When The Tarot Is Literal

Filed in TAROT

Can Tarot be literal? Yes!

Tarot works in three main modes. There is the ancient and enduring symbolism of the Major Arcana, which so often reflects our inner narrative, rather than outward events. An example: a person getting the Tower may restless around a relationship, wanting to leave it.

The Tower shows that agitation, aptly, as opposed to any situation incoming that would break up the relationship. Judgment is a Plutonic card with the sensibility of that planet, rather than a suggestion that something outside of you is going to be calling the changes.

Then there are the more worldly cards that conjure up the genius of your intuition, the images combining with the interpretation suggestions to evoke an ‘aha’ moment. The Tarot can be as inscrutable as dreams. It is more Sphinx than Oracle.

Or; the Tarot can be super-literal. People often say that the Tarot on the site is highly accurate regarding the “people” cards and I agree. Characters such as the King of Swords show up repeatedly, well before they materialize. If you get into the right mindset when looking at Tarot, it tells you little stories. Sometimes they are highly practical – the Four of Pentacles is always a ‘don’t spend’ cue, and there are cues that someone may not be as free for a romance as you thought they were.

The Seven of Swords can point to thieving, and though it is a Major Arcana, the Devil seems connected to people getting out of their depth with debt, drugs or a seriously dodgy bit of business in relationships.

What do you think the most literal cards are?


Image: Alice Rosati

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MysticSStarDomesticTriffidRuby Tuesday Recent comment authors
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SMM Member

I have a question what does this mean in Oracle 1, Page of Discs mean?

dark starMM Member
dark star

Page of pentacles coming up a lot, and king of Wands. The elusive king of wands I’ve been looking for since a september tarot reading from an amazing reader

Ms JeminiMM Member
Ms Jemini

I have tarot as part of my morning ritual. I ask what it is they want me to know, messages are always accurate to what I am going through, needing a reminder of any questions I ask I usually get the answer. Some not always good, those are reality checks, but I do much prefer getting nice auspicious messages…don’t we all.

dark starMM Member
dark star

I’ve had a little love affair with the tarot since the beginning of that retro mars this year. The cards do have a patterning that resonates

LibraLilithMM Member

8 of swords – literally tied up in pain of your own mind with the ability to free yourself if you choose to step away

amaranthismeMM Member

I’ve been pulling 3 of cups, and omgosh. The alliances are real. The king of pentacles real. The actual emporer card during saturn king? Real. I have used the tarot here religiously, but i even got these kinds of cards in person with a friend. The king of pentacles flew out of the deck and became the overall theme. Head hunted after making strong relationships with other massage therapists, temperance for the game of schemes at work, the world card for soon soon soon. Queen of pentacles! Pentacles pentacles and more pentacles. Sometimes the devil. Fixed those money admin probs.… Read more »

LdSMM Member

Queen of Swords – always literrally a decision between head and heart/energy/soul

DomesticTriffidMM Member

The Devil. Earth licking, addiction, and being in a bind. In the Victorian Flower Fairy Tarot (my favourite “Fluffy Deck”) its The Goblin Market – all the pleasures of Earth dissolving into pebbles and dead flowers in the light of day. In the Gaian Tarot its “Bindweed” – being tied up in a situation out of control and out of balance. The one I never read literally ? 6 Pentacles. There is no gift here. Its Charity with a capital “C”. I read it as “What is given will be earnt. Get on your knees” My favourite card is the… Read more »


Ace of pentacles


What I got after doing Tarot after reading this…


Can we talk cards that we DONT understand as well?
Strength. I don’t ever understand what I’m meant to get off the Strength card.
2 of Swords and 8 of swords. Are these cards that imply one NEEDS to act?
The Sun.
The pages? I don’t understand who they are!

And those that we want to imagine have different meanings?
The Moon…. Very romantic, not dangerous at all. Neptunian nights.
The 5 of Swords, 7 of swords.
7 of Cups….. this can just mean I have a lot of great choices, amirite?

