The 21 Principles of Tarot – XIV

Tarot Principles 14

XIV. You Do Not Need to Know Everything


Tarot is an imitation of life in as much as life is an imitation of reality.

In a reading we can see the map laid out, but it will always be incomplete.

Tarot allows us to make a map of the map.

So, we might wonder from every reading, what new land has been revealed.

Remember then, from the very beginning, to look as far as you can, knowing that you cannot see everything.

This will never be any different, from the beginning to the end.


Extended Commentary

There is always something new to learn in that the universe is a process of radical enquiry. The landscape of the soul is revealed in relationship to reality through the illustrations of the tarot. It neither predicts nor prescribes, it is only a presumption. At the very least, the cards offer us a constraint, a check and a challenge. They may highlight the resources and signpost us to the lessons. But it is up to us to travel, to do, to act, to go. There is a reason there are 21 principles and not 22.



Today we have several simple practices which are recommended to be done quickly and in sequence, without too much preparation.

As we do not need to know everything, and some things will always be tempered by our ability and experience, we can simply practice for fun.

Exercise 1


Shuffle Your Deck, thinking, “Tell me something funny”.

Select a card. Look at it, note it, perhaps consider what it is saying.

Return it to the deck and carry out exercise 2.

Example 1

10 of Wands

10 of Wands: The funny thing is that the more you carry, the less likely you are to know where you’re going.

Exercise 2


Shuffle your Deck, passing it from one hand to the other like a flow of water.

Think, “What is best and what is worst right now?”

Take two cards, top and bottom and look at them.

Note them.

Perhaps consider whether they answer the question immediately.

Compare whether they are Court Cards, Minors or Majors, and if that tells you anything else immediately.

Return the two cards to the deck and carry out exercise 3.

Example 2

Best and Worst Cards

3 of Wands & 5 of Swords: The best thing is that your plans are set in motion but the worst thing is that it opens you up to failure.

Exercise 3


Shuffle your Deck, passing it from hand to hand.

Think, “What is Question I have not Asked and What is the Answer?”

Select the top card from the deck and consider it as a question.

Is it one you had not thought to ask?

Turn the deck upside-down and look at the bottom card.

Consider it the answer.

Does it answer the unthought question?

Example 3

Example 3aExample 3bExample 3c

4 of Cups & 9 of Cups: You need to ask a question about what you are ignoring and the answer to that is – your own happiness.

Exercise 4


Shuffle your Deck, considering that we sometimes have two conflicting parts of ourselves.

Turn the cards over one at a time until you have a Court Card.

Lay out the Court Card and continue turning the pile until you have a second Court Card.

Lay the two Court Cards side by side.

Look at them during the day.

At night, consider both of them before you go to sleep.

Perhaps consider them in a relationship. What would that be like?

Record any dreams in the morning or your general feeling when you look at the two cards in the fresh light of the morning.

Notice any changes in your own attitude or behaviour – no matter how apparently insignificant or obvious – during the day.

Also notice any strange occurrences.

Example 4

Example 4

King of Swords & Queen of Pentacles: A contrast or complement of Cutting & Nurturing.




Perform these exercises as a flow and as play, whilst remaining aware they can be powerful and significant.


Intermediate/Advanced Exercise


Continue to shuffle.

Think, “Tell me a New Exercise that I could do with the Tarot”.

Draw 2 Cards and spend time developing a whole new way of working with your cards from the suggestion of the two cards.

You can draw a third card if required for further inspiration.

This method produced the Fourth Exercise.


Example Intermediate Exercise

I drew the Queen of Wands and the Knight of Swords, so I thought to develop an exercise using two Court cards. I drew a third card and it suggested a sleeping figure, so I felt that the exercise should involve sleeping on it. This led to the development of Exercise 4.

In this way, we can map the map and continue to explore a limitless world in which we can never know everything.

Each of the 21 Principles will build together and give you absolute confidence in reading tarot in three weeks.

This exercise is a modification of one of the fifty exercises found in Tarosophy: Tarot to Engage Life, Not Escape it.

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