The Tarot Muse
Carolyn R. Guss
Certified Professional Tarot Reader and Teacher

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Tarot and the Arrows of Love –

by Carolyn R. Guss, The Tarot Muse ©


  Ask a Tarot reader—whether amateur, professional, or somewhere in between—her most frequently requested subject, and she will undoubtedly reply romance. Love, intimacy, affairs of the heart engage us, whether we are involved in a partnership (flourishing or withering) or are seeking one. Those in the former category want to know, Will it last? or How can I make it better? Those seeking love have a list of questions that resembles a journalistic lead-in: Who, What, Where, When, Why, How? All of which can pose a challenge to the reader and her querent.

 So how can the cards help us to improve our love lives? Well, chiefly, in telling us things about ourselves: our hopes, dreams, expectations, desires, and actions (some of which we may not even have admitted to ourselves). I work with many clients on relationship/partnership issues. An approach I often use for someone in an established, ongoing relationship is to draw cards for the querent (person having the reading) and the partner with whom she is in a relationship, using two different hands (one to represent each). (At an in-person reading the querent herself chooses the cards, and if both people are present, they each do.) That way we can attempt to look at each partner's thoughts and feelings about the relationship as well as their own needs and desires, and how they are meeting these. I also choose cards to determine the current status of the relationship (i.e., how the couple is relating to each other) and the root of their union, along with the energy each is willing to give to the relationship—a key factor in determining where it is going in the future. These last two cards are quite telling with regard to how much of themselves—or what aspect of themselves—each can bring to the relationship table.

In closing the spread we might look at strengths and weaknesses within the partnership, along with ways to improve the problem areas (things the couple can work on). A card or two to determine the future direction of the relationship offers final guidance.

 A reading like this, however, requires a relationship with a track record—that is, more than a first or second date. For budding relationships the things that can be looked are more limited in scope (because there's less energy between the couple to draw on) and might amount to determining potential in the present and immediate future as opposed to—after an early encounter—Will I marry this person? Personally, I wouldn't trust the cards to answer a question like that with so little to go on. On the other hand, questions such as What can I do to keep this relationship going? or what expectations do each of us have? are excellent ones for the cards to handle, if you are receptive to what the Tarot has to say.

 For someone seeking a relationship, the cards are more helpful again if you focus the reading on yourself rather than some mythical "other" who may be out there. Good questions to ask include Where am I now in terms of love and romance?; What (or who) do I need with regard to a positive, harmonious relationship in my life (and conversely, What don't I need)?; and What options are available to me and how can I best pursue them? This may not sound glamorous, but it results in a reading that will prove a lot more helpful than When will I meet Mr. Right?

 In a reading for a young female client, I posed the question, Where should she look for love? The V HIEROPHANT and 3 of Pentacles suggested that she might try volunteer work for a cause she was interested in, take a class, or become active in a church activity, if she belonged to a religion. Two months after she had signed up for an adult ed class and volunteered for an environmental group, she was dating one man (from the class) and was interested in another (in the group). "You were right!" she called to tell me. "Actually, the cards were," I replied.

 If you have been involved in a series of relationships that have ultimately proved unsatisfactory, you might consider asking the Tarot Why? or What went wrong? If you are willing to be honest with yourself, you can ask, How could I have contributed to the problems with my relationships? Or How might I make better choices, improve my options, etc.? I suggested to a male client that he ask the Tarot , Why do I always pick bad partners? The 8 of Swords, XV DEVIL, and 4 of Pentacles reversed turned up, prompting me to ask, "Do you value yourself, romantically? And do you tend toward dominating, controlling relationships that leave you with not much left?" He reluctantly agreed.

 That said, the type of question to stay away from is Will my boyfriend start using drugs again? Or Will my girlfriend get back together with her ex-husband? The Tarot works best in answering questions relating to the person having the reading. As a Tarot reader I can, of course, read "for" you and your partner, even if s/he isn't in the room—because you and s/he are connected through the tie of your relationship. But to ask separate questions about the person outside of your relationship with them isn't very accurate, Tarot-wise. What I like to call "the vibrations" (or energy currents) just aren't there. In such a situation it might be better to pose, Why am I afraid my boyfriend will relapse? Or What makes me think my girlfriend will get back with her ex-husband? Now you're back in the picture—and after all, you're the one having the reading.

 For a troubled relationship I might draw cards that tell me about the attraction a couple has for each other along with what bothers them: what's positive about the relationship and what's difficult, negative, or wrong. From that starting point we move on to what they can work on to rebuild what they had or make things better: what challenges that might present, along with what might be out there to help them to do that. Ultimately, we need to ask about the potential for the relationship to be healed and transformed.

With one recent client the cards clearly showed what needed to be improved: communication between the couple and supportiveness/loyalty for each other. The potential for transformation, however, 10 of Swords and Knight of Swords reversed strongly suggested that the relationship wasn't going to progress. "I don't think he wants to work on it," the client told me. "I think he wants out." Which is certainly what the cards seemed to say. Her closing cards, 2 of Cups reversed and 9 of Pentacles, confirmed these suspicions, but suggested that if the relationship did end she would be fine on her own until someone else came along.

By serving as reflections of ourselves and our deepest needs and desires, the cards can prove to be a useful ally in the arena of love. However, an important thing to remember when having a reading regarding relationship issues is that the cards show us pictures of things, including options and possibilities. They do not change someone's behavior; nor do they circumvent free will. Also, not even the Tarot can see into another person's mind or heart. People are complex—as is the Tarot. Which is, perhaps, why they work so well together!