At first glance, tarot and astrology seem to be completely separate entities. After all, how can cards and the cosmos even be in the same league? Closer inspection reveals various similarities though, and their introspective uses are very similar. So why not overlap them?
Depending on how strong your interest in astrology is, you may already know that everyone has more than just a sun sign. If not, here’s a quick rundown to get started. It is widely known that there are twelve signs in astrology, but the world would be a very simple place if everyone fell into one of twelve categories. The truth is a lot more complicated, which is actually a very good thing! Just as the cosmos is an amazingly complex system influenced by seemingly endless factors, so too are we as individuals.
Our sun signs are the ones most think of first when talking about astrology. They are the ones you’ll see on almost every astrology website or magazine horoscope, and for good reason: they rule our ego, motivations, and personal power. Beyond that, there are many more signs that influence different aspects of a person’s life and personality. The main ones are the moon, rising (or ascendant), and midheaven signs. Your moon sign influences your emotions, intuition, and subconscious needs, your rising sign can be seen as the ‘first impression’ you give off, and midheaven signs deal with aspirations and social standings.
Although understanding the complexities of each of the twelve archetypal signs in relation to where they are in your birth chart can seem like a daunting task, seeing them in simplified terms of type and element can help you get started. Firstly, the signs can be divided into three main ‘modalities,’ or types: cardinal, fixed, and mutable. Stephen Arroyo did a good job of explaining this in his book, so I’ll explain them in his words.
Cardinal signs (Capricorn, Cancer, Aries, Libra) represent centrifugal (i.e. moving away from a center) energy. Aries and Libra, the ‘positive’ cardinal signs, tend to focus on the future, while the ‘negative’ cardinal signs Capricorn and Cancer are more concerned with the past. Meanwhile, fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius) represent centripetal (i.e. moving towards a center) energy, and remain most grounded in the present here and now. Basically, think of extrospection and introspection for the cardinal and fixed signs. Lastly, the mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces) represent ‘spiraling’ energy (uh, yeah, I don’t know, just roll with it. Arroyo focuses a lot on energy in his books) and are generally focused on harmony. Similar to the cardinal signs, ‘downward spiraling’ signs Pisces and Virgo direct most of their attention to the past, while ‘upward spiraling’ Gemini and Sagittarius are more future-oriented.
Next, the elements of the signs can be used to understand how their consciousness works. To quote Arroyo again, air signs are mostly correlated with sensation, perception, and intellect. Fire signs are best influenced by radiating and fiery aspects like ego, love, and action. Water signs are all about sensitivity, intuition, and emotions. Finally, earth signs are most attuned to the physical world of practicality, stability, and authenticity.
So, how does all of this relate to tarot? Well, as mentioned in a previous article, the minor arcana in tarot are divided into four elements, the same as astrology. The traits associated with the elements in tarot are largely the same as well. Using this information can help you understand which area needs focus in your life (or the life of the person you’re reading for) based on which elements are the most prominent in a reading. The introspective nature of both astrology and tarot also becomes beautifully aligned as tarot highlights the patterns which are already happening in the cosmos in a form that is tangible and simple enough for us to understand on a day-to-day level. By using tarot to gain perspective on astrological events like retrogrades and eclipses, it allows us to stay grounded and prepared for whatever life brings us. If you are someone who reads for other people, astrology can also be useful in helping you gain an insight into what motivates and influences them.
On a more personal level, tarot can also help us reach self-actualisation if we couple it with knowledge of our own birth chart. Liz Worth does this well in her article in which she shows how you can use your sign to identify key influences and weaknesses your sign is most likely to deal with, and form questions which can help you gain perspective on your journey.
A lot of the work done in tarot requires you to tap into your intuition and empathy, but it’s still normal to get lost sometimes, especially when you’re still a beginner. By using astrology for understanding a situation or a querent (i.e. the person asking the question in a reading), pinpointing the message behind the cards can become a lot easier. As always, the best way to improve your craft is through practice. Even if everything feels complex and unclear, it’s important to reflect on yourself and remember how much you have grown up until now. Remember, the journey is just as valuable as the destination!