Significators | Old fashioned toot?!

Published by Alison Cross on

Tooting for Significators!

When I started this court card blog, I banged on and on and on some more about using Court Cards as significators and you, dear reader, mostly snortled good-naturedly into your coffee and told me that you didn’t use significators.

There were a couple of solid reasons why people didn’t use significators:

Reason 1:  If you use a significator, it removes that card from the deck and so it can’t arise within the main body of the reading.

My reply:  And? When ANY card turns up in a spread, it precludes it from turning up in any other position in that spread, doesn’t it?   *kind and conciliatory face*  Why not just have a separate set of gorgeous court cards to work along side your working deck?  Then you allow for all the courts to turn up in the actual reading 🙂

But no, you still weren’t buying into the idea….

Reason 2:  A significator is soooooooooo old-fashioned!

My reply:  It sure is.  But it’s a great way of settling your mind to the task in hand and taking your client INTO the reading with you and, for me, that’s an important part of the ritual.

Nope, you were still shaking your head and looking apologetically at the floor……

And then, when I was out tramping through the woods with the dog, a moment of insight!  Yes, JEN-YOU-INE enlightenment, dear reader!!

Significators aren’t old-fashioned at all!

You do use them……

Every single day…….

On Facebook, Twitter, forums (forii?!), your blog…. anywhere that you have an on-line presence…. you DO use significators because…..


You select an image of yourself that you want to present to that community, don’t you? Whether it’s a  photo of yourself or a witty kitten image, you choose it to convey something ESSENTIAL about you to that community.

That’s exactly what a significator does.

You and your client select a card that best conveys something essential about the sitter and the situation in which they find themselves.  In effect, you create an avatar of your sitter.

And the secret sauce?  Your interpretations of court cards will go through the ROOF if you start working with them consciously, as avatars.

My session on Court Cards at the UK Tarot Conference next month focuses on the CONSCIOUS use of Court Cards.

And that’s it    *shrugs*

That’s my bright idea.

And it cost me a friendship to be able to tell you that.  More of which at a later date, I suspect.

Alison Cross

The Tarot's Court Cards are my specialist area.  They talk to me. Not LITERALLY though ....


Ellen · 21st September 2013 at 8:58 pm

You can compare it with a Lenormand reading. Then you pick the card that represents the issue. When you want to use significators in your tarot reading, why not take it one step further and pick the first card of a spread which is often the core issue of the reading. Sometimes I use a second deck for my significator cards

Anonymous · 14th September 2013 at 6:10 pm

What a wonderful way to look at significators! Which brings me to the thought that if we have avatars when we are online, then shouldn't we *as readers* also have an avatar on the table? If I think of an avatar as an alter-ego, then I'm struck by the fact that I usually have a statue on my reading table. For years it was a ceramic of a little round hippie-gypsy and her cat staring into a tiny crystal ball surrounded by cards (a candle behind the ceramic piece made the crystal ball light up. More recently I have my favorite brass statue of Kuan Yin lounging on a rock with an arm resting on her bent knee. (Not that I am Kuan Yin, but I aspire to her compassion and understanding.)
Thanks for sharing the concept.

Inner Whispers · 14th September 2013 at 9:45 am

Interesting light-bulb moment, Ali, I like the comparison 🙂 Still, I'm not yet convinced about actually using them. After all, the person might think that they are or need to be a certain aspect of themself in the situation they're asking about, but maybe the cards have other ideas which would be useful to hear… I guess you could have both, but I still don't feel I'd use the significator except for something like the first bit of the opening of the key spread you blogged about a while back.
Best, Chloë

Louise Underhill · 12th September 2013 at 7:48 pm

I wouldn't have thought of significators being like an Avatar, but you're right 🙂 – thank you for the light-bulb moment 🙂
(And sorry it cost you this acquaintance)

Shari Smith · 12th September 2013 at 5:43 pm

Alison! I had never even though of the connection yet it is a perfect one, and many people are familiar with the concept because of Facebook and other social media site. I have and do use Significators, and I don't just use the court cards. I don't use them often as I find it can take a while for the choice, and that is a part of that type of reading.

