The Oracle of the Tarot

Paul Foster Case (1933)

Fourth Stage of Tarot Divination

1. Shuffle the entire pack, as before, and let the Querent cut once.

2. Deal out the entire pack one card at a time for the 12 signs of the zodiac. The cards should be dealt face-down, as in the preceding stage of the divinatory.

3. Turn up the packs, until you find the Significator, beginning with pack 1, or Aries. The time- period represented by that pack, and the general meaning of the sign of the zodiac it represents, will be of greatest importance in relation to the question.

Determining the Time Period

Suppose, for example, the Significator is found in the third pack. This corresponds to the third sign, Gemini, and thus to the time- period between May 21st and June 20th. Whether it refers to past or future depends wholly upon the time of year in which the divination is made. The rule for this is as follows:

At the fourth stage of divination, if the pack containing the significator represents the same time-period as that in which the divination is made, it is regarded as relating to the present. If it represents a time- period not more than three months prior to the time of the divination, it relates to the past. Otherwise it relates to the future. [This paragraph was in all caps in the original.]

An Example

We will suppose, for the sake of illustration, that the cards in this Gemini pack are Queen of Swords (Significator); 3. L'Imperatrice; 4 of Coins; 15. Le Diable; 5 of Swords; 7 of Cups; 11. La Force.

The Significator herself is Well- dignified in Gemini, because she represents a person of the airy triplicity (and has been chosen on that account). Key 3, L'Imperatrice is fortunate, for it represents the influence of Venus, the Lesser Fortune, and Venus in Gemini suggests pleasure and profit from travel, writings, and all other Mercurial pursuits. The 4 of Coins is not Ill- dignified in this layout, for there is no real conflict of forces between its time-period and that of Gemini. But the next card 15. Le Diable, is unfortunate in anything but purely material questions. On the other hand, the better meanings of the 5 of Swords suit are Well-dignified in airy signs. The 7 of Cups has merely its ordinary power in this layout, yet this is strengthened by the card that follows it, for Key 11 is strong in all airy signs but Aquarius.

In reading the layout, the same method of counting is used as before. Thus, in the example given, the first count is 4, from the Queen of Swords to the 15th major trump. This indicates restriction, obstacles and difficulties for the Querent, connected either with travel or with Mercurial pursuits. Possibly great difficulty in arriving at a decision between two possible courses of conduct. The next count of 12, beginning with the 15th Key, brings us back to the Significator. Thus the clear indication is that the obstacle is mental, and that it is within the Querent's own mental life that the solution must be sought.

Pairing the Cards

Now, pairing the cards, as in the preceding stages of the operation, we have Key 11, La Force, indicating that in the time prior to the divinatory the Querent has power sufficient to overcome her difficulties, and imagination and inventiveness sufficient to apply that power so as to procure excellent results.

The next pair is of 7 of Cups and 4 of Coins. The former probably means that the Querent, though fairly successful in the past, has lacked definiteness and decision in making her plans; or, that she has not followed up her successes vigorously enough, so that she had less advantage from what she gained in the past than she might have had, but for some indecision of indolence. The 4 of Coins, paired with the 7 of Cups, and in the position referring to the future, indicates the need of wisely managing all material resources. It indicates activity in money matters, and suggests the need of tact.

The third, and last pair in this group is the 5 of Swords and Key 15. The 5 of Swords is Well-dignified in gemini, hence, although it means trouble, it is here a symbol of power gained from trouble, and this power will enable the Querent to meet her problem and work it out successfully.

An Important Note

In this operation, and in the one that precedes it, the first six piles of cards, corresponding to the houses from 1 to 6, or to the signs from Aries to Virgo, will always contain 7 cards, because there are only 78 cards in the Tarot pack. And the last six packs will contain only 6 cards. Hence, if the Significator falls in any of the first six packs, the pairing will be as follows:


But if the Significator is in any of the last six packs the pairing will be as follows:


That is to say, in reading Houses or Signs, when you come to pair the cards, the first pair always relates to the Querent's mental states; the second pair is more concerned with the Querent's desires, feelings, or emotions. The third pair (if there be 7 cards in the layout) relates to the external conditions. If there be only 6 cards in the layout, the single card which pairs with the Significator is the synthesis of past and future conditions, and will usually be found to relate more particularly to the present, so far as time is concerned, although it must be remembered that the present sums up to the past, and affects the conditions of the future, so that a single card in this position looks, so to say, both ways.

