Tarot Card Meanings, History, Reading & More...

Tarot card meanings - artwork by Annette Abolins

On this page you will find information, card meanings and hopefully lots of inspiration for getting to know your cards and discovering exciting ways to enjoy and interpret them. As there is a lot here, the main sections have links below, so you can easily jump between topics:


Tarot Card Meanings

Nine Lives Tarot is a colourful and life-affirming deck of cards, freely based on the Rider-Waite-Smith system. Let the characters introduce themselves to you: The descriptions below include keywords and a summary about each card, leaving room for your interpretation & intuition to complete the picture.

The Major Arcana

These cards often relate to BIG to changes, events and phases along the cyclic timeline of life, though can also represent important influences to do with aspects of Self.

The Minor Arcana

The 56 cards in the Minor Arcana tend to relate more to everyday events; telling stories of the ups and downs in life explored within the four suits:

  • Cups – represent the emotional journey; steeped in water and expressed through heart, soul and emotion.
  • Pentacles – represent the journey of wealth, prosperity and generosity; grounded in earth, home and hearth.
  • Rods – represent our spiritual and creative journey; fuelled by fire and inspired by progress, impulse and new beginnings.
  • Swords – represent the journey of the mind; soaring through air, while gaining clarity, insight and understanding.

Note: There are no reverse meanings included with this deck, however, nothing prevents you from using traditional reverse meanings, or, you may choose to interpret reverse cards using your own method, or, as indication of a delay or challenge in the card meaning.

The Major Arcana

The Fool

0 The Fool

Youth | Beginnings | Innocence | Free spirit

I am the Fool – with a spring in my step, I meet the world with youthful exuberance and anticipation. I represent your beginnings, your child persona and your innocence. I am a free spirit; walk with me on an unmarked path, learn to follow your dreams and feel excitement with every step.

The Magician

I The Magician

Awareness | Action | Skill | Resourcefulness

I am the Magician – I represent your creative power and your abundant ability to realise your desires. With a clear understanding of the laws of nature, energy and the four elements; I am here to convince you that everything you require to fulfil your life's potential, is available to you.

The High Priestess

II The High Priestess

Knowing | Intuitive | Wise | Subconscious

I am the High Priestess – representing your inner wisdom, understanding and knowledge. Connected to the powers of ancient secrets and psychic awareness; I guard your subconscious mind with a key. My role is to encourage you in trusting your intuition and listening to your inner voice.

The Empress

III The Empress

Mother | Femininity | Fertility | Abundance

I am the Empress – representing your feminine and motherly side, I encourage you to live life through beauty and pleasure. My focus is all about love and protecting those I care for.

The Emperor

IV The Emperor

Authority | Foundation | Structure | Wisdom

I am the Emperor – I invite you to take on board my wisdom and advice. I represent your inner strength, which is built on a strong foundation of experience and knowledge. My approach is strategic and analytical; through past knowledge I encourage you to consider all aspects of a situation before jumping ahead.

The Hierophant

V The Hierophant

Beliefs | Ceremony | Tradition | Knowledge

I am the Hierophant – I represent your higher knowledge; your understanding of traditions, beliefs and spiritual conformity. I speak to your consciousness, and while reminding you of the power of ritual; I ask you to consider your beliefs as I guide you on your spiritual path.

The Lovers

VI The Lovers

Love | Union | Relationship | Trust

We are the Lovers – representing the aspect of your Self, which is solely focussed on love, passion, trust and commitment. We are here to encourage you to succumb to love and passion, while reminding you that uniting fully with another being requires you to be vulnerable and trusting.

The Chariot

VII The Chariot

Action | Driven | Determination | Focus

I am the Chariot – I represent your skills and determination in achieving your goals, while my wise passenger represents your focus. Together we charge forth on the road to victory, encouraging you to stay motivated and have belief in your ability to succeed.


VIII Strength

Balance | Strength | Courage | Compassion

I am Strength – I represent your inner power, courage and perseverance. I show you ways to tame and accept your wild nature, allowing your energy to prosper and grow. The symbolic duality of your human and animal self is one of companionship, gentleness and stability

The Hermit

IX The Hermit

Wisdom | Solitude | Observation |

I am the Hermit – I represent the soul-searching aspect of your Self, understanding your need for reflection and contemplation. Follow me to the quiet place within; where a time to be still and observe will heighten your awareness, and help prepare you for the road ahead.

