Tarot resources

On this page are various simple resources for the use in tarot, such as key words, reading layouts etc. Please note that all text on this site is copyright and for personal use only.

Free lessons on tarot basics and layouts

There is a free lesson (all Quareia lessons are free and no registration needed) from the Quareia school which looks at some tarot basics, practical information and simple layouts which can be found here.

There is also a free Quareia School lesson on the layout of the Tree of Life for tarot readings which can be found here.

The Quareia Magicians Deck


The Hierophant by Stuart Littlejohn

The Quareia Magicians Deck is a deck devised by magicians for magicians, and can be found here. This page gives background information on the deck, and you can also purchase the deck from this page.

Examples of this deck in action can be viewed on YouTube, on the Quareia channel.

Key words – layouts, and advice

Key words for use with regular Tarot decks

Minor Arcana of  Tarot                                                                                                    

Remember: the court cards can represent different things… powers or people. Sometimes the king/queen represents a woman or man of that astrological sign e.g. Fire sign man for king of Wands if that is relevant to the reading.

Bear in mind these are simple key words and reductions of wider interpretations, so you have to put them in context. The more confident with the key words you get, the more you can begin to explore the deeper points of the cards. But this is a good way to get started.

Swords – Force, Misfortune, Intellect – Element of Air

  1. Ace of Swords – Defending/battle/declaration/wind/blades
  2. Two of Swords – Truce/ balance
  3. Three of Swords –  Separation
  4. Four of Swords –  Sickness/Withdraw
  5. Five of Swords –  Argument
  6. Six of Swords – Moving on
  7. Seven of Swords – Hidden action / dodging something
  8. Eight of Swords –  Trapped or bound in a difficult situation
  9. Nine of Swords – Suffering
  10. Ten of Swords – Failure/defeat
  11. Page of Swords –Communication or letter, sometimes a sneaky action
  12. Knight of Swords –  A warrior or young man of action
  13. Queen of Swords –  Disciplined female power, can also mean a woman of words
  14. King of Swords – Guardian, man of intellect and no emotion

Pentacles – Substance/Element of Earth

  1. Ace of Pentacles –  Blockage, shield or substance
  2. Two of Pentacles – Balance (in substance) money in money out
  3. Three of Pentacles – Work or something working
  4. Four of Pentacles –  Clinging to or holding onto substance
  5. Five of Pentacles –  Not enough resources
  6. Six of Pentacles – Generosity /access to needful substance/being given a due
  7. Seven of Pentacles – Fruits of hard work /job well done
  8. Eight of Pentacles – Skilled application
  9. Nine of Pentacles – Well being, properly resourced
  10. Ten of Pentacles – Too much substance or an abundance of substance
  11. Page of Pentacles – child, animal, or faery being
  12. Knight of Pentacles –  A man of earth, a solid young man, dependable
  13. Queen of Pentacles – Older female power, woman of practicality and earthy
  14. King of Pentacles –  A man of substance, like a banker, or an ‘earthy’ male, Ancestor

Wands – Energy, Creativity – Element of Fire

  1. Ace of wands – Internal fire/energy/start of something creative.
  2.  Two of Wands –Assessment/watchfulness
  3. Three of Wands – Activity
  4.  Four of Wands – Happiness
  5. Five of Wands –  Challenge/confrontation/argument
  6. Six of Wands – Victory
  7. Seven of Wands – Courage/strength/winning the battle
  8. Eight of Wands – abundance of energy, action, moving forward
  9. Nine of Wands – Surviving something, battle weary but still on your feet
  10. Ten of Wands – Burden
  11. Page of Wands – Enthusiasm
  12. Knight of Wands –  Thoughtless but energetic and enthusiastic youthful person
  13. Queen of Wands – creative female power
  14. King of Wands – Aggressive or creative male power (can be good or bad)

