I’ve been fascinated by the Tarot since I got my first deck as a teenager. But over the process of writing Perfectly Preventable Deaths, I’ve gotten more into the study of it. I find it a really useful tool for checking in with myself and working out how I feel about situations in my life.
Stories carry meaning and weight, for all of us, but particularly for readers and writers, and reading the cards is a way of harnessing story to gain insight. It’s also a conversation, and much like a creative writing workshop, the success of a reading isn’t about the reader, it’s about the human moments that are shared while looking at the cards.
Each card, like all of us, is layered, and more than one thing. One of the easiest ways to develop your skill with the Tarot is to practice reading for other people, to see how the cards can apply themselves to situations you are distanced from. This drives home how universal the cards are, and how their many meanings can apply to other people.
Fellow Hot Key Writers Katharine and Liz Corr – co-authors of the upcoming title A Throne of Swans – kindly offered to let me read their cards. I was interested in how the readings would connect for these warm and wonderful sisters. It seemed natural to do the same spread for each of them, to see where they would overlap and differ.
For each sister I did a four-card general reading. With this spread, I tend to take the cards one by one, and once we’ve chatted through them, I look at the links and patterns within the reading. Each card in this spread indicates something different:
Card One: What the Reading is About
Card Two: What to Avoid
Card Three: What to Cultivate
Card Four: Possible Outcome
To channel the energy of the person I read for I often use another deck to pick a card that represents them. It gives me a sense of who they are, and it’s good to have that small reading before diving in.
Laying out randomly drawn cards with a crystal adds a layer of intentionality. The card you choose is random, but the shape, colour, and meaning of the crystal can offer insight into the person you are reading. I used Rainbow Quartz, Piertersite, Clear Quartz, and Tiger Eye. I don’t believe in magic rocks; however, I do think that the meaning we lend to things can be significant. For example, if you’re anxious, deciding to carry something to counteract that is the beginning of a decision to not be anxious.
Liz’s choice of card was The Ten of Pentacles, which is a lovely card of stability, comfort and happiness. The number ten in the Tarot indicates the completion of a cycle, and the rainbow quartz she chose draws positivity and happiness. It’s a combination to warm to.
Katharine chose The World, a Major Arcana card and one of the most positive cards in the Tarot. This card indicates spiritual and material fulfillment, a sense of being at one with the universe. Her crystal was Pietersite, known as the tempest stone, which is supposed to forcefully banish negative influences. This resonated with Katharine, she said this was ‘exactly what she needed’.
Card One (What the Reading is About): The Moon.
The card of secrets and the subconscious. Worries you’re not even aware of are bubbling under the surface. It can be a card of connection to your inner self. I find it comes up a lot for me with writing, wading into a new world and trying to see the shape of it. In terms of creation, the moon relates to the artistic satisfaction of a piece.
Card Two (What to Avoid): The Four of Wands.
A card that depicts a public celebration. It’s a real ‘everything is fine’ card. But in this position it might be asking Liz to consider what happiness and contentment is, as opposed to what it’s ‘supposed to’ look like. To consider whether she is striving for an ideal she doesn’t want.
Card Three (What to Cultivate): The Devil.
One of the ‘scarier’ cards of the Tarot deck, but it’s mainly about addiction and indulgence. It can also mean a person who finds satisfaction hard to come by, who is hungry for more than they have. In this position, I had the sense that it was a strong message for Liz not to be afraid to indulge herself, and not to feel too guilty about prioritising self-care.
Card Four (Possible Outcome): The Eight of Cups.
A gate card. It indicates a transition from one stage of life to another, the time for a new phase. I thought that it was interesting that for a short spread, we had come full circle. This card shows the eclipse, a union of the sun and moon calling to Liz’s first card. This might be an inner journey; however, it indicates that she is moving confidently towards a place of greater alignment and clarity.
Two Major Arcana, The Moon and The Devil, would indicate that larger and more meaningful things are happening right now. The Four of Wands are from the suit of fire and desire (The Wands), and The Eight of Cups a suit linked to emotions and water (The Cups). There’s a sense of balance in this reading. Perhaps things that are wished for are being put on hold for a while, while internal work is done. There is a sense that Liz is transition to a new way of life, a new way of approaching or negotiating the world around her, and that this internal work might help to make this as smooth and kind as possible. I would advise Liz to practice self-compassion and to listen to The Devil and TREAT HERSELF.
