I thought I’d share this tarot layout, which I use as a kind of life check-up instead of the Celtic cross. For me, the astrological houses work with more clarity.
I’ve found that decks that focus on just one aspect of life (entirely spiritual ones, usually) don’t work well with this layout. Choose one that directly addresses all aspects of life for the best reading.
In your mind, draw an imaginary equal-armed cross. The traditional astrological wheel has the 1st house on the left horizontal arm and counts around counterclockwise from there. Do whatever makes you comfortable; when I don’t have space, I just count out a stack of 12 cards and go to work.
The wheel looks like this (more or less; a diamond takes up a little less space):
The first house is the one with the blue stone next to it. (The deck shown is the New Orleans Voodoo Tarot.)
The (very) simplified meaning of the houses is:
House 1 – Aries (identity, self-worth, self-awareness)
House 2 – Taurus (money and security)
House 3 – Gemini (mind, intellect, communication)
House 4 – Cancer (home, childhood, mother, women, emotions)
House 5 – Leo (fun, joy, pleasure, children, creativity)
House 6 – Virgo (healing and service)
House 7 – Libra (relationships, partnerships)
House 8 – Scorpio (sex, death, regeneration, basic life resources)
House 9 – Sagittarius (higher education, philosophy, religion, travel, expansion, growth)
House 10 – Capricorn (career, father, men, later life, social standing)
House 11 – Aquarius (friends, social activities, greater humanity, hopes and dreams)
House 12 – Pisces (secrets, self-undoing, delusion, completion, inner self)
That’s a lot of information, but there are ways to organize it.
1. Look at houses where major arcana fall. They will often relate to one another, and will always be focal points for the period covered by the reading.
2. Look at the opposed houses; they are usually in dialogue in a reading. They are:
1 and 7: the individual / partnership
2 and 8: money, security / basic life resources, upsetting forces
3 and 9: intellect, early education, short trips / wisdom, higher education, long trips
4 and 10: home, early childhood, mother, women / career, later adulthood, father, men
5 and 11: fun, immediate pleasures, children / higher aspirations, hopes and dreams, friends
6 and 12: the practical and daily, health and healing / the mystical and dreamy, self-undoing
3. You can usually find the root theme of the reading by looking at houses 12 and 1 — the inner self and the outer/expressed self. Their interaction is often the frame the rest of the reading hangs on.
4. If you know some astrological information for the person you’re reading for, it can really open up this reading. The houses ruled by the person’s Sun, Ascendant, and Moon are nearly always important in readings. If you have a good chart for the querent, it can be very useful in this reading. My natal 3rd and 10th houses are very busy, for example, so they’re always worth extra attention. If you have some astrological knowledge, the Saturn return and Chiron return will have profound effects on this reading; I’ve found that if someone is in either of the returns, the reading will want to discuss that and little or nothing else. (Not up on those things? If the reading seems to want to harp and harp and harp on one issue in various forms and do nothing else, the querent is likely turning or has just turned 30 or 50 years old.)
Generally, the more you know about astrology and the natal chart of the querent, the deeper the reading will be. I’ve used it to read for a few people in their Saturn returns, and the information opened up was amazing.
(I asked the cards to give me a good sample reading with which to explain this layout. If anyone’s interested, I’ll dig into it in a separate entry as if it’s for a person for whom I have no astrological information.)