Time’s Up! Further Thoughts on Tarot Timing

A logical follow-up to my post on “timing cards” (https://parsifalswheeldivination.com/2019/07/10/rare-medium-or-well-done-a-timing-card-experiment/) is to find a consistent way to bring them to bear in any spread. The most obvious solution would be to simply apply my table to the “outcome” card, but not all of my spreads have outcome cards as such. A better approach may be to tack a “timing position” onto any spread that contemplates situational change, perhaps off to one side, to be treated as a separate step in the reading after the main narrative is done. Another wrinkle that I would seriously consider is using a second deck for the timing position so the “best” card for the situation isn’t already occupied elsewhere in the spread. Of course, the timing card could be pulled first from the reading deck, but then it would be unavailable to participate directly in the querent’s “story.” This is the same dilemma we face when removing a Significator card from the deck in advance. Using two decks takes care of that problem.

In practice, my current thinking is to draw a card from a second deck after laying the main spread and place it face-down in the timing position. Once the reading is finished and the sitter asks the almost-inevitable “When?” question, the card can be revealed. My current approach doesn’t attempt to pin down a specific number of temporal units (e.g. “3 weeks”), instead relying on a “ballpark” estimate: Fast ( “sooner rather than later;” hours-to-days); moderate (days-to-weeks); slow (weeks-to-months, occasionally extending up to one year but no longer). Anything that is going to take more than a year to unfold deserves a second reading later on. Wands is the fastest suit, then Swords and Cups in that order, while Pentacles is the slowest. Low-numbered and odd-numbered (active) minor cards spell “much sooner” than high-numbered and even-numbered (passive) cards; think Ace of Wands vs. 10 of Pentacles.  (If the querent is anxiously awaiting word about a job application, the lower and “odder” – by which I mean those with fewer “isomorphs” according to Joseph Maxwell – the timing card, the better.) Knights and Pages are fairly rapid, Queens and Kings are more tardy, while left-facing courts could be dragging their feet and right-facing ones more sprightly. All of them can indicate the intervention of other people to either accelerate or retard developments. Trump cards vary according to their nature: the Tower is abrupt, the Chariot comes on briskly, Justice and Temperance are deliberate and efficient, the Hermit traverses cautiously,  the World languishes and so forth according to the table. A certain amount of synthesis or “blending” is necessary to puzzle all of this out. After that, it’s basically a “SWAG” (scientific wild-ass guess) proposition.

I did a test reading, using a three-card line with a “timing” position added. The decks are the Albano-Waite RWS and the Radiant RWS. I’m in the market for a new pick-up and asked “How will my search for a new truck go, and how soon can I expect to get one?”


The first two cards suggest that I will get a lot of pleasure out of the search (who doesn’t like ogling brand-new vehicles?). The 3 of Swords reversed makes me think I won’t be able to get exactly what I want in the way of features, but I usually see this card as a minor irritant and not a show-stopper. Maybe they won’t have the color I really want.

But the 9 of Pentacles gives me pause. On the face of it, this seems like a good card for material success and comfort. As a timing card, though, it indicates a long wait. Perhaps there will be some difficulty with the loan, or the truck will have to come from another region of the country. This is where the “SWAG” part comes in. Dealers are in the business of selling vehicles and they aren’t likely to leave a “live one” (me) dangling too long, so I would go with a slight enlargement of the moderately lengthy “weeks-to-months” range and say it could mean a couple of months at most. After all, I haven’t even started actively looking yet.

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