What if? A creative technique
The TAT of tarot cards

Set my place

Dreamstime_xs_64364239. modified for blog postReady for another twist on reading tarot cards?

In this technique, you choose where you want to place a card.

The technique


A sample reading

Related techniques

The technique

  1. Choose any spread and note its positions. The most interesting ones for this technique have five or more cards. (See the spread in the sample reading below, or consider an old favourite, The Horseshoe spread.)
  2. Shuffle your deck and choose the number of cards you need. Place them face down in a small pile before you.
  3. Turn up the first card, and decide where to place it. If you turn up the Tower, for example, you might place it in the "Past" position. (Upsetting events are best in the past, not so?) Don't think about why you are placing the card in a particular position. Work quickly and intuitively.
  4. Now for the catch: once you have placed a card, you cannot move it. This means that by the last card, you have no control over where it goes.
  5. Before you start your reading, write down why you wanted to place a card in a particular position. Maybe you draw the Ten of Cups; you might place this card in the "Present" position. (Who wouldn't want to be in such a blissful state?)
  6. Finally, read the spread in the usual way. What else could these cards mean?


  1. Don't worry whether a card is 'telling the truth' in its position. If you are unhappy, you may still choose the Ten of Cups for "Present" because that's what you want to be.
  2. What is essential in this reading is BOTH why you placed a card where you did and what you now read into the cards. The first few cards point to your wishes for your situation; you have no control over the last card or two, so read them from that perspective.

Note also that while you have some control over where the cards go, you have no control over which cards you draw. You might find this significant.

The last step is to consider the cards you have drawn. What do you think of these cards as "the answer" to your question? Which influences would they suggest surround you? How far apart are your wishes for this position and the card you drew? How can you attain the desired state if you drew the Ten of Cups in an unhappy situation?

These questions are all material for reflection. You might even find that you intuitively placed a card that doesn't seem to "make sense" in your situation. Why did you do that? What does it tell you about your real feelings?

A sample reading

I have come to a point in my project where I have completed some parts, but the work continues. My question is, "What do I need to know about the current state of my project?" See the image below for my five-card spread.

The first card I draw is Temperance. I like the idea of an angel in the "Blessing" or "Above" position, so I place the card there.

The second card I draw is Judgement, which I place in the "Below" or "Root cause" position. (I sincerely hope that my project is based on sound judgement!)

The third card I draw is the Nine of Wands. I place this card in the "Behind me" position (hoping the future holds fewer struggles than the past).

The fourth card I draw is the Three of Cups. I place this card in the "Before me" position, hoping the future holds abundance and good relationships with my clients.

The last card I draw is the Magician, and only one card position remains, "Present."

Blog post Set my place

  1. Present
  2. Below me (root cause)
  3. Behind me (recent past)
  4. Above me (a blessing)
  5. Before me (future)

The first card, the Magician (in the middle), is the one I had the least control over. I feel good about having the Magician there, suggesting complete control and power. The card also suggests that I have the skills and knowledge I need for the next stage.

The second card, Judgement (below the Magician), I could have placed in the "Present" position, but finally chose "Below me" (the only other position still open) as a present dominated by Judgement seemed somewhat frightening. (I need to reflect on why this is so.) My interpretation is that I am doing what I feel "called for."

The third card, the Nine of Wands (to the left of the Magician), suggests that I have had to struggle and fight to get where I am. The card also represents courage and endurance, which I like.

The fourth card, Temperance (the card above the Magician), was the first card I drew, so I had five options for its position. While I chose "Above me" because I liked the idea of an angel keeping watch "above me," I also interpret the card as needing the quiet strengths of balance, moderation, and patience for my future work. In addition, the card also suggests "adjustment" or "tempering," which points to the hacking, hoeing and hewing still needed.

The fifth card, the Three of Cups (to the right of the Magician), I placed there because I was hoping for a fun time ahead (!), but I also interpret it now as having to share what I have learned with others.

Image: Illustration 64364239 © Valbap | Dreamstime.com

[This technique was first described in SynTAROTis.]

Related techniques

If you enjoy these different takes on tarot reading, explore these techniques:

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