Tarot – The Here and Now; Reading for the Present

Most people think of tarot in terms of looking into the future. That is only one aspect of the use of tarot; there are many. Tarot can be used to look at a present situation, a past situation, or indeed can be used as a form of vocabulary to speak to inner beings, spirits and deities.

Why would you want to look at the here and now if you are already in it? Oh there are many reasons. It can be used to check on a missing child, or to look at the inner powers or hidden agendas behind a current situation, or to look at the suitability of a candidate. It can used to throw light on a past event or person to help us better understand a past situation that is still unfolding into the present. Essentially, there is no limit to what can be looked at, however, the accuracy of the interpretation and the detail obtained from a reading depends on our ability to interpret and be detached from the situation.

Look at the PresentImage

As with all tarot, the key to getting a wider view of a present situation is the ability to interpret. Tarot is a language, a vocabulary, and like all languages it has to be learned and the used frequently to build up fluency and nuances. If you have an attitude of ‘oh I have a book of the meanings and I don’t need to work on this, I can just look up each card’ then you will be as fluent as you would if you went to a foreign country with a dictionary and expected to have deep and meaningful conversations in a language you do not speak. The understanding of the cards comes with time and the pinpointing of the details comes from the layout. The more detailed or targeted the layout, the more detail and accuracy you will get for the reading.

If you are looking at a present situation and you want a straight yes/no, then you use a layout that will facilitate that – I use the Tree of Life Spread. If you want background details on a current situation, then I tend to use the desert/inner landscape layout – these layouts can be found at http://www.theinnerlibrary.org/magical-beginnings.html

Here is an example of how a present/current time reading can be used. When my kids were teens, they were pretty good and would let me know if they were going to be late home so that I would not worry. One evening my daughter went to the local festival. She had agreed to be in by 10pm. It got to 10.30pm and there was still no sign of her. This was before the days of every living being having a cell phone. I began to panic. By 11pm I was ready to call the police as it was so unusual for her to be so late. But before I did that, I did a reading to see if she was ok.


The World

I used the Tree of Life spread and asked ‘what is she doing at this moment in time’. Posing the question in a clear way is very important. The last card showed the Chariot. She was in a car travelling somewhere. So I did a second reading and asked if she was in danger. The last card came out as The World. The answer meant, no she is not in danger, she is busy enjoying the world. She finally came through the door 20 mins later and was very apologetic. She had lost track of the time asent, she was enjoying herself so much.

I wanted to be very angry with her, not because she had committed a terrible crime, but because I had been out of my mind with worry. But we had a simple chat and we worked out a strategy to avoid such a situation in the future. As a teen she could not understand my panic, but respected it. As an adult, I had to remember those heady moments of joy where one forgets the mundane. I knew from her reading she was being honest with me and I as a card reading mother had to be very aware to respect her privacy.

And that privacy is a very important point when it comes to reading for the present – be aware that it could very easily tip into spying or invading privacy and it should not be used to look at an individual without really good cause.

As you can see from this post and the previous posts on tarot… there is not secret to success other than the right tools (right question, right layout) and a lot of practice which brings experience. There is no recipe to make you an excellent reader immediately, you have to work at it.

Readings for the present can also be used to look at buildings (is there someone in the building that should be empty) or to locate something. Once you are narrowing down a reading to a very specific thing, like locating a child, or pet, or object, then you have to define what cards you wish to work with in your interpretation. Let me give you an example.

You lose a pet and they are in danger, you need to find them quickly. Your first reading would ask, what direction should I look in if I want to find X. I would ask that the card showing me the right direction would be a success card. It is very important to set into your own mind what type of card you are looking for. If you do not do this, your answer may show a disaster card if the animal is in distress, or ‘doing’ card is the animal is doing something…. can you see how open it can be if you do not define how you wish to see.


Four Directional Spread

For such a reading I use a simple four direction layout.

The first card is the east, second card the south, third card west, forth card north, fifth card is the centre (where I am). The sixth card I would not use for such a reading as it shows relationships and it would simply muddy the waters. As I had asked for a success card to show me the direction, I would look for cards that denote success, like the Sun or 6 of wands (victory). The direction indicated becomes a starting point. The next reading would ask, ‘If I go and look in that direction, will I find them?’. If the answer is no, then you need to look at whether they are trapped in a building (yes or no), are they injured etc.


8 of swords (air)

When one my cats first came to live with me, he was a kitten, was partially blind and had never been outdoors before. Once he was introduced to the outside world via a catflap he went exploring. One day, he vanished for a few hours and I became worried. I did a directional reading which told me to look south of my house, which is a road with various cottages, fields and farms. I asked if I looked there, would I find him. The answer was yes (2 earth, balance). I asked if he was injured. The answer was no, but that he was trapped – 8 swords (I worked literally with the image for interpretation).

So off I went, and called him loudly, checking and calling outside garages, sheds etc. After about 20 minutes I was about ¼ mile from my house by a farm and fields. I heard a pitiful cry. As I got closer I found him stuck solid in a hedge. So I hauled him out and he did not wander off again for a very long time.

Another more complex example was a family member whose cat had vanished. I did readings which showed the cat was distressed, was lost and was trapped in a place. I came to the conclusions through a series of readings using yes/no and directional layouts. Using a map I located the area where I thought the cat was and when I asked what sort of building the cat was in. The answer was the Hierophant, which I read to be a church.

I asked if the cat would eventually make it home and the answer came back that it would take quite a while but they would eventually return. I used the desert layout, and while the immediate answer card was 4 of pentacles (hunkering down and holding on), the longer term future card was the Sun (success). So I told the person that all they could do was to wait and hope for the best. Nearly three weeks later a rather thinner, sheepish but relieved cat wandered home.

If you use these techniques to look for a missing child, then you must detach yourself from the emotions surrounding such a disappearance, otherwise you will not get a clear reading. And if you are asked to do a reading for a missing child, you have to be willing and able to read situations that are very distressing – you must never ever give false hope or try and make a person feel better. That is not your place to do that. I have worked on a couple of missing children cases in the past and I found both of them very distressing. Both times it was obvious in the readings that the children were already dead and it was more a matter of recovering remains. Be aware that sometimes the truth is not pretty and if you want to look through the veils, you have to be mature enough to accept what you see.


About Josephine McCarthy

This entry was posted in Tarot and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Tarot – The Here and Now; Reading for the Present

  1. Jason says:

    Very succinct examples. I think showing multiple short spreads in practice is a good thing. Interestingly, I learned to read the a Lenormand cards similarly, where it might take a series of questions and short spreads to get information of interest. (It’s what inspired my blog tag line, in fact.) I have to confess that I’ve not done the same thing with tarot. I suppose I’m so used to the idea of a self-contained tarot spread. When I use the card counting techniques it can be like doing multiple spreads, although I usually use those for situational readings as opposed to cut-and-dry things like finding a lost pet. I’ve never been good at finding things with tarot but I will use the directional spread as a basis next time I want to practice that.

    I like the idea of specifically asking for success cards (or whatever) to show the direction. I would read with that implicitly in mind, perhaps, but making it a criteria for the reading is much better. Certainly it builds upon the clarity that should start with the question!

    Thanks for the stories, and I’m glad both had a happy ending.


  2. Thankyou for your comment!


Comments are closed.