The tarot practice I’m about to share can be used any time of year, but here’s why I find it particularly potent at the Autumn Equinox:
In Jungian Magic, the interplay between the conscious and unconscious selves is of prime importance.
It’s what drives everything in your life, especially your magic.
At either the Spring or the Autumn Equinox, access to this dual nature of your psyche is a bit more accessible.
The veil between these two realms of your inner world becomes a bit thinner than usual…
…and it’s easier, if you know how to look, to see things about yourself and the world that might otherwise remain hidden.
The power of shadow work + the Autumn Equinox
At the Autumn Equinox, this thinning of the veil precedes a phase (in the Northern Hemisphere) of increasing shadow…
…meaning our normally-quite-slippery unconscious energies will be easier to grasp.
Again…if you know how to look.
If you don’t, this could mean feeling as if things are happening to you, as if you’re more subject to the whims of fate.
For as Jung famously said,
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will rule your life and you will call it fate.”
Thus, it’s incredibly useful, particularly at this time of year, to understand some of the deeper forces within that, if left unexplored, could exert a heavier hand during these fall and winter months.
So, that’s the why. Now, let’s look at the technique.
How do you find your personal tarot card?
Many practitioners and schools have linked tarot with astrology, and here, I’ll be using a specific set of correspondences popularized by the Golden Dawn and Aleister Crowley.
I prefer to use Crowley’s Thoth Tarot Deck with this technique, but I’ve also experimented with applying it to other decks, and the results are just as useful, so do what feels best to you.
First, grab a copy of your natal chart, which you can get online for free.
I love the work of astrologer Chani Nicholas, so I’ll recommend her free charting service here.
Bonus: Nicholas’ charting software was built by “AnnieCannons…a queer-led software development agency that trains all of its engineers from among survivors of human trafficking and gender-based violence and pays these newly trained engineers a living wage to build software.”
Hell yes to that!
Once you have your chart, look at your Sun sign.
There should be a degree number associated with it. The degree shows the position of a planet—in this case, the Sun—within a particular sign.
So, if your Sun is in Libra and the little number near your Sun is 18, then your Sun is positioned at 18 degrees in Libra.
Some charts might show another number with what looks like a single quotation mark—this is called a “minute”, and you can disregard that number for this technique.
(The chart I provide below will indicate what degree your Sun is in based on your birth date, so you don’t have to download your chart, but I find it useful to understand where these numbers are coming from.)
Now, it’s time to find your decan.
The zodiacal year can be divided into shorter chunks of time known as “decans,” each made up of ten degrees (roughly equivalent to ten days).
Each decan has a corresponding tarot card associated with it, specifically one of the minor arcana or “pip” cards.
When you know which decan your Sun is in, you can see which tarot card matches with this decan, and this is known as your “personal card.”
The chart below will show you how to match up your decan with a specific tarot card.
Click the image to download your free chart.
I see this technique as one way of plumbing the depths of your Sun sign…
…and as we enter this shadowy, post-Equinox phase, the energetic currents really support this form of deeper exploration.
Once you know your card, it’s time to figure out what it means for you personally.
I mentioned above that you’re welcome to use this technique with any tarot deck, but here, I’m going to talk specifically about the Thoth deck.
If you’re new to this deck, I highly recommend Lon Milo duQuette’s Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot, as it breaks down somewhat complicated topics in a very engaging way…
…and it will give you an excellent place to start meditating and journaling on your personal card.
Here are some points to consider when sussing out the significance of your card.
Consider the card’s title.
If you’re brand new to the Thoth deck, you might find the titles of the cards illuminating or challenging–or both!
When I first started using it, many of the titles seemed to clash with my previous understanding of the cards…
…but in meditating on their meanings, the titles have challenged me to peel back another layer of depth that’s quite exciting.
Consider the card’s elemental association.
Wands are associated with Fire, which corresponds to life force, the will, ambition, and “I want.”
Cups are associated with Water, which corresponds to understanding, love, the emotions, and “I feel.”
Swords are associated with Air, which corresponds to intellect, the thoughts, discernment, and “I think.”
Disks are associated with Earth, which corresponds to the body, resources, practicalities, and “I need.”
Consider the card’s astrological quality.
Based on the number of your personal card, it’s associated with a different quality: cardinal, fixed, or mutable.
Twos, Threes, and Fours: Cardinal
Fives, Sixes, and Sevens: Fixed
Eights, Nines, and Tens: Mutable
Cardinal signs are associated with initiating, leading, and taking charge, but they might struggle with sustaining energy over the long term.
Fixed signs are associated with endurance, seeing things through, and stability, but they might struggle with stubbornness or inflexibility.
Mutable signs are associated with change, adaptation, and stimulation, but they might struggle with making decisions and being still.
Of course, all of these descriptions are a taste, not the entire picture, but they can give you a place to start your own explorations.
What if I get a shitty personal card?
Well, first off, I understand.
My personal card is the three of swords.
Let me show you how what could have been a monumental bummer ended up leaving me feeling deeply seen and aligned with my life’s purpose.
First, check out the card’s image from the Smith-Waite deck. It’s quite a party, ain’t it?
The Golden Dawn title, which Crowley adopts for the Thoth Tarot, is Sorrow or the Lord of Sorrow.
In thinking about it Qabalistically, though (duQuette’s book mentioned above is a great springboard if you want to learn more)…
…a couple of key points emerged:
All of the tarot three cards have connections to the third sephira on the tree of life, Binah…
…and Binah, residing above the Abyss, is beyond the grasp of the finite human mind (see diagram below).
The suit of Swords, however, is associated with the intellect, so here we have a card that combines human understanding with that which cannot be grasped by human understanding.
A bit of a pickle, yes?
And then there’s the connection between the tarot suit of Swords and what are known as the Qabalistic Worlds.
While this is too complex to cover in depth, here’s a (delightfully retro-colored) way of viewing the different Qabalistic Worlds, Azilut, Beriah, Yezirah, and Assiyah.
The Swords relate specifically to the world of Yezirah, or the World of Formation.
And this yields another sticky situation, because the three, existing above the Abyss, is beyond the world of forms, so we’re stuck in the paradoxical formation of formlessness.
In meditating on this card, I felt profoundly seen and understood on a deeper level than I ever have before.
Well previously, I couldn’t quite put my finger on the exquisite pain-pleasure of never being able to fully articulate the ideas, energies, and living impulses that arose within me.
Essentially, I am drawn like a moth to a flame in trying to express the inexpressible, and the tension this creates fuels all of my creativity.
In my darker moments, this tension feels overwhelming, bordering on hopelessness…
…but more often than not, I feel energized by the quest to endlessly keep trying to cast temporary forms and shapes onto the ineffable, learning more about myself and the world with every new attempt.
And when I surrender fully to this desire, I feel enveloped in the divine…
…which Lon Milo duQuette speaks to in his summary of the Three of Swords:
“Without forms or reason, the mind must give way to a consciousness higher than itself. The Three of Swords represents the wondrous trance of sorrow that first enlightened the Buddha.” (243)
Does this give you a sense of how your personal card can illuminate your unique gifts and how you’re seeking to express them in this lifetime?
This is potent stuff.
I hope this brief introduction will give you plenty of juicy material to work with as you uncover how truly dazzling and magical you really are.
Autumn Equinox blessings!