Q&A with Joy: Timing in the Tarot

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

A tarot student contacted me today asking for a suggestion for reading a question of time, such as, will a specific event happen, and if so, when.
Here’s my answer:
Pocket watchThere are a variety of ways to read for time. I’ll share several of my favorites with you, from complex but accurate to simple and empowering.
First, I use the astrological associations of the cards to determine pretty accurate periods of time. This works best if the expected outcome will happen within a one-year period. I created this handout to show the most common correspondences plus my personal take on cards that don’t have specific timing associated with them.
Second, an intuitive way is to assign timing speeds to each suit, and use that to judge how soon something will happen. A lot of readers use this technique, but I’ve heard of many different correspondences being used. I use the Aristotelian associations–fire (Wands) is fastest, then air (Swords), then water (Cups) and earth (Pentacles) is the slowest. That can make Wands=days, Swords=weeks, Cups=months and Pentacles=years. Then use the number to estimate how many (e.g., Four of Pentacles is four years).
This can be shifted in whatever timing direction makes the most sense. So if the queried outcome could happen quite quickly (e.g., when is he going to call?), then Wands could be minutes, Swords=hours, Cups=days, Pentacles=weeks. Likewise, the time frames could be slowed down. Use your intuition combined with common sense.
When using either of these techniques, it’s best to pull one card, first setting the intention ahead of time that the card will be a timing card. It also helps to determine ahead of time which timing technique you will be using, and as appropriate, the most logical time frames that will be involved. Then once you’ve set your intentions, shuffle and pull one card and interpret it only in terms of time frame, not reading any other meaning into it.
The final way I like to do timing is actually the easiest and in many ways the most accurate. The technique is to ask the question, “What needs to happen before xyz will come to pass?” Then you can read the cards normally, using the storytelling techniques. The cards will indicate a specific event that will happen prior to the event in question. Usually, the answer shown by the cards has timing known to the querent or that is under the querent’s control–this helps place the unknown event in a broader context and, if the first event is something the querent needs to accomplish, can give them motivation to get it done.
For some alternate methods of timing, including using playing cards, see this handout created by Sherry Shone from the Denver Tarot Meetup.
If you want to ask a question about any tarot or Reiki technique or metaphysical philosophy, please feel free to ask it in the comments! You just might see an answer from me in the very near future!
Joy Vernon has been studying and teaching energetic and esoteric modalities for more than twenty years. She is the organizer of the Denver Tarot Geeks, Denver Tarot Meetup, and Denver Traditional Reiki Meetup and served on the faculty of Avalon Center for Druidic Studies. She is a Certified Professional Tarot Reader and a member of the American Tarot Association. She is one of the Psychics of Isis and has been featured at SpiritWays, the Mercury Café and psychic fairs throughout the Denver Metro and Northern Colorado. For information on upcoming classes or to schedule an appointment, please visit JoyVernon.com.
© 2014 by Joy Vernon. All rights reserved.

Joy Vernon
Joy Vernon

Joy Vernon is widely recognized as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty-five years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup grew into one of the largest and most active tarot-specific meetups in the world. Now Joy runs the Greater Seattle Tarot Meetup. Joy works as a tarot reader, astrologer, and teacher in Burien, Washington. To learn more, please visit JoyVernon.com.

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