Download the Worksheet (PDF)
For even more “training wheels” support, download the following quick reference table of keywords (DOCX file):
Download the REFERENCE HANDOUt (DOCX)
After noting the card drawn for each position in the 21-card spread, write down the keywords from the reference table onto your worksheet pages. The keywords themselves will support your arrival at the divinatory significance of the reading.
Tarot: The Path to Wisdom by Joseph D’Agostino was first published in 1976. A second edition was released in 1994, which is the copy of the book that I have.
I’m not sure whether this book was intended for beginners, but I’m guessing so, since it devotes most of its pages to card meanings, and gives the obligatory opening chapters on what the tarot is.
As a beginner’s guide to the tarot, it starts you off with instructions for two divinatory methods: the Celtic Cross and this 21-card tableau. . . . Beginner tarot books have come a long way since then. =)
This reading method brings me so much nostalgia. I still remember sitting on my bed with one of those breakfast trays, the most mystical-looking cloth I could find to cover it, and 21 cards set out in these 3 rows of 7 crowded on top of that tray, bumped up against each other, overlapping.
I’d stare blankly at the spread, feeling dumb, because I couldn’t make heads or tails of the reading. It wasn’t “easy” like the Celtic Cross, because at least with the Celtic Cross, each card position was assigned certain parameters.
And then I realized why this type of reading method was giving me so much trouble.
I was relying too much on canned textbook card meanings. Once you develop a sincere trust in your own creative-intuition aka the divinatory power of your own imagination, the potential of this reading method unlocks.
The above spread of cards is for our hypothetical Jane, covered during the video. Continuing beyond the 2-minute reading we gave Jane from those 21 cards, noting that the spread is Air dominant, perhaps ask Jane the Querent, “You’re very Air dominant. There must be a lot of Gemini, Libra, or Aquarius in your chart.” We can talk about how as a young child, Jane remembers how she died in a previous lifetime [positioning of the Four of Swords and Hanged Man]. We see long-distance travel in the near future [positioning of the Three of Wands and Eight of Wands]. This coming year is going to be financially prosperous but personally confining [Eight of Swords, Ten of Pentacles, Nine of Wands].
The 21-card reading method is a great one to practice, practice, practice on, because it all but forces you to go beyond canned textbook card meanings. You have to link multiple cards together and creatively form new hybrid meanings based on the intuitive sum of cards. You’re forced to rely more on your imagination, which eventually develops into the four clairs. Yes, yep– it does. Trust the process.
In a large spread like this, I’ll read reversals as weakened energies, so the focal point will go toward the upright cards. Directionality of the reversed cards and which upright cards they’re pointing to will also be significant.
In the above spread, we see someone who tends to be more of a loner-introvert, who has a difficult time trusting people due to a lot of betrayals of that trust as a child. Of the upright cards, Fire and Earth come out in equal dominance. The majority of reversed cards are Pentacles, suggesting one who is not optimizing their financial and income-earning potential. Learning how to achieve balance between polarities is this querent’s life-long lesson. We also see house buying or a new home in the near future. The place of employment continues to be a source of great stress, but at least for the foreseeable future, work-wise it’s this querent’s best option.
I’ve prepared a step by step prompted worksheet that you can download via the link below, which can help you process your 21-card reading in digestible steps. There’s no right “process” for approaching this type of reading, so don’t take the steps in the PDF handout as gospel. If you’ve already got your own sense for how you want to approach this 21-card reading, go with your own senses. But if you are at a total loss and you are feeling overwhelmed by all the cards, then this handout of prompts might be a good starting point.