Cups – Emotions Element of Water

  1.  Ace of Cups – Love, happiness
  2. Two of Cups – Friendships or relationship
  3. Three of Cups – Happiness, celebration
  4. Four of Cups –  Emotional offering, hand of peace
  5. Five of Cups – Disappointment
  6. Six of Cups –  Nurturing or being nurtured
  7.  Seven of Cups – Unseen element/looking in the wrong place
  8. Eight of Cups – Moving on emotionally
  9. Nine of Cups –  Emotional Stability/contentment
  10.  Ten of Cups – Overwhelmed by emotion (joy or tears)
  11. Page of Cups – Gift or small child
  12.  Knight of Cups – Lover or dreamer
  13.  Queen of Cups –  Passive emotional female power
  14. King of Cups –  Passive emotional male power

 Major Arcana – The Trump Cards

The Fool – folly/madness/ or empty/resource-less/without knowledge
1. The Magician – Taking action, controlling/manipulating power, or using magic
2. The High Priestess – Using skill and knowledge, experience, working as a priestess
3. The Empress –  Consolidated female power or goddess power, Matriarch
4. The Emperor –  Male Power, authority, or god power
5. The Hierophant – Spiritual centeredness, a priest, a spiritual mediator or bridge
6. The Lovers – Union/sex/contract
7. The Chariot – Moving/travel/action
8. Strength – Literally strength
9. The Hermit – Introspection, falling back on own resources
10. Wheel of Fortune – Change
11. Justice – Harmony/balance
12. The Hanged Man – self-sacrifice, service
13. Death – transformation/complete ending
14. Temperance – Being tempered or protected, a rebalancing
15 The Devil – Imbalance, infestation, temptation
16. The Tower –  Destruction, often sudden

17. the Star – New beginnings, electrical impulse, a spark
18. The Moon – Illusions, something unseen
19. The Sun – Vitality, success
20. Judgment – A decision
21. The World –  Fulfilment/life/ or literally the world around you, completion

(c) Josephine McCarthy 2012


The Inner Landscape Layout

The inner landscape layout is good for getting details of what is behind a situation or person, what the inner influences are, what is coming in, what is going out, what the short term future is, and what the long term future looks like.

The Inner Landscape/Desert Layout  (c) Josephine McCarthy 2000


1:The first position is the body or land

2:The second position that crosses it tells us what power or people dynamics we are currently dealing with.

3:The third position tells us what is coming in the long term future, a pattern that is still being formed in the stars. If resolution is on its way, but will take some time, then that will show here, however if the problem is going to be prolonged, then that will also be indicated here.

4:The fourth position shows us what has already passed away down into the depths and will not be revisiting anytime soon.

5:The fifth position shows us the gate to the past: this is the threshold of what is now in the immediate past. In this position of the threshold, whatever is in this position has the potential to return at some point in the future but for the moment is considered past.

6:The sixth position is the current pattern of fate or action that is playing out: that could be a struggle, a cycle of magical work, a period of renewal etc. This is the path you are currently on unless you do something to change that path’s direction.

7:The seventh position is hardships/difficulties that must be overcome. On the current path that is indicated in the sixth position, there are bound to be hardships, difficulties and barriers that must be overcome: these are shown in the seventh position and must be endured if you are to continue in the fate direction you are currently travelling.

8:The eighth position shows what is coming directly into your landscape from the inner worlds. All magical attacks, inner contacts, work programs, inner support, deities etc will show here.

9:The ninth position shows you what influence in your inner landscape is potentially affecting your home/family surroundings or visa versa. If there is a haunting, bad energy or difficulty in the home environment it will show here.

10:The tenth position is what is falling away or starting to go into decline: if you have defeated something or it is starting to leave your body or fate path, it will show here. It is travelling towards the gate of the past and will finally vanish into the depths. If however you do not meet the challenges that appear in the seventh position, then any difficulties that show in the tenth position will come right back to challenge you until you get the message.

11:The eleventh position is the dreams/sleep. This position tells you what your deeper unconscious mind is dealing with and what is happening to you in your sleep.

12:The twelfth position is the way ahead and tells you the immediate outcome to your question. For a longer term outcome, look to position three.

The Desert layout is very elegant in how it works and has many different applications dependent upon the question and context. It is the one I use the most and whereas the health reading gives you an over view of what is going on in the body, and the Tree of Life gives you yes/no answers,  the Desert reading gives an over view of fate paths and magical events that are going on in the magicians inner and outer life.

