Another focus card you can work with over the course of the year is your Personal Year Card. This card covers you from your most recent birthday to the next one. Calculate this the same way we did the Tarot Birth Card but use the year of your most recent birthday (2019 or 2020) instead of your birth year. I’m a Sagittarius, so my birthday December 2019 to December 2020 works out to be my Temperance year. I’m trying to embrace and relax into the idea that I will be learning how to achieve more balance within my life on both a large and small scale. I know Temperance seems like it should be a relatively “chill” card to have as a focus, but Personal Year Cards have a way of letting us see where we need to shift our attention and do some work. So being open to using Temperance as a part of my personal practice means being attentive to not only the areas of my life that are currently in-balance and clicking-along smoothly but ALSO noticing the areas of my life that are hovering around the extremes. I have to hold my achievements and my perceived failures in equal weight in order to really embrace and benefit from all that this archetype has to offer. This means accepting some current clumsiness for the sake of the longterm goal. Temperance is active; balance is not passive. I work with Temperance now so that I can integrate it into my “normal” for the next year. New year, new lessons. If you choose to work with a Personal Year Card in your practice I suggest thinking of it a bit like a coach or personal trainer… they are there to encourage you, for sure, but the real reason you’ve enlisted them is because they will push you in areas you wouldn’t easily push yourself. (Example of how to calculate a Personal Year Card: June 9th Birthday = 06 + 09 + 2019 = 2034. Then 2 + 0 + 3 + 4 = 9 The Hermit)
My “card of choice” for 2020 is The Fool. This card I picked intentionally (not through synchronicity or numerology). I want to bring a sense of optimistic adventure back to my life as well as cultivate open-hearted acceptance of the vast unknown. Incorporating The Fool card into my contemplative practice will help remind me to ride the waves and “enjoy the journey” in the face of personal, communal, and global uncertainty. It’s also handy to have my constant companion, my own little white dog Sadie, as a visual reminder by my side urging me to relax and explore. I’ll share more of how I incorporate The Fool into my practice as the year progresses. I encourage you to pick a “card of choice” for your year as well. Something that inspires you, something you’d like to cultivate, or maybe just something you’d like to get a better handle on. It’s totally up to you. Pick your card, any card!
2020 is the year of The Emperor in Tarot. (2+0+2+0=4) In your contemplative practice you can use The Emperor like a filter to view events through or a seasoning that adds a flavor of this archetype to your intentions this year. Explore and consider what you like AND what you don’t like about The Emperor as a symbol. What do you admire about The Emperor? What frustrates you about him? Over the course of the year I’ll share some of what I unpack about this particular card, but I encourage you to add him into your own practice here and there too. The Emperor archetype can feel complicated during unstable political times. There will be days you might just feel angry looking at his stoic chill face sitting there on his throne, let it motivate you to bring positive change. Other days you’ll feel his burden of responsibility as your own, let it evolve into compassion rather than weigh you down. And there will be times we will be empowered with that experiential wisdom The Emperor brings to the table, run with it! It’s ok to have shifting and conflicting feelings about the idea of The Emperor. It’s complicated.
Your Tarot Birth Card is the card (or in some cases two cards) from the Major Arcana that correspond numerologically to your birth date. There are different ways to calculate your birth card. The simplest and one of the most common is to add the month, day, and year you were born together and then reduce the number down by adding the digits of your result. Example for January 3rd, 1976 you would add 01 + 03 + 1976 = 1980. Then add 1 + 9 + 8 + 0 = 18. Because this number is under 21 it will correspond to a card in the Major Arcana, but it can be reduced further still. 1 + 8 = 9. Therefor this birth date has two corresponding Tarot cards: 18 The Moon and 9 The Hermit. Why go through the process of figuring out a birth card and what do you do with it? The birth card gives you an archetype to examine and explore over the course of your lifetime. By noticing how the archetype shows up and plays out in your life you are given the gift of a longterm touchstone for your contemplative practice. Use it as a theme for a meditation, let it prompt you in journaling, explore the ideal aspects of the archetype, consider the shadow or perceived negative side of the archetype, let it be a starting point for your annual goal setting. Do not be disappointed if you have only one Tarot birth card or if you perceive your corresponding card to be “negative.” Every card in the Major Arcana contains knowledge and the wisdom we can gain from contemplating these archetypes with an open mind and willingness for growth is a precious gift. Precious and simple.
