Look Back to Look Forward with this Retrograde-Inspired Year-Ahead Tarot Spread
Happy New Year! Your social media may be deluging you with not only unsolicited decrees for a proper New Year, but also dire warnings about Mercury Retrograde. So as a breath of fresh air for the first day of the year, choose your own adventure with this year-ahead spread. Because you design this 2023 Tarot Spread yourself, it perfectly fits you and your life. And to best use the Mercury retrograde energies, it looks back at last year, holding a mirror up to those energies to see where they’ll take you for the upcoming cycle.
How to Create Your Year-Ahead 2023 Tarot Spread
- Look back at 2022. Note three to five things important to you from this past year that will continue to be relevant in 2023. These are your spread positions.
- Choose your Significator and shuffle it into the deck.
- Concentrate on the year ahead while you shuffle the deck.
- Keeping the cards in order, find your Significator. The 3-5 cards above it (depending on how many topics or concerns you noted) represent what’s coming up in 2023, while the 3-5 cards below it represent what happened in 2022.
- Interpret your cards. The Significator represents the changing of the year from 2022 to 2023. Each 2023 card pairs with a 2022 card. Compare and contrast these cards to discover how your 2022 experiences will evolve in 2023.
Step 1: Look Back at 2022
Don’t grab your cards quite yet. Instead, we’ll start by contemplating last year. Retrogrades love to remember! What went great? And what went wrong? What do you want more of? Less of? Jot down your thoughts. We’ll use these to develop the spread positions.
Looking over your notes, choose the 3-5 most important things from 2022 that will continue to be relevant in 2023. These will be your spread positions. You can print out the Reflective Retrospective 2023 Tarot Spread Sheet, above, and record them there. Got it? Let’s go!
Step 2: Choose Your Significator
Do you have a card that always comes up to represent you? That’s your significator! There are a variety of ways to choose a significator. As I mentioned above, sometimes it’s simply a card that has chosen you. But for many of us, we have to choose our card.
Court Card or Major Arcana
Tarot readers most often use court cards for significators. But Major Arcana are also good candidates, particularly the Magician, High Priestess, and Hermit.
If you look like one of the cards in your deck, that might be just right for your significator. There are traditional rules for correlating court cards to appearance by skin tone, hair color, and eye color. But I find that those don’t work very well, so I won’t bore you with the details.
By Gender and Element
Another easy method is to choose from the court cards based on gender and element. Typically tarot readers use Queens for women, Kings for men, and Knights for fluid. However, it’s important to choose a card that you relate to, so don’t feel stuck with my suggestions. It’s more important to pick the card that feels right to you.
Once you’ve selected the rank, then based on your sun sign, you’d choose the suit to match that element. So Wands are Aries, Leo, or Sagittarius. Cups relate to Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. Swords point to Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius. And Pentacles lock down the earth signs: Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn.
For example, I’m a female Aries, so I’ll pick the Queen (female) of Wands (fire sign). My boyfriend Hal is also an Aries, but he identifies as a Gemini (his rising sign), so he’ll pick the King (male) of Swords (air sign) following this method.
However, the most popular way to select your significator is based on astrology. Using the chart below (click it to open a pdf), you can discover which card matches your sign. I always use the court card (in the “easy style” column) that corresponds to the sun sign, but I know some readers who will choose the rising sign.
Step 3: Shuffle While You Look Forward to 2023
Once you have your significator, you’re ready for the spread! You don’t need to pull the significator out; instead, shuffle it into the deck. But you can write down what card you chose on the Reflective Retrospective 2023 Tarot Spread Sheet.
Now you’re ready to do your reading. Shuffle while you focus on what’s coming up in 2023.
Step 4: Find the Significator
Here’s the neat-o part.
The Significator forms the turning point of the year, with the cards immediately above it representing what’s coming up this year, and the cards below it indicating what’s past.
Being careful to keep the cards in order, look for your significator. Don’t take it out! I’m going to explain this in a tad more detail, because you know I’m great at that. When you were shuffling, the deck was face down. So you’ll flip the deck over so you can see the images. If you have a working surface, like a table or desk, you can spread the deck out to find your significator more quickly. If you do this, place the deck on the left side of the table, and fan it towards the right, so when the pile is spread out the top card is on the right and the bottom card is on the left. But it also works to flip through the cards, as long as you keep them in order. Why all the rigamarole?
So, earlier you made note of 3-5 things (not 6 or 8 or 12 because you always follow directions, RFLMAO). Once you locate the significator, you’ll take the appropriate number of cards above it and below it to lay in the spread positions. That is to say, as you’re flipping through the deck, the cards that come before (above) the significator will go into the 2023 positions on the spread sheet. Meanwhile, the cards that follow right after the significator go into the 2022 spots. If you spread the deck out on the table, the requisite number of cards to the right of the Significator are for 2023 and the cards to the left are for 2022. Pretty cool, huh!
Step 5: Interpret
The cards are read in pairs around the Significator. Each of your topics or concerns from 2022 has a matching 2023 card. Read these pairs together. Examine the images closely, noting what’s happening in the scene as well as observing the little details. How is the 2023 card either similar to or different from the 2022 card? The starker the contrast, the more that area of life in 2023 will be different from 2022. The 2023 cards will mirror, expand on, overturn, resolve, or otherwise respond to or develop from the 2022 cards. How does your 2023 build on, turn away from, or launch from your 2022?
Having trouble? No problem! Check out my Quick Start Tarot Kit to learn to read the cards — no meanings, keywords, or memorization! Or, you can book an appointment to get my take on your cards — or have me to do this spread for you. See all my services and my availability on my Schedule page.
This post was (unwittingly) inspired by Kim’s Yule Blog Hop post, Looking Back at a Year Ahead Tarot Spread, first published on Kimberly Essex Tarot and Meditation. It wasn’t until I was completely done with my post that I remembered I had seen something very similar on her blog! Please check out her post as well for another perspective. While you’re there, also check out her event page — Her meetup features tarot for creatives events and she teaches amazing meditations.