"It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards."—Lewis Carroll
Let's be frank. Most people use tarot cards to try and glimpse the future, right? Even when I'm using the cards to help make decisions, weigh the pros and cons of choices, find inspiration, or make a plan to achieve a goal, I usually always have a card representing a possible or probable future. I just want to know. Don't you?
Most of us believe that while the future isn't set in stone, we do, to a large extent, shape our future with our actions and decisions. It makes sense then, to look at the past and present as we try to determine our future. Even the simplest three-card Past-Present-Future spread does this. But many gifted tarotists have created exercises, spreads, and practices that go further than that useful, basic spread.
You've Made Your Bed…
As we explore these options, let's invoke the Justice card from The Mystic Faerie Tarot. Also known as Karma, she represents a power that is a direct result of our individual actions. She holds the scales that weigh our actions and the sword that delivers our reward, whatever it may be. She is blindfolded, so she cannot help or hurt us. She can only mete out what we have earned. She would remind us, choose your actions wisely! Let's ask her to help us see how our past has shaped our present and how our present will affect our future.
The Distant Past
Some believe that your present life is not only created by past actions in this life but also by your experience in past lives. If reincarnation is part of your belief system, you may be interested in Mark McElroy's article in Llewellyn's 2008 Tarot Reader. In "Using the Tarot to Access Past Lives," Mark provides details instructions for exploring a past life. After some wise words of caution (such as, be prepared as not all past lives are pleasant), he leads us through the steps of preparation, meditation, a reading, and a follow-up exercise. Some areas explored in the reading include your gender, your family, your identity/personality, life lessons, and the influence on your present life.
Learning about a past life is bound to be interesting. However, we can make productive use of this knowledge. In the follow-up exercise, Mark guides us through ways to honor the past, putting this newly gained wisdom to work, and learning what lessons we might need to learn in this life.
Just a Little Peek
In her book Simple Fortunetelling with Tarot Cards, Corrine Kenner shows how we can understand the past, present, and future. Her friendly, clear style makes this book a joy to read and easy to use. Corrine provides several spreads and techniques, including one to get a sneak peek at the next six months. Weather predictions are less certain or clear the further out they go, and tarot readings are the same way. There are too many things that could happen to change any probably future. This spread (see image to the right) is designed to reflect that fact.
The Year Ahead
In The Mystic Faerie Tarot, there is a spread called Your Birthday Sunflower Spread. It is, as the name implies, particularly apt for a birthday reading. However, it can be done any time during the year. New Year's Eve or Day, for example, would be another fitting choice. This spread provides insight into a variety of areas and is based on the charts used to do astrological readings.
1. Your self-image and personality
2. Your value systems and material resources
3. Your siblings and communication
4. Your parents, your home and family
5. Creativity, affairs of the heart, fun, and children
6. Work, responsibilities, and health
7. Partnerships (romantic and business)
8. Sex, death, and other people's money
9. Travel, higher education, spiritual connections
10. Your public image, vocation, and ambition
11. Friends, hopes, goals, and wishes
12. Your inner self, dreams, secrets, and the past
13. What you need to know right now
As a variation on this spread, you could do a double wheel with the inside cards representing what in your past is directly influencing the future. Perhaps if you are less than happy with the predicted future, you could change it by taking an action that would counter-act the responsible past action.