Josephine McCarthy (c) 2000


This layout is good for healers to work with if they are wanting to get more of an idea of what is going on in the body and mind of someone or something.


health layout

1: The first position shows magic, power, and/or energetic influence coming from the inner worlds in order to manifest into the body. This is where any magic that can potentially affect the body will show; for example an inner contact, any current inner work or a magical attack.

It is also the position where still forming future dynamics can be seen: any future patterns of fate or action that have not yet fully begun to manifest will appear in this position. If the negative influence is only in this position, then a destructive pattern that is still forming can be obviated or avoided, as it has not yet reached the individual’s inner landscape.

2:The second position shows inner influence that has already penetrated a person’s sphere/inner landscape and is present in the immediate future pattern of the person. Something that is present in this area of a persons’ energy is already having an energetic influence on how a body is operating but it has not yet fully manifested as an all out body influence.

It is here in this position that we see the consciousness of viruses/bacteria etc, along with beings, magical attacks, impacts etc. In this position it is already affecting the energetic body of the person and if left unchecked will descend into the physical body to cause symptoms.

Learning how to discern actions in this area of the layout will really help you to understand what type of magical impact or injury you are suffering from. If something major shows in this position, I then do a follow up reading using the inner landscape/desert layout to gain more detail.

3:The third position tells us what is going on in physical terms regarding the health of the head. That includes the brain, the sinuses, lymph glands, endocrine glands in the brain, ears, nose, eyes, and throat – basically everything above the base of the neck.

If something untoward shows in this position, and the physical symptoms presenting are not enough information to pinpoint the exact problem or what area of the head is affected, then it is time to narrow it down using a simple layout. To do that I use the Tree of Life layout and ask questions like, ‘is the problem infection? Is the problem inflammation? And so on. Remember, the health reading gives you an overview. From there you need to focus in on specifics.

4:The forth position shows us solid energy going into the body. Anything that you are eating, drinking, smoking, or taking into your body will show here and if it is affecting you badly, it will show via the type of card that falls in this position.

5: The fifth position is the state of the emotions/how the person feels. Often the emotions can be very good indicators of what is going on from a deeper point of view within the body. The emotions can drive the immune system and when looking for a treatment, ensure that the treatment brings about favourable emotional energies. If a person is in physical pain, it will also show in this position.

6:The sixth position is the short term or primary immune system. This position shows what the immune system is currently doing. If it is fighting something or is in overdrive, then it will show here. What we put into our bodies directly affects the front line of the immune system; hence this card sits directly under the ‘solid energy’ position. Look at the relations between the two cards: often if it is a substance (food, drugs etc) that is contributing to, aggravating or causing the illness, and if that is the case then both positions four and six will show cards that are aggravating or aggressive.

7:The seventh position shows the deeper immune system and is connected to the function of the Thymus (an endocrine gland). This is a part of the immune system that prepares and trains cells for a front line attack and it is a gland that is deeply affected by emotional wellbeing (hence it sits under the fifth position). It is also the position that shows the secondary immune system that wraps up, locks up or breaks down threats that have been initially overcome.

So when the person is on the winning side of an illness, the aggressive cards will move from position six (primary immune response) to position seven. This is where disease threats are processed and put to sleep mode. How well this process works is interdependent upon emotional wellbeing and if a person has had terrible grief, this area of the immune system can become compromised.

It is also a position that tells us how our immune system is functioning; it indicates how well balanced the immune responses and productions of T and B cells are, if they are operating as they should and are not attacking the body itself (inflammatory diseases – when they are in active mode they will show in both immune positions. When the disease is dormant but has potential, it will show only in the seventh position).

8:The eighth position is the central core of the body which houses the vital organs. If there is a problem with the vital organs, it will show here. If a major aggressive card falls in this position, then the reader needs to do further readings to see which specific organ has been affected.

9:The ninth position is the male sexual organs, testosterone and bladder. Testosterone is also present in females and if the reading is for a woman and a difficult card turns up in this position, then it will probably be necessary to look more in depth at her endocrine system and hormone balances. If they all look fine in separate readings, then a reading needs to be done to look at her hormonal response to being around males.

