Saturday, 27 February 2016

How to do timing with tarot - and why is it challenging?

Timing with tarot is one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult particulars to get correct in a reading. A standard tarot deck does not come with cards that tell without doubt how many days, weeks or months (or years) you have to wait to see the predicted event to take place. However, there are different methods existing to figure when exactly is something going to happen.

Why is timing so difficult? 

Firstly, tarot seems to be geared towards personal development and inner workings of a human mind. Tarot is less concerned with the material world and things that actualise in our daily lives; and more focused on what's going on inside our heads and hearts - how we feel about things, what decisions and choices we make, what intentions we set.

Tarot offers frustratingly often answers such as: "the event will happen, once you work on your issues and find a way to be happy". The timing is conditional, subject to our own actions, mindset and behaviour, and hence, a definite timing can't be given because it's all in our own hands! The sooner we fix or implement something, the sooner the queried event can take place, but not before.

One of the most common questions I get is "when will I meet my next partner". And the most common answers are along the lines "when you release the baggage you're still holding from your previous experiences, open yourself to love and embark on a new life stage without hesitation".

This type of an answer is bound to annoy many sitters, because they regard it as evasive and an attempt by the reader to avoid answering - avoid being held accountable. However, that simply is how tarot works and if the cards tell this, it's not always possible nor morally right try and impose a week/month/year timeframe on the cards, if it is not visible on them.

It seems that in the grand scheme of things, "when" is not so much a question about counting days, it's much more about "when step one is complete, step two can take place", i.e. about cause and consequence, and following through plans and intentions. Manifestation, in a way.

Because so many things in life depend on our own actions, lack of action can delay or prevent events. I think this is the main reason why timing is so difficult. The cards can't tell for a fact that you'll get married in April next year if you are not even trying to meet Mr/Ms right by putting yourself out there and being the best version of yourself; or, if you are constantly arguing with your Mr/Ms Right about petty things caused by your own insecurities, thus putting the likelihood of marriage in jeopardy.

Not all answers can contain timing

Some questions can't be answered in terms of "when", because the question assumes the event will happen. What if the fall-out you had with your childhood friend will never be solved due to one or both being too stubborn? The cards can't give you a time then. Nor for "when will I become a doctor", if your grades are not good enough to be accepted to study in the first place. Tarot reflects life like a mirror, it can't show things that are unattainable or unrealistic.

Setting a timeframe with a question

Things are not always hopelessly fluid and there are methods to try and work out the timeframe in calendar terms. The most unambiguous method is to frame the question in a way that also contains a timeframe, such as "what will my love life be like within the next three months?" or "what's my next month like?". This also makes the tracking easy, because after a month or three months you can easily take stock whether the predicted themes took place or not.

Counting the elements on the cards

Possibly the best-known timing methods involve treating the suits as the indicators of days (Wands), weeks (Swords), months (Cups) and years (Pentacles), according to these suits' nature - from fast-consuming fire to slow-moving earth. Minor Arcana cards contain both the element and a number, so 2 Wands could be two days, 2 Swords two weeks and so on.

ATA (American Tarot Association) teaches a slightly more complex but still easy to figure method for 3-4 cards.

First, you need to interpret the cards normally, i.e. what do they mean for the question. The ATA example is "when will a musician overcome the lack of inspiration", so you'd need to relay all the information the cards tell about gaining inspiration, such as listen to your intuition for finding new inspiration. Then for timing, count how many passive or active cards you got: air and fire are active, water and earth passive. With Major Arcana cards, you need to think their nature: is the card active or passive? Waiting or actioning? Thinking or doing? Withdrawing or progressing? Yin or Yang?
  • If more than 75% of the cards are active, the timespan is days.
  • If between 75% and 50% are active, the timespan is weeks.
  • If between 50% and 25% are active, the timespan is months.
  • If less than 25% of the cards are active, the timespan is years.
Next, take a look on the numbers. If you have a repeating number, that most likely tells the number of the days/weeks/months/years. Reduce double-digit numbers to one digit (11 is 1+1=2 and so on).

For added clarity, ATA recommends taking into account the astrological correspondences according to the suit element (fire signs that correspond with the Wands suit are Aries, Leo and Sagittarius; meaning 21 March-21 April, 21 July-21 August and 21 November-21 December, and so forth).

Some people associate seasons with the suits, but I don't find it useful. I live in the Southern hemisphere and many of this blog readers and my online clients live in the Northern hemisphere. Whose seasons would I be talking about? My summer or yours? 

Combine events, causes, consequences and "when"

The majority of timing techniques available online seem to rely on variations of the theme outlined above: counting the numbers per suit; or cross-referencing tarot with astrology. However, the method that I've found to be most functional is a hybrid of the "normal" reading, i.e. what will happen, and timing. This method was created by user called Amanda at Aeclectic Tarot Forum and this is how I understand it:

Pull 5 cards upright (don't use reversals) and read them left to right. Major Arcana cards and court cards (Page, Knight, Queen or King) do not tell the timing, but they tell other relevant information you need to know: Major Arcana tell about the events or energies outside of your direct control (major life lessons) and the court cards tell who's involved. Pip cards (number cards) between the middle and the end point of the spread tell the timing, as outlined in the previous system.

Here's an example. I have a number of creative projects underway and I wanted to see if any of them will be successful, my "meal ticket" in the future. I asked: when will I feel like my creative efforts bring me success? and got the following: 


This is a prime example of a spread that highlights both the importance of asking the correct question and how tarot answers in a cause-consequence-change your mindset-way.

This reads: you can feel successful fast, if you stop worrying and fretting about this and acknowledge that feeling inspired and energetic - enjoying your own creativity - is everything you need to be blissfully happy. And it's pretty much a perfect answer. 

I didn't ask about when will I earn money, when will I become famous as an artist/writer, when will I be celebrated etc. I asked, when will I feel successful. 

And it's available to me right now, if I change my mindset and stop worrying about success that I currently define in terms of earning money; if people pay me, surely I'm successful, right? But... would I feel like a success emotion- and passion-wise if I only focus on money? What if by creating to earn I feel like I'm selling out my independence and unbridled self-expression?

If we were to dig out calendar-timing, it would work like this

The first cards of the spread tell what is the main energy, the core of the issue, and/or what needs to happen before the question can be answered. 

The Knight of Swords is fast-paced communication or action and 10 Swords is about "murdering" one's worries - these pestering thoughts and anxieties can't live further, this is the "rock bottom". So, I must stop fretting about success - the sooner the better - to avoid hindering my creativity. This is also a reminder not to be too impatient and submit unfinished projects (Knight of Swords). 

Ace of Wands - creativity - is the core of the issue, but it's also fickle and quickly burnt out like a match. I must protect this flame by feeding it with happiness, and this inspiration will in turn make me happy. It's a self-strengthening cycle. 

9 Swords closes the sentence by saying "wake up from your anxieties, they are not real, they are all in your head". This could also mean 9 weeks, but given the nature of my projects and if I count success as being acknowledged or earning money, the most realistic answer is in 10 months as indicated by 10 Cups - - - also, I'll be happy when I'll be successful.

For more clarity, according to this method I could also look at the direction where the court cards are facing (what card they are looking at) to see what information, element or energy crucial to the timing, as well as other visual cues such as the colour scheme or repeating numbers.

I'll report back whether or not one of my projects takes off around the end of 2016!

Happy practising! 

What will happen in the future? It depends what action we take and what decisions we make.

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