Time in Tarot (I). Years and Seasons.


If we ask ourselves if there are rules for knowing the times in tarot, the answer is clear: no. In fact, it has varied so much over time and decks that today, it is considered that each tarot reader can create a special bond with their cards to "reuse" them as time markers in their readings. Although the simplest way is to ask yes or no questions limiting the time (For example, will I get a job this month?). The answer is yes or no and can be obtained with a normal roll that will also indicate the type of job, the circumstances, etc.), there are many situations that require the tarot reader to find out the moment (for example, when will I get pregnant?)

The different decks and the different schools have given long lists of temporal calculations, in many cases without correspondence. This is undoubtedly due to the variation in symbolism and social and cultural environments, which cause interpretations to vary. For example, in the Renaissance the gods and astrology were better known, and the cards were related to their planets and signs to know the moment of the event that the cards narrated: if the card of the Moon arcana appeared, it could be associated with Cancer or to Pisces and therefore to June-July, or to February-March. However, although the moon is still linked to these signs, later until the 19th century the time of 28 days, that is, the lunar cycle, was also attributed to it. Currently, the arcana of the Moon is interpreted as the time from 9 months to 2 years. The reason for this last change is another new interpretation, in which there are fast, stable, slow and slow arcana, as will be seen later.

In matters of divination, calculating the exact moment in which the things that are predicted will happen is almost an obligation. When the tarot is used as a psychological tool and not purely divinatory, calculating times is a double-edged sword, both for the fortune teller and for the consultant, since both can be suggested by the information they have received from the other. Added to this is that in psychological interpretation there is a lot of personal work, so times will always be relative, until the person takes the necessary step or completes their stage of change.

The number of cards in the spread can lead to confusion, since different and contradictory times will probably appear. For this reason, spreads on times are usually done in isolation, with one card and with no more than 3 cards, which serve to point out people or moments.

There are spreads in which one of the cards specifically symbolizes time, for example, in the Celtic Cross Spread. However, it is of no use to recognize the position of the card if the actual time it transmits is unknown. In this first part we will analyze the traditions about the Years and the Seasons of the year. There are a thousand varieties, but it has been decided for the article to take those that were most repeated throughout the history of tarot, and that are not limited to exposing copy after copy a list taken from nowhere, as well as those that offer some logic. , story or mnemonic game. We prefer to gather some general general tarot ideas (that follow the major-minor arcane pattern) and then, as the tarot readers themselves encourage, that each one creates their link with the cards that transmit it to them.

The years

When asked about years, they tend to be very specific questions, and they are infrequent. Consultants tend to be more interested in the short or medium term. However, Tarot schools have several ways of answering.

The first way is to calculate "how many years" based on the number of cards. So that there is not an extremely long period, it is preferred to use the minor arcana, so that the number does not exceed 10, and if characters appear or Major Arcana are used, they will be determining people or situations in said period.

With the Major Arcana, it is considered that the period will never be longer than 4 years. There are long lists defining the times of each arcana, and they are all different. The only general "rule" for using the Major Arcana is to divide them by their actions: Quick (arcana that symbolize movement and action); Stable (arcana that imply progressive advancement); and Slow (arcana that "stop" progress).

It is commonly agreed that the "slowest" arcana are:

- The Hermit (1 to 3 years. Inverted, more than 3 years)

- The Priestess (9 months to 2 years. Inverted, more than 2 years.

- The Moon (9 months to 2 years)

- The Hanged Man (6 months to 1 year)

- Temperance (6 months to 1 year. Inverted, more than 1 year)

- Justice (3 months to 1 year. Inverted, more than 1 year).

As can be seen, the possible times are also very long. The Wheel of Fortune, the Sun and the World, when reversed, are associated by some people with the passage of a full year.

There is also a division of the minor arcana into days (wands), weeks (swords), months (cups) and years (pentacles), although in some traditions the pentacles are the years and the months are the cups. In any case, a reading would be made only with the year cards, thus being able to count up to 14 years.

Similar to the previous one, another way to calculate the years is to draw a major or minor arcana at random and accept the number of the card that appears as the number of years. This is also done with the months and days but due to its simplicity it is used very punctually and limiting the years, since with the arcana it could be up to 21.