10:The tenth position is the female sexual organs and bladder. Again, males also have estrogen operating in their bodies so if the reading is for a male and a difficult card turns up in this position, check their hormone system. This issue of the polarity/hormone dysfunction can also indicate the presence of a member of the opposite sex who is hormonally disruptive. So for example, if a woman magician is out of balance and a reading shows an aggressive card in the ninth position, it could either be a testosterone imbalance within her own body, or it can mean that there is a male around her who is disrupting her health simply by being there. (And the same for males affected by females)

This happens usually unconsciously and is the result of the many hormone signals our bodies put out – sometimes we can have a bad reaction to them when they are coming from another person. Depending on where a woman is on her cycle, she can be attracted by male pheromones but she can also be made aggressive by the presence of male pheromones (Who me? Aggressive?). In female magicians, this is far more pronounced than it is in the general population, depending upon what streams of inner power and contact they work with. So be aware of those possible dynamics when reading those positions: they are the dynamos that run our moods and emotions and as such have a powerful influence over everything that we do.
The other thing that can show in these two sexual reproductive positions is bladder issues, so bear that in mind.

11:The eleventh position is the digestive system and shows how the large and small intestine/bowel processes everything that came in via position four (food etc). Also be aware that a lot of magic can be processed through the digestive system, particularly when we are given an energy or information to take in. This area of the body can also be read in conjunction with position five/emotions: there is a direct relationship between digestive health and mental/emotional health (neurotransmitters, for example Serotonin, play a major part in mood, muscle health and digestion).

12:Position twelve tells us what is happening in our sleep. Many magicians put too much emphasis upon controlling their dreams in order to have ‘lucid dreams’ or magical dreams. This is a mistake and can interfere in true magical events that can happen in sleep, plus it also interferes with the body’s own repair system that swings into action when we sleep.

Any magical intrusions of any real power will surface naturally in dreams and that is a time when protective beings can warn us. It is also a time when our deeper spirit can partake of magical service and because of that, trying to interfere with the natural flow of our deeper selves should not be tinkered with. The dreams/sleep position is in a line in the layout with emotions and the deeper immune system as they are all inexorably linked; so these cards can be read together to get a deeper understanding of what is happening in our subconscious, our brains and our immune system.

This position is also linked to position one and two, and if disturbances show in positions one and two, and there is a volatile or difficult card in position twelve, then you are most likely looking at a magical attack or at least a magical disturbance. The quality of sleep a magician has is very important to both health and strength, so pay good attention to what is going on in this position.

13:Position thirteen looks at the ‘structure and movement’ system of the body, which is bone, muscle and nerves. Any inflammatory reaction, CNS disturbance or bone/muscle impact will show here. If there is a difficult card in this position and there is also a problem card in position three (head/brain) then you are more likely to be looking at a problem with nerve issues. If there are fiery cards in this position and in the eleventh position (digestion) then it is possible that there is an inflammatory disease active which has its roots in bacterial imbalance or inflammation in the small intestine.

14:Position fourteen is the skin. The skin is the most externalised organ and is also the biggest organ of our body. It is through the skin that the body can safely deposit toxins, dead matter and process irritants: this mechanism keeps such problems away from the vital organs and also gives you a very obvious heads up when there is a problem

15: Position fifteen is the immediate future, usually meaning the next day or two. The card that falls in this position gives an overall view of what comes next in terms of healing, illness etc. If a difficult card falls in this position, then the illness/health issue is not yet resolved and may need further work.

Copyright – Josephine McCarthy (c) 2000
All rights reserved. This text cannot be reproduced without permission

22 Responses to Tarot resources

  1. Debi says:

    I tried this reading on myself and it was very spot on. It is a great tool for all tarot readers. I like to try new spreads out on myself first. My readings have been enhanced in the last few months in an interesting way. My clients have noticed a big difference. Thanks for the new insight.


  2. benebell says:

    I’ve recently begun working with your Inner Landscape spread and just wanted to drop a quick note letting you know, and also that it’s incredibly insightful. It’s been my go-to spread as of late. Thank you for sharing!


