An Astrologer Looks at the Tarot

Tarot’s Advantages
By Lalia Wilson

Scan 30

Image from the Pamela Coleman Commerative Set
Rider Waite Smith Centennial Edition Deck

I have some perspective on astrology, after more than 50 years of study.  I also got my first tarot deck, the Rider Waite Smith, in 1969, so I have experience with tarot as well. These two metaphysical tools are different from each other and neither is “better” than the other.  Let’s look at some of the advantages of the tarot.

First, tarot is not “easier” than astrology.  What it represents is a different kind of thinking.  Some tarot readers are adept at doing astrology as well as tarot, and vice versa, but the skills only overlap, they are not the same. In tarot you have to consider the meanings of the cards, the enhancements of a particular deck, what a client will be able to absorb, how you can frame the answer so that the client gets the message, and so forth. It is not easy. The more you know about tarot, and about working with clients, the better you will be able to satisfy those who consult you. Your amount of experience matters, just as it does for astrologers.

What does tarot more easily lend itself to? Tarot tells stories easily. (This is much harder to do in astrology.) The person you are doing a reading for will tune in to the reading more easily because you can gracefully construct a story line from the cards presented in the reading. Further, because the cards have pictures, you can display the cards so the client can see the cards as you explain each one and how it relates to their question and to the other cards. In some ways it is like a picture book being read to a child. 

Because the art of the tarot itself communicates to you and your client, choose carefully which decks to use for which clients. You want the images to convey the message effectively, without you needing to expound at length about each card.  (Okay, I’m not saying you should be silent, or not point out significant images in the card, but it should be able to convey its meaning without you.)  Thus, using a deck with a consistent theme and powerful art is important in the process of working with a client.

Another advantage of tarot is that it requires little or no prep time. Other than being of clear mind and setting aside your attention to your life, so as to be present to your client, and having a private space to read, you can start right away. Astrologers need to verify the person’s birth time and ask them questions and perhaps rectify the chart before they can even begin to read it. Astrologers also need to put aside their private worries and attend to the client. They also need a private space for the reading.

One major advantage tarot has is the matter of directly answering many questions that astrology classifies as “horary” astrology.  While questions about finances, love and health can be read from the natal chart, questions like “Where will I find my lost black wallet?” are answered in astrology by an horary chart for the time and place of the question. The rules of horary are complex and time-consuming.  In tarot, you just need to draw a card! (Some will draw three, but the principle is the same.) Both techniques require that the question be framed correctly, again an area in which tarot readers have a dramatic advantage, as framing questions is a fundamental part of reading tarot. Personally, I draw a card for myself in these situations, and discourage clients from requesting an horary chart.

Let’s look more deeply at the question about the wallet above. Suppose we drew the Fool card from the Radiant Rider-Waite deck. Three or four answers immediately come to mind.  I would start by asking the client if she had recently gone hiking or camping. Did she have her wallet with her? Could she have dropped it while on the trail? Another option from this Fool card would be to ask if she has a puppy who might have carried the wallet away to chew on. (Or an older dog, or a cat…) My third choice would be to ask if she might have stored her wallet inside another bag, purse, backpack or luggage—making use of the pack shown in the Fool card. If the client still has not found the wallet, I would ask if she was gardening and might have dropped it outside, referring to the flowers in the card. A final approach, from this card, would be to ask if she has any pictures of mountains in her home or office.  Could she have left the wallet near the picture?

In astrology, this question would be answered more laboriously by something like this: the wallet is in a high place in a utilitarian piece of furniture. You will find it in 23 hours, or 23 days or 23 weeks. 

Another use of tarot is as a meditation focus. While astrology charts can be used in this way, it is not nearly as easy or effective. If you want to directly experience something through meditation, using a well-chosen card from a tarot deck that speaks to you, is the easiest way to get there. Want to know about Love? Choose one of several tarot cards that might indicate love:

Ace of Cups, Two of Cups, Ten of Cups, Queen or King of Cups, VI the Lovers… 

This is just a beginning. If you are thinking about yourself and someone else, choose significator cards for each of you and meditate on the pair of cards. For example: the Queen of Wands and the King of Swords. How would they interact? What would each find attractive in the other? How might they disagree? In this pairing, who would run the household? Who would do the chores? To fully explain this approach would be a column by itself, so we will reserve all the ways of meditating on cards to the future.  The take-away is that as a meditation technique, tarot is far superior to astrology!

All submissions remain the property of their respective authors. All images are used with permission. Tarot Reflections is published by the American Tarot Association - 2016  Questions? Comments? Contact us at