Let’s say you’re going to be planted somewhere for an extended period of time to do quick tarot readings. You could be at a corporate event or party– you and your tarot deck being the entertainment for the night; or you’re at a café doing readings for complete strangers for tips and practice; or you’re at a fundraiser doing readings for donations to your favorite non-profit. Whatever the case may be, you don’t have the time to do a full-length Celtic Cross for every jane and joe who walks by but a 1-card or a 3-card spread on the table isn’t going to look quite as impressive. Also, the range of questions you’re going to get in a very short time frame will run the whole gamut, so you still need something versatile.
Well I’ve got a technique you could try out.
To demonstrate I’ll be using my miniature Rider Waite, which I carry with me in my purse at all times, but I’m guessing you’ll be using a normal size deck for your reading event. In the baggy with my mini tarot deck are four gemstones.
At the top-north point above is a piece of polished and tumbled petrified wood; bottom-south is rose quartz; east is amethyst; and west is green moss agate: Wands-Fire; Cups-Water; Swords-Air; Pentacles-Earth, respectively. These four stones will anchor every reading. I’ll set them out right to left corresponding with IHVH and utilizing a technique derived from the First Operation of the Opening of the Key method.
So I’ll be sitting there with the four stones out as shown above, representing the four quadrants of the human condition, the IHVH correspondences per the First Operation. If you’re familiar with that methodology, which I’m assuming most intermediate tarot readers are, then this technique is going to be a cinch to pick up.
By the way, these photos are used for hypothetical demonstration only. In a real life scenario, I would have probably opted for a normal size deck, not the mini, and I probably wouldn’t get to have a candle nearby either. The candle is included here because it’s pretty. And it smells good.
Let’s say someone sits down and doesn’t have a specific question in mind. He just wants a general reading. I’ll draw four cards, right to left, and set them out as shown above. The right-most card beneath the petrified wood is his career quadrant; to the left of it beneath the rose quartz is love and relationships; next beneath the amethyst is the thought plane, think: Mercury for those with an astrology background, the quadrant related to his communications, ambitions, or particular conflicts in his life right now–your intuition will guide you as to which applies in any given case; and finally, beneath the green moss agate is finances.
Here, I’d say this fellow has worked really hard in his current job position and all that diligence is yielding fruition, ready for harvest. He’s one step away from promotion or advancement, but he needs to take the initiative and take that final step to harvest. If he’s been thinking about asking for a raise, now is a good time. Love-wise, things look good–he’s a giver, incredibly generous in romance, both financially/materially and emotionally. Here I might ask him whether he is in a relationship and take my line of analysis down the path according to how he responds.
The King of Wands here suggests to me conflict with a man, an authoritarian figure who in the essence is a lot of Fire, is demanding and domineering. I’d also confess to the seeker that here the card might also suggest a managerial position at work, or his thoughts and apprehensions about being the team lead on a particular work project. Finally, he’s in a transitional phase when it comes to his finances, and while things may feel a bit tight at the moment, it’s going to turn for the better and brighter quite soon. If he asks when, then I’d reach within through my intuition and, synthesizing my intuition with the Death card, make a judgment call on whether Water and thus summer applies or Scorpio and thus late October early November applies.
Here’s another example of a general reading, covering the four quadrants of the human condition. This time I’ll skip review of the interpretation approach and assume all of us proficient readers will more or less be on the same page on how to interpret the above.
Now you can probably guess what follow-up question the seeker is going to ask: so this juggling of a choice she has going on in her love affairs– let’s say she acknowledges to you that you’re right. (They almost always do.) Then she asks, “But how do I choose? Which man should I go for?”
You can draw another card to answer her question quickly and concisely. Set it next to the Two of Pentacles in the love sector. Ace of Swords. Oh man. Of course, she wants the asshole, though that’s probably not the way I’d phrase it to her. I’d try to leave personal opinions out and analyze the card on its merits. He’s an ambitious guy with a great deal of masculine energy, a conqueror type who is after power and achievement. He’s a warrior, an intellectual, and forceful. If my intuition calls it, then I might also mention he could be an Air sign– Libra, Aquarius, or Gemini.
Extending this reading further just to show how much you can play around with such a basic spread, let’s say she won’t leave your table and persists to ask another question and you’re a big pushover and so let her ask another question. She notes that you mentioned something about a matter causing guilt or regret in her mind that she’s been dealing with, a matter related to deception, leaving her feeling much like an outcast. She wants to know more. You can draw another card to see what’s crossing her.
Here the Three of Swords is drawn. A storm of emotions. Heartbreak and loss caused by fundamental ideological differences.
The technique can also be applied to yes or no questions. Let’s say a seeker sits down asks, “Will I encounter a love worth pursuing this year?” It’s my normal practice to rephrase yes-no questions to open-ended ones but for the purpose of demonstrating this technique, let’s say you indulge in the yes-no question.
For me, I start with the right-most pile and count up to 11 cards, since 11 is a master number and I have always felt intuitively connected to the number. It’s the number that works for me. It resonates with me more than any other number and per my experience, is more effective in yes-no reading techniques than the more popularly used 13 (per Eden Gray’s method).
No Ace appeared by the time I counted up to card 11 in the first pile. In the second pile, which incidentally corresponds with the love and relationships sector, an Ace of Pentacles does appear. In the subsequent two piles, I again counted up to 11 without drawing any Aces. In yes-no readings, read the Aces and intuitively, per the other cards around, the positioning of the Aces, etc., you’ll conclude affirmatively or negatively. Here, since the question is specific to love and an Ace appeared in the love sector, I’d say it’s a yes and he seems like a financially stable guy. He could be an Earth sign, a very pragmatic, financially-savvy, realistic kind of guy, perhaps a bit plain vanilla and boring at times, but always reliable.
Now let’s say a specific question is asked. A guy sits down and wants to know about his financial situation. You can do a simple 3-card reading by setting the first anchoring card below the fourth sector, the green moss agate, which corresponds with finances. Then proceed with the 3-card reading. Here, oh man does this fellow need more balance in his life and even though there have been financial struggles, most likely due to a catastrophic, sudden loss of a significant amount of money, there will be a comeback and he’ll persevere (that’s how I interpret the Ten of Swords in reverse). I might also note that his personal relationships seem to be suffering as incidental damage due to his financial situation.
Or let’s say someone wants to know whether she should pursue a career change right now. I might draw 3 cards around the petrified wood in the sector corresponding with work. This is not someone who has attained a solid skill set that she can use as leverage for a career change. She has a lot more to learn in her current position and should stay put for now, with an open mind to learning more. The Four of Swords in reverse and the Eight of Swords in reverse quite unequivocally affirm that call. I’d go into the interpretation of both to support why I said what I said about not pursuing the career change just yet.
And for the mighty ambitious readers among us, if you want to do multi-card readings during a marathon, you still can with this technique.
Having the gemstones around not only grounds you, the tarot reader, and raises the energy level of your work space, creating a sense of balance for you (very important when there’s a ton of scattered energy and too many people buzzing about), but the stones just look cool, much cooler than just drawing 3 cards or 5. Also, for me, seeing the stones takes out much of the thinking effort needed when drawing cards into spreads during a marathon. I’m more visual and so just seeing the color of the stones there will trigger the necessary analytical connections in my mind. Having the four stones out like that also means I don’t have to stick to one spread for all million readings I’m doing for that event and yet at the same time, don’t have to think too hard about spread selection. More than anything else, at least for me, having the four stones there representing the four elements, four directions, the IHVH really helps protect my reading space with a bubble of balanced energy, especially when the energy everywhere else in the room is frenetic.