More Thoughts on the Trump Cards

Not long ago I posted a detailed essay on how I think the Major Arcana (aka “trump” cards) operate in divination.

Since that time I’ve had occasion to further consider their significance in readings that explore situational developments where external factors are likely to play a part. As before, I seldom see them as precipitating major events; this is especially true when doing “majors-only”  readings where every card carries the same weight. Since they comprise almost one-third of the 78-card deck, there aren’t enough days in the week for something “big” to happen every time one turns up, and that has been precisely my experience in working with them. So I needed a new working hypothesis.

I’m now inclined to see them as representing important incentives or disincentives offered for the querent’s interaction by external circumstances and, when court cards are also present, by other people who have a stake in the situation. They don’t necessarily cause an event, but they can create a “fertile field” that is ripe for cultivation, such that any action taken is either amplified in a positive sense or exaggerated in a more negative way; either the “time is right” or it most certainly isn’t, depending on the nature of the card. They are cards of “big gestures,” not subtle hints, and when one shows up it is advisable to at least pay attention to its message, even if nothing as momentous as is usually associated with it is likely to happen in our daily life. Once in a blue moon it may manifest in a consequential way and it wouldn’t do to be caught napping.

2 thoughts on “More Thoughts on the Trump Cards

  1. I’m intrigued by this formulation, but I’m not quite sure that I follow you. I hope that you do a follow up entry where you can demonstrate this approach to the trumps in practice.


    • A long time ago (1972 to be exact) I came across Eden Gray’s statement in her 1960 book, The Tarot Revealed, that the Major Arcana can show “powerful outside forces at work on the subject’s affairs.” I’ve been operating under that assumption ever since, but there has been precious little “proof in the pudding” to convince me that these forces are anything more than potential, requiring the querent’s cooperation (or collusion) to make them anything more than that. My long-held belief has been that we can neither avoid nor fully deflect these forces, so the only option open to us is to adapt or adjust to their influence. But I’m no longer so sure of that based on decades of experience. They seem more like background themes or “stage-setters” to me now.


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