. . . little dog, gold necklace, missing brother, true love?”
There has been a recent uptick in questions on the social-media pages about the use of the tarot to locate anything that has gone missing or has yet to be found. The first thing to point out in this regard is that, while tarot can be effective at answering the “What, why, who and how” of a situation, in my experience it has a fairly dismal track record at coming up with the “when and where.” There are many conventions for trying to arrive at a future time-frame for predicted events, but there are no such standards – even ad-hoc ones – that I’m aware of for identifying a likely location based solely on the meaning of the cards. For instance, the next question after “When will I meet my true love?” is usually “Where?” (so they can get there pronto). The reader is often at a loss in these situations and must do a little vigorous “tap-dancing” to give the querent something even remotely credible to work with.
Inferences can certainly be drawn from the prosaic scenes on the cards, but they are far from definitive. About the closest I’ve come while staying true to the vague environmental clues offered by the images is to treat the suit of Wands (Fire) as South or in a warm place; Cups (Water) as West or in a cool, damp place; Swords (Air) as East or in a mild, dry place; and Pentacles (Earth) as North or in a cold, inhospitable place. (This can be parsed further into the ordinal directions [e.g. “Northeast, Southwest”] as shown in the example spread below.) The minor suit cards convey the ideas of “close by” in the Ace and “farther-and-farther away” as the series progresses up to Ten. The court cards can be read as showing that another person may be involved in the disappearance, and the trump cards as describing the intervention of external forces in the matter that could complicate the search.
I’ve sharpened my skills in the finding of missing objects, pets and people while working on numerous missing-person cases in the State of New Hampshire over the last ten years, and have found that the available tools resemble those of the tradesman more than those of the surgeon; they are serviceable but you can’t put too fine a point on them. For this reason I always resort to horary astrology first when presented with a request to find something for someone. However, I’ve also turned it around and brought some of the concepts of horary into my development of tarot spreads. In his excellent book, The Horary Textbook, John Frawley provides guidelines for using the qualities of the astrological signs and houses in the investigation of missing things, both living and inanimate. Because the tarot cards have been linked to the signs, planets and “natural” (Aries-rising) houses of Chaldean astrology, I was able to adapt them to a somewhat imaginative, free-form location model. Here is what I came up with:
And here is the spread that started me down this path. Note that sign meanings have been blended with elemental associations in the design; for example, Cancer in the North of the “natural” horoscope suggests “near water.” There have been a few others since then that you can look up in the “Lost Item Readings” and “Missing Person Spreads” categories in the sidebar drop-down menu.