One of the frequently debated issues regarding cartomancy is the determination of time. Nowadays, cartomancers use different, sometimes quite out of the box, methods for determining the time associated with the cards.
It is a common misconception that Suits represent seasons; most frequently Wants are considered to represent Spring, Cups Summer, Swords Autumn and Disks Winter. According to another method, Wands represent days, Swords weeks, Cups months and Disks years. Therefore, Two of Wands may indicate a distance of two days; Five of Swords may refer to something five weeks away; Six of Cups may refer to six months, while Nine of Disks can be nine years distant. Generally, reversed cards are considered to suggest delays.
However, one should bear in mind that not all the Wands represents Spring, not all the Cups represents Summer, not all the Swords represents Autumn and not all the Disks represents Winter. Two, Three and Four of Wands correspond to Aries, which is the beginning of Spring; Five, Six and Seven of Wands represent Leo, which is mid-Summer, while Eight, Nine and Ten of Wands represent Sagittarius, respectively the end of Autumn.
The only cards directly related to the seasons are the Aces and, to some extent, the Kings. Spring, for instance, is composed of three Zodiac signs, Aries – representing Wands (Fire), Taurus – representing Disks (Earth) and Geminin – representing Swords (Air).
Timing, however, is a grey area. It is one of those things where one should discern between possible and impossible. If the future is not predefined, fixed and unchangeable, subsequently, timing is also relative.
In order to maintain accuracy, one should refer to Astrology. The architecture of the Tarot deck being fundamentally astrological, the rigorous determination of time should also be astrological. Each card represents a specific astrological aspect and a particular timeframe.
The Numerals correspond to fourteen minutes, respectively, a period of approximatively ten days representing one decan of a Zodiac sign.
Three of the court cards, The Knight, Queen and Page represent the Zodiac signs, respectively about thirty days each. The Knight of Wands correspond to Aries; the Queen of Disks to Taurus; the Page of Swords to Gemini and so on.
The cards associated with the planets, respectively, the four Kings are associated with years.
Finally, the twelve Major Arcana cards commonly attributed to the Zodiac signs represents Ages.
The astrological attribution of these last two groups of cards varies among authors and scholars, and there is no unanimously accepted system – which makes the determination of time further complicated.
How reliable is this time-related information in a Tarot reading?
I am precocious when it comes to indicate and predict time. When someone asks me ‘when I am going to get married?’ I usually ask back ‘are you in a relationship? ’Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. In order to get the most out of the cards and receive useful answers, it is crucial to formulate appropriate questions.
First of all, if the question is not specific time related, making time predictions and approximations is hazardous. The problem that emerges in this situation is what the reader will consider: the meaning or the time of the card? Sometimes it can be both, but not necessarily. So, what the reader can tell, depends on what is the question, how it was formulated, what cards emerged, the relationship between the cards and how they are disposed in the spread, and not at least upon the experience, knowledge and inspiration of the reader. It is all relative and circumstantial.
Knowing the precise time attribute of one card is relatively simple; making time prediction in one larger spread is considerably harder.
For example, if in the spread there are predominantly Autumn cards (Ace, Two, Three and Four of Swords; Five, Six and Seven of Cups; Eight, Nine and Ten of Wands; Knight of Swords, Queen of Cups, Page of Wands, and so on), it may be an indication that it has something to do with Autumn. Also, the Aces, and sometimes the Kings, may refer to their designated seasons. Then again, everything matters. On which position in the spread these cards are, respectively how the cards relate to each other.
Secondly, one should consider that the purpose of any Tarot reading is to reveal options and possibilities which should help the querent to make decisions and get the most out of the given circumstances. Making changes in the now will have consequences, and the future can be modified. One can obtain something sooner or, on the contrary, delay or prevent something from happening. The Tarot reading is a snapshot of the universe at the very moment the reading occurs. If based on the information extracted from the card, the querent decides to act differently than he intended or regularly does, the outcome will be different. Life is motion, everything is fluid and dynamic. Only our habits and fears keep us captive of circumstances and unable to make changes – and ultimately make us predictable. One cannot be the master of time as long is not the master of itself.
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