VeronicaMM Member

strength card, are you a leo perchance? I often get it when dealing with my Leonine SO 🙂
Higher meaning can be the taming of turbulent, unconscious energies by reason, also an image of a strong woman. Pages are often young people. 7 of cups could be a bit of an addiction, or too many choices.

I don’t see them as a NEED to act, more like a picture of a situation in the moment, and what you might want to focus on further

DomesticTriffidMM Member

Traditionally the 2 of Swords is about making decisions. I always read it as “the decision you have already made but are afraid to act on”. People often know the answers they are seeking, and the choice they want to make, but want the Universe to bless their course. Strength I read as “Stoic practices” – its about your internal strength of mind to overcome animalistic emotional reflexes. The 8 swords is one of my favourite cards. She looks likes she’s in a terrible bind, but the problems are all in her head. She can literally let her bonds slip,… Read more »

PiMM Member

I tend to get the moon when I am swimming in feelings about something. Not necessarily treacherous circumstances, but that I am in Major Feels .
I see the 7 of cups simply as blue sky thinking, daydreaming, “what if….” Speculation. It’s actually damaging for me with a pisces mercury to equate that with error or as some kind of personal flaw. If it comes up, I know to ping my imagination and make sure I’ve done a little awareness check too.

Fire and Ice
Fire and Ice

I don’t know that I can call a particular card” literal”or knowing when it is literal for me anymore. The more I have delved into any form of divination the more complex I find it to the extent that I don’t trust my own interpretation of it and certainly am wary of any “reader’s” take on it no matter how good they are. If I do read for myself, I wait for the evidence in the physical to see what mode the tarot has presented itself to me this time around.

emgMM Member

I get the fool so often. And although the ace of cups is my utter favourite I vibe very very much with the fool. Ny last reading he was in the 12th house.

VeronicaMM Member

because you are significantly starting afresh – the fools leap into uncharted territory protected by beginner’s luck 🙂 also the fool has ties to Uranian energy…

studentessaMM Member

Hermit, hanged man and 3 of swords. Like to keep the last one off my grid !! The first two are always welcome tho

LaurelMM Member

8 of wands. 8 sticks flying through the air. I go check my passport expiry and dust off suitcases.

WizarDoraMM Member

Three of swords.. I have never not had the literal meaning of it, ever. Its always heartache & I have always remembered how severe it’s blows have been. Last time I read for someone else I wanted so much to avoid the literal meaning but sadly, it was very real. I focused much of the reading on solution and where her support would come from and this really helped her for a year afterward.

AriesPiscesLibraMM Member

I’ve been reading for almost 16 years. I think the most literal cards are the 3 of swords, 10 of swords, and 5 of cups. 9 of swords too. Pretty much anything doom and gloom, haha

PiMM Member

I am really appreciating this, and the comments. I am a bit shit at Tarot. It gets better if I ignore the specifics – a la DL’s comment – and look at what is where, and the general vibe. the I ching suits my pisces 9h mercury better, and maybe cap moon with its need for a sense of ageless wisdom and a focused attention on the issue. the court cards sort of bamboozle me. I get a reading loaded with Kings and I interact with maybe two adult men at best. is it sometimes that i read too much… Read more »

IncenseMM Member

Your last paragraph I could have written. Apparently, the love of my life is the King of Pents … not that I’ve met anyone yet. 🙁


The court cards are incredibly literal on the site tarot. I have a King of Cups character in my life and haven’t spoken to him this year, I also hadn’t got that card. A few weeks ago I got the King of Cups in the 3rd house and two hours later he messaged me. It’s not just that example, it happens over and over.

VeronicaMM Member

I have a really good relationship to tarot and I -ching, developed over years and years. I have friends phone me up to ask me to flip a card for them…I don’t claim to have clairvoyance with the cards but I really do understand what they are saying to me. Both in Rider Waite and Thoth decks. Have had some people say that the find tarot cards scary or something, but I never get that from them, not at all like I how find Ouija scary… Hardly ever do a physical full spread these days, mostly I do them online,… Read more »

HowdyhihiMM Member

I find there’s many multiple interpretations of most of the cards, but that’s because I’ve been reading those things since I was a kid. I think one of the most literal is 4 of cups. Just take the freaking cup already. Oh, And the 8 of cups.

