Tarot Reading – The Significator

Before talking about the reading itself, let’s discuss the very important concept of the significator. The person asking the question of the cards (this person is also known as the querent) is represented by one of the sixteen court cards of the deck. The determination is based on the querent’s gender, age, and astrological Sun sign.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Gender/Age
    • Male: King (older) or Knight (younger)
    • Female: Queen (older) or Page (younger)
  • Sun sign
    • Fire signs (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius): Wands
    • Water signs (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces): Cups
    • Air signs (Libra, Aquarius, Gemini): Swords
    • Earth signs (Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo): Pentacles

For example, I am an older male born under an Earth sign. Therefore, my significator would be the King of Pentacles. On the other hand, a teenage girl born under the sign of Pisces would have the Page of Cups as her significator.

Admittedly, the age breakdown is a little slippery. I use the “younger” card if the querent is under the age of 30, unless that person has children, in which case I tend to use the “older” card. Of course, a very young, or somewhat immature, person with a child will be signified by the “younger” card. This is my rule of thumb. Other readers may be a bit different on the issue. What is important is that the reader is clear about what significator should be used.

The significator is, um, significant because it is the determiner of which cards are read during each stage. At the start of every stage of a reading, the significator is located. The number of cards to be used, as indicated by the stage, are the ones following the significator in the deck.

Cards can also be used to signify other individuals important to the querent, such as one’s mate. The rules for determining that person’s significator are generally the same as those used for the querent. This is not a hard and fast rule, regarding those other than the querent, but it is a handy thing for the reader to keep in mind.

The next five posts will concern themselves with the actual stages of a reading. Stay tuned.

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