How to Use a Tarot Significator

What are Tarot significators used for? How do you actually use a Tarot card signifier in your Tarot readings? Do they even add to your readings?

Often, when Tarot educators talk about significators (often called signifiers), they discuss how to select one. However, most Tarot readers who are interested in significators, want to know more about how to actually use them in a spread, not about how to select them. Here, I explain how to actually use a significator in reading so that you can decide for yourself if this is something you fancy trying (if you don't know how to select one, click here!).

How to use Tarot significators in your readings. If you’re learning to give more detail in your reading, then grab your deck and learn! This post has tips for how you can select one of the majors, courts, high priestess etc. cards to use in your spreads. Cards used in post is The Wild Unknown Tarot.

I should say that these methods work best when you use a free form or ‘table’ style spread. However, some of these techniques can be applied to regular spreads with only a select amount of Tarot cards. So, here are the methods for using a significator in your Tarot readings.

Method One: The Focus Method

Some readers select a significator to give themselves or their reader something to focus on. As you shuffle you can look at this card and it will keep you focused on your seeker or their question, if they have one.

The focus method of selecting a significator can also help you and your seeker (if you’re reading someone else) set your intentions for the reading.

If you would like to try this method, go through your deck and select the significator you want to use. Then, place the card on the table and look at it as you shuffle. Concentrate on the card as you shuffle and think of the seeker’s question. Perform your reading as normal.  

Method Two: The Old School Method

In old fashioned spreads, you are required to use a significator. Traditionally, you would use the High Priestess for females and The Magician for males and take the direction which this card faces into account.

If you would like to try this method, then select the High Priestess you are female and The Magician if you are male. Take this card out of the deck and shuffle the deck as normal. Next, without turning the cards over select enough cards to form a square minus one (so, for a 9 card square you need 8 cards). Now, place your significator into this pile, shuffle them and form a square as shown (I know I said you should form a square but this was easier to photograph); 

I have chosen to include The High Priestess and several Court Cards in this spread so that I can use the same draw to highlight my point. Obviously, in a real Tarot reading you shuffle and lay cards out as normal. I have used The Wild Unknown deck but these techniques can be applied to any deck.

Anything behind the way which the significator is facing is the past, the column which it lands in is the present, and anything towards the significator is the future: 

Using Tarot Significators - One.png

Anything in front of the significator is the future which, in the above reading, features in blue. The column which the significator lands is the present (gold). Anything behind the way the significator is facing is the past, which appears in black in the above reading.

Method Three: Court Card Method

A similar method as the one above, also requires you to take the direction which the significator is facing into account. However, with this method, you generally select a Court card to represent the seeker, not a Major. So, in this method if the Queen of Cups was selected, not the High Priestess, this table of cards would be read like this: 

Using Tarot Significators - Two.png

So, if the Queen of Cups was selected, because she is looking towards the future, there are three predictive columns (in blue). The column she lands in appears in gold, and the past is in black.

Or, if the Knight of Cups was selected as the significator, your reading would look like this: 

There is no past in this reading because there is nothing behind the significator. In some readings, there is no future.

As you can see, there is no past in this reading because the signifier is on the edge. There is only the present to read (in gold) and the four future columns (in blue).

If you ever find yourself wanting to perform a reading and the significator is on the 'edge' with no past or future, you can say that they are not concerned with the past (if there is no past) or they are living the past (if there is no future). Alternatively, you can just pull more cards if its a Tarot reading but if it is a Lenormand reading and you're doing a Grand Tableau you're stuck!  

Method Four: The Boxed Method

In this method, you read what is around the significator as a way to determine what is in the seeker’s general surroundings. So, all of the cards which ‘box’ in the seeker’s Tarot card, are their main concerns, things on the seeker’s mind, etc: 

For this Tarot reading, we can look at what appears around the significator. The meanings of these cards shows the seeker's environment, what is on their mind etc.

With this method, you can go further and  actually read the cards around the cards which signify other areas of the seeker’s life. So, if The Lovers comes up, you can read the cards which ‘box’ it in to tell the seeker things about their love life: 

What surrounds The Lovers card in this Tarot spread, can tell you a lot about the current state of the seeker's love life.

So there you have it, how to use a Tarot significator. If you want to learn more about how to select a significator, check out this post.

If you’re reading Tarot for love and relationships, below you can grab the free Tarot Intentions Guide which is downloadable on any device. Get it here:

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Art Illustration: Four methods for selection a Tarot card significator for your reading! A post ideal for beginners, here is how to use a signifier using the Wild Unknown and Rider Waite Smith decks. - Divination and Fortune-Telling.

Art Illustration: Four methods for selection a Tarot card significator for your reading! A post ideal for beginners, here is how to use a signifier using the Wild Unknown and Rider Waite Smith decks. - Divination and Fortune-Telling.