Seasons are the loosest way to place an event without specifying too much, but it can have its advantages when asking questions for a yearly timeframe. Their elemental relationship, on the other hand, helps a lot with memorization.

The simplest interpretation is the use of the Minor Arcana, each suit being a season of the year. There are two major versions for the minor arcana:

The first associates the sticks by their image, that is, the basto as a plant, the gold for resembling the sun, the cup for rainwater and the swords as wind.

Wands - Spring

Golds - Summer

Cups - Autumn

Swords - Winter

The other division has its origins in the Rider Waite Tarot. This very popular Tarot has a specific climate represented in each suit (at least in some cards), which has caused it to be associated with the different seasons, as follows:

Swords - Air Element - Spring

Wands - Fire Element - Summer

Cups - Water Element - Autumn

Pentacles - Earth Element - Winter

Each tarot reader decides whether to be guided by the images or whether to opt for the interpretation of the elements. Of course, let us remember that this interpretation can only be done in isolation, and that the elements in a "normal" spread symbolize feelings and relationships. There are those who only interpret the aces to make temporal calculations.

There are also divisions of the Major Arcana in the seasons. The distribution of the Major Arcana is due to several methods that have not been able to prevail, so each tarot reader uses the one that conveys the most security, however the seasons are very visual in spreads such as The Horseshoe or the Celtic Cross.

The most common distribution is governed by the idea of fast, stable, slowed down (as an intermediate category) and slow. Spring will have the rapids, summer will have the stable ones, fall will have the slow ones and winter will have the stopped ones. The most common distribution is the following:


• The magician

• The Hierophant

• Lovers

• Wheel of fortune

• Temperance

• The Fool


• The emperor

• The car

• The force

• The devil

• Sun


• The Priestess

• Justice

• The hermit

• Tower

• The star

• The world


• The Empress

• Death

• Moon

• The Hanged Man

• The trial

However, there are those who consider that the Chariot is fast (despite talking about decision-making) and should be spring, and be exchanged with Temperance, which for patience should be summer or autumn. Also some believe that the World and the Fool should be removed from this scheme, because they would symbolize the complete annual/life cycle, and thus each season would have 5 cards. Once again, there is no consensus: that is why the cards that have been presented as "years" do not coincide with those of the autumn-winter either, as they are separate "theories".

Another system for the seasons is to distribute the major arcana by their astrological sign. In this way it is "guaranteed" not to fall into the traps of the Gregorian calendar. Then we would have to:


• Aries -Emperor

• Taurus - Hierophant

• Gemini – The Lovers


• Cancer - The Chariot

• Leo - The Strength

• Virgo – The Hermit


• Libra – Justice

• Scorpio - Death

• Sagittarius - Temperance


• Capricorn - The Devil

• Aquarius - The Star

• Pisces - The Moon

The main problem with this system is that 10 "meaningless" cards are left out. Furthermore, the assigned zodiac signs are not the same in all schools, in fact, several arcana are associated with each sign, some repeated, so, although this selection is convenient, it would only serve for isolated readings with these 12 arcana, or with the 22 adapting the remaining arcana.

Finally, although finding this is rare, there are people who link those missing arcana with their astrological planets, and consider that the planets are also fast or slow, but, honestly, more than with temporal consultations, astrological associations have a greater relationship symbolic with its uses in rituals.

Continues in: Time in Tarot (II). Months, weeks and days.

Pietro V. Carracedo Ahumada - pietrocarracedo@gmail.com


-Connolly, Eillen. Tarot. A new Handbook for the apprentice. Red Wheel/Weiser, 2008. Massachussets.

-Ngo, Phillipe. Time Prediction by Tarot. From Simple to Complex Timing Method Through Tarot. Createspace IPP, 2015. France.

-Place, R.M. The Fool's Journey: the History, Art, and Symbolism of the Tarot. Ed. Talarius, New York, 2010

- Tondriau, J. - Diccionario de las ciencias ocultas, La tabla de esmeralda, EDAF, 1985, Madrid

Related Posts:

> Time in Tarot (II). Months, weeks and days.

> The Four Elements in the Tarot

> Western astrology. Astrology notions (I)

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