Wheel of Fortune

X The Wheel of Fortune

Destiny | Cyclic | Consequence | Change | Luck

The Wheel of Fortune – here to remind you of the cyclic nature (the ups and downs) of life. Enjoy the good times, appreciate them without taking anything for granted. Try to not become discouraged when times are low – as bad times are bound always to change for the better.


XI Justice

Justice | Fairness | Truth | Equality

I am Justice – I invite you to see the truth of the matter and encourage you to strive for fairness in the decisions you make. I represent your ability to examine your conscience with a responsible eye and follow the just path without any illusions.

Hanged Man

XII The Hanged Man

Suspend | In-between | Surrender

I am the Hanged man – I welcome you to view your surroundings from a different angle, representing your need to put aside action and just be. I encourage you to let go and accept your current situation; through surrender you will see new possibilities on the horizon.


XIII Death

Endings | Transformation | Beginnings | Transition

I am Death – I represent the inevitability of change and transformation; I do not speak to you of physical death, instead I remind you of the cyclic laws of nature where each phase ending is followed by a new beginning. Embrace the motion of change and discard what you no longer require before moving on.


XIV Temperance

Balance | Flow | Healing | Connection

I am Temperance – I represent your place of tranquil waters where you go to regain balance and find healing. I sooth your inner soul and encourage you to connect with your natural flow through peace and harmony.

The Devil

XV The Devil

Desire | Addiction | Lust | Illusion

I am the Devil – representing your dark and untamed side. I understand and encourage your innermost desires, while allowing you to see that your chains are loose, and that your perceived loss of freedom is all but an illusion designed to help you find balance in the land of lust and need.

The Tower

XVI The Tower

Change | Upheaval | Revelation

I am the Tower – I represent tumult, upheaval and sudden change, reminding you that some shifts in life need to be cataclysmic for a new path and direction to eventuate. The destruction of fire brings new growth; allow me to guide you out of your comfort zone as you shed your illusions through a phase of change.

The Star

XVII The Star

Hope | Healing | Rejuvenation | Cleansing

I am the Star – representing your clarity, assurance and rejuvenation. Look to me for the insight and promise that all will be well; allow yourself to be immersed in harmony while knowing that your needs will be met.

The Moon

XVIII The Moon

Reflection | Emotion | Illusion | Intuition

I am the Moon – I represent your shadow persona, reflecting your dreams, memories, fears and anxieties. Sit with me on the path of deception and illusion when your imagination runs away. Listen to your intuition – and together we can interpret what is real and what is not.

The Sun

XIX The Sun

Joy | Energy | Clarity | Vibrancy

I am the Sun – I represent your positive and vibrant life energy, shining on you with confidence and encouragement to see the bright side of life. My warmth and positivity will inspire and illuminate your path ahead.


XX Judgement

Transformation | Honesty | Re-birth | Absolution

I am Judgement – I welcome you to a time of awakening on your life's journey; reminding you to be true to yourself and release yourself from past wounds and challenges. I represent your cleansing and self-evaluating aspect, encouraging freedom through awareness.

The World

XXI The World

Fulfilment | Achievement | Value | Integration

I am the World – your home in the Universe; where everything in the past, present and future comes together. I represent the promise of fulfilment through balance and unity, where beginnings and endings are an integral part of the cyclic nature of life.

The Minor Arcana


Ace of Cups

Ace of Cups

Love | Peace | Harmony | Compassion

I am the Ace of Cups – I invite you to drink from the cup of emotion and embrace new beginnings of love, happiness and compassion. I remind you that on the path of emotion, it all begins with love; and I ask you to consider the power of love and compassion in all aspects of life.

2 of Cups

II of Cups

Union | Communication | Sharing | Attraction

I am the II of Cups – I represent unity of two, through mutual respect, love and attraction. I speak to you of balance and harmony in the realm of emotions; where compromise and cooperation are vital for connections to form and deepen.

