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Using the Cards to Determine Timing

Using the cards to determining when something will happen is something that many card-readers find challenging. I think that part of the reason for this is because the future could take on many forms at any given moment, and when something will occurr could often be altered by someone's choices about it.

Despite this, “When?!?” is a common question from querents, and will probably come up often if you're doing predictive readings. Here are a few ways of determining a timeframe. They can't all function simultaneously, so you may wish to experiment and see which method works for you.

In relation to something else that must happen first:

This method is good for those who believe that the future is entirely dependent on our own choices and attitudes. Draw a card or two, and interpret them as things the querent must do before the event in question can come to pass. For example, a single woman asks, “When will I get married?” and the 5 of cups comes up. This card is often seen as grieving, so one might respond, “You will get married when you are able to fully process your past relationships and let go of your emotional baggage.” The emphasis is on the querent's conscious actions being the spark that creates their future.

Suits as seasons, because of their ties to the symbols of the 4 elements:

Wands show Summer (think fiery heat), Swords are Fall (airy crispness, or picture the wind blowing around the dry leaves), Coins are Winter (dark earthy time), and Cups represent Spring (watery melting snow). If you want to know something really immediate, you could also potentially assign the correspondances of Wands-midday, Cups-dusk, Coins-midnight, Swords-dawn.

Another way in which I like to break up the suits is to look at them as a hierarchy of speeds. The fiery, explosive energy of wands shows something that will take only days to happen. Cups show a smoother swiftness, of something happening within weeks. Swords show airy motion, more methodical and less impulsive, something happening within months. Coins show the slowness of years- think of it like the way rocks form in the earth.

Intuitive Cues from Number:

This one might be used alongside the last one... with the exception of the court cards, the rest of the deck has a number on each card. The number may tell you how many days, months, etc. For example, the 10 of wands might indicate 10 days, or the 6 of swords might show 6 months. Numbers could also be a date, or an age. Large numbers from multiple combinations of cards could be added up and reduced.

Intuitive Cues from Imagery:

Many cards show some sense of motion (or lack of it) in the picture. Compare the Chariot and its driver (certainly potential for speed there!), to the Hanged Man, for example. Is something active happening in the card, or is the scene more passive? Do people look aggressive and hurried, or laid-back about what's going on?

Looking for a significator for an event:

This is my favorite method. I begin flipping over cards one at a time to measure the time (within a frame that seems reasonable), until I come to a card that represents the subject of the question. The more cards I have drawn, the more I will space out the time increments. For example, if someone is asking when the house they have just put on the market will sell, I might turn over cards one at a time like this: within two weeks, within a month, within two months, within 3 months, within 6 months, within a year. For that question, I would look for cards that feel like money coming in, or like moving, for example. When the card comes up that feels right, I don't turn over any more. Sometimes I interpret the cards that lead up to the outcome if something seems particularly notable, but usually I do not-- That spread is just for the purpose of showing timing. If I have drawn many cards, and none surface which seems like the desired outcome, than we may change course to look at what might be making the timing hazy, instead of trying to clock something exactly.

Astrology for Precise Dates:

The Golden Dawn (a magickal order) had a very thorough system of correspondances for timing-- The zodiac, composed of 12 star signs, each ruling over a specific portion of the year, can be seen as a circle, and therefore contains 360°. If you take the Minor Arcana of the Tarot and remove the Aces and Court cards from each of the four suits, you are left with 36 cards. Each one of these cards is aligned with a 'decan' of the zodiac, or 10° out of the whole 360° circle. This means that each card corresponds with a few particular days of the year. There are many systems for attributing the Majors and Courts to astrological signs as well. Astrology is an entire complex system in itself, so this is really just a starting point to your own research.

The most important thing for using any of these methods, is to choose which timing technique you're using -before- you draw your cards, so that you have a good context for interpretation. Another useful thing to remember is that the further you start predicting into the future, the more variables and factors there are, and the less likely it is to be useful or accurate.

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