The Oracle of the Tarot

Paul Foster Case (1933)

Further Stages of Tarot Divination

THIS lesson begins the explanation of the method of Tarot divination to be used for the more serious problems. The simpler method already explained is to be employed for practice, and for those occasions in which the use of the cards for their higher purposes seems inadvisable, especially those occasions where there are persons present who are more or less skeptical.

Remember that the first and most essential point in a real divination is the Querent's earnest desire for help. The second point is that the Querent should clearly formulate his question to himself. The third is that the diviner should mentally invoke the aid of his Higher Self in beginning to divine. No matter what the attitude of the persons present at a divination may be, the diviner himself should always be in earnest. This does not mean that he should put on a heavy, solemn demeanor. In divination, as in everything else connected with the occult arts, the light touch should always be sought, because the light touch is the sure touch. Yet the intention of the diviner must always to help and enlighten those who come to him. To the degree that he thinks of himself as the instrument of a power higher than his limited personality, to that degree will he be of real service.

Second Stage of Tarot Divination

When the Significator has been found in one of the four piles of cards, as before explained, if the divination is radical, the diviner proceeds as follows:

1. Arrange the cards of the pile containing the Significator in a circle or wheel on the table. Place the Significator at the top of the wheel, but be careful not to alter the sequence of the cards.

2. Count around the wheel, beginning with the Significator, as explained below. Count always from right to left, or counter-clockwise, unless the picture of the Significator faces to the right, as, for example, the King and Queen of Cups, or the Warrior of Swords. When the picture of the Significator faces to the right, and only then, count from left to right, or clock-wise.

The counting should always include the card from which you start. Thus, if the Significator be a Servant (S), you count 7, and if the card the count ends with be the 9 or Wands, the next count will be 9, and will commence with the 9 of Wands.

For Kings, Queens and Warriors count 4. for Servants or Pages, count 7. For Aces count 11. For small cards of minor trumps count the number printed on the card.

The counting for major trumps is as follows: For Keys 0, 12 and 20 count 3; for Keys 1, 2, 3, 10, 16, 19 and 21 count 9; for Keys 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 13, 14, 15, 17, and 18 count 12.

It is permissible to mark the number to be counted on the cards. On the major trumps this may be conveniently placed just below the number of the card. On the minor trumps it may be placed below the index in the upper left- hand corner.

3. As you count, make a story from the meanings of the cards. At first this may be little more than slight elaboration of the meaning of each card, as you come to it in the counting. If you practice faithfully and regularly, it will not be long before you find yourself, as you come to a card, impelled to say something which is by no means restricted to its bare meaning. The main thing is to watch that you do not say anything which runs counter to the basic meaning of the card under consideration.

4. Sooner or later this counting will bring you to a card you have touched before. This card is invariably the most important card at this stage of the operation. Suppose, for example, that your first layout was as follows:

Queen of Swords (significator)
Eight of SwordsWarrior of Wands
21. Le MondeSeven of Coins
8. La JusticeWarrior of Coins
11. La Force

Begin to count with the Significator, here the Queen of Swords. Count 4 to the left, ending the count at Key 8, La Justice. Continue the count in the same direction, counting 12, and ending at the 7 of Coins. The third count begins with the 7 of Coins and ends with Key 11, La Force. The fourth count begins with Key 11, from which you count 12, and ending with the Warrior of Wands. The fifth count begins with the Warrior of Wands, counting 4, and ends with Key 21, Le Monde. Beginning with Key 21 and counting 9 brings you back to Key 21 and ends the counting. Thus, in this layout, Key 21 is the most important card.

N.B. In counting around the wheel, always keep going in the direction you started. Thus, in the example above, you would not reverse the direction of the count on coming to Key 8, although the woman printed on that Key seems, in this position in the layout, to be facing opposite to the direction of the count.

5. Pair the cards on either side of the Significator, then those outside them, and so on. This will enable you to continue your story, filling in details omitted as you went round the circle. In the example above the first pair would be the Warrior of Wands and the 8 of Swords; the second pair would be the 7 of Coins and Le Monde; the third pair would be the Warrior of Coins and La Justice. This would leave Key 11, La Force at the bottom of the wheel, to be paired with the Significator at the top. In reading these pairs, no matter which way the Significator faces, nor which way the counting has run, the card on the right of the diviner is invariably related to the past, and that on the left to the future.

When the pairs come out even, so that there is no single card at the bottom of the wheel, opposite the Significator, the solution of the Querent's problem depends largely on the interaction of forces surrounding him, and not so much upon his own will, thought or action. But when a single card is left over, as above, this Key represents a force, condition, or person apparently opposed to the Significator, but really standing as the basis of his action, or the raw material for his work.