3 of Cups

III of Cups

Celebration | Friendship | Joy | Elation

I am the III of Cups – I represent celebration of friendship and love; dance with me on the path of emotions and allow yourself to be swept to heights of elation and joy. Succumb to happiness and allow yourself time to be playful.

4 of Cups

IV of Cups

Acceptance | Contemplation | Development

I am the IV of Cups – as you withdraw to contemplate your situation in life; I encourage you to look within for acceptance and understanding. Open your eyes; appreciate and nurture what you have, and see the opportunities available to you.

5 of Cups

V of Cups

Regret | Solitude | Contemplation | Loss

I am the V of Cups – looking to the past, I represent your regrets and sense of lost opportunities. At times it is hard to let go of the past, yet I am here to help you cross the bridge to a more positive state of mind. Be kind to yourself in this time of reflection; seek understanding and self-forgiveness.

6 of Cups

VI of Cups

Innocence | Trust | Childhood | Nostalgia

I am the VI of Cups – as your emotional path turns away from past regrets; I represent the trust, openness, generosity and forgiveness you discover on this part of your journey: I speak to you of nostalgia and happy childhood memories, reminding you of all the things you are grateful for in life.

7 of Cups

VII of Cups

Illusion | Choice | Dreams | Imagination

I am the VII of Cups – I represent your dreams, hopes and desires; the choices you see in your imagination and the diversification you see around you. I am a reflection of your sub-conscious potential, presenting you with illusions to free your imagination and see options in a new light.

8 of Cups

VIII of Cups

Direction | Action | Completion | Evolution

I am the VIII of Cups – I represent the need to take action and move on to the next phase of your emotional journey. The road ahead is mountainous and will present you with challenges; yet the cyclic phases of the moon will guide you and shine a light on what you have already accomplished.

9 of Cups

IX of Cups

Accomplishment | Pleasure | Confidence | Satisfaction

I am the IX of Cups – I represent your inner confidence, fulfilment and self value. The emotional path you have journeyed along has brought you to a place of integrity, knowledge and satisfaction; having survived and grown stronger through the many challenges you have faced along the way. Enjoy the good things life has to offer.

10 of Cups

X of Cups

Abundance | Whole | Harmony | Stability

I am the X of Cups – I welcome you to the stage of your emotional journey when you look back on what you have accomplished and fully enjoy the relationships you have formed with family and friends. This is a time to be happy and allow your heart to be filled with joy.

Page of Cups

Page of Cups

Dreamy | Youthful | Sensitive | Creative

I am the Page of Cups – my carefree personality will inspire you to follow your dreams and believe in love and beauty. My intuitive, caring side will encourage you to dive deep in emotional waters; asking you to explore your feelings, your sensitivity and your artistic nature.

Knight of Cups

Knight of Cups

Perceptive | Charming | Volatile | Romantic

I am the Knight of Cups – my intuition, charm and magnetic personality serve me well on my quest to protect and conquer hearts. Despite my seductive ways, I a firm believer in honesty and emotional intelligence; and encourage you to explore your passionate side and be open to new and creative ideas.

King of Cups

King of Cups

Fatherly | Diplomatic | Communicative | Idealistic

I am the King of Cups – I am a good listener and have a deep emotional understanding of ebb and flow in human nature; confide in me and you will receive sensitive, diplomatic and honest advice. I encourage you to broaden your mind and expand your horizons while maintaining a balance between emotion and intellect.

Queen of Cups

Queen of Cups

Calm | Loving | Artistic | Knowing

I am the Queen of Cups – I rule with instinct in the oceans of love and emotion. I am warm and caring at heart and intuitively understand your inner woes and desires. I encourage you to be compassionate towards those you love and generous with empathy; listen to your intuition and explore your creative nature.



Ace of Pentacles

Ace of Pentacles

Reward | Opportunity | Prosperity | Grounded

I am the Ace of Pentacles – I represent new beginnings and opportunities in the fields of prosperity. I speak to you of a stable home, good health, financial wealth and improvements in your practical life.

2 of Pentacles

II of Pentacles

Balance | Contemplation | Preparation | Motion

I am the II of Pentacles – I represent the need to strike a balance and be flexible on the path of prosperity; at the point of new beginnings I urge you to remain alert and adaptable as you juggle family, friends and your physical, mental and spiritual well-being. Be clear on your priorities and manage your time well.