The Time Element

This is the most difficult to judge, and only experienced diviners are likely to be accurate in it. But even experienced diviners were not always experienced, hence the student should always attempt to judge time, and then carefully check the success or failure of his attempts. There are, however, certain principles to be considered and acted upon.

1. In questions of a very ephemeral nature, such as relate to the affairs of what is practically the present or the immediate future, the pack in which the Significator falls may be understood to represent the time-period in which the Moon will be passing through the sign represented by that pack. Thus, in the example given, the pack corresponds to Gemini, and if the divination were made on January 3rd, 1934, the time might be read as having to do with the next passage of the Moon through Gemini. Reference to an ephemeris for 1934 will show that on January 3rd of that year the next passage of the Moon through Gemini will occur on the 25th and 26th days of the same month.

2. In questions where the operation of the forces is likely to be slower, the Sun's position in the sign is to be taken as indicating the time-period, subject to the rule given in "Determining the Time Period," above.

3. In a divination which concerns only the affairs of a single day, the sign occupied by the Significator in this fourth operation refers to the period of the day during which that sign ascends over the Eastern horizon. Roughly speaking, the sign ascending at sunrise is the same as that in which the Sun is placed, and every two hours thereafter a new sign ascends, in the regular order of the zodiac. Hence, if the divination we are considering had been limited to the affairs of January 3rd, 1934, when the Sun is in Capricorn this fourth stage of the operation, relating to the sign Gemini, would be concerned with the approximate time-period between the tenth & twelfth hour after sunrise on that day. This is only a rough calculation, and students who are desirous of developing accuracy in this respect should learn the comparatively simple astrological method for determining the time of day when a sign is on the ascendant at the place where the divination is performed.

4. The time-value of the card which represents the future condition in the fourth stage of the divinatory operation is also important. In the example we were using, this card is Key 15. Le Diable. And if the divination were performed on January 3rd, 1934, this Key, which represents Capricorn, would relate to present time, so far at the Sun's position is concerned, or to that part of the immediate future corresponding to the period between the 3rd of January, when the divination is made, and the 21st of January, when the Sun leaves Capricorn and enters Aquarius.

When the time-value of this final card of the fourth stage of the divination corresponds to a period of the year which is past at the time the divination is performed, the card usually relates to the next period in which the Moon passes through the sign corresponding to the card. Thus if this same example occurred in a divination made in the latter part of February, 1934, say on the 23rd of that month, Le Diable would probably refer to the time-period corresponding to the 9th, 10th and 11th of March, since the Moon will be passing through Capricorn on those days.

5. When the final card of this fourth operation is a planetary card, and therefoe has no definite time-value, its operation is to be judged as follows:

a. In very ephemeral questions it represents the time of day when the first sign ruled by that planet is rising. Thus if the divination were made on the 3rd of January, and Key 3, L'Imperatrice were in this final position in the layout, the condition it represented would refer to the time of day when Taurus, the first Venusian sign after Capricorn, was in the Ascendant for that day.

b. In questions whose solution is expected in the near future, the same Key, on January 3rd, 1934, would refer to the time in which the Moon was passing through Taurus, or, in this instance, to the period between the 22nd and 23rd of January, 1934.

c. In questions whose solution may take longer than those included in the preceding paragraph, the time-period relates to the time when the Sun is in the next sign ruled by the planet in question. Thus, if the divination were made when the Sun was in Capricorn, and L'Imperatrice were the final card, it would refer to the time-period when the Sun entered and passed through Taurus, or the period from April 20th to May 20th of that year.

6. When the final card is an Ace or a Page, the time-period refers in very ephemeral questions to the time of day during which the three signs controlled by that card are ascending; in less ephemeral questions to the period during which the Moon is passing through those three signs; in questions where the solution will take considerable time, to the period when the Sun is passing through those three signs.

7. The same principle applies when the final card is one of the other court-cards (King, Queen or Warrior). In ephemeral questions the time-period is that part of the next day when the signs represented by the card are ascending; in questions having to do with the immediate future the time-period is that of the next passage of the Moon through the signs; in questions concerned with the more remote future, the time-period is to be judged by the next passage of the Sun through the signs.

The only book required for determining these time-periods is an ephemeris for the current year. The daily paper usually gives the time of sunrise, and this is accurate enough to judge the time-period of ascending signs for divination.

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