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layouts * Tarot Poker, daily maintenance, yes/no, the Hermes Trismegistus, To be or not to be ?? so

Before the querist begins to shuffle the cards is usually a good time to explain the layout to be used. Show where the cards will be placed on the table or floor after being selected. Be clear to let them know that the cards are to be placed face down when placing the card in the layout. And remember to allow for “mistakes,” and other seemingly inappropriate occurrences, as any random “happenstance” can all be “clues” as to what is going on with the querist, and of value when it comes to your sharing.

illustration Roy Gonzalez

Tarot Poker – sharing the practice of Tarot

Find a friend or neighbor and begin to acquaint yourself with Tarot. Start by going through the deck and pick a card face up that best represents how you sense or feel about your partner at this moment. Place that card face down in front of them. Pick a second card face down, with the same question, and place that again in front of the other person, but closer to you this time. Your partner does the same. Next you again go through the deck face up to select a card that best represents your relationship with this person, and set that between the two of you. Pick a second card, with again the same question, except this time select a card from the deck face down. Place that down next to the previous card between you. Have your fellow Tarotist do the same. Alternating turns, turn over one card at a time and explain to the other person your reasoning for selecting the face up cards? When turning over a subsequent card that was chosen face down, read for that card in relationship to the card previously chosen face up. Don’t be afraid to “ante up,” and be truthful in reflecting your partner, or to “call their bluff” on things.

daily maintenance

Picking a card a day is good medicine. After selecting your card for the day, hold that image as your meditation for the day. You can also choose your card of choice face up to “hold space” for that image.

A question is not required for a card of the day, as it is implicit that your query is simply to uncover what is going on with you, as things stand today. It is a good practice in familiarizing yourself with the deck.


If you have a yes/no question, ask the question if yes, or no. Ask what element or aspect within yourself will be at play if you say yes, or follow through on your supposition; and ask similarly of a card if the answer is no, or you choose not to follow up with things? Note: “maybe” usually means “no.”

the Hermes Trismegistus or “thrice great”

Pick a card for what’s going on with her (communication) in the relationship. Pick a card for what’s going on with him (wisdom) in the relationship. The third card represents what is going on between the two of you (alchemy) in the relationship. Note: the whole is infinitely greater than the sum of its parts.

Gateless Gate by Zen Del Rio

To be or not to be?

Pick a card that represents your past in relationship to your question. Pick a card for the present situation in relationship to your question. Your third card is read in terms of what your future may hold, in relationship to the question you have asked, and in relationship to your past and present cards.


The first card represents the current situation at hand. The second card calls into play any obstacle that may be interfering with things? Your third card is your ally in this situation, and the fourth card is the possible outcome. Come clean with this reading, but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

cross currents

The traditional ten card Tarot spread is often used as an annual reading, or perhaps at equinox or solstice as a quarterly check in. One’s birthday or the new year are popular times for a more extensive and in depth reading as well. The suggestion is to use the below more for a contemplative look within, in relation to what it may bode for without. Relationships between cards are especially helpful in weaving together your story. Look for groupings of colors, suits, numbers, and upon first turning the cards over, look and see if there is any picture or thought that strikes you while looking upon the whole of things?

The natural starting point is at the navel, however if you are drawn to a particular card in the layout, don’t hesitate to start there, or at least make an initial foray based on what you sense. There is no order in which to read the cards. Clockwise is the prevailing direction in harmony with energies in the northern hemisphere, and vice versa for the southern hemisphere. That said, reading “moonwise,” or in the counterclockwise direction, may work well if you would like to stir things up, as any surfer worth his saltwater knows that our low pressure storm fronts spin counterclockwise, and provide us with the swell that we are dependent upon. Share of the beauty of the ocean immemorial that you well know, and of the stoke and awe that you have in your very bones and body, from surfing this life as “only a surfer knows the feeling.” Tarot as truthteller and scry is powerful tool to assess like emanations of spirit.

1) roots – What does the template, blueprint, or workorder for the self, look like at this present moment? What is your burning question? What is it that really lights your fire? Where does your passion lie? What is your truest of natures? What is at the core essence of your being? Where are you at, right here, and right now? Who are you? What’s up for you this year?

2) heart – Where are you at in relationship to your ocean of emotion? Can you be love? Are you a compassionate being? How heartfelt or heartful are you? How are you feeling about things?

3) mind – Check your head. What is your relationship to your mental faculties? How thoughtful or mindful are you? Do you hold false values or have issues of attachment? Do you have an intellectual basis and foundation for your feelings and sentiment? What are you thinking?

4) body – How is your vibe? How do people resonate with you when you walk into a room? What does your body language have to say about you? What truth does your body hold for you? What is your relationship with your ethereal body? What is your body image of your self?

5) spirit/masculine – What is worth pursuing in your life? What inspires you? What spirits you on your way? How do you make things happen? How do you get it done? What is your spiritual practice? What is application for you? How do you apply yourself? How do you do?

6) soul/feminine – What is your level of receptivity and sensitivity? Where do you need to soften and warm in order to better receive? What is your relationship to your feminine aspect? Are you gracious? How graceful are you? How do you hold space for love? Can you just be?

7) funds – How is flow in your life? How is your cash flow? What is fun for you? How are your funds? What is your relationship with finance? How do you get along with things?

8) work – What is work for you? What is right livelihood for you? What is your contribution to make to this world? Are you career oriented? Are you a material girl? What works for you?

9) relations – What is your relationship with all your relations? How are you in relationship with the birds and the bees, the you and the me, the trees and the sea? How are you in relationship with all things? How do you treat yourself, and others? Do you treat yourself and others well?

10) home – Are you home alone, home bound, or at home on the range? Are you homegrown? Is home sweet home where the heart is for you? Where do you really feel welcome, at home and at ease? What is community for you? What place is it that you really feel that you belong?

If the querist has another pressing question or two, feel free to have them draw additional cards relating to those queries. Simply set the face down cards to the side, and come back to them individually, after the reading is complete. If spent, you can ask them to read the corresponding passage in the book.

native sun – face up readings

You don’t frost a burnt cake. And not unlike after spicy chutney, sometimes it’s nice to have the riata to follow up with. Consider a face up reading to augment the traditional face down practice of Tarot. Go through the deck and pick the ten cards that really speak to you. Intentionally place them in the arrangement of your choice, similar to the above layout. Choose how you would like your finances to be, your masculine aspect to be, your heart, your home, etc. Jot down your layout and make some notes as to how you would like to hold space for yourself. Compare notes with the face down reading of like ilk.

Take things one step further and pick three other cards face up, that are three things you would like to work on and see come to fruition for you in the coming months, or timing and spacing of your choice. Place these three cards underneath the original ten card layout previously ventured. Consider them “seeds” planted at the root of your personal “tree of life.” Let things come to life of their own volition.

illustration by Zen Del Rio

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