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Selecting a Significator

This post was written by Barbara Moore
on May 5, 2011 | Comments (6)

What is a Significator?

A significator is a card that is used in a tarot spread to represent the querent (the person asking the question).  Not all readers use significators. Some don’t use them at all. Some use them only with certain spreads. Some use them in every reading. I suggest trying various methods to see what, if any, work for you. Also, try new methods (or revisit previously discarded methods) every year or so. You never know when something that didn’t work in the past will work in the present. This is one way I keep my reading practice fresh.

How do you select a Significator?

There are so many ways! Here are a few traditional methods. Next time, I’ll share a few modern methods, as well as ways to use significators in your readings.

1. Major Arcana Significator

This one is simple: use the Magician for a male querent and the High Priestess for a female querent.

The downside of this method is that it takes the card selected out of play. A solution? Use a Magician or High Priestess from another deck.

2. Physical Realm Significators

These methods rely on a querent’s physical appearance or birthdate to determine a significator. These are traditional methods and not ones that I favor for various reasons.

To use age as a method, use the list below to select the appropriate card court rank, then select that rank from the suit that most matches the querent’s personality:

  • A Page for a child or young woman
  • A Knight for a young man
  • A Queen for a woman
  • A King for a mature man

Physical appearance:

  • Wands–fair skin with blond hair and blue eyes
  • Cups–light to medium skin wiht light brown hair and blue or hazel eyes
  • Swords–olive skin with dark hair and light eyes
  • Pentacles–dark skin with dark hair and dark eyes

Astrological sign:

  • Wands–Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
  • Cups–Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
  • Swords–Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
  • Pentacles–Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn


  • Wands–fiery, passionate, energetic person
  • Cups–emotional, creative, sensitive person
  • Swords–intellectual, logical person
  • Pentacles–down-to-earth, practical person

Next week:

Modern methods of selecting significators and effectively incorporating significators into your readings. What are some of your favorite techniques?

Reader Comments

Written By Brandi Palechek
on May 5th, 2011 @ 10:55 am

Excellent post! You always make the Tarot accessible, easy to understand, and fun to learn.

It is so uncanny that you chose to explore this topic when we were just discussing it in a marketing meeting here at Llewellyn. We were wondering how they are selected, who selects them, etc. in relation to a project we are working on for this summer (more on that soon!).

I have most often been associated with the Queen of Cups or Queen of Wands during readings. After reading what you wrote here, it makes perfect sense.

Do readers sometimes associate a querent with a Major Arana card other than the Magician or High Priestess? For example, The Fool, Empress, or Emperor?

Written By Charles
on May 5th, 2011 @ 11:25 am

I incorporate parts of Olney Richmond’s “Order of the Magi” cartomancy scheme using no major arcana into my readings. Every day of the year has a playing card, so I look up the client’s birthdate in the chart (I could memorize it, I suppose) and then pick the significator by that suit. For example, my Birth Card is Ace of Diamonds. So since I’m an adult my significator is the King of Pentacles.

Written By Lolita
on May 6th, 2011 @ 2:05 pm

I don’t understand how someone could not include the Major Arcana in a reading. These cards were made centuries ago to be part of the deck for a reason. So, if the minor arcana have import, then so too the Major Arcana. I wouldn’t want to have my own reading done without them and don’t feel I could do an adequate reading on someone else without them.

Written By Gaylle
on May 10th, 2011 @ 11:18 am

I’ve certainly heard about the exclusion of the major arcana for daily readings – with the reasoning being that they’re only every-day ordinary readings

Written By Charles
on May 10th, 2011 @ 6:52 pm

I would disagree that the absence of Major Arcana means the playing card readings are “every-day ordinary.” Quite the opposite. This type of reading with only playing cards is far more difficult than any method I know of, since it is essentially a 3-D card layout. But that is a long story.


  1. More Ideas for Significators  on May 10th, 2011 @ 3:51 pm

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