by Ruth Ann Amberstone
I'm going to share a secret technique with you. It's one that I have discovered which adds a whole new dimension to your readings. It's called the Secret Path.
Essentially, a Secret Path is a connection between two or more cards. This connection can be obvious or mysterious. You can use this technique in any reading where you would like more information than what is readily apparent. If you really know your deck well and can do this in your head, you can amaze your friends and clients by pulling this information seemingly out of nowhere.
It works like this:
Choose a card (whichever one you like) and find another card in the deck that shares a visual, esoteric, interpretive, or intuitive connection with it. This second card will have an additional or clarifying message to add to the reading.
The Visual Secret Path
Take a good look at the card you have chosen. Notice all the details. What catches your attention? Perhaps it is a design element, a color, or a piece of clothing. (I would tend to discount posture here as too many cards feature characters in similar postures.)
Let's say you choose the 8 of Cups (Waite-Smith deck). There is a crescent moon in the sky. You'll also find a crescent moon in the 2 of Swords, the High Priestess and the Moon cards. Depending upon the subject of the reading, one or more of those cards will have a secret message to impart.
Whatever deck you're using, lay out all 78 cards and look for these visual connections. Make a chart for yourself to help you remember them.
The Esoteric Secret Path
This one requires knowledge of esoteric attributions and correspondences. The more you know, the more you'll be able to use this technique. The trick to finding this type of Secret Path is to be creative with your associations. One of my favorites is the connection between The Hierophant and the Ace of Wands. Huh?
OK, I'll explain. The Hebrew letter associated with The Hierophant is Vav which means "Nail." There are also three nails protruding from the top of his crown. Is there another card that has this type of nail? No. But the Ace of Wands features a very prominent thumbnail! So you can take this Secret Path to the Ace of Wands for more information.
Or perhaps you could take it in another direction: Nail rhymes with Snail. This takes you straight to the 9 of Pentacles. (Don't remember the snail in the 9 of Pents? Go look.)
Besides the Hebrew letters, Esoteric Secret Paths can be found through astrological attributions, shared sephiroth on the Tree of Life, numerology/gematria, esoteric functions, titles, intelligences, etc. Again, the more you know, the more powerful this technique becomes.
The Interpretive Secret Path
Here you'll be working with the meanings of the cards. If, for instance, you associate the Death card with transition or transformation, which other cards suggest a similar theme? The 8 of Cups comes to mind for me, as does Judgement. If I were looking at the terminal aspect of Death, I would be drawn to the 10 of Swords or one of the other 10s instead.
Trust your instincts here. All the cards have many layers of meanings and each of us has come to our own understandings. You may find the choices a little overwhelming at first but just relax and don't try too hard. Go with whatever comes to mind first.
The Reversed Major Secret Path
The next time a Major Arcana card comes up reversed, take a look at its numerological partner. You may find the information you need is found there:
21-The World / 3-The Empress
The key to this technique is to find connections. There is no right or wrong way to go about it and no rules as to when to use it. I wish you many joyful discoveries as you explore the Secret Paths of Tarot!
Ruth Ann Amberstone is a founder and director of The Tarot School.