Significators play a powerful role in Tarot readings. Not only do they identify a certain person, place, or object, they can heighten the focus of the reader as well as the client when addressing the question at hand.
Choosing the best card to signify the main subject of one’s question can be challenging. The following are some guidelines to identify which images of the Tarot will bring the greatest amount of focus to your readings.
The most common reason a reader chooses a Significator is to identify a particular person. Typically, these cards are selected based on a person’s birth or astrological sign. In a traditional Tarot deck, Rods/Wands indicate someone born under a fire sign (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius); Cups represent the water signs (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces); Swords identify air signs (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius); the earth signs (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn) are represented by Pentacles. The King of a suit will represent a man, and the Queen, a women. Knights will represent a teen or young adult, and Pages can be used when asking about children. For example, if the question concerns a water sign man (Cancer, Scorpio, or Pisces) you would select the King of Cups as their Significator.
If you do not have the birth date of the subject in question, you can select a Major Arcana card to represent them, based on their persona. The Emperor can be used to indicate a father figure; the Empress, a mother; the Fool, a child. A spiritual or wise woman can be represented by the High Priestess, while the Hierophant can serve as a Significator for a man of this nature. The Magician or Devil can be chosen to represent someone who might be working against you or your client in a particular situation, while the Hanged Man could indicate someone who is in limbo.
When you come across a question that revolves around an object, such as, "Where are my gold earrings," or, "Is my boyfriend giving me a ring for Christmas," you can select a card that illustrates an image similar to the object in question. Sort through the cards until one stands out to you. In the case of the missing gold earrings, you might chose a card that depicts a heavily adorned woman, while for the ring, the Ace of Pentacles is an option.
You can also select an object Significator based on the elements and suits of the Tarot. Wands typify the element of fire, so objects related to fire (such as candles, incense, lamps, or electrical equipment) would fall into this category. Cups can be used to represent dinnerware, jewelry, art, and anything related to water, this suit’s element. Swords will cover objects connected with communications, cell phones, computers, or music, along with anything connected to its element of air. Pentacles can be used when your question involves money, documents, and objects related to the element of earth.
Be creative when selecting your Significator. An excerpt from my book Tarot Prediction and Divination outlines how a client used significator cards to select the ideal gift for her parents’ anniversary.
Mary Ellen was considering a pair of antique silver candlesticks as a gift, so, for this choice, she selected the Two of Wands (two representing a pair of something, Wands representing the element of fire, i.e., candles). She also knew that her parents needed a new television set. For this option, she chose the Wheel of Fortune to represent one of her parents’ favorite shows, since she found no cards that illustrated a television. To represent her third gift possibility, a Caribbean cruise, she chose the Sun, an image that reflected the climate of their destination.
Significators can also be used to determine destinations or locations. The following are some of the guidelines from Tarot Prediction and Divination that indicate how to choose the right card for this type of question.
Using the cards to determine a location can come in handy when one seeks guidance about where to take a vacation, the ideal spot to relocate, or when one is searching for a person or lost object.
There are a number of cards in any Tarot deck that can be used as direction indicators. Because different decks contain varying illustrations, focus on the images in each card rather than their traditional meanings.
When you are considering a move, vacation, or trying to locate someone, it is best to first narrow down the general direction. For example, if someone is considering two or three different places where they would like to relocate (one south of them, one to the north, and one to the east), you may be able to narrow down their options with the cards.
If you or your client are looking at relocating to a new city, or trying to find a vacation destination, you can choose a card for each of the places being considered. The suit of Swords is ideal for indicating a place that is north or south of you (upward swords indicate north, downward, south). You can opt for a court card with someone facing left to represent west, or someone facing right to indicate east. If you are asking about a coastal location, look for cards that illustrate water or a beach
To determine the best place for a vacation or relocation, first consider the direction cards above. Next, you can signify the climate or geography of the location.
There are a number of cards in a Tarot deck that can indicate the geography or climate of a location. For instance, cards depicting water or shorelines can identify coastal spots. Cards such as the Eight of Cups and the Fool, which both depict mountains, can be used to represent a higher altitude. A foreign country can be represented by the World card, while the Sun can be used to signify a warmer climate such as Arizona or Florida.
Let’s say that you are planning a summer vacation, but your family members cannot agree on where they want to go. You can perform a reading to discover which option would work the best. If one wants to go to a beach in Florida, and you live in Ohio, choose a Significator card that suggests coastal, water, or oceans. If another family member wants to go camping in the Rockies, choose a card indicating west (if the Rockies are west of you) or one of the cards that depicts mountains.
You might meet with a client who wants to know where they should go to find new love. There are cards in the deck that can represent the workplace, a bar, a party, or an Internet search. Reviewing the card images to find the perfect Significator takes a little time, but, with practice, you will soon learn instinctively which card to select.
If it turns out that you cannot locate a card to represent what you are looking for, you can select any card in the deck and program it to signify the person, place, or object you are asking about. Focus on the card and assign it to represent the subject of your reading. Then place it at the top of your reading, or in the Significator space of your layout.
The guidelines in this article are not set in stone. If you sense psychically that a better card or set of cards will work for your specific question, trust your instincts. The important thing is to remember that using a Significator will make your readings more focused and, ultimately, more accurate.
For an in-depth look at Significators and the important role they play in a Tarot reading, along with specific card recommendations for any subject, a complete section on Significators can be found in Tarot Prediction and Divination.