Look for spreads of archetype cards in, for example, your school's yearbook, as they offer ready-made templates for interpreting your own Tarot cards. Shuffle your deck and place one Tarot card atop each yearbook card. The yearbook cards provide contexts for understanding each of your Tarot cards. To use an example that's out of copyright, consider this card spread from Otterbein College’s Sibyl yearbook, 1905 (below). We see three archetypes: “Studious Tommy,” a crying baby “Louie,” and a “Bad Little Hank.” A Tarot card placed upon Studious Tommy would point toward an area that needs to be studied or researched to reveal the whole story. A Tarot card placed upon crying Louie would refer to an element of life that is like a petty dictator, currently dominating but of very little true power. A Tarot card placed upon Bad Little Hank would reveal a costly threat; Hank’s motto on the card refers to the historical highwayman who commanded victims to hand over their valuables: “Stand and deliver, your money or your life!” The question Hank asks is, what is being demanded of you, and is it worth dying over?
Here’s an additional spread from that yearbook, with different archetypes. We’re introduced to “Little Noah” sitting on Homer’s Iliad, “Naughty Little Rudy” tormenting a cat, and “Our Darling Charlie” the walking encyclopedia. A Tarot card placed upon Little Noah would point to an area that’s “all Greek to me”—something that’s completely misunderstood but which might come to light by delving into the classics. A Tarot card placed upon Naughty Little Rudy might suggest a solution to a particular torment, maltreatment, or mischief. A Tarot card placed upon Our Darling Charlie would refer to an issue that has been covered by the world’s collective wisdom, calling for refreshing one’s memory of time-honored adages.
See what you make of this next set, with a baby trying to make his hair grow before he has developed enough, a boy who was “Made in Germany” (pride or xenophobia?), and a nursing baby’s first lesson in chemistry (nature vs. nurture?).
For more on using Tarot cards in unusual contexts, see How to Hoodoo Hack a Yearbook (from which this post was excerpted).
— Craig Conley is author of The Young Wizard's Hexopedia, the Tarot of Portmeirion, HarperCollins' One-Letter Words: A Dictionary, Pomegranate's One Letter Words Knowledge Cards Deck, and Weiser Books' Magic Words: A Dictionary. He is co-author of New Star Books' Franzlations: A Guide to the Imaginary Parables. He has published dozens of articles in such magazines as Verbatim, Pentacle, Mothering, and Magic. His work has been profiled in the New York Times, the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News, Publishers Weekly, The Associated Press, and dozens of others.