5 Simple Steps to Read Tarot with Confidence

Delving Into Tarot and Astrology in the Golden Dawn Tradition

I know very little about Tarot and Astrology, yet I do know that astrology and Tarot are inextricably linked. So imagine my joy when I met Richard Palmer, Tarot and Astrology Extraordinaire, and when he offered to write a guest post on this immense topic.

In the following post, Richard takes us through how astrology underpins Tarot, using the Golden Dawn methodology. He makes it accessible and useable, even to us astrology novices.

Over to you Richard!


Astrology plays a major role in the interpretation of Tarot cards and spreads derived from the spiritual current represented by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, an esoteric order that was founded in Great Britain and was active from the later part of the 19th century until the early part of the 20 century.

golden-dawnFrom this spiritual current four Tarot decks emerged: The Waite-Smith Tarot; The Thoth Tarot; The Golden Dawn Tarot and the BOTA tarot and each of these decks can be linked to four men who were instrumental in bring them to birth, respectively: Dr. Arthur Edward Waite; Mr. Aleister Crowley; Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers and Paul Foster Case.

The following blog post will discuss the relationship of astrology to the Tarot decks which emerged out of this spiritual current in Western civilization. While these astrological concepts may be applied to other decks, it is outside the scope of this discussion to attempt to accurately apply them to any deck not derived from the spiritual current of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

Applying Astrological Meaning to the Tarot Cards

The application of astrological meanings to Tarot decks derived from the Golden Dawn spiritual tradition is somewhat specialized and structured specifically towards the Tarot. It varies in some ways from the common meanings associated with astrological practice in the interpretation of Natal birth charts and should not be confused with Natal, Sun Sign, Horary or any other form of conventional astrology.

To attain a comprehensive understanding of the relationship of astrology to the Tarot, we must first build a foundation from which to proceed as we must first come to understand the meaning of the Ancient Elements, Planets and Signs as they apply to the Tarot.

As promulgated by the Order of the Golden Dawn, the Tarot system uses only the seven sacred planets of the ancients (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) and does not use the outer planets of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. The outer planets have been grafted onto the decks by later interpreters but were not utilized by the Golden Dawn.

The Ancient Elements

  • FireIntuition; Spirit; action of the will; inspiration, creativity, energy, initiative, goal directed activity;
  • EarthSensation; materiality; strength, endurance, growth; reliability; practicality; accumulation;
  • AirThinking; thought; spoken and written communication; strife and conflict; expressions of the mind
  • WaterFeeling; the action of the emotions; love and affection, dreams, desires, fantasies; pleasure, friendship, social activity, romance, receptivity

The Seven Sacred Planets of the Ancients

  • Sun = self consciousness; the will
  • Moon = emotional self; imagination; instinct
  • Mercury = individual mind; intellect and reason
  • Venus = desire nature; love; relatedness; pleasure; material prosperity
  • Mars = vital energy; sexuality; ambition
  • Jupiter = expansive growth energy; good fortune
  • Saturn = materiality; restriction; limitation; self unknowing

The Signs of the Zodiac

  • Aries = dynamic manifestation; energetic growth; birth of new potential
  • Taurus = stability; security; self substantiation; expression; permanence
  • Gemini = mental expansion; self- development; connectivity; union; duality;
  • Cancer = internalization; emotional bonding; birth; giving form to that within;
  • Leo = outward expression of self; courage; creativity; strength; determination
  • Virgo = harvesting; integration; self realization; analysis; self improvement
  • Libra = balance; karmic law; weigh and measure; practicality
  • Scorpio = desire; passion; regeneration; renewal; decay
  • Sagittarius = expansion; transformation; spiritual awareness
  • Capricorn = materialization; order; structure; sacrifice; achievement;
  • Aquarius = higher mind; relatedness; selflessness; unity; consensus
  • Pisces = spiritual waters; the psychic realm; dreams; faith; sacrifice

Golden Dawn Astrological Correspondences in The Major Arcana

The Elements

  • Elemental Fire – Judgement
  • Elemental Earth – World
  • Elemental Air – Fool
  • Elemental Water – Hanged Man

The Planets

  • Mercury – Magician
  • Moon – High Priestess
  • Venus – Empress
  • Jupiter – Wheel of Fortune
  • Mars – Tower
  • Sun – Sun
  • Saturn – World

