One of the best ways to learn to work with the Tarot in a more personal way is to focus in on one archetype for a period of time. You can do this by random selection, by finding your Soul or Personality cards (future posts on this to come), or by choosing a significator, or figuring out your Year card. I like working with a Year card, because it changes every year.
How to Find Your Year Card
The Year card is determined by the following formula:
- Add the month and day of your birth to the current year. For example, if you were born August 4: 8+4+2018=2030; then break down this number by adding each digit: 2+0+3+0=5 (you always keep the highest number up to 22—The Fool). If the number is 23 or higher, just keep breaking down and adding the separate digits.
- Take the end result, in this case 5, and find the card in the Major Arcana that corresponds to the number. Here, the Year card would be the Hierophant. If you have your own Tarot deck, the number will be on the card. Even if you have non-traditional decks, you can still find a Year card, but may have to adjust the highest number possible to reflect the number of cards in the deck that you are using.
Why Use a Year Card?
Why would you want to focus on a card in this way? Well, I’ve seen that for many–myself included–it can be challenging to try and take in the whole Tarot. You may not always have time to do readings. But working with the one archetype, that is “yours” for the year, helps to focus in on a specific set of archetypal roles, tools, and wisdom.
Your Year card can help you throughout the year whenever you need guidance. Your intuition will grow in the process of using the card, and by allowing the card to be the doorway through which you enter to solve problems, you’ll be able to find creative solutions that you may never have arrived at otherwise.
This is a fantastic way to build a deeply personal relationship with the Tarot.
How Do You Use the Year Card?
Here’s a helpful little visualization to get you started–we’ll use the Hierophant to illustrate.
Before you jump into the traditional meanings of the Hierophant, take a few moments to just look with a soft focus at the imagery on the card. Pick one aspect of the card that you are drawn to. It may be the color of the robe, his scepter, or an animal or plant that is in the image. Don’t overthink it–just pick the image you are drawn to most and then close your eyes. Keep the image in your mind’s eye. Then ask the image, “what do you have to teach me about relationships this year?” (or whatever is up for you).
The Tarot works with the subconscious mind and our intuition. Choosing one of the images on the card allows your right brain to kick in and deliver answers–much like dreams do. Whatever you ask about, record (use your phone or journal) the first answer which comes to you, even if it doesn’t make sense. Ask the image however many questions you need to. Move quickly through the questions and don’t overthink it, to really let you wise self come through.
Don’t worry if you feel a little self-conscious with this exercise at first. Don’t make it into a life-or-death thing–be playful, and see what shows up. Your intuition is most able to speak when you are relaxed and unattached. Tarot images have been activating the intuitive aspect of the self for hundreds of years. Trust that you have a conduit to wisdom that the cards can help to open and inspire. It doesn’t really matter if you don’t believe that you have intuition (you do), or don’t believe in God or some kind of higher guidance. Everyone responds to imagery, both consciously and subconsciously. If you like, you can consider that the Tarot sparks communication from your own store of subconscious wisdom and knowledge.
Work with your card often, and pick whatever image arises as you sit down to do this exercise. You can also work with the card as a whole too. It’s good to have a good Tarot book for the traditional meanings. As always, I recommend Jana Riley’s Tarot Dictionary and Compendium but there are a ton of good books out there. If your deck has a particular body of knowledge associated with it, like the Thoth deck, get the book that most pertains. The little white books that come with most decks are ok, but they aren’t that comprehensive–you’ll get frustrated with them right away if you are a beginner.
How to Apply the Guidance You Get
Let’s take a hypothetical example to see how this works. I’ll make up a situation. Let’s say I have a client, Suzy, and she’s in a big transition. Her kids have left the nest, and she’s been struggling as a single mom to find a good relationship for many years. Now she really feels alone, and is bored with her job as a nurse too. She’s stuck.
Suzy is aware of some of her patterns, and that in relationships she tends toward being needy and even co-dependent. One message she gets from the Hierophant may be that she has more to offer than she thinks she does–she has her own wisdom and strength. The Hierophant is a figure of authority, a teacher, a priest, a leader. So if she gets the guidance “develop your spiritual path and self-reliance” this makes sense, coming from this archetype. But it may not have been the way forward she would have “thought up” herself, without the card.
One thing that Suzy might do, as a result of this guidance, is to seek out a spiritual teacher or perhaps a community. Maybe she decides to start attending a meditation group that is focused on conscious relating. Maybe in the process of taking this step, she meets some great people, and finds a person who is working on himself too who wants to get to know her. Because of the openness and trust created by the group, she’s able to talk to him about her patterns and vice versa. The Hierophant reminds her to keep up her strength and self-trust as she begins a new relationship. As issues arise, she can go back to the process with the card for more guidance. She is becoming her own teacher (Hierophant) by accessing her intuitive wisdom.
This is just a hypothetical, but I’ve seen first hand how when people open to the flow that comes through working with an archetype, they come up with solutions that they never would have thought of with their conscious minds. It’s like that Einstein quote about not being able to find solutions with the same mind/place/context that created the problems.
And Suzy–or you!–can go on to play with her other issues in the same way. Maybe the Hierophant guides her to find a job that is more spiritually rewarding and that challenges her to learn new things. Or to address missing her kids by starting a blog that is an open letter to them–or anyone else that might benefit from the loving wisdom and care of her maternal side.
Get the idea? You can’t know how guidance will unfold until you start playing with it!
Spending time with one card like this–even, or maybe especially the “challenging” cards–is fascinating and crazy illuminating. Keep it fun. You can also go back and find the Year cards for past years and use the symbols and this process to integrate and further understand past lessons.
Any time is a great time to dig into your year card. Just use the formula and start! If you need help, we can use your Year card in a one or two question reading. Just give me a shout.
Enjoy the process 🙂