At this stage of the divination the two stories may not be quite accurate. One reason for this is that the Querent does not, as a rule, know everything about the matter. But the main outlines should be such as the Querent can recognize. If not, abandon the divination at this point, and wait for another occasion. If the two stories develop enough of the question to warrant continuing, proceed with

Third Stage of Tarot Divination

1. The diviner shuffles, and the Querent cuts the cards once, as before.

2. The diviner deals all the cards, face down, into 12 packs, thus:


These 12 packs correspond to the 12 astrological houses of heaven.

3. Turn up the packs, one by one, until you find that one which contains the Significator. Judge the general nature of the further development of the question by the nature of the house in which the Significator appears. Thus, if the Significator falls in the First House (pack 1), the further development of the matter will depend largely upon the Querent himself, upon his own initiative, or upon his own action. But if the Significator should fall in the Tenth House, the further development of the Question would be concerned with the Querent's profession, with matters making for or against his promotion, or the attainment of some degree of influence or fame. If other indications pointed that way, and the Significator were in the 10th house, the further development of the question might be concerned with the Querent's father, or with some man of prominence and authority whose influence might work for the Querent, or against him, according to the indications of the layout.

The Dignities of the cards are very important in this third stage of the divination. No attention is paid to the "accidental dignity" indicated hitherto by the card's being rightside-up or upside-down. The dignities are all based upon the astrological significance of the cards. Students familiar with astrology will understand at once why Key 19, corresponding to the Sun, is Well-dignified in the First House and Ill-dignified in the Seventh House. They will see, too, that Key 4, L'Empereur, which represents Aries, is naturally Well-dignified in the First House, but Ill-dignified in the Fourth, Seventh, and Tenth Houses, which are in adverse aspect to the First House in a "natural chart." Those who know nothing of astrology will not so easily understand the why of these dignities, but they will, if they practice, soon come to recognize the accuracy of what is given below.

Meanings of the Houses

The meanings of the 12 houses, and the powers of the cards therein are:

First House

The Querent himself; his life, personality, disposition, personal outlook; his own initiative and action.

Well-dignified in the first house Ill-dignified in the first house
Major trumps 1, 3, 4, 6, 10, 11, 14, 16 (especially in spiritual questions), 17, 19, 20. All cards of the Wands suit. All cards of the Swords suit except Ace, 2, 3, 4, King and Servant. Major trumps 0 (except in spiritual matters), 2, 7, 8, 12 (except in spiritual matters), 13, 15,21. Ace, 2, 3, 4, King and Servant of Swords.

Second House

Money; the Querent's finances; gain or loss according to the nature and dignities of the cards.

Well-dignified in the second house Ill-dignified in the second house
Major trumps 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 15, 18, 19. All cards of the Coins suit. All cards of the Cups suit except 5, 6, 7 and Queen. Major Trumps 0, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 20, 21. All cards of Swords. 5, 6, 7 and Queen of Cups.

Third House

Mental inclinations and ability; writings, studies, contracts, letters; brothers or sisters and neighbors; short journeys.

Well-dignified in the third house Ill-dignified in the third house
Major trumps 0 (spiritual matters), 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 11, 17, 19. All cards of the Swords suit; all cards of WANDS suit except 8, 9, 10 and Warrior. Major trumps 0 (material matters), 2, 9, 12, 14, 16, 18, 21. 8, 9, 10 and Warrior of Wands.

Fourth House

Mother, home, environment, domestic affairs, lands, mines, real estate generally, affairs and conditions at the close of life, the end of the matter.

Well-dignified in the fourth house Ill-dignified in the fourth house
Major trumps 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12 (spiritual questions only), 13 (in matters of inheritance or benefit from the dead), 18, 19. All cards of the suit of Cups. All cards of the suit of Coins except Ave, 2, 3, 4, King and Servant. Major Trumps 0, 4, 8, 15, 16, 21. Ace, 2, 3, 4, King and Servant of Coins.

Fifth House

Love-affairs, children, pleasure, speculation, amusements.

Well-dignified in the fifth house Ill-dignified in the fifth house
Major trumps 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14, 19, 20, 21 (spiritual matters). All cards of Wands suit. all cards of Swords except 5, 6, 7 and Queen. Major trumps 5, 13, 16, 17. 5, 6, 7, and Queen of Swords.

Sixth House

Laborious or menial employment; relations with superiors and inferiors; sickness and health; food, clothing, hygiene, small animals.

