I frequently hear questions on forums such as, “When the Magician (or Star or Emperor) comes up in the position of what someone wants, what does it mean?” Or, “What does the Three of Wands advise?” Or, as a response to “What does my boyfriend feel about me?,” students want to know “What does Justice (or the Knight of Pentacles or the Seven of Cups) feel?” I find these questions curious. For one thing, what the Magician wants in one life situation will be very different than what he or she wants in another. For another, the deck used will often change the attitude and feeling of the card.

Here’s my favorite way to get the most helpful responses to such questions: Simply ask the figure on the card!

Usually it’s the querent, not the reader, who can give voice to the most meaningful response. Sure, as a reader, I can easily come up with a bunch of possibilities, but if you want to hear a loud, resounding ring of truth, ask the querent what the figure on the card says.

It’s amazing how easily querents will come up with something consequential when I ask them for the first thing that comes to mind. I’ve asked thousands of querents, and I’ve rarely had anyone who couldn’t do it.

The answers are never random. In the majority of cases, you’ll be surprised at how significant the response will be—both in relation to the card and to the situation. If a querent doesn’t get how this relates to him, I have him repeat the statement once or twice until he does. Or, I ask the querent directly how this response relates to her situation.

Using this technique for yourself, you’ll find the cards in a spread form a committee, each with their own attitudes, agendas, feelings and advice. One may speak with the voice of your mother, another with your inner wild-child, and a third as your demanding boss. It’s not unusual for them to disagree with each other. The position in the spread will help you determine if theirs is a voice from the past, the urgings of a possible future, an obstructing adversary, or a helpful guide.

A technique that can make this even more powerful is for the querent (whether yourself or another) to assume the body posture of the figure on the card. Try to imitate it as exactly as possible and try moving as that figure would move, and taking on its tone. Then, speak as the figure, saying what that figure wants or feels or advises, or how it uses the various implements and symbols on the cards, and even what it thinks of the advice of other cards!

I invite you to come play with me. In the Comments section, speak with the voice of one or all three of the following Magicians and/or the one at top, and tell us what that Magician wants. Is it the same for all of them or different? From left to right you can call them: Wildwood Magician, Wizards Magician, Otherworld Magician (click for a larger image; sources below).

Top: Bateleur from the Tarot de Jean Dodal by Pablo Robledo. Left: Shaman from The Wildwood Tarot by Mark Ryan, John Matthews and Will Worthington. Middle: Magician from The Wizards Tarot by Corrine Kenner and John Blumen. Right: Magician from the Otherworld Tarot by Alison Williams and Sarah Nowell.