Interestingly, when I shuffled Katharine’s cards, I got a ‘jumper’. Sometimes a card will wiggle its way out of the deck, I’m quite clumsy so this happens to me a lot. However, when it does, I pay attention to what it is and look at it in the context of the reading.
Card One (What the Reading is About): The Sun.
A positive card which appears quite close to The World, Katharine’s first card, in the Major Arcana. It’s about happiness, warmth and comfort. In this particular deck it is about finding balance between the parts of ourselves that can be difficult to reconcile. Even with something as beautiful and natural as sunshine, you may need to protect yourself to enjoy it fully. Finding a way to get to a place of happiness and balance can be an ongoing struggle.
Card Two (What to Avoid): The Seven of Cups.
The Cups are the suit of water, emotions, compassion. If they were a body part they’d be the heart. The Seven of Cups is a card of indecision or paralysis. There are many things the heart can desire, but some of them are dangerous. In this position, it could indicate that Katharine should be wary of taking on too much. She should prioritise what she chooses to engage with to avoid becoming overwhelmed or stuck.
Card Three (What to Cultivate): The Queen/The Knight of Wands.
Because of the ‘jumper’ this part of the reading came with two cards of the same suit. The Court Cards represent people; and The Wands fire, creative energy, and drive. It was interesting, in view of Katharine’s collaboration with her sister Liz, that this pairing coming from the same suit also represented family. The Queen is an authoritative, caring figure; The Knight a more enthusiastic person, someone who is not afraid of a fight. These two figures are close, but they are yet to reach their potential, which would be represented by The King of Wands. They have more to do, and together. I would interpret this as a message that the collaboration between the sisters is working, and that their relationship is a source of strength and positivity in Katharine’s life.
Card Four (Possible Outcome): The Queen of Cups.
The future is unwritten, and there are some aspects of it we get to decide or ourselves. Another court card, but instead of fire, water. While The Queen of Wands faces the world head-on, The Queen of Cups is more reflective. She is compassionate, a source of strength to others. She has her own cup beside her, to nourish her; if it was empty, she wouldn’t be able to help anyone else. I had the sense from this card that Katharine needed to practice self-care to reach a place of balance and peace. In contrast with the TREAT YOURSELF energy from Liz’s reading, this card encourages a gentler, more meditative approach. To take time to breathe and to practice self-compassion, shine her kindness in as well as out. I also had the sense from The Queen coming by herself in the wake of the two other court cards, that in the future there would be a solo project for Katharine.
In these cards the balance between fire energy, with The Sun and The Wands, and the water energy of The Cups was interesting. The presence of the two major arcana, The Sun and The World, left me with a sense of positivity and hope for this reading.
The connection between Katharine and Liz was clear from their cards also, with Liz’s card The Moon and Katharine’s The Sun in the same position (Card One). They obviously compliment each other!
I enjoyed reading for them and I have the sense that I’m really going to enjoy reading their beautiful new book, A Throne of Swans, which has pride of place on my to-read pile. Strangely, the book I’m working on at the moment also features a swan. Maybe there’s something in the air….
Some Words from Katharine and Liz Corr
We’ve never had our cards read before – neither of us have even seen a Tarot pack up close – so we were both unsure about what to expect and (if we’re honest) a little bit nervous. We didn’t particularly want Deirdre to foresee doom and disaster around the corner!
However, she quickly put us both at ease and explained that the reading wasn’t about magic or about telling the future, but about energy and connection between the reader and the querent. We were surprised by how beautiful the cards themselves are; we might both get a pack just to look at.
We were even more surprised by how well the cards we got related to our individual situations, and to the way we’re both feeling about things at the moment. For example, we both struggle with anxiety, self-care, and (one of us in particular) negativity; so to have the cards remind us that we need to work on these things – and to suggest ways in which we might help ourselves, such as embracing change and not taking on too much – was actually very freeing. It was definitely a bit of relief when the ‘jumper’ card suggested that our collaborative writing was a good thing!
We came away from the reading with a real feeling of positivity and energy (and a definite sense of connection to Deirdre, even though we’ve not yet met in real life). The reading made us think – surely the most important outcome for any spiritual exercise.
Thank you, Deirdre, for taking to time to do a reading for us – we thoroughly enjoyed it.
Katharine and Liz
Wanting to learn more or begin to do your own readings? Deirdre Recommends 78 Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack for connecting more deeply with the Tarot.