3 of Pentacles

III of Pentacles

Apprentice | Concentration | Creation | Skill | Study

I am the III of Pentacles – I represent learning and fulfilment and speak to you in an encouraging voice about pursuing your dream and following your vision, through persistence, determination and effort.

4 of Pentacles

IV of Pentacles

Stability | Possession | Conservative | Hoarding

I am the IV of Pentacles – I represent the stage on your path to prosperity where you hold fears that your hard earned financial stability may be diminished if you do not keep it close. I am here to remind you of the universal flow of give and take, and encourage you to reconnect and contribute to your community.

5 of Pentacles

V of Pentacles

Isolation | Worry | Enabling | Fortitude

I am the V of Pentacles – I walk with you on the cold and isolated path of material adversity, speaking to you of hope and acceptance. I remind you to not focus solely on material values; instead look to your inner values for answers on whether your convictions and beliefs marry with your current path.

6 of Pentacles

VI of Pentacles

Balance | Responsibility | Humanitarian | Sharing

I am the VI of Pentacles – I meet with you on your path to prosperity to remind you of the importance of giving and receiving. I speak to you about striving for a universal balance between generously lending a hand to those less fortunate, and also being able to ask for help when in need.

7 of Pentacles

VII of Pentacles

Reflection | Reward | Nurture | Perseverance

I am the VII of Pentacles – I represent the hard work and time you have invested in achieving long-term rewards. I encourage you to take some time to reflect on your current situation and appreciate what you have achieved, before making preparations for your path ahead.

8 of Pentacles

VIII of Pentacles

Progress | Creativity | Innovation | Skill

I am the VIII of Pentacles – I represent creative skill and attention to detail, I have honed my skills (III of Pentacles) and am now all about executing my craft with elegance and quality. I speak to you about moving forward with purpose and a hard-working attitude, apply yourself and enjoy what you do.

9 of Pentacles

IX of Pentacles

Prosperity | Assurance | Refinement | Confidence

I am the IX of Pentacles – I represent the self-confidence and freedom you experience at the point where you can truly appreciate and embrace what you have. While the falcons represent your ability to maintain your focus and vision, I ask you to consider your direction and poise briefly before moving on.

10 of Pentacles

X of Pentacles

Stability | Celebration | Abundance | Loyalty

I am the X of Pentacles – I represent the fruit of your hard work and achievements along the path of prosperity. I remind you of your commitment, focus and the strong foundations achieved through working together as a community. Enjoy the benefits, while reflecting on changes that will bring harmony and stability.

Page of Pentacles

Page of Pentacles

Innocent | Thoughtful | Resourceful

I am the Page of Pentacles – I am a flower of nature and represent the desire to manifest dreams in the material world. I speak to you from a place of innocence where anything is possible; encouraging you to follow me on the path of study and curiosity. I also remind you of the importance of nurture and staying in touch with the earth.

Knight of Pentacles

Knight of Pentacles

Generous | Steadfast | Hard-working | Protective

I am the Knight of Pentacles – I am fiercely protective and will do whatever it takes to ensure those I guard remain safe. I speak to you about being trustworthy, reliable and completing the task at hand; you can turn to me for advice on commitment and handling responsibility without complaints.

King of Pentacles

King of Pentacles

Security | Control | Discipline | Fatherly

I am the King of Pentacles – I invite you to my kingdom of wealth, which I have achieved through determination and hard work. I speak to you of stability, responsibility and getting down to basics, while reminding you of the importance to fully enjoy the fruits of your efforts.

Queen of Pentacles

Queen of Pentacles

Practical | Nurturing | Motherly | Sensitive

I am the Queen of Pentacles – I am resourceful and financially independent, yet also compassionate and nurturing by nature. I dote on those around me while maintaining a firm grip on the practicalities of life. You can come to me for advice on how to achieve calm and balance in your life.



Ace of Rods

Ace of Rods

Creativity | Direction | Passion | Energy

I am the Ace of Rods – I speak to the creative and fiery aspects of your personality. With words of encouragement, energy and confidence, I am passionately by your side as you venture forward on your creative path.

