On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

12 Drummers Drumming

The Muppets singing 12 Days of Christmas

Twelve is the number of the signs and the houses in astrology, a topic I have alluded to but not often written about. That’s because it’s a big topic and I’m not an expert. However, it’s something I’d like to touch on briefly, especially as it relates to reading cards. Whether you use tarot, Lenormand, playing cards or something exotic like Pages of Shustah or Oracle of Belline, chances are that a smattering of astrological knowledge will enhance your reading abilities. Hopefully this post will encourage some of you to seek that knowledge to add to your repertoire.

Modern or Classical, and the Planets

In my mind, there are two general approaches to astrology: modern and classical.  If you walk into a typical bookstore and look at astrology books, they are undoubtedly referring to modern astrology. How do you know? If you see references to Pluto, Neptune and Uranus that is modern astrology: it uses these modern planets and other relatively new heavenly bodies such as the comet Chiron.

Classical astrology hearkens to the Renaissance and older. It sticks with the 7 traditional planets. This is my preference. I think everything that exists can be described by the 7 planets:  Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. (Incidentally this is called the Chaldean order, and it corresponds to the Tree of Life sephira from bottom to top.) Many moderns don’t feel right without 10 planets to handle a lot of things that are part of our modern world. Neptune, for example, relates to psychic activity and dreams — which are traditionally ruled by the moon. Uranus is electricity — which I would probably assign to the Sun. And computers? That’s more than I want to discuss here! Suffice that there are seven or ten planets, depending on your astrological education.

The Signs

Just about everybody is familiar with sun signs. “Hey baby, what’s your sign?” (If you ever hear that pickup line, try this response: “A stop sign!”) The twelve signs of the zodiac divide a 360-degree circle called the ecliptic — the apparent path of the sun over the course of the year. So each zodiac sign consist of 30 degrees and corresponds to roughly a month.

The sun sign is the sign of the zodiac where the sun could be found at the time of birth. People have made a lot of money based on writing books or daily horoscopes that categorize people based entirely on sign signs. The truth is that this has little value beyond entertainment, because a full astrological chart factors in so many things beyond the location of the sun. So saying that Janet is stubborn because she’s a Taurus is about as helpful as saying that Chrissy is dumb because she’s a blonde.

Basic Use – Descriptions and Timing

So we have planets and signs. Now what? In terms of cards, that’s enough to make some use of astrology if you wish, in your readings. Really! If you learn the basic meanings and attributes of the planets and signs, you have a new arsenal to enhance your card readings. Need an idea for the likely color of Stacy’s future house? Venus may indicate green. Need more information about a court card? Perhaps an adjacent card represents Mars, so we are inspired to describe a personality that is blunt and forthcoming; or perhaps it’s a military person.

How about timing? Then the signs are your friends. Libra could indicate a late September to late October time period, for example. (Exact dates depend on the current calendar.) Pisces, on the other hand, puts things in late December to late January. I personally find this most helpful with tarot, and while there are astrological possiblities beyond the above (the court cards and minors can be utilized) I think the above is sufficient.

Using Lenormand? You can find systems out there that use astrology as well.  Both Treppner and Steinbach give astrological associations to the Lenormand deck. So 34-Fish may represent Pisces — the sign of the fish — whereas 12-Birds could also represent the 12th sign. It depends on your preference and who you learn from. There are also methods that utilize this with playing cards, and the creative individual will no doubt work these methods into his or her own system.


I’ve barely touched on astrology and I don’t intend this to be a complete tutorial. This is enough to point the enterprising reader in the right direction to make use of some basic astrology with cartomancy though.

You can find the Golden Dawn-style astrological associations that I use here and here.

I hope this post gives some of you inspiration to figure out if astrological associations are appropriate for your card reading.