The Star Signs

  • Aries – Emperor
  • Taurus – Hierophant
  • Gemini – Lovers
  • Cancer – Chariot
  • Leo – Strength
  • Virgo – Hermit
  • Libra – Justice
  • Scorpio – Death
  • Sagittarius – Temperance
  • Capricorn – Devil
  • Aquarius – Star
  • Pisces – Moon

Golden Dawn Astrological Correspondences in The Minor Arcana

The Suit of Cups

  • Ace of Cups – “The Root of the Powers of Water”; Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces; The Water Signs of the Zodiac
  • Two of Cups – “The Lord of Love”; Venus in Cancer
  • Three of Cups – “The Lord of Joy”; Mercury in Cancer
  • Four of Cups – “The Lord of Blended Pleasure”; Moon in Cancer
  • Five of Cups – “The Lord of Pleasure Lost”; Mars in Scorpio
  • Six of Cups – “The Lord of Friendship”; Sun in Scorpio
  • Seven of Cups – “The Lord of Illusionary Success”; Venus in Scorpio
  • Eight of Cups – “The Lord of Abandoned Success”; Saturn in Pisces
  • Nine of Cups – “The Lord of Happiness”; Jupiter in Pisces
  • Ten of Cups – “The Lord of Perfected Success”; Mars in Pisces
  • Page of Cups – “The Prince of the Waters”; Earth of Water
  • Knight of Cups – “The Prince of the Chariot of the Waves”; Air of Water
  • Queen of Cups – “The Queen of the Throne of Waters”; Water of Water
  • King of Cups – “The Lord of the Waves and Waters”; Fire of Water

The Suit of Pentacles

  • Ace of Pentacles – “The Root of the Powers of the Earth”; Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
  • Two of Pentacles – “The Lord of Balance”; Jupiter in Capricorn
  • Three of Pentacles – “The Lord of Material Works”; Mars in Capricorn
  • Four of Pentacles – “The Lord of Material Power”; Sun in Capricorn
  • Five of Pentacles – “The Lord of Material Trouble”; Mercury in Taurus
  • Six of Pentacles – “The Lord of Material Success”; Moon in Taurus
  • Seven of Pentacles – “The Lord of Unfulfilled Success”; Saturn in Taurus
  • Eight of Pentacles – “The Lord of Material Prudence”; Sun in Virgo
  • Nine of Pentacles – “The Lord of Material Gain”; Venus in Virgo
  • Ten of Pentacles – “The Lord of Wealth”; Mercury in Virgo
  • Page of Pentacles – “The Rose of the Palace of Earth”; Earth of Earth
  • Knight of Pentacles – “The Prince of the Chariot of Earth”; Air of Earth
  • Queen of Pentacles – “The Queen of the Throne of Earth”; Water of Earth
  • King of Pentacles – “The King of the Spirits of Earth”; Fire of Earth

The Suit of Swords

  • Ace of Swords – “The Root of the Powers of Air”; Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
  • Two of Swords – “The Lord of Inner Balance”; Moon in Libra
  • Three of Swords – “The Lord of Sorrow”; Saturn in Libra
  • Four of Swords – “The Lord of Rest”; Jupiter in Libra
  • Five of Swords – “The Lord of Defeat”; Venus in Aquarius
  • Six of Swords – “The Lord of Earned Success”; Mercury in Aquarius
  • Seven of Swords – “The Lord of Shortened Force”; Moon in Aquarius
  • Eight of Swords – “The Lord of Bondage”; Jupiter in Gemini
  • Nine of Swords – “The Lord of Despair and Cruelty”; Mars in Gemini
  • Ten of Swords – “The Lord of Ruin”; Sun in Gemini
  • Page of Swords – “The Prince of the Rushing Winds”; Earth of Air
  • Knight of Swords – “Lord of the Winds and the Breezes”; Air of Air
  • Queen of Swords – “Queen of the Thrones of Air”; Water of Air
  • King of Swords – “King of the Spirits of Air”; Fire of Air

