1. The most important clues may be in the background!
- In the Rider Waite Smith deck, many cards show a figure with a number of significant items behind his or her back. What happens behind one’s back is, for oneself, something unseen, shadowy, something to which one has no conscious access. This could point to the idea that the figure in the foreground is unaware of the nature or scope of their issues. You can’t grasp what you cannot see, and that can reveal a lot about the nature of the card’s meaning.
2. The color of the sky reveals a lot!
- Again referencing the Rider Waite Smith deck, the color of the sky on a given card often leads to a simple but important clue for its interpretation.
3. Pay close attention to proportions!
- In the image of the Four of Wands, the figures are depicted much smaller than is the case in other images; they fall short. Or perhaps they are of normal height and are painted so small in order to emphasize the comparatively huge size of the wands. This sort of thing can be found in many other cards.
4. Court cards represent developed personalities or facets of oneself!
- The Queen: impulsive, an initiator, an investigator (water type)
- The King: thorough, intensive, consolidating (fire type)
- The Knight: magnifying, expanding, a drawer of consequences (air type)
- The Page: makes something tangible out of or with the element in question (earth type)
4. Pay attention to numbers!
- Numerology can play a big role in your interpretations of the cards, especially in the Minor Arcana:
- Ones (Aces): Something new with vast potential is indicated when you have many aces in your readings. They are pure energy without form – and it depends on you to shape it and bring the opportunities that they represent into fruition. Because they are raw, they are also unstable, and can very quickly overwhelm if not taking care.
- Twos: Coming together in pairs is the theme of the twos, and all the complexities that this union represents. We leave the individuality of the ones, and the twos are a taste of union.
- Threes: Group dynamics rule the threes in the tarot, and they depict different outcomes that can occur when a group comes together – whether they are groups of individuals, or groups of ideas. Because it is also symbolically thought of as completion (the first polygon, the holy trinity, etc) it also indicates an initial completion of a first phase of some sort.
- Fours: The fours usually indicate that some foundation has been created and is ready to grow and evolve. To grow and evolve is the key here, because though the foundation is created, there is some disappointment indicated sometimes because things may not have progressed entirely as hoped for – thus, the fours are also the universe’s way of pushing us to grow and move forward.
- Fives: Change, fluctuations and conflict are represented by the fives. After the fours, the fives are amplifications of that same energy. When that energy explodes, the fives ask us to look within ourselves for a deeper reason of why to progress. To move forward and beyond these instabilities, we have to push forward.
- Sixes: While the fives represent conflict, the sixes represent the movement away from that conflict into a solution, whether they are internal or external, whether that means reconciliation or letting go. They are the cards of overcoming suffering, light after the dark.
- Sevens: When seeing many sevens in a reading it usually indicates that it is a time to step back and introspect. The sevens ask us to assess, and reevaluate whether the path that you are taking is what is best for you. Sometimes this is a lonely pursuit, but this period is needed to go forward with your authentic desires.
- Eights: A completion of a second phase is indicated with the eights, and usually corresponds to some sort of achievement, whether in the worldly sense, or in an emotional sense. Growth either way is indicated here, and sometimes it can take place in a form where we least expected it.
- Nines: Nearing completion is indicated by the nines, and this can take the form of entering a plateau of some sort. What looks like the finish line, may actually be just a transitory stage. While the feeling of completion is here, it is usually just a pause before the final part of the cycle comes.
- Tens: In the tens, we see the actual completion of the cycle, that something has come to a full circle – it indicates that from this point forward, we can move towards a new beginning.
Sources: Biddytarot, The Ultimate Guide to the Rider Waite Tarot by Johannes Fiebig and Evelin Burger, Understanding Tarot by Liz Dean