Perhaps the single most personal decision you’ll make for your interaction with the Tarot is choosing a significator—but what is a significator exactly? Well, a significator can be a couple of things: it can serve as your personal representative in a given reading, or it can symbolize an object, dilemma, or decision with which you are dealing, and from which you seek a resolution.
Let’s start with the people side of things, and choose a significator for you. Did you know that you don’t have to choose just one? You can actually pick a different significator for each tarot reading. Depending on how you feel and what the circumstances are, you may actually prefer to select something other than your “go-to” tarot card to represent how you perceive your role in any given situation—and we’ll get to that.
Many people choose a significator based on their astrological sign. That’s because the four tarot suits—Cups, Wands, Pentacles, and Swords—directly correspond to the four astrological elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.
In the tarot, Water signs—Pisces, Cancer, and Scorpio—are represented by Cups. Earth signs—Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn—are represented by Pentacles. Wands (also called Rods) are the Fire signs of Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius; while Air signs—Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius—are signified by Swords.
So, for instance, say you’re a woman who was born under the sign of Pisces. A natural significator for you to choose would be the Queen of Cups. Of course, there’s no rule that says just because you’re a Pisces girl you must choose that card to represent you.
A More Personal Approach
Every card has its own story to tell, and every card is open to your own personal interpretation. No matter what “meaning” experts or books may ascribe to a particular card, no one definition is correct for everyone or every situation. The best way to choose a personal significator is by studying the cards to find out which one really speaks to you, and to which you feel the most connected.
Even as a Pisces, you may feel more attuned to the Queen of Wands or Pentacles, or perhaps you feel better represented by a card that portrays “male” energy, such as a page, king, or knight. There’s no right answer or wrong answer. Each of us encompasses both male and female, yin and yang, strength and weakness, so any card that feels right to you can be right for you.
Changing Cards for Changing Needs
For the sake of argument, let’s say you’ve decided that the card that best represents you in your day-to-day life is the Queen of Cups, because you’re a Pisces and you tend to be tuned in to things that are more ethereal and ephemeral than things that are pragmatic. But what if you’ve been in a relationship for a while, and your biological clock is ticking a little too loud to ignore? If that’s going to be the focus of your reading, you might want to choose the Empress as your significator this time out, since she’s the card most often associated with fertility and childbearing.
Or perhaps you have a creative project in the works, and you’re waiting for a green light from a backer or publisher before you can proceed. In that case, a good choice might be the Page of Cups, since he’s all about bringing home the news.
Signifying Objects and Circumstances
Another way to choose a significator is to focus in on a particular issue or problem to which you’re seeking an answer, and choose a card to represent not yourself, but the thing or the situation.
If you’ve been out of work and you’re wondering if a new job is on the horizon, the Ten of Pentacles, which depicts the marketplace and business, would be a logical card to concentrate on. Are you worried someone at work is sabotaging you behind the scenes? The Seven of Swords might just hold the key. Or, perhaps you want to figure out once and for all: is your current relationship a true kinship of the souls or just a lust connection? The Two of Cups, depicting a couple who share more than just fleshly desires, might be able to shed light on your situation.
Choosing Not to Choose
But what if you don’t want to choose a significator at all? You don’t have to. Some of the short-form spreads don’t require one in any case, but if you prefer to let the universe do its thing, there’s nothing wrong with taking the random route. Letting the powers that be interpret who you are can provide you with another perspective, and perhaps offer insight into how the world at large sees you in ways that you might not.
Finding true insight into yourself is the gateway to a powerful, authentic tarot reading. And there’s no one better to help you get connected to your significator than a KEEN advisor.