Sweet SanityMM Member
Sweet Sanity

This is brilliant, I just went down all the link paths. Thanks Mystic and all those who have commented xoxo

SMM Member

First card Devil, second The Tower (it’s been confirmed today that my I’d has been stolen and used for health care fraud).
12th card King of Pentacles (I really don’t want any man thinking I want anything from them especially an old era version of someone from my past…no thank you). I don’t believe in fairytales or empty romantic sentiments. Someone with chronic PTSD just can’t allow that to happen.


Ugh, identity theft and fraud, just ugh. Sorry you have to now deal with this along with all the work you do for your health. It is just so unfair, S. Wishing you extra pieces of strength to manage the admini-crappia parts in effective small blocks, that don’t undermine your energy and time for care of self, including dreaming and flowing xx

SMM Member

Thank you x
Sadly I haven’t been able to enter dream states for years. Trauma took those. Could be a nice change for my dreamscapes to return.

davidlMM Member

I think it’s important in any form of divination to develop your own interpretations of symbols. If you always refer to the interpretations of others or those of the ‘experts’, then I think you will never truly trust or fully understand what the oracle is attempting to impart, without irritating anomalies and misunderstanding. This happened to me with the IChing 40 years ago. I found that interpretations of the hexagrams others had, in a way imposed on the one on one relationship with the sage the soul, the personality of the oracle I required to be a good student. Over… Read more »

SMM Member

Thank you for taking the time to explain this, and in a way I can understand.

davidlMM Member

The fool card is possibly the only tarot symbol I can fully embrace. I know him so well. The others seem a little controlling and sometimes malevolent to me. I sense a lack of flexibility. In other words the tarot and I have a language barrier. And it doesn’t care. There is a hexagram in the I Ching. No.4 , “Youthful Folly” has success. It is not I who seek the young fool; the young fool seeks me. At the first oracle I inform him. If he asks two or three times, it is importunity. If he importunes, I give… Read more »


You are a master in this, DL. We have always known this channels your witchy self. I played with I Ching with one sibling as a young girl, and it was highly appropriate and speaking at the time. I cannot read it the same without her, just like I can no longer understand the clues to the cryptics when she is not here to synch her Virgo with my Pisces. Mystic’s Tarot has replaced so many packs for me, even the ones I hold in my hands, which you would not have expected of a Saturn in Taurus in the… Read more »

davidlMM Member

I’m way too Gem to be the master of anything 🙂 Interesting about your sister. I was taught that to manifest universal energies and knowledge to make it useful you need to understand triangulation. Between 2 entities there is a line. That is a limited dimension. Add the 3rd entity and there is a plane of activity. These triangles can then link to other triangles. This is the basis of the merkavah teachings. By linking our triangles of light bodies we form light vehicles that allow interstellar travel. I digress 🙂 So in your case the 3 entities were you,… Read more »

SMM Member

Thank you again, your words help to allow me to find my balanced will and ensure that my emotional shell shocked state of mind is not needing to explore this at the moment. Take a pause from tarot and when things are resolved I’ll return to it.

davidlMM Member

Hi S x
When the oracle gives no satisfaction I refer to this saying.
“If you don’t know what cannot be done, you will accomplish great things”
In other words by surrendering the need to ‘know’ we allow the work to proceed.
There are powers beyond the knowledge or influence of any oracle and they can be accessed by simply acknowledging their presence and allowing their assistance.
Oracles sometimes just get in the way of that assistance.

