As part of my pushing the boundaries of what I am doing with tarot, I recently had opportunity to do a past-life reading. This is a new subject area for me. I realize that not everybody is interested nor believes in past lives, but even then I think that the idea of a past life can be a great metaphor for exploring thorny and deep-rooted issues in a client’s life.

Deb's past life reading. Click for larger image.

The spread I used is from Susyn Blair-Hunt’s book, Tarot Prediction & Divination: Unveiling Three Layers of Meaning. It provides a way to look at events of a past life that are repeated events in the present life. It can be used to explore karmic issues in a client’s life by identifying these patterns that are rooted in previous life experiences, which unconsciously affect the client’s behavior. By enabling the client to get a look at the bigger picture, she can be empowered to understand why she makes certain choices or has certain limiting behaviors.

This spread is one that makes heavy use of intuition and visual literacy of the cards. I used the Lo Scarabeo Tarot deck, which is visually rich with lots of details to stimulate both imagination and intuition.

The question: What past life situation is affecting Deb’s ability to settle into a successful love relationship? (“Deb” has consented to my sharing this reading, which I appreciate!)

Cards 1 – 3: Star, 3 of Pentacles, 8 of Pentacles

The first three cards speak of a journey from apprentice to master, and a hopeful woman who dreams of mastering some craft or trade. I believe this is Deb who, in a past life, was trying to do what she was told to, though she wanted to excel at something particular. She had dreams of pursuing whatever studies these were. This may have been an interest in alchemy or a similar mystical science at that time. Herbal studies seem likely. Maybe it wasn’t permissible for a woman to do this, either due to patriarchal society or if she had other duties to fulfill that took precedence.ย  The blue background of these cards makes me think of someplace tropical, perhaps an island. This strong presence of blue also implies a woman with a good mind and a calming persona. Deb’s potential may have been shut away due to the time period.

Cards 4 – 6: Justice, Empress, Lovers

The next column is an important event that took place in the past lifetime which repeats in Deb’s current lifetime, indicating a past-present connection. I see the tale of King Solomon threatening to split a baby in half. With the other cards it gives me the sense that she became pregnant and had to weigh her choices: raise her baby or do this thing that called to her? She chose the baby and the father of her child, giving up her dreams of apprenticeship and mastery. This may be haunting Deb in her current lifetime. She no doubt has more say in her choices as a modern, empowered woman! Yet the cards suggest tha she also wishes for motherhood under more positive circumstances. So Deb’s search for a loving relationship is a double-edged sword: she longs for this, yet fears it subconsciously.

Click for better quality image.

Cards 7 – 10: 6 of Wands, Queen of Pentacles, 5 of Cups, Strength

The central column continues the past life story. Deb had to go forward bravely in her decision to become a mother. I think she often thought wistfully [the Queen looking up to left] on what might have been, and constantly weighed her decision, every day of her life. Sometimes she despaired but overall I think she learned to accept and live with her decision to give up the dreams of that craft. There are no cards here to identify other people common to both lifetimes. It focuses on Deb’s struggle to accept her fate in the past. Yet this past life event made Deb stronger within, and her search for love in this lifetime is making her stronger in heart and spirit too (even if she doesn’t see it). This will be essential as she moves through the karmic events and subconscious fears that have kept her from getting what she desires.

Cards 11 – 13: 4 of Swords, 3 of Cups, Moon

The next three cards supply more information about the question, and they show events of the past replaying in present. I see solitude; celebration; then on one hand deception, on the other hand psychic awareness. I get a sense of Deb being withdrawn from pursuit of relationships so that she is able enjoy the “things” in life — she wants to live for herself now. This is Deb enjoying things she missed out on in past. That sorrow in the middle [5 of Cups] has become celebration [3 of Cups], going from her past life to the present.

I know Deb is interested in psychic arts including card reading, and being alone gives her time to pursue this. In the past life Deb gave it up for family and love. In the present she is able to pursue her studies and try to become a master — but that involves lot of solitude and being withdrawn from the world. She has been unable to see this pattern in her life [the Moon indicates self-deception or things obscured]. There is a part of Deb that does not believe she can have it all: the idea that one dream must be sacrificed to attain another is deeply rooted in her psyche, and without knowing it she blocks anything that might interfere with her need to be her own woman and make her own choices.

Cards 14 – 16: Heirophant, King of Cups, Page of Cups

The final three cards finish the story from past and answer the question in present. In the past it emphasizes that Deb had a wedding and such was her duty. She became the Page of Cups tied to the King of Cups. Thinking of the Page as a servant, it is possible that she had to literally wait on her husband, tending to his every whim. In a negative aspect this King could have turned emotionally abusive, or been one who loved many women besides his wife. This King would be someone Deb has encountered in this lifetime, and whether by his action or her choice, she was forced to leave the relationship. There could be a part of her that has not resolved this current life breakup, but it was karmically necessary for her to be involved with this man and then walk away.

The Heirophant also indicates an important person for Deb in both lifetimes; someone who is important to her present life from the past life. The Heirophant reflects tradition, maintained wisdom and expectations. I feel it adds emphasis to the King of Cups in Deb’s life, and takes on a dual meaning of someone who shapes Deb’s actions by his own expectations. While “he” could be generalized to society, I feel it is likely a lover who has shaped many of Deb’s beliefs and attitudes when it comes to romance, and aspects of her life in general.


If the Star represents Deb’s metaphysical interests that she was unable to pursue in a past life, it ties in nicely with the final card being the Page of Cups. For me, that Page is often a card about getting psychic insight or listening to a voice heard inside. So what it means in relation to the original question about being unable to settle into a love relationship: Deb subsumed a lot of her needs or desires in order to uphold marriage and family, and that is why she is unable to pursue romantic relationship successfully in this lifetime. She still feels the need to have her own time and do the things she wants. This is mostly in the metaphysics area as shown by Star, Moon and Page of Cups.ย  Hopefully Deb will continue to explore her gifts in this area as she works through any of her karmic ties to the past.