2 of Rods

II of Rods

Progress | Future planning | Insight | Understanding

I am the II of Rods – I hold the world in my hand, looking to the past as I survey where I am today. I remind you of what has been, in preparation of what is to come. For knowing the past and understanding what you have in the present, will help you on your road into the future.

3 of Rods

III of Rods

Journey | Preparation | Expansion

I am the III of Rods – I look out over the land to which I am connected, representing the stage of your spiritual & creative journey where you are expanding your horizons. I invite you to remain open-minded, accept advice and prepare for what lies ahead.

4 of Rods

IV of Rods

Growth | Fertility | Youthfulness | Celebration

We are the IV of Rods – inviting celebration and delight in the moment; where life really is a happy dance. We represent your spontaneous and youthful side, urging you to seize the moment and embrace the joy of living.

5 of Rods

V of Rods

Conflict | Action | Assertiveness

I am the V of Rods – I fuel your passionate ideas and your desire to move ahead. When your creative ideas are in conflict with others, I encourage you to voice your opinion with confidence, while striving to find a positive outcome for all.

6 of Rods

VI of Rods

Achievement | Success | Self-confidence

I am the VI of Rods – as I ride home in victory, I represent your past efforts and the rewards you currently reap. Yet I quietly remind you that while you may be victorious and deserving of your current success, it is wise to be both diplomatic and a good listener in preparation for what lies ahead.

7 of Rods

VII of Rods

Perseverance | Challenge | Courage | Determination

I am the VII of Rods – I speak to your courageous side in the face of ongoing challenges. While you cannot make the opposition go away, you can accept that as long as you stand up for yourself and move ahead with self-confidence; not every single battle needs to be won.

8 of Rods

VIII of Rods

Direction | Movement | Change

I am the VIII of Rods – I stand with you on the path of creativity and spirituality at a point where your way ahead is clear. The struggles you have faced in the past have brought a clearer understanding of where to from here; revitalised you are ready to take flight.

9 of Rods

IX of Rods

Resilience | Protection | Trust in Self

I am the IX of Rods – I am here to remind you that you do have what it takes to move forward. Despite the scars you acquired from the creative and spiritual path being rough at times, you are committed to your dreams and ongoing self-development.

10 of Rods

X of Rods

Achievement | Responsibility | Burden

I am the X of Rods – as the burden of your creative journey weighs you down, I speak to you of your achievements and the remarkable effort you have invested in getting to this point. I remind you that even experience can be a burden to carry, and this may be the time to retreat and recharge.

Page of Rods

Page of Rods

Intelligent | Adventurous | Resourceful

I am the Page of Rods – I am clever, bright and full of youthful exuberance. I understand your restless nature and encourage you to express yourself and plunge into the adventures of life around you. With me by your side, you will find it hard to resist that creative spark.

Knight of Rods

Knight of Rods

Exuberant | Strong willed | Vibrant | Passionate

I am the Knight of Rods – I charge forth into the world with purpose, passion and boundless energy. I speak to your fearless side, encouraging you to act now and think later. I don’t tend to plan ahead, yet my passionate insistence and charm, along with my impatient nature; promise plenty of excitement and action along the way.

King of Rods

King of Rods

Leader | Vision | Entrepreneur | Compassionate

I am the King of Rods – I am a good listener and a natural leader. I represent your visions and your will to achieve long-term goals. I remind you to avoid distractions and stay focussed on your future direction; seize the opportunities and use your creative and spiritual talents to change the world.

Queen of Rods

Queen of Rods

Warmth | Vibrant | Motherly | Creative

I am the Queen of Rods – strong, independent and highly creative. My energy, confidence and contagious optimism will inspire you. I speak to your warm and motherly side, while urging you to channel your energy, remain focussed, and accomplish what you set out to do.



Ace of Swords

Ace of Swords

Focus | Clarity | Insight | Truth

I am the Ace of Swords – I represent mental clarity and power of mind. I invite you to open your eyes and see what lies beyond. The realm of the mind leaves no room for illusions, asking you to analyse the facts and seek out the truth.

