Tarot Timing: Finding Temporal Cues

Timing with any divination technique is tricky business, and it's something that I have had to think about a lot these last few weeks. Even in horary astrology - one of the more exacting divinatory disciplines - seems to be a hit and miss affair when it comes to timing. With timing I of course mean to say - using a divination tool to tell us how long something will take, or inform us when something is likely to start or come to a conclusion. This can be a very handy information when a querent needs specifics in order to develop a sound strategy to deal with a problem. This is even more useful when considering magical work and the required time a working needs to be sustained for or concluded by. With accurately divined timeline we can see whether something is a worthwhile to pursue magically, or even whether it will manifest at all before a critical window closes. 

Unfortunately, as I mentioned, it seems to be something that even the most gifted reader has trouble being exact about. I think the reason for this is that divination operates on a mythic and symbolic level - a place that is more fluid and especially resistant to our rigid western perception of time. Another reason is the fact that we have free will and our actions inevitably change the future. We may be altering the course of events based on the knowledge we gain from a reading, and paradoxically changing the timings suggested by a reading. We might be right about the content of events but when those events happen precisely, that's a bit harder!

I like to use the tarot to get specifics about timing and have a simple technique that I like to use, which consists of deciding on increments of time (days, weeks, moths or years) and then laying our cards starting from the present moment. Each card then signifies the key event likely to happen in that period. When asking a specific question such as - "when will X get a new job?" I lay out cards for each week/month or year (as decided before hand) starting from the current date and when a card comes up that fits the outcome of having found a job, I count the cards laid out and am able to conclude the amount of time it will take. What's useful about this is you also get a picture of what will might happen up until the queried event unfolds, which is extremely helpful. On the downside however I have found that even though I specify "days" as increments the cards might decide to show weeks - and this becomes plainly evident as things unfold. This isn't always the case but happens every so often and certainly often enough to a be a concern.

It's that pesky elastic symbolic timing thing I was talking about. The numinous and the consensus world sometimes just seem to be slightly out of calibration. With this blog my intention is to always offer something useful, novel or experiential as it arrises out of my own day to day practice. I have been working on a way of getting tarot timing a bit more exact. Hopefully bringing the symbolic reality of the cards and that of the consensus world more closely into alignment.

Looking for for timing cues, my theory:

To get more precise about timing one can look for a timing signature in the flow of events that follow a reading. Once that timing signature has been found you can get a clearer picture of the actual time increments the cards are talking in. This is a fancy way of saying that you should check how much time passes between the events described in the first cards to see how long things will take overall, or up until the queried event.

Say for instance the first card is the three of swords and nothing of the nature of the card has manifested in the present yet - wait and see how long before a three-of-swords type of event takes place. If you experience a three of swords event the very same day, you know the cards are talking in one day increments. If the first card describes the current situation exactly (as is often the case) then you wait and see how long before the events described in the second card take place. 

One is then able to take that time frame and multiply it by the number of cards between the first card and the final card which indicates the queried outcome. For example: you want to know when your lover will return to you. Your current situation is described by the three of swords exactly, the next card is the page of cups which often describes the arrival of a message or news regarding matters of the heart, then thereafter we see the two of cups which would indicate the desired outcome of reconciliation. Sure enough, five days later you get a reconciliatory email from your lover - that five day gap is a timing cue, you can expect that the within five days you will have an opportunity to meet your lover again, and then finally we see the six of swords which suggests that within fifteen days total the querent will have a victorious outcome in the queried matter entirely.


  1. In your last paragraph, I think I am missing something in your mathematics, because I don't see how you are getting the numbers 5 and 15.

    I can see how the 5 days is present by adding together the 3 of swords and the 2 fo cups (which is the message coming as indicate by the page) but I get lost with the 15 days. Can you explain it further or show me where I am missing it?

  2. Sure: the time between the three of swords event and the page of cups is 5 days. This would give one the timing cue of 5 days. Between the page of cups and two of cups another 5 days passed (+5), and then finally another five until the six of wands event (+5). That is 15 days in total.

  3. Remember, I am looking at the time passing *between* key events. I am not ascribing a day value to each card.

  4. oh OH, ok I get it. It is literally just seeing how long it takes for the time to pass for the first event, which sets the pattern for the events that follow. Interesting.