This exercise is based on one done by our students in the Art of Ritual class. We assume the students have already meditated upon each card and feel familiar with its meanings. It is best done in a group, but I’ve modified it for individual use.

It is also important to be able to read sequences of cards, however, and realize how the meaning of an individual card can be greatly changed by the cards preceding and following it.  Indeed, the entire reading (when using one of the Tarot spreads) is influenced by many things: the number of major arcana is significant in a reading; a reading is also influenced by a high number of one suit or an overabundance of any particular number.  A card pulled in "reverse" or upside down also changes the meaning.

1. Separate the Major Arcana from your Tarot deck of choice.

2. Choose three cards.  .

3. Assign each card as follows: Past, Present and Future.
Past  Present  Future
<1> A  B  C

4. Read the cards, and write down your interpretations.

5. Re-assign the cards so that each card has a new placement.
Past  Present  Future
<1> B  C  A

6. Read the cards, and write down your interpretations.

7. Re-assign the cards so that each card has a new placement.
Past  Present  Future
<1> C  A  B

8.  Read the cards, and write down your interpretations.

Repeat this process, choosing new cards each time, until you have read all 22 Major Arcana. Note: You will have one card left over at the end of the cycle. Choose two cards (even though you already read them) to complete the trilogy.

You can do this exercise once a week, taking 24 weeks to complete the cycle, or do all three configurations each week, taking 8 weeks to complete the cycle.

This assignment is not one of merely telling what the cards "look like," it is for interpretation. There is no right or wrong, just what you see.

If you are doing this in a group setting, divide members into three groups and assign each to a different configuration:
cards  A B C
Group 1:     A        B        C
Past          Present     Future
Group 2:     B        C        A
Present     Future         Past
Group 3:     C        A        B
Future         Past         Present

Have each member share their interpretations within the groups, and then with each other. Or you could have each group interpret each grouping, sharing interpretations with one another. In this case, a good question is: what are the similarities the individual members agree are present in each card’s interpretation?

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