The Suit of Wands

  • Ace of Wands – “The Root of the Powers of Fire”; Aries, Leo and Sagittarius; The Fire Signs of the Zodiac
  • Two of Wands – “The Lord of Dominion”; Mars in Aries
  • Three of Wands – “The Lord of Established Strength”; Sun in Aries
  • Four of Wands – “The Lord of Abundance”; Venus in Aries
  • Five of Wands – “The Lord of Strife”; Saturn in Leo
  • Six of Wands – “The Lord of Victory”; Jupiter in Leo
  • Seven of Wands – “The Lord of Courage”; Mars in Leo
  • Eight of Wands – “The Lord of Swiftness”; Mercury in Sagittarius
  • Nine of Wands – “The Lord of Strength”; Moon in Sagittarius
  • Ten of Wands – “The Lord of Oppression”; Saturn in Sagittarius
  • Page of Wands – “The Rose of the Palace of Fire”; Earth of Fire
  • Knight of Wands – “The Prince of the Chariot of Fire”; Air of Fire
  • Queen of Wands – “The Queen of the Thrones of Flame”; Water of Fire
  • King of Wands – “King of the Spirits of Fire”; Fire of Fire

The relationships that have been presented in this post can be of great value in Tarot interpretation within the context of reading on certain questions as, according to the Golden Dawn, they reflect the most fundamental underlying astrological energies related to the cards. The astrological associations with the Tarot cards are important in that they embody the expression of the energy and meaning of their astrological associations and express them in symbolic form.

It is of course the judgment of the Reader as to what weight to assign to the astrology of the card within the context of a specific reading or whether to use it at all.

I hope that this information will aid you in expanding your understanding of the Tarot decks emerging out of the Golden Dawn tradition as well as be of value to you in your own usage of the Tarot.

richard-palmer-tarot-astrologyLearn more about Richard Palmer and see his written book Modern Spiritual Astrology to help seekers interpret their own Natal Chart and to attain valuable insights into their spiritual path.

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  • Aasheesh says:

    This is an excellent post on how Tarot and Astrology are closely linked.They complement each other while making a prediction.Indeed Tarot reading cannot be complete unless the astrological symbols of cards are clear to the reader.As explained by Richard above each cusp of a zodiac sign is represented by a Tarot card.It indeed goes so deep.This is very helpful in timing an event.
    A big thanks to Richard and Biddy for sharing this knowledge with the readers.A must for future reference!

  • The Charmed One says:

    Love this, great information and resource. Thank you.

  • Bilal says:

    This is so very nice. Richards post is concise, accurate, (to the best of my knowledge), his mention of Paul Foster Case , was reassuring, as I feel that his small treatise’ of the 22 keys
    of the Major Arcana are a must read. He has written the classic guide “the TAROT” A key to the Wisdom of the Ages. This work, is considered the seminal work on the TAROT and the Tarot’s intimate connections with the Qabalah, Astrology, Alchemy, and other Hermetic Sciences.

    At this time, let me briefly explain why I use a Deck of Keys (cards) with limited illustrations
    A Quote from the BOTA, (Builders of the Adytum) In the Words of Paul Foster Case, “when you color your own cards they take on the character of your personality. They are inseparably linked with you! The attention you must give impresses their patterns upon the cells of your brain-builds the details of the designs into your consciousness. And making the Tarot Keys a part of yourself is one of the most praticle secrets of All occultism. It is the necessary foundation for all advance Tarot practice.”

    For this reason, I have chosen to use a deck of keys with the most rudimentary offerings of the keys. Which affords me a closer examination from the Astrological Analysis point of view which is my basic Talent (Gift)

    Sets of unclolored Tarot Keys and coloring instructions are available from

    I wish you all Love, Light, and Peace of Mind

  • Alexander Begg says:

    This is very interesting and I shall remember this post when it comes to emphasising the connection between Marketing and Tarot at firepolemarketing. I’ve found Marketing actually has healing principles at work, universal principles, and that the Tarot and Astrology fit’s into that, or rather, create dimensions for, Business and Marketing.

    These influences really cover the range of our lives, and, when combined with modern, proven means for studying customers, they add a fruitful touch.

  • Johnny says:

    An excellent post about Astrology and Tarot.
    Thanks Brigit for sharing!

  • karen says:

    this is very informaative, In the element part, for example: The hangman is a water sign. does that mean. he is hanging around waiting for something emotional to happen?

  • Nikhil says:

    I landed at this page unintentionally, but I am glad I came here. What a wonderful list of correspondences. Cant wait to try it out 🙂

  • Janine says:

    Wow, this is amazing, a godsend. This is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you so much Richard for all the detailed information! It is really appreciated. I could cry just from happiness! And thank you Biddy for reposting this. I am so grateful. Thank you both!

    Warm regards,

  • Madeline says:

    I’d love to know more about this, too!

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