Tarot Card Combinations
Christopher delaMaison, CPTR
By day, Christopher delaMaison is a
mild-mannered computer instructor at a private college in Wilsonville,
Oregon. By night, he may be found doing tarot readings or drumming for
belly dancers at the local SCA events. This summer, Christopher will be
teaching beginning tarot classes at the August 1st Seadog Nights/Gypsy
Carnival, in Marcola, Oregon. When not reading tarot or drumming,
Christopher can be found hanging out with his Sci-Fi friends planning
the upcoming 25th Anniversary of the Oregon Sci-Fi convention, Orycon25.
Check out this link
His web site:
www.delamaison.com features a
number of items which you simply have to see for yourself.
Beginning readers are taught to use various card spreads, as a way to help
them see and tell the story revealed by the drawn cards. Related to this
is the idea of card combinations. Card combinations help the reader see
aspects of the story that might be given only a cursory look, or even go
unnoticed. Treated as “mini spreads” during the reading, card combinations
allow readers to see and present stories within stories for their clients.
This helps provide insight into the lives of our clients, allowing us to
see and fully understand the questions they bring to us. One text which
does an outstanding job of presenting a wide variety of card combinations
is Dorothy Kelly’s book, Tarot Card Combinations.
Working card combinations is not unlike learning new card spreads. It
involves using our intuition to see and understand what the cards are
trying to tell us, as well as understanding what might constitute a card
combination. As pointed out by Kelly in her text, it would be nearly
impossible to create a text with a complete set of all possible card
combinations. To address this problem, Kelly does what any other artist
would do, present a frame work within which a reader can understand what a
credible card combination is, and then provide a wide range of examples
for the reader to study.
Part 1 of her text, Kelly begins by providing basic, introductory material
on tarot reading. She addresses deck structure, interpreting the Court
Cards, working with Reversals, and interpreting the story as the reader
sees it. While such topics are standard fare in most tarot texts, it helps
provide a basis upon which the reader can build his/her understanding of
working with card combinations.
Part 2, Kelly provides definitions of the Major Arcana in both upright and
reversed positions. She then provides examples of combination pairs in
both upright, both reversed, and one upright – one reversed. These
combinations, and their attendant definitions, give the reader clues as
how to recognize, interpret and present information from such pairings.
Part 3 addresses
the same combination pairing for the Minor Arcana cards. Each Minor Arcana
card is given with a standard definition, for both upright and reversed
positions. The Minor Arcana cards are then shown in combination pairs,
both upright, both reversed, and one upright – one reversed. Again what is
attempted here is to give the student a taste of Minor Arcana card
combinations in various positions.
Part 4 combines the Major and Minor Arcana information into a Random
Combination section. Kelly mixes the Major and Minor Arcanas and creates
card combinations with all of the cards of the deck. She begins with
combination pairs, and then presents card combinations of three and four
cards. These combinations also include reversed cards as well. While it
is possible to conceive of card combinations of more than five cards,
the author stops at presenting four card combinations. Such examples are
more than enough to present the idea of card combinations, as well as
demonstrate the diversity and complexity of possible combinations.
Kelly concludes her book with a Part 5 – Reading the Cards. In this
section, she presents six common card spreads for the reader to explore.
These include the Celtic Cross, a Six-Month Reading, the Rainbow Spread,
the Open Spread, the Twenty-Eight Card Spread, and the Yearly Clock
Spread. These spreads are presented to give the reader a few sample
spreads within which to practice spotting and interpreting card
combinations. This is a particularly well done touch, as some card spreads
are not as conducive to recognizing card combinations as others.
10-Card Celtic Cross, for example, lends itself well to working with card
combinations. I have found that by taking a little more time with my
readings, the Celtic Cross will always yield additional information for
the client, illuminating factors of a reading that shed additional light
on a client’s question. Some card combinations also seem to balance each
other. Again, from the Celtic Cross spread, the overlying issues and
underlying issues card form a card combination that seem to almost always
shed light on the Crossing Card’s interpretation. Balancing this is the
card combination formed by the Recent Past and Near Future cards. The
combination they form seem to point out why a client’s significator card
is what it is. Just as in a painting, these card combinations seem to
blend the colors and influences depicted by the cards drawn for the basic
While I might take issue with some of the methods and practices Dorothy
Kelly identifies in her book, I am genuinely impressed with the
determination she has shown in putting together an illustrated text of
card combinations. There were, of course, a large number of possible card
combinations she could have included in her text, as well as any number of
other possible card interpretations. However, I felt the goal of this
text, to provide a reasonably large number of card combinations examples,
was met with very professional results. As in any art form, the artist can
only show his/her student how to try to create a masterpiece work. In the
end, it is the individual readers who must learn how to see the card
combinations before them, how to interpret them, and how to relay this
information to the client in a coherent, free-flowing manner. I would
certainly recommend this text to those tarot students looking for examples
on how to identify and interpret card combinations.
Tarot Card Combinations is published by Weiser Books 1995,