A Compendium of Divinatory Meanings
Revision Four (2005)
D.V. Gray, “Queen Z” & Hunter MacKenzie
NOTES ABOUT THE SOURCES
This compilation is intended to be a concise reference that incorporates the best of several divinatory guides as well as perspectives and interpretations from our own experiences. For a fuller understanding of the Tarot, we suggest a thorough study of the books which we’ve referenced at the bottom of this page.
Although there are some general meanings which tend to hold true for divination with the Tarot, it is highly individualized and needs a great deal of work, study, observation and interpretation on the part of the reader. The more experience you gain, the more accurate your insights will be. The meanings suggested here are intended to give some basis from which to start – not to be a comprehensive or dogmatic list of rules. It is to be expected that as one gains experience in reading the cards, one will expand upon the suggested interpretations, developing a deeper and more individual sense of meaning from each card.
Some suggest that reading more than two or three times a week is excessive, but we have not found this to necessarily be the case. For matters in which you wish to assess probabilities, it is essential that you learn what sort of time frame the cards tend to form for you. To this end, reading once a day (or every other day) at approximately the same time each day may prove useful. Once the habit has been established, insight and understanding becomes far more fluent than it tends to be in a situation where the cards are read haphazardly or only on occasions where the querist feels in desperate need of “answers.”
As far as layout, several have become common in general usage, and it cannot really be said that one is inherently better than another. The Celtic Cross tends to give just about the right amount of information, in our opinion, and makes establishing the time frame of events relatively simple. (Note: we do not use the method described in the booklet accompanying the Waite deck, where the querist chooses a “significator” card. If that method resonates with you and works for you, however, then by all means use it.) Other layouts may provide a more “condensed” view if information is needed quickly or if a narrower focus is desirable, while some layouts on the opposite extreme tend to yield a great deal of information based on the relationships of the cards to one another in the layout. It is not necessary to be familiar with all layouts to be proficient; it is more important to master a layout that gives you the right amount of information – then if you find it necessary to expand or narrow it, you may wish to explore other layouts.
Regarding reversals (upside-down cards) – there are various opinions on whether this should be incorporated or not, but we feel that the cards yield much more detail and intricacy in the interpretation if reversals are allowed.
Regarding gender – many sources contend that the “court cards” (Page, Knight, Queen and King) will always represent persons of certain genders (i.e., Queens will always represent an older woman, Knights will stand for a young man, etc.). This depends mainly on one’s own orientation and beliefs about the matter. We tend to get more accurate insights from the cards when the court cards are not assigned one gender – but again, this is a matter for individual interpretation, and your own experience is the best guide to how you should interpret these for yourself.
It is recommended that you keep your cards in a safe place, out of general view, and that you not let others handle them indiscriminately. The more “bonded” they become to you, the more accurate the insights will be for your life. With a new deck, it is not a bad idea to sleep with them under your pillow for some nights at first (although this may be more psychological than anything else).
It is advisable to bear in mind that events are probabilities and are not “set in stone.” The very act of looking ahead to gauge the possibilities available to you changes the range of those probabilities and the likelihood of what will happen. Therefore, it is a good idea to phrase your questions in a way such as, “What is likely to be the result if I…?” or “I would like insight into…” rather than expecting the cards to display a specific outline of future events. It is not uncommon for the process of reading to function as a tool to extend awareness and clarify what you already know but aren’t aware that you know.
Divination by the Tarot is a practice based largely on interpretation. While the cards themselves may have designated rudimentary meanings, what you get from your reading is necessarily highly personal and subjective. The better you know yourself and the further reaches of your own mind, the more accurate your readings are likely to be.
A Complete Guide to the Tarot by Eden Gray. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1970.
The Book of Thoth by Aleister Crowley. York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1969 (Reprint).
Tarot Divination by Aleister Crowley. York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1976 (Reprint).
The Elements of the Tarot by A.T. Mann. Rockport, Massachusetts: Element Books, Inc., 1993.
© Copyright 1993 by D.V. Gray, Queen Z & Hunter MacKenzie. Updated and republished 2005, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2013, 2015.
Share and Enjoy