Reading Techniques – using additional cards

Reading Techniques – using additional cards

Although I include this in the page all about spreads, I thought it deserved its own post.

When performing a Tarot reading, there are specialized cards that can be used in addition to the cards you draw for the spread or freestyle reading. Some are chosen willfully while other are chosen at random. Their purpose is to offer added information or in the case of the Theme card, an initial message.

Here’s a list of those cards

Significator Cards

Significator Card

A ‘significator card’ (S card) is a specific card a Tarot reader may choose to represent the Querent in a reading prior to drawing the cards. However, it could also represent the matter at hand, circumstances, events, or another person in the Querent’s life.  Some readers will even have the Querent look through the deck so they can choose their own, which can be quite informative.

Significator cards can be used in any spread and even freestyle (spreadless) readings and some spreads will specifically call for an S card to be used such as the Celtic Cross. The S card can be place under a card (usually the position ‘what’s crossing you’), can be placed at the top of the reading facing the reader or the Querent, or in the middle of the spread. Why use a Significator card you may ask. This card ties the Querent to the reading and allows the reader to focus on the Querent and see how the other cards relate to it.

This is not a card that is drawn randomly and typically Court Cards are chosen as an S cards however, you can choose any card in the deck, such as the High Priestess. The choice can be based on the Querent or the other person’s astrological sun sign, birthdate, personality, gender and/or age.

Here is a list of correspondences that you can base your choice on:

Astrological Modalities in the Courts (Pages are not associated with any astrological sign):


  • Knight of Wands – Sagittarius
  • Queen of Wands – Aries
  • King of Wands – Leo


  • Knight of Cups – Pisces
  • Queen of Cups – Cancer
  • King of Cups – Scorpio


  • Knight of Swords – Gemini
  • Queen of Swords – Libra
  • King of Swords – Aquarius


  • Knight of Pentacles – Virgo
  • Queen of Pentacles – Capricorn
  • King of Pentacles – Taurus

Age/Gender possibilities (these are not fixed)

  • Pages – young, childlike male/female
  • Knights – adolescent through young adult, immature male/female
  • Queens – mature female
  • Kings – mature male

Astrological Signs per suit

  • Wands – Fire signs: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
  • Cups – Water signs: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
  • Swords – Air signs: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
  • Pentacles – Earth signs: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn

The archetypal cards in the Major Arcana can make a great choice and there are many Minor Arcana cards that can be used as well, especially for issues, circumstances, or events.


  • The Emperor = a father inquiring about his children
  • The Hermit = a person who’s a wise loner.
  • Justice = a legal issue or an attorney.
  • Two of Cups = a new relationship.
  • Nine of Swords = someone who’s having a difficult time sleeping.

Not all Tarot readers use Significator cards; it’s simply a personal preference.

Note: you may want to choose a card from a different deck so it is not excluded from the deck you’re reading with unless you want to interpret how the other cards relate to it.

Quintessential Card

Quintessential Card

The ‘Quintessential Card’ is an additional card from the Major Arcana added at the end of a reading. This card is not drawn randomly. Instead it is calculated by adding the individual numbers of the cards in the spread/reading and the sum equals the corresponding Major card. It can represent advice, a message, or additional information.

Tarot readers may differ on the following personal preferences when formulating the Quintessential number:

  • If the total sum equals 10 or higher, you need to decide if you want to reduce it to a single digit or not? If you do, this would limit the Quintessential Card to only the Magician through the Hermit. If not, this would allow you to use the full Major Arcana. Obviously any number 22/23 and over would be reduced.
  • When considering the Fool, and the Court Cards, what is their associated number?
    Some Tarotists consider the Fool to be zero and some the number 22.
    Some consider the Court cards as zero (0), some an extension of the sequence 11, 12 13, 14, and some 1, 2, 3, 4 respectively. While others use the Tree of Life corresponding numbers.

Shadow Card (aka the Base Card)

The ‘Shadow Card’, also known as the ‘Base Card’* is the card found at the bottom of the deck after you have finished shuffling. This card represents hidden factors or unknown aspect(s) of the ‘self’ (Querent); unconscious aspects. If you are not familiar with what our shadow represents, I recommend reading about Carl Jung’s theory on Shadow here.

The Base Card can be looked at before the reading, after you have pulled the other cards or, it can be drawn/looked at after the reading.

*Note: This is not the same as the Shadow card associated with the ‘Personality & Soul Card’ calculated using your birthdate.

Bonus Card

Similar to the Quintissential Card, you can add a Tarot ‘Bonus Card’ at the end of a reading and read it the same manner; as advice, a message, or additional information. Besides using Tarot you can also:

  • You can draw a card from an oracle deck or a Lenormand deck.
  • You can draw a Rune.

Clarifying Card

Clarifying cardThis is a card that some Tarotists may pull at the end of the reading, after all the other cards have been read. If the reading, or a particular card, needs further clarification you can draw one or two Clarifying cards. But try not to pull more than two. This could become a bad habit if you do. In addition, if you find yourself needing to constantly pull clarifying cards this may be a sign that you don’t have a full understanding of the card meanings just yet. Study a bit more, be patient with yourself, and try again.

Theme/Focus Card

This is a personal technique I have developed* when I or the Querent doesn’t have a specific question in mind or, when I’m looking for the universe to communicate a message. This is similar to the spread position, what is unknown. I’m allowing the universe to guide me in this reading.

This is a card that is drawn randomly and is turned over prior to the reading and can be drawn from the Tarot, an oracle deck, a Lenormand deck, or from Runes. This card, or Rune, will set the theme or focus for the reading therefore, should concentrate on this theme while you shuffle the cards just as you would with the Querent’s question.

*I am probably not the only Tarot reader who does this however, I have not seen it done or read it as of  yet.

Here’s an example from an April 6th, Instagram post :

img_2154-2From the Wisdom of Oracle deck,  I drew #14 ‘Truth Be Told’- The focus is : clarity, honesty, and staying true to yourself.

Tarot cards: Ace of Swords and Princess of Swords (from the Cosmic Tarot)

This weekend will be full of new ideas, new plans, clearing the air and clearing up cloudy thinking, and once again, being honest as well as seeking justice.

This is a time to cut through the bull and get right to what’s really going on. Be logical and try not to let your emotions get the best of you; think with your head vs your heart!


I hope you enjoyed this post and it explained what other techniques are available to you and how to use these additional cards. Give each a whirl and see if you find any of them useful. My guess if you may like more than one.

Thank you.

Freyja Signature

Note: I apologize for a repeat of this post. I needed to post it again because there were issues with FB sharing. Thank you for understanding.

The Tarot cards used in the reading are from the Universal Waite Tarot Pocket Edition used with permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT 06902.  c. U.S. Games Systems, Inc.  All rights reserved.  Rider-Waite is a registered trademark of U.S. Games Systems.

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