2 of Swords

II of Swords

Choice | Patience | Flow | Adaptation

I am the II of Swords – blind-folded I turn inward for answers on the choice I need to make; I speak to you of patience and urge you to trust in your intuition. At times, the answers we seek lie outside the logical realm and require time, solace and assurance to discover.

3 of Swords

III of Swords

Separation | Rejection | Self-examination | Choice | Truth

I am the III of Swords – while I represent loneliness, rejection and heartache; I am also here to remind you to look to the heart of the matter. At times heartache comes from the truths we hold back from ourselves, and I stand by your side as the pain becomes a vehicle for re-discovering your centre; and moving forward with awareness.

4 of Swords

IV of Swords

Contemplation | Recuperation | Perspective

I am the IV of Swords – I recuperate with you on this introspective path of the mind; quietly insisting that you do need time to recover and retreat. While you rest, your intuition and dreams are set free to roam and broaden your perspective, as your strength is replenished.

5 of Swords

V of Swords

Action | Change | Standing firm | Belief

I am the V of Swords – I stand firm and victorious having overcome the mountain of challenges against my beliefs. I speak to you of conquering demons within and without, reminding you of how quiet contemplation (IV Swords), direction and persistence brings you closer to your Self.

6 of Swords

VI of Swords

Motion | Guidance | Reparation | Transition

I am the VI of Swords – taking you on a journey to calmer waters. I represent your sense of loss (of what was left behind), yet urge you to let go, and look to the future where a new phase is about to begin. On this passage between two phases, I invite you to seek clarity and understanding through contemplating your past without regrets.

7 of Swords

VII of Swords

Choice | Impulsive | Duplicity | Deceptiveness

I am the VII of Swords – I am impulsive and quick to take advantage of your mind on a whim, though my purpose is to show you that things are not always what they seem. I encourage you to look in more than one direction, in order to find clarity in your choices and direction.

8 of Swords

VIII of Swords

Illusion | Limitation | Confusion

I am the VIII of Swords – I meet with you on the path of the mind at a point when your thoughts are in turmoil; when you are deluded into believing that you do not know the way forward, I point to how easily the swords will free you from your bindings, and that your inner sight will guide you on the right track.

9 of Swords

IX of Swords

Avoidance | Suppression | Fears | Worry

I am the IX of Swords – I represent the deep dark recesses of your mind, which you would rather not face. When the nightmares keep you awake, I understand your anxieties, yet quietly encourage you to detect, face and understand the cause of your fears in order to ultimately free yourself of them.

10 of Swords

X of Swords

Defeat | Release | Renewal | Understanding

I am the X of Swords – representing defeat as I lie pinned down by the mental challenges faced while travelling though the mind. My guide shows me the dawning sunrise on the horizon, where I find acceptance and release with the universe. Ultimately I realise that the path of the mind is not about conquering through conflict; but accepting and achieving unity with the laws of nature.

Page of Swords

Page of Swords

Insightful | Dreams | Curious | Energetic

I am the Page of Swords – I am grounded yet prone to day-dreaming, and speak to you of the balance between fantasy and reality. I represent clarity and improvement with my perceptiveness and unique grasp on the cyclic laws of renewal in nature.

Knight of Swords

Knight of Swords

Conquering | Headstrong | Communicative

I am the Knight of Swords – I am powerful and bursting with life and energy, I speak to your ambitions, determination and sheer strength to succeed. I make my moves in a calculated manner, enjoying the heat of the moment in both battle and lust. While my personality is headstrong and righteous, my quest is noble, and while on my path I ask you to abandon fear and strike forth.

King of Swords

King of Swords

Retrospective | Analytical | Intellectual | Compassionate

I am the King of Swords – I rule with objectivity and fairness in mind, basing my decisions on logic, intellect, knowledge, and my ability to seek out the truth. I am a pillar of strength. When you turn to me for advice, I ask you to remain detached from the emotional aspects of life as I give you the impartial facts.

Queen of Swords

Queen of Swords

Wise | Analytical | Strong | Independent

I am the Queen of Swords – I welcome you to my dominion of sharp wit and clear intellect. You will find me wise, perceptive, honest, and experienced in the ways of the world. I encourage you to speak your mind with candour and lack of pretence.


