One of the most difficult things when reading tarot can be determining the timing of an event. This is the question that I get asked a lot about by querents as well as tarot readers. There’s a few ways that this can be done, some involving knowledge of astrology, and some that don’t need any knowledge at all regarding timing. In this article when discussing imagery of a card, I am referencing the artwork of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck.
Determining Seasons with the Ace Cards
Each of the four Aces in the tarot relate to one of the four seasons. This is displayed within the art and carries out within the theme of the suit. This is the easiest way to determine timing. You can either have another deck and pull the aces out and shuffle them or you can pull them out of the current deck you are reading from, though if they showed up in the spread that might already be an indication of the time frame. The traditional time associations with the Ace of Cups and Ace of Pentacles is usually switched to match their elemental associations, but I find the cards themselves say otherwise through their imagery.
Ace of Pentacles – Spring – Everything is lush and green and blooming with fluffy clouds in the suit’s imagery.
Ace of Cups – Summer – When everyone wants to be in the water to swim and cool down and the sky is crystal clear.
Ace of Swords – Winter – When everything is cold and barren and the skies are overcast. Note also that the plants hanging from the crown are lifeless.
Ace of Wands – Fall – When the leaves begin falling from the wand like a tree and everything is a bit more golden and brown.
Determining Speed with the Knights
This is a new trick that I learned from my friend Rowan Rivers who runs the Rose & Briar Tarot Blog and it makes perfect sense to me. Once again, you can either have another deck and pull the knights out and shuffle them or you can pull them out of the current deck you are reading from, though if they showed up in the spread that might already be an indication of the time frame.
Knight of Swords – Within Days – The knight’s horse is galloping the fastest in this image and we can see that his mane, the winds and the knight’s feather is indicating the most speed in the Radiant Rider Waite deck. Think of it like taking a jet somewhere.
Knight of Wands – Within Weeks – The knight’s horse is galloping pretty fast, but has his hind legs on the ground with his mane and the knight’s feather pretty calm in the Radiant Rider Waite deck. This is much like taking a train, which runs on coal (fire) and will get you to your destination, just not as fast as a plane.
Knight of Cups – Within Months – The knight’s horse is showing movement, but it appears to be moving pretty slowly and steadily, going with the flow in the Radiant Rider Waite deck. This is kind of like taking a ship to a location.
Knight of Pentacles – Within Years – The knight’s horse is completely still in the Radiant Rider Waite deck, assessing his plans of movement and going very slowly. This is like walking or driving somewhere.
One can determine the timing of an event based upon the astrological association each card has. Every single card in the tarot is associated with either a planet, a zodiac sign or a planet within a zodiac sign. Knowing the astrological association also helps in understanding the energy of each card – as the aspects are related to the card’s meaning. This is more complex but more precise.
The Magician – Mercury
The High Priestess – Moon
The Empress – Venus
The Emperor – Aries
The Hierophant – Taurus
The Lovers – Gemini
The Chariot – Cancer
Strength – Leo
The Hermit – Virgo
Wheel of Fortune – Jupiter
Justice – Libra
The Hanged Man – Neptune
Death – Scorpio
Temperance – Sagittarius
The Devil – Capricorn
The Tower – Mars
The Star – Aquarius
The Moon – Pisces
The Sun – Sun
Judgement – Pluto
The World – Saturn
Ace of Wands – Aries, Leo & Sagittarius
Two of Wands – Mars in Aries
Three of Wands – Sun in Aries
Four of Wands – Venus in Aries
Five of Wands – Saturn in Leo
Six of Wands – Jupiter in Leo
Seven of Wands – Mars in Leo
Eight of Wands – Mercury in Sagittarius
Nine of Wands – Moon in Sagittarius
Ten of Wands – Saturn in Sagittarius
Ace of Cups – Cancer, Scorpio & Pisces
Two of Cups – Venus in Cancer
Three of Cups – Mercury in Cancer
Four of Cups – Moon in Cancer
Five of Cups – Mars in Scorpio
Six of Cups – Sun in Scorpio
Seven of Cups – Venus in Scorpio
Eight of Cups – Saturn in Pisces
Nine of Cups – Jupiter in Pisces
Ten of Cups – Mars in Pisces
Ace of Swords – Libra, Aquarius & Gemini
Two of Swords – Moon in Libra
Three of Swords – Saturn in Libra
Four of Swords – Jupiter in Libra
Five of Swords – Venus in Aquarius
Six of Swords – Mercury in Aquarius
Seven of Swords – Moon in Aquarius
Eight of Swords – Jupiter in Gemini
Nine of Swords – Mars in Gemini
Ten of Swords – Sun in Gemini
Ace of Pentacles – Capricorn, Taurus & Virgo
Two of Pentacles – Jupiter in Capricorn
Three of Pentacles – Mars in Capricorn
Four of Pentacles – Sun in Capricorn
Five of Pentacles – Mercury in Taurus
Six of Pentacles – Moon in Taurus
Seven of Pentacles – Saturn in Taurus
Eight of Pentacles – Sun in Virgo
Nine of Pentacles – Venus in Virgo
Ten of Pentacles – Mercury in Virgo
Page of Wands – Sagittarius / Sagittarius
Knight of Wands – Leo / Sagittarius
Queen of Wands – Leo
King of Wands – Aries
Page of Cups – Pisces / Scorpio
Knight of Cups – Scorpio / Pisces
Queen of Cups – Scorpio
King of Cups – Cancer
Page of Swords – Aquarius
Knight of Swords – Aquarius / Libra
Queen of Swords – Libra
King of Swords – Gemini
Page of Pentacles – Capricorn / Taurus
Knight of Pentacles – Taurus / Capricorn
Queen of Pentacles – Virgo