This Halloween season I got to read for a wide variety of people at various events. At one party, a four year-old girl sat at my table and wanted a reading. Many professional readers I know refuse to read for children. Very often children are struggling with very real and somewhat heavy issues too. And many readers are uncomfortable having a conversation with a young querent* about these topics if they show up in the cards. And that’s fair, it is much better to set boundaries and refer a querent to another reader who would be more suitable for their needs.
(*querent: one who is receiving the reading)
I, personally, enjoy reading for children. The most important part of reading for a minor is that you treat them like every other querent… you have a conversation with them as a person. The card interpretations and the suggestions should be specific to their life situation and needs. Just as you would for anyone who would sit at your table. Being aware of their sensitivities and taking care with their emotions.
Also… not every deck is appropriate for minors. I suggest carrying a family-friendly deck with you if you read for minors and your regular working deck is too mature, startling, esoteric, etc. I happened to be using my Halloween Tarot deck by Kipling West for most of this Halloween season’s events and it is a perfect deck for family and youth readings.
While I have read for many children over the years, I think that four years-old is the youngest querent I’ve ever had (with the exception of my son who was also four when he asked for his first reading).
9 of Swords –
Me: “Do you ever get bad dreams?”
8 of Wands –
Me: “Sometimes, if you have one bad dream, does it seem like they just keep happening when you try to sleep again?”
Girl: (lowers eyes slowly and nods)
Me: “See this card? What’s happening in the picture?”
Girl: “There’s a lion by her.”
Me: “Looks kinda scary, right? What about the lady… who is she?”
Girl: “I don’t know.”
Me: “Is she a lion tamer maybe?”
Girl: “Maybe. Yes.”
Me: “She’s looking at the lion’s teeth. Does she seem scared?”
Girl: (shakes head enthusiastically “no”)
Me: “Exactly. Next time you have a bad dream, you be the lion tamer and look that bad dream in its teeth.”
Girl: (slightly cheerier) “Ok!”
The Moon –
Me: “Have you ever looked at your back yard at night? Looks kinda spooky, right?”
Girl: (wide eyes, vigorous nodding)
Me: “But it’s still just your backyard. Nothing’s changed. Right? Just spooky lighting.”
Me: “When you wake up at night, it’s still your bedroom. It’s just dark. That’s all.”
Girl: (happy smile)
Me: “You’ve got this. Look that bad dream in its teeth and say ‘This is my room, if you want to be here… you behave.’”
(we high-fived, she giggled, hopped off the chair, and ran to hug her mom)
Now if I’d done this reading for myself it would’ve looked more like this:
9 of Swords – Stress and anxiety are starting to have an affect on your health. While there are things to cause concern… you are giving them too much power over your thoughts.
8 of Wands – It’s a busy time and there’s a lot to do. Busyness itself, is neutral. It’s how you handle the busy times that shape your experience of them.
Strength – Remember you have inner strength and stamina. Tend to it to keep yourself healthy.
The Moon – Really look at your habitual reactions to stress and triggers… are you acting based on old patterns that grew from anxiety and trauma or are you truly engaging with the present? Don’t let your subconscious keep playing the same nightmares over and over again. Are you really talking to the person in front of you or to ghosts from your past?
Conclusion – Keep your focus on maintaining your inner strength during this active time and don’t let subconscious triggers overshadow reality.
Obviously interpreting the cards like this would’ve been confusing, boring, and not relevant for my young client. So when reading for a young querent make sure you are speaking to them appropriate to the stage of life they are currently in. One of the greatest gifts you can give to a child who sits at your table is to treat them like a regular client; don’t speak down to them and don’t underestimate the depth of their experiences. Have an honest and caring conversation with them guided by the cards and they will remember that you took them seriously. Really, that’s what any seeker truly wants.