Tarot for the Modern Reader
How to Answer Any Question With Just One Card
-fleshing out the details with the power, clarity & simplicity of a one card reading-
How many times do you have a question and you spend an exorbitant amount of time trying to determine how many cards to use to answer your question? After you have settled on whether you want a large or a small (or a medium!) sized spread, you then start trying to figure out which spread will best answer the question, if you should design a new one from scratch, or go with the good old reliable Celtic Cross.
Well let me introduce to you, (ahem, drumroll please...) the One Card Reading! This is not just for beginners my friend! An amazing amount of information can be gleaned from just one card, if we truly take our time and listen to all that it is saying to us. Of course there are many times that a situation is very complex and we are looking for more information, for example, a back story, a foundation, both advice and outcome. But many times we have a simple question, and we need to remember to keep the spread simple as well.
When you are only drawing one card, you can really dive deep into the card. You can consider the meaning of the card itself, what you know about the card. You also can take that hit of intuition, what is the first thing you think of? Maybe it is seemingly random or outside of what you think the meaning for the card is! What symbols are in the card? What are the colors, the element, the suit? What number is it? If you study other systems, what are the associations, such as Astrology, Numerology or Kabbalah?
One of the best times to use a one card reading, is when we come to the Tarot seeking advice on a subject. Advice readings are slightly different then when we read for prediction or spiritual study, in that they provide a suggested course of action (or non-action) to take, a persona to emulate if you will, versus an answer. To illustrate the power of this, I would like to give you an example of a One Card Advice Reading that I did for myself a long time ago.
A Case Study
The Early Days of Tarot Liza, before I knew I would become Tarot Liza
I had been thinking that I would like to make a shift in my life, and focus more fully on developing my career as a Tarot Reader, Writer and Blogger. I had been reading for many years, and knew that I wanted to make a career change, to one that was more closely aligned with my interests and values. At that time, I had "everything but the kitchen sink" transiting through my 12th house in Astrology, suggesting a strong desire to deepen my spiritual studies and connect more directly with the Universe and my place in it.
I asked myself “What concrete actions can I take RIGHT NOW to take my business to the next level”? As I was looking for a CLEAR and CONCISE answer I chose to draw one card. Instead of muddying the waters with many options, directions or steps, I wanted ONE place to start:
Whew! Now we’re getting somewhere right?? As a very cerebral person, I took this as a good sign! Even with just one card, there can be a wealth of information for you to draw:
First of all, the Magician tells us that we have all of the tools we need to succeed, and these are right at our fingertips. I took this quite literally to be my keyboard, as a writer, most of my ideas center around my computer. The Magician is telling us to make use of our talents, and gifts. The Magician is urging us to see the magic around us and realize that we have everything we need in everyday objects. In olden times, many decks depicted the Magician’s tools (the cup, sword, pentacle and wand) as obscure items, to make the statement that we may be overlooking things that are in plain sight. To me this says, “What is it that should be obvious?” Before I go to Plan D, did I even recognize Plan A? Are there important “tools” in my life that I didn’t notice? Could this be a person, material object or opportunity that I have overlooked?
Because the Magician is upright, he is saying, “Go For It! The time is right!” He is telling me that I have all of the talents and tools around me, whether I recognize or have found them yet, and now is the time for me to boldly go out and use them! The Magician is the astrological counterpart to Mercury, and therefore very cerebral. Mercury is an excellent communicator, and keeps all forms of communications at its intellectual fingertips. It also relates to the third house in Astrology of writing, family, neighbors and local travel, so written and oral pursuits are implied. Word of mouth is very important, as well as the written word to advertise myself.
There is the suggestion that one of the opportunities not to be overlooked is sharing what I am doing with everyone I know, as your close contacts of friends, relatives and neighbors can be a source of business. Who are the people in your neighborhood? Who have you talked to? Written to? Who have you called to see if they need your services? Where have you taken out an ad or posted an event flyer? Have you built a website, made an online presence? How have you COMMUNICATED your desire to everyone around you, including the Universe? If you are not familiar with the Law of Attraction, I highly suggest you brush up on it, as it is a common belief that "what we think about, we bring about", and if any Archetype from the Tarot is connected to the Power of Manifestation, the Magician is our guy!
As a persona to embody, the Magician takes his work seriously. He knows that he has everything he needs in front of him, but the hardest part of any task is always getting started. Where do I begin? This is a card of initiation. It is card number 1, the beginning. A new cycle is beginning. There are many paths that could be taken. Different ways to go, different ideas to pursue. The 1 is about STARTING, GOING, DOING. The one does not sit back and wait for the opportunity to arrive, or take a day of rest. The one manifests it’s own desires and intents into reality. This is a card of ACTION. It is not a coincidence then that my initial inquiry asked what kind of ACTION I should take. This card reaffirmed that action indeed was the proper step at this time, gave reassurance that it was a task that I am indeed capable of doing, and showed me a clear path in HOW to take the next step.
As Above, So Below is a principle embodied by this card. When I look at this card with his arms outstretched, I have the distinct feeling that I have the whole world at my hands. Arms wide open. From the very first beginning roots, to my highest aspirations, it is all here and present in this card. There is the distinct ability to take the information that is within the Universe and channel it though the Self, into something productive for this world. The card reaffirms that I am on the right path. As for the specific imagery in the card, I find that many of the symbols go beyond traditional meanings and mean something specific to each of us. What does the card say to you when you look at it? Where I live, there is a great Art Center that has the name Rose in its title. My first instinct upon looking at this card is that I would may want to go there to advertise my services. Lillies are my favorite flower, to me they said happiness. When I look at them I feel a sense of complete serenity. The Magician’s red robe screams boldness! It says, "Go for it!" Red, like the Planet Mars, is about being bold and taking decisive action.
As a factor of timing, this card is telling me to Take Action NOW. As a card of beginnings, it also urges me to look at the cycle of the moon, it was very clear to me that as a NEW BEGINNING, it would be very important to wait until the New Moon to launch any concrete plans. This New Moon falls in my 12th house, which embodies Spiritual and Metaphysical Studies, so I know that is further affirmation for me that this is coming at the right time.
More importantly, as a card of initiation, a card of action and a card of beginnings, the most important message I got was the most basic of all, "You have the power, the time is now, go do it". I may have been able to get LOTS of supporting details from other cards, and at some point, would probably have needed them to continue onward, but to get the ball rolling, find a definitive place to start, and eliminate confusion or overwhelm, one card was truly all I needed. Had I laid out a full spread, I may NEVER have dug as deep, and would have missed an incredible amount of information.
As you can see, there is a WEALTH of information that can be gleaned from just one card. If you are only using one card, you will work to get as much info as you can out of it. This is also a GREAT way to deepen your study as well. The best way to understand a card's meaning is to see and experience it fully in your own life. The next time you really need a plan of action, or advice, I hope you first consider the power of a one card reading.
Your challenge, ask a question and only use ONE card to answer it. Look for all of the details that you may normally miss when getting a quick overall meaning of a card. Post your question and the card you draw in the comments below, and list at least FIVE (5) insights you are able to take away from the card to answer your question!
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