A little Tarot History

ancient tarot cards

While the history surrounding the origin of the Tarot does vary – many sources suggest that an early form of Tarot was adapted into Western culture in the early to mid 1400s; a time when both card games and Cartomancy were becoming increasingly popular with people from all walks of life. Some historians believe that the Tarot originated in Italy, while others believe it was introduced to Europeans by the Gypsies travelling up from the Far East and India. Whichever way the introduction occurred, it is clear that the rich iconography made a lasting impression; which to this day sees the Tarot as a valuable and fascinating tool for introspection.

Reading Tarot fascinates, entices and entertains many, yet some fear that the cards have the power to predict imminent doom, or make bad things happen ... Detailed images, rich symbols, and complex patterns connecting the cards can provide insight to the querent and reader... However, the cards themselves have no special powers, and they will not make the future happen ... In many ways the cards can be seen as a tool for interpreting what the subconscious mind already knows (on some level), providing food for thought and choices for going forward.

When you start to see the patterns in the cards and how each card is connected to the other cards through an intricate visual language – the veil of mystery tends to give way to the acceptance that the visual clues presented in the cards, are there to simply help us 'see' on a deeper level.

Image: A Swiss deck from 1860 showing a selection of Major Arcana (or Trump) cards... and Gypsy card & poster from 1904

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Reading the Cards

Reading tarot cards

Interpreting the story of your life

The future is not set in stone ... new challenges, possibilities and opportunities are around every corner ... Tarot does not determine the future; instead, it encourages you to use your free will to change, grow and make positive choices in life. A reading can be as simple, light, funny, in-depth, curious or serious as you want it to be.

Tarot cards can be used and read in many different ways: You might pick a card each day to reflect on ... or more in-depth readings at special occasions or times of the year. Get to know your cards through handling and looking at them. Let the characters take you on a journey and allow the cards to speak to you ... Below, you'll find a few reading examples, which may inspire you in ways to use your cards:

Asking the Question...

Questions focussing on What and How can help provide more clarity in a reading ... For example:

  • What do I need to see more clearly ...? What can I do to help ...?
  • What do I need to focus on right now ...? What are my true feelings about ...?
  • How can I improve on my chances of ...? How How does X relate to Y ...?

shuffling cards

Shuffling the Cards

You have a deck of tarot cards in your hand, now what? ... Handling and shuffling your cards is a nice way to centre yourself and pause before a reading. How you mix the cards is very much up to you and what feels right for your hands. A new deck may take a little while to 'break in', so spending time with your cards is the best way to work out how you like to shuffle ...

As Tarot cards are often larger than playing cards, riffle or faro shuffling methods may bend or wear the edges. Instead, many 'step' shuffle the cards, or spread and mix the cards (up-side-down) on a flat surface, and then bring them back into a pile, or select cards to read from where they lie face-down.

This video shows how John Ballantrae (with a lovely Scottish accent) shuffles his cards. Note: during shuffling he turns the cards to include 'reverse' cards in the deck, some do, others don't – it won't hurt to try both and see what works best for you. Personally, I like to think of reverse cards as indicating a 'delay' or challenge, rather than being the complete opposite of the traditional meaning (which is one way of interpreting reverse cards).

Image: Two ways of starting a reading: Shuffle your deck and select cards from the top ... or, spread all cards face down in front of you; and select cards that appear to 'jump' out or say 'pick me' :)

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3 card reading

Three Card Spread

A three card reading is a simple and effective way of getting to know your cards: After shuffling the cards, select 3 cards in order from the top of the deck (or spread the cards up-side-down in front of you and select 3 cards that 'speak' to you).

Traditionally, the three card spread is interpreted as a linear description of your situation [1]Past, [2]Present, [3]Future. However, there are plenty of variations you can use to make this a flexible and interesting method of interpreting and learning about the cards.


5 card spread and Horseshoe spread

Five cards and beyond ...

Sometimes a simple one to three card reading is just right... Othertimes, more cards are needed to help connect the dots and provide clarity on a particular situation. Experiment with different spreads and see what works best for you, you may even like to explore further and come up with your own spread ...

Five Card Spread

This is one of my favourite spreads for 'snapshot' readings; five cards to help you reflect on a particular event or situation and gain a better picture of current influences, strengths and challenges associated with moving forward.


