Notes from a Tarot Reader: On Tarot & Time

Time Tarot Reading with Clock

When we get tarot readings we often want to know exactly when all the messages in the card will show up in our lives.

The temptation for certainty is real. If I’m asking about my love life, I’m probably secretly hoping to hear that I’ll meet someone special soon.

And when emotions run high? Details are even more alluring. For example, I’m sick of my job and the cards suggest that a new job opportunity might be heading my way. Well does that mean next week or in a month or two?

I’m feeling stressed and impatient, I want answers now!

It’s funny, really. We often look to tarot to shake us out of our regular patterns of thinking. When our favored methods of analyzing fall short the evocative world of the cards looks wise and promising. But what do we do when we get there? We expect logical, analytical, and specific answers.

Sometimes we get frustrated with tarot for the very traits that we seek it out for.

Certainty, set dates, and specific timelines? Tarot doesn’t speak that language. It does, however, show us what energies are most powerful and how we can move forward when we embrace them.

In other words, if we’re looking for a new approach we’d better be prepared for new ways of thinking.

In my approach, I view time and Tarot as occasional friends. They might get together for coffee once in a blue moon, but they don’t spend every waking moment together.

We must learn to read between the lines when looking for timeframes in our tarot readings, and when times does show up it’s in a much more diffuse and flexible form: energies, tendencies, and trends rather than deadlines, dates, and guarantees.

Below are some things you can look for in your tarot readings to get a grasp of the timeframe. And remember, follow your intuition and keep a flexible outlook. You might be surprised by what you find.


1.     Major vs Minor Arcana

Look at the outcome positions in your spread. Are they major arcana cards or minors? Majors tend to depict larger events unfolding that usually have to do with personal development. These cards tend to show events that take longer while Minor Arcana cards come to pass more quickly.

2.     Numbers

In Minor Arcana cards, look to the numbers. Smaller numbered cards depict earlier stages of a cycle while larger numbers show the end stages. In readings, the card itself depicts a leg on the journey; however, its number shows us how many more stages are left before the cycle is completed.

For example, say we have the Three of Pentacles. This tells us that the querent will soon be collaborating on a project. The project itself, however, is relatively new, and it will be some time before it reaches its full potential (X of Pentacles.)

3.     Immediate Cards

There are some cards in the deck that quite simply depict immediate actions and events such as The Tower, the Eight of Wands, and the Aces. Other cards such as The Wheel of Fortune and Death indicate that a change is arriving soon.

4.     Long Term and Rest Cards

Then there are tarot cards that indicate slower paced action or periods of rest such as the Four of Swords, the Four of Cups and The Hanged Man. Cards that depict journeys also tend to take longer to play out such as the Five and Eight of Cups and The Hermit.

5.     Seasonal Cards

As I mentioned in my Tarot Cards for Spring post, some cards have a distinctly seasonal vibe. In my practice, I look at the suits as the seasons: Wands for Spring, Cups for Summer, Pentacles for Fall, and Swords for Winter.

In the Major Arcana, I see The Fool as Spring, The Empress as Summer/Early Fall, and The Hermit as Winter.

How about you? How do you see time depicted in the tarot? What cards do you see as long term and short term cards? Share your ideas in the comments below.