    • thankyou! it is also my go to spread and you can get all sorts of info out of it. There is an expanded version that digs deeper into the inner worlds, which gets more interesting. Glad you are working with it!


  3. Maveriker says:

    Nice work here!


  4. Tareen rayburn says:

    What’s your thoughts on a dream where the 15 of wands keep showing up even though it doesn’t exist


  5. Someone says:

    Very good comrade Josephine

    Liked by 1 person

  6. desdestiny says:

    The last 2 comment notifications came into my mailbox just at precisely the right time – I got a surprise when I saw them as I’d been quietly asking for a bit of help to come my way whilst working on the tarot, and this blog post is exactly what I needed. It’s amazing that our quiet whispers and thoughts are answered so clearly in times of real need. Thankyou Josephine!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Taking a Lump of Trump with the Greenwood | Jase on Cards

  8. Emc says:

    Lots of information, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Emc says:

    May I print these out for my personal use? Thank you.


  10. Thomas says:

    Thank you for your sharing. Very precious one. I appreciate that. Now I have a question. Could you please help me?
    You say that the layout of “Tree of Life” can asnswer yes or no questions. I’ve read your example (Sissi of Egypt) for reading the Tree of Life layout. What’s more, you’ve said in “Handbook For The Quareia Magicians Deck” that Position 10 card is the answer to yes or no.
    Should I get the answer yes or no only according to the Position 10 card?or mainly according to Position 10 card with the proper help of other 9 cards? or Is the answer often according to some of the cards not always the Position 10 card?
    If the Position 10 card is “Judgement”, will the answer be yes or no?


  11. kristlynnegmailcom says:

    Thank you so much for your recent tarot book—it is incredibly insightful and has helped me progress substantially. I know you don’t typically answer questions on here, but this one may help others as well, so I figured I’d give it a try.
    For the Fate Pattern spread, position 8 The Angel of severity, you say it “tells you what, if anything, in your actions, puts your fate pattern, and thus your evolution, at risk.” To me this indicates there are times when nothing could put the fate pattern at risk and/or change it. I wonder how this might be indicated, since a positive card in this position could be read as “limit this—too much of a good thing” and a negative card could be read as “stop this negative action/behavior pattern”. Thanks for your time


    • A lot would depend on the focus of the question, the subject matter, etc – like all divination, it is complex and nuanced. And the more complex the subject matter, the more you need to understand that subject matter in order to be able to draw true meaning from the reading. However, The patterns of fate are weaving back and forth all the time, and tiny shifts happen from decisions, not just big ones. The patterns of fate are constantly changing, developing, shifting, they form, expand, contract and break..that is how life works for every living thing – nothing is static. So the real answer would be study the complexities of fate if you want to dig into deep and powerful readings – and to also understand that, depending on what you asked, it could be telling you about big dynamics or small ones.
      With such powerful subject matter you also have to think very carefully about whether or not a question needs asking – or whether it should be asked.
      I hope that helps!


  12. kristlynnegmailcom says:

    Thank you so much for your response! Yes, this is very helpful— it gives me a lot to think about and plenty of rich areas to explore and study more deeply. Will continue in this direction. Very grateful for your help!


  13. aster says:

    hi josephine! my divination skills have gotten much sharper over the last couple of years after working with your tarot book. right now i’m even working on my own deck and guidebook, that i’m thinking of sending off to a publishing house or two once it’s done, just to see if anyone out there is interested. it probably won’t, and i’m fine with that since i’m most interested in the creation anyway, but i would like to know if i could include your landscape spread in the book since it has been one of the most influential magical teachers and divinatory powerhouses i’ve ever experienced. if it does get published, i’d like to amplify your voice in my local community that way, as a way of showing gratitude for how your work has (and continues to) affect me. i’ve already listed your works in my ‘further reading’ section because theyre just so damn good, and naturally all due credit would be given to you for the layout, but i’m just curious. perhaps this is a better question for a direct email, but i thought i’d ask publicly in case a few others may be thinking similarly. nothin like a little public humiliation at worst 😉 thanks!


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