Horseshoe Spread

This popular spread delves deeper into underlying factors and past influences. The cards in this spread may help shed light on what affects a sitiation, along with advice on possible ways forward or where your strenghts and challenges lie in dealing with life events.


Celtic Cross Spread for in depth tarot reading

Celtic Cross Spread

The classic Celtic Cross spread offers even more in-depth detail, with 10 cards telling the story. In essence, the six first cards provide insight on the heart of the matter (the Situation) , both on an inner level (cards 1 & 2) and outer level (cards 3 – 6). The last four cards provide clarity on how influences & environment impact on what is happening. The final card in the spread (card 10) provides possible outcome or advice, which takes into account the previous nine cards.

There are several 'official' and plenty of personally modified versions of this spread; I normally lay the cards as shown below ... If you use the Celtic Cross, your version may be different again, the main thing is that the reading works for you.


Hopefully these reading spreads inspire you. If you want to find more, there are plenty of in-depth guides to reading tarot cards, both in books and online ... Once you become familiar with your cards you will discover what works for you and likely develop your own ways of reading the cards. Nine Lives Tarot reflects my personal interpretation of the tarot as a visual tool for interpreting and shedding light on the here and now... and I wish you joy on your journey with these cards.

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Symbolism in the Cards

Symbols in Nine Lives Tarot cards

I chose to connect my Tarot cards to cats and their nine lives; because of the way the Tarot depicts the cyclic movement through life. At no point does one card speak of finality and physical death, instead the cards work together to weave a picture of your life with an open road to interpretation ...

Some of the symbols I have incorporated in the cards:

  • Cat – often seen as a wise guide, clever enough to take the best route forward.
  • Raven – representing intuition and clarity of mind; the raven acts as a messenger.
  • Water – is the element of emotion and symbolises the flow of feelings.
  • Fire – burns with a passion and speaks of inspiration and action.
  • Clouds – allow the mind to wander and encourages free thought.
  • Mountains – symbolise the challenges and obstacles we meet along the way.
  • Books – hold the key to learning about and understanding the world we live in.
  • Yellow – symbolises intelligence & creativity – associated with the suit of Rods.
  • Red – the colour of blood, linked to the heart & associated with the suit of Cups.
  • Green – symbolises earth and growth – associated with the suit of Pentacles.
  • Indigo – colour of the midnight sky, linked to the mind & associated with the suit of Swords.

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Fun with Playing Cards

Inspiring things you can do with playing cards

My own passion for cards has sprung from the artwork and the inspiration to create new images and stories using pen and paint ... Though there are many ways to enjoy a deck of cards:

Magicians make cards disappear and then reappear ... Cardists turn a deck of cards into an artwork of a different kind, as they wield the cards in flourishes and twirls ... Players use skill and nerve to conceal, bid and reveal their hand ... Cartomancers lay cards in spreads to reveal their hidden meaning ... Collectors show off their wall-size collections of gorgeous decks ... Some discuss history, others design… All share a passion for cards.

Reading Playing Cards

Cartomancy or reading playing cards can be done in many different ways (just like tarot). The method I use is similar to reading only the Minor Arcana in tarot. Great for impromptu readings and gaining fresh insight on everyday events, influences and direction.

Card Games & Patience

Card games bring people together and can offer hours of fun & entertainment. Whether you just play for fun, or enjoy a more serious approach, there is no doubt that there is a definite thrill associated with a good hand of cards.

Playing Solitaire or laying patience can be both a meditative and addictive challenge for the mind ... Below is an article link where I've posted more in-depth suggestions for using and enjoying playing cards:

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More information & Links

Reviews and Articles featuring Nine Lives tarot & Playing Cards

Support, feedback and encouragement means the world and inspires me to keep creating new decks of cards. I am so grateful to everyone who takes the time to let me know their thoughts on cards they have received, or offer feedback on work in progress. Thank you all! :) ... If you are thinking about buying one of my decks and are curious about what others have to say, the links below may provide food for thought:

Forums and Online Inspiration

For design updates, I invite you to visit my Art Blog. The following places are also well worth visiting for inspiration and delving into the joys of collecting, playing, reading and enjoying cards:

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