DomesticTriffidMM Member

The I Ching has *never* spoken to me and I’ve read dozens of interpretations. Even just reading the most basic transliterations of the hexagrams, I never get anything meaningful or useful. I kept an I Ching Journal for *years*. Nothing. Nada. Zip. I still go back and check, every now and then, just to see if the Oracle will speak this time…. I get this with decks as well though – some are absolutely beautiful, but they just don’t speak to me at all. And I know within one reading whether I can work with a deck, or whether it… Read more »

davidlMM Member

Have you tried an I Ching book by Carol Anthony. Guide to the I Ching.
This is by far in my mind the most appropriate interpretation for our age.
Aside from removing all the patriarchal and ancient Chinese cultural elements she provides simple strategies that are elegant understandable and quite beautiful.
Any female I’ve ever suggested it to , who has had communication issues with the more traditional texts has had incredible success with this book.
It might be available as an e book ?

Ruby TuesdayMM Member
Ruby Tuesday

It is a very good interpretation and I believe it is more accessible than most. Stephen Karcher’s Total I Ching is also an interesting version, with flexibility in it’s answers. I often use more than one text, especially if I am not receiving clearly, and at times, I go back to the Wilhelm. Hahaha, I collected 9 versions over the 40 years or so I have used it. I like it better than the tarot, and agree it is more nuanced but I have to say of late I have been using Mystic’s tarot and it has lead to the… Read more »

DomesticTriffidMM Member

Thanks David, I haven’t 🙂 I’ve just downloaded it.

PandoraMM Member

3 of swords – doesn’t show up for me often, but over the past 10 years it has turned up when an actual beytrayal of one kind or another (work, personal) that I strongly suspect is going down and that is really hurting my wellbeing really IS going down, even if it is not confirmed til a bit later.

scorpiodawnMM Member

love the hermit. want it tattoed on my back.
seem to get the three of pentaclesca lot…think its that card…where people are meeting up??
love the tarot
king of pentacles is always welcome lol

redondo.bleachMM Member


magnoliaMM Member

The Devil, Tower, Temperance and Heirophant…..


9 of swords. Especially the image of the original rider tarot of the lady laying in bed with her hand over her forehead

jessieMM Member

Yes! Anytime I overdo the tarot because I’m obsessing, catastrophising, or negatively ruminating / or when my anxiety is palpable and there’s panic attacks and lost sleep – top of my reading. That image in the bed is like a mirror. It’s almost a comfort now when I get it because it gives me relief that even the tarot thinks I need to calm my tits and breathe

SyrenaMM Member

The most literal card I’ve ever dealt with is the ace of pentacles, which showed up on my phone less than 5 minutes before I LOST MY JOB. I’ve never looked at it the same way again.


Whoah! Quite a shock. Tarot can do that so well; it’s super tricksy. Did your job loss then lead to prosperity, like a better work environment, or clearer soul purpose and the riches of space to breathe?

TrishMM Member

Oh my! The Hanged man. One morning I pulled this card using the Wild Unknown deck in May. The image is a bat hanging upside down. I drove down to the cafe I worked at at the time, there was a dead bat hanging upside down on the fence… The cafe was called ‘The Lucky Bat’. During my shift I started getting some intense PMS, finished early, whizzed home and went straight to bed. I woke up a few hours later and my car had rolled down the street, crashed into someone else’s, and been written off. 2 weeks before… Read more »

StarMM Member

With a few small details changed, you just described my entire life. From sudden job loss, car destroyed by a Mavis mechanic who “changed my oil” but really didn’t, only to realize they emptied the oil but never put oil back inside of it. The job I lost was the only one I was able to find for over a year. Trying to move west, as well. We were going to move at the end of the year, but now we can’t. About to run out of unemployment money in 3 weeks. While I have to also pay rent, so… Read more »


I have a billion planets in fire, and mars pluto in scorpio in the 1st, so for me the literal cards are all the slow the fuq down cards. I pull temperance, the hermit, four of swords, the hanged man, the high priestess, ten of swords. The universe telling me to calm down, this is a wait not an action zone.

The devil means a tricky bit of lust for me.

Lux Interior Is My Co-PilotMM Member
Lux Interior Is My Co-Pilot

For me judgement is always about a transformation–hence plutonic. I don’t know about ‘literal’…

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