Well-dignified in the sixth house Ill-dignified in the sixth house
Major trumps 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 13 (in spiritual matters), 15 (in spiritual questions), 21 (in spiritual questions). All cards of the Coins suit. All cards of the Cups suit except 8, 9, 10 and Warrior. Major trumps 6, 10, 12, 13 (in material questions), 14, 15 (in material questions), 16, 18, 21 (in material questions). 8, 9, 10, and Warrior of Cups.

Seventh House

Unions, partnership, marriage, contracts, dealings with others, legal affairs, open enmities, the public generally.

Well-dignified in the seventh house Ill-dignified in the seventh house
Major Trumps 3, 6, 8, 10, 11, 14, 17, 21. All cards of the Swords suit. All cards of the Wands suit except Ace, 2, 3, 4, King and Servant. Major trumps 0, 2, 4, 7, 15, 16, 19. Ace, 2, 3, 4, King and Servant of Wands.

Eighth House

Death, psychic experiences of the spiritistic kind, matters connected with the dead, such as legacies, traditions, etc. Also finances of the business or marriage partner.

Well-dignified in the eighth house Ill-dignified in the eighth house
Major Trumps 0 (in reference to spiritual or occult matters), 7, 9, 13 (spiritual and occult matters, questions involving legacies or inheritances); 15, 16, 18. All cards of the suit of Cups; all cards of the suit of Coins except 5, 6, 7, and Queen. Major Trumps 2, 3, 5, 11, 17, 20 and 21. All cards of Wands and Swords. 5, 6, 7, and Queen of Coins.

N.B. Except in spiritual and occult matters, and questions of inheritance, the Eighth House is usually unfortunate.

Ninth House

Long journeys; foreign countries, places remote from birth-place; philosophy, religion, education; dreams, visions, psychic development of the higher kind.

Well-dignified in the ninth house Ill-dignified in the ninth house
Major trumps 4, 8, 10, 11, 14, 17, 19, 20. Minor trumps: all cards of Wands. All cards of Swords except 8, 9, 10 and Warrior. Major trumps 1, 6, 9, 16, 18. Minor trumps: 8, 9, 10 and Warrior of Swords.

Tenth House

Father, profession; occupation chosen by Querent; honor, fame, promotion; employer, and persons in authority; also government affairs.

Well-dignified in the tenth house

Well-dignified in the tenth house Ill-dignified in the tenth house
Major trumps 5, 9, 13 (in questions of change and in those having to do with spiritual matters), 15, 16 (here represents the overthrow of enemies or obstacles), 18, 19, 21. All cards of Coins suit. All cards of Cups suit except Ace, 2, 3, 4, King and Servant. Major trumps 4, 7, 10 and 8 Ace, 2, 3, 4, King and Servant of Cups.

Eleventh House

Friends, associations; hopes and fears; finances of the employer.

Well-dignified in the eleventh house Ill-dignified in the eleventh house
Major trumps 0 (in all but strictly material questions), 4, 6, 8, 10, 14, 17, 21. All cards of Swords suit. All cards of Wands suit except 5, 6, 7 and Queen. Major trumps 5, 11, 13, 16, 19. 5, 6, 7 and Queen of Wands.

Twelfth House

Unseen or unexpected troubles, hidden or secret enmities; restraint, limitations; hospitals, prisons, insane asylums, sanitariums and the like; secret societies; organizations devoted to practical occultism; the occult or hidden side of life considered as a source of power and strength.

Well-dignified in the twelfth house Ill-dignified in the twelfth house
Major trumps 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, 13 (here indicated the destruction of hidden enemies; also benefit from affairs of the dead, occultism, etc.), 15, 18. All cards of Cups suit. All cards of Coins suit except 8, 9, 10 and Warrior. Major trumps 1, 6, 9, 14, 16. 8, 9, 10 and Warrior of Coins.

N.B. With the exceptions noted above, the suit of Swords is less unfortunate in the Third, Seventh and Eleventh Houses, in general the First and Tenth Houses are most fortunate, giving greatest power to the cards they contain. The Fourth and Seventh houses are also strong.

4. After locating the Significator in the House where it falls, lay out the cards as in the preceding operation. Continue your story by counting as before, beginning with the Significator. Then pair the cards, as before. But in this entire operation remember to keep the interpretation in relation to the HOUSE in which the Significator falls.

Note on Significators

For these Querents......use this card (*)
Married menKing
Married womenQueen
Unmarried menWarrior
Unmarried womenServant
Youthful persons of either sexServant

(*) Use this card of the triplicity corresponding to the Querent's birthday.

Ignore The External Description given in the meanings of the court-cards when choosing a Significator. If in doubt as to triplicity, use La Papesse for women and Le Bateleur for men, as hitherto.

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Next: Fourth Stage of Tarot Divination

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