Tarot Learning Tip: Which Way Do Your Faces Face?
I'm back with another quick tip for learning and bonding with your tarot deck. Admittedly, today's trick is one that only works if some of your cards have faces—but any faces will apply (human, animal, robot).
As I teach and write about tarot, I always emphasize the importance of paying close attention and looking for details in the images in the cards. One such detail: in your cards that have figures who have faces, look for two things. 1) Which way is the face facing? & 2) Which way are the figure's eyes facing?
There's two facets to this. One is in finding the deepest, most detailed information about your tarot cards while you're still learning them. Spread your cards out in order. Most tarot decks that feature faces will have a ton of them in the Major Arcana, so that's our best best for a starting point and the one I'll use as an example, but I do recommend going through by suit and doing the same thing. So, now that they're laid out—which way are the faces and then eyes facing? What does this tell you personally about the cards and their intentions?
For example, in this take on The Fool from Barbara Moore's Book of Shadows As Above, The Summerlands shows someones looking away from the entire rest of the deck. What could that mean? Use your knowledge of The Fool (new ventures, new chapter, stepping into something different but also maybe a little naïve or, ahem, foolish). Is this figure stepping into the Summerlands, the afterlife, the next major karmic chapter in their life turning their back on the deck to keep the surprise alive? To avoid facing the realities coming their way? Or just to truly live and bask in that new vibe and energy? It's probably all three, but look at the eyes too—facing up towards the sky. This card looks up, not down, faces the magic they're creating but not the other stuff about to set in.
Another example is our very next card—the High Priestess is usually looking straight ahead, not towards or away from any of the other cards. This means this card is completely focused on the querent who pulls Her. She's trying to peer into your soul and dig at that deep access. She's completely unconcerned with what's going on around her, she just wants to see YOU, and as such this card is a firm reminder that you have the answers and have what you need, and that maybe you just need to dig deeper to find it. In the picture, we see a slightly different take on her too—the Sorceress from D.J. Conway's Shapeshifter Tarot. She's actually looking slightly to the majority of the rest of the cards. A sorceress is a take on, but is not a direct synonym for a High Priestess. So is this Sorceress casting a spell to make the rest of the Fool's Journey unfold? It sure seems that way.
A final example before we move on comes from later in the Major Arcana. The Star or Stars is a card of renewal and of hope and of faith--but I've also long looked at it as a card of knowing you have enough resources and are contributing resources back to the Universe too. It's a card of reciprocity and universal love and trust. So in the examples below, where are the women in the Star card looking? They're looking right at the water, the symbol of healing, the resource in question. Or perhaps the one from the Book of Shadows So Below is looking at her family and the fun scene they've created together. In short, she's looking at the world and life she's created but that she gets so much back from. Her eyes then too don't leave the scene. In Egypt Urnash's Tarot of the Silicon Dawn we don't see her eyes, per se. But they too are focused on what she's giving and pouring out.
Once you have a handle on how face & eye placement affects your cards overall, it's time to start mixing them into readings. I've moved on to using all of the cards, and let's take a look at the very strong statement made the face and eye placement in the Six and Eight of Wands when pulled together from Siolo Thompson's Linestrider Tarot. The Man or Statue depending on your interpretation in the Six of Wands is looking right at the slightly nervous deer in the Eight of Wands who is trying to look back without being noticed. This deer is trying to move straight along their path but is looking back to a safer or more easily victorious time. Looking further, if the Six of Wands is a card of victory and triumph and the Eight is a card of very excitable but fast, often intimidating energy then it stands to reason that we are seeking triumph and control over our schedules. We might not be comfortable with the fast pace we are moving in, or it could be an assurance that we are in control and the things we're wanting to be triumphant about are happening—just maybe a little quicker than we are comfortable with. In that case the advice might be to look back to another time when you were moving quickly, seemingly too quickly, but ending up conquering something you'd been working towards for a long time.
From the Prisma Visions Tarot pictured above, we have the Tower—a card of disaster, of everything we hold dear being torn down, of things being taken away from us. We also see the Seven of Wands, which can indicate a need to stand up for ourself and, from the image at hand, move forward no matter how rashly and confusingly we must do it. Yet sitting in the middle is the Four of Chalices. This is a card of discontentment and dissatisfaction, of excessive emotions or woolgathering. Yet in this spread, there's no surprise as to the “why!” This little child's face is pointed right at The Tower and all of the things they've lost. Their eyes look right at the building about to topple and refuse to acknowledge that maybe life goes on after, or maybe they should stand up for themselves, or maybe, just maybe, it'll feel more liberating to move about with fewer resources. What a powerful statement and reading, and look how much of it came just because of how the kid's face and eyes are pointed!
There are oodles (a very scientific number) of ways to maximize your time learning your tarot deck—this is just one, but can lead you to others. Thinking about face placement can lead you to think about body language. Thinking about body language can get you to look closer. Looking closer can tell all kinds of new stories with any tarot deck. So go forth, let they “eyes” have it (SORRY FOR THIS PUN. I AM THE WORST), and dig deeper with your tarot deck every chance you get.
Blessed be, y'all!