot related I should add!)
Timing. It’s the question everyone wants to know “But when” and I think the hardest part of tarot- as the future is not fixed.
I prefer to do timing as a spread- nice and simple. I decide on an appropriate time scale (days, weeks, months, seasons, years) then do three cards for each day/week/month/season/year.
I am looking for the narrative, flow, specific cards that would be relevant to the plan I am reading about. I am also looking for any slowing down, disruptions, etc.
Self limiting blocks. The only real control we have in our lives is ourselves- so it is always worth keeping any eye out for self limiting blocks.
I link the swords cards with the logical mind, thoughts and words- so they can all reflect our own inner critic. Pay special attention to the 8 and 9 of swords. Often (though not always) the devil can represent excuses, feeling as if our way is blocked when really its our fear or conditioning holding us back.
If I feel there are self limiting blocks I will do my “reflection” spread to double check- where the card crossing represents a self limiting block, though the card in the unconscious (card 3) and the card in the conscious (card 5) are also important. You can find a link to my reflection spread here.
Keeping it open. I will often do a separate “what do I need to know” 3 card reading. Its too easy to get focused on what we think is likely to happen, to read (especially for ourselves) with a preconceived idea in place- so throwing in an open “what do I need to know” can just make sure my mind is open to all possibilities.
How certain is this future planning? I try to test my readings for accuracy and validation, and I will openly chat about how “concrete” a prediction is. The more control you have over an outcome- the more concrete a reading can become (e.g. a creative project, or a project where you are the main/only person involved).
The more people who are involved in a project (e.g. selling a house where there is a long chain), the less control you have, and the more “flexible” the outcome may be.
In a reading I am looking for two things to test the reading.
#1 That all the smaller readings are coherent and share a narrative. In effect I am looking at the problem from different angles and creating a 3-d model of the plan. If the narrative remains consistent then the future looks fairly concrete.
#2 The mix of minors/majors/courts and suits. Majors that are appropriate for the plan, that reflect success or completion are a really positive sign, especially in the outcome parts of a reading.
With the minors there is of course the individual meaning of the card, and the relevance of the card to the plan/project. But the balance of suits in a reading can give an overall impression of how the plan is manifesting.
I consider the suits represent the order of manifestation;
Wands- fire- energy/inspiration
Cups- water- emotion/heart chakra. Emotionally engaged with your plan.
Swords- mind/logic/writing. Thinking and planning.
Pentacles- all things physical. The manifesting of the plan.
Court cards can often represent your energies/psychology- so a knight can be movement forward, a queen personal mastery, and king- authority and success. (Obviously very dependent on placing/question)
Keeping things on track
If I am working on a big project I will usually do a weekly 9 card reading (situation/advice/energy coming in) and use this to plan for the week.
I may also pull a card each morning just as focus and guidance. This is especially helpful in letting me know when to rest more (4 swords, 2 swords, 4 cups), when to step back and try and look at the bigger picture (8 cups, hanged man) and when to go for it regardless (knight swords, knight wands).
It helps me to balance my approach and energies.
I rarely stop a project based on tarot- rather I use it to help keep me aware of whether I am on the right track, are my expectations appropriate, have I considered all the options.
I will use tarot to help me understand when my plan is really on point, workable, and allows me to meet my hopes.