As Beth said above Caitlín Matthews did a presentation on this, and this topic has made me want to find my papers and notes. I think I'll bring the subject up tonight at my meetup 🙂

Thanks for the toot!

    Alison Cross · 12th September 2013 at 5:55 pm

    You're welcome! I want to get to the Readers' Studio and BATS before I shuffle off this mortal coil. More chance of the New York one next year. Fingers crossed!

    Ali x

Andy Boroveshengra · 12th September 2013 at 4:49 pm

Loved this Alison.

I am a big endorser of significators. Even though I use the trumps only now in readings 99% of the time, I always use a significator. I really do feel that it puts the querent into the reading and that helps. As such, you’ve not lost a card it’s just been allocated, no more or less than the other cards that show up in the draw. Are they lost? No.

Plus it stops the the ambiguity of ‘this card could be another person, or maybe it’s a facet of you, that you need to minimise/increase/stop repressing… et cetera.’

That’s one of the quickest ways to undermine your reading, as, at least 80 % of the time; it’s those moments that stop with client.

    Alison Cross · 12th September 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Andy – thank you! When Court Cards arise in a reading, they tend to be the cards that most readers struggle with – probably because they work so little with them, only encountering them when they pop up in a reading.

    I have found that by making a point of selecting court cards consciously on a daily basis (whether for my own self-development, working with a client, or just practising using news stories) I have more to say about each card.

    They have ceased to be cardboard cyphers and become real sets of character traits.

    By including the sitter in discussion and choice of card, we become a team, working together to find solutions or options.

    Ali x

Carla · 12th September 2013 at 4:03 pm

It cost you a friendship? Really? Wow. That's pretty heavy.

Here's why I don't use court card significators: I don't want my own ideas about the querent to colour my reading. And if I choose a court card to represent that person, I will be pigeon-holing them. It's going to affect the way I read every single card in the spread. I personally don't want that. But what other readers do is up to them — no worries! 🙂

    Carla · 12th September 2013 at 4:05 pm

    However, I have no problem with a querent selecting an item – a crystal, an oracle card, a feather, whatever! – to serve as an avatar to hold the position for themselves in a spread. Then a card can land on that spot to add more information.

    But I hasten to add I'm not looking for a debate. There's room in tarot for all styles.

    Alison Cross · 12th September 2013 at 4:39 pm

    Hey Carla 😀 Congrats on being the recommended blog in a recent edition of the TABI Monthly Newsletter btw!

    I totally get what you're saying re the selection of a significator. I use the example of Angelina Jolie as someone who can, depending on what aspect of her public life you are talking about, be represented by at least four different cards lol!

    Ali x

    Carla · 12th September 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Was I? I did not know that! I don't get the TABI newsletter. I've never received one. Doh.

Beth Owl's Daughter · 12th September 2013 at 3:20 pm

Wow! Wonderful!

I love that significators are getting some new interest! I certainly got jiggy about them again (after dropping them from my usual practice for several decades), thanks to Caitlín Matthews' presentation about them at the Readers Studio a couple of years ago.

And I agree that the more we can align our understanding and practice with the court cards, the better.

Sorry your epiphany may have caused strife with a friend, but it's one of those brilliant ideas that has a life of its own and wants to be shared. SOOO glad you did!

    Alison Cross · 12th September 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Thanks for your kind words, I appreciate it. Maybe saying that it cost me a friendship is a little bold, maybe saying it cost what I THOUGHT was a friendship might be more accurate 🙂

    Internet friendships can be a bit of a Fool thing – a leap in the dark and you just hope for the best 🙂

Nancy Hendrickson · 12th September 2013 at 2:53 pm

Thanks for the kick in the pants Ali. You must take more walks with the dog!

    Alison Cross · 12th September 2013 at 4:31 pm

    It's a 2 mile walk every morning. I haven't lost any weight since I got him in July but I'm 3" shorter *boomtish*

    Ali x

Tarot By Arwen · 12th September 2013 at 2:21 pm

What an intriguing thought. I still am not sold on significators from a Tarot deck, but I do like the idea of aligning them with avatars. Good stuff, Alison!

    Alison Cross · 12th September 2013 at 4:30 pm

    I'll win you round yet, my pretty *cackles evilly and strokes white cat*

    Ali x

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