How to use the Zodiac Cards (Expansion Pack lesson two)
Welcome to the second lesson in our free Expansion Pack email course!
Hopefully you gained a better understanding of the history of minchiate and the creation of the pack during the first lesson. If you missed that one, no worries - we’ll post it on thespacioustarot.com in a couple of weeks.
Today’s lesson just might be the one you’ve been waiting for: we’re talking about the zodiac cards. When we asked you all if there was anything in particular you’d like to see covered in this course, by far the most common request was how to approach this portion of the deck.
Perhaps the first point to make is that you can adapt your practice depending on your level of interest and skill in astrology. You do NOT need to be an expert or even know much about astrology at all (personally, I’m an astrology novice at best).
There are many rabbit holes to go down if you’re really into astrology. Some folks enjoy finding connections between astrology and tarot, for example (we won’t be going into that here but if it’s something you’re intrigued by this article is a good jumping off point).
But if astrology is something you’re only mildly interested in (or not into at all) that’s fine, too!
In today’s lesson you’ll learn:
- An overview of evolutionary astrology, the philosophy that inspired our approach
- How to use these cards if you’re 0% interested in astrology
- Two activities featuring the zodiac cards to try with your own deck!
What is Evolutionary Astrology?
Astrology has a long and complex history. There are many different schools of thought and cultural traditions one can follow. Some astrological methods are prescriptive and intended to make predictions.
Evolutionary Astrology is a paradigm popularized by Steven Forrest. As we mention in the guidebook that comes with the expansion pack, Forrest’s book The Inner Sky was our main reference in creating the zodiac cards. It’s hard to give a concise definition of evolutionary astrology, but the key concept according to Forrest is that:
“(Evolutionary Astrology) assumes that each of us is able to work with the astrological forces, not simply be directed by them,” (quoted from Forrest’s website).
Another key concept according to Forrest is considering the astrological symbols as verbs instead of nouns. So instead of saying “I’m a Cancer,” I could say “I am Cancer-ing.” This mindset allows you to interact with these cards even if you are completely unfamiliar with your birth chart. The astrological symbols, much like the tarot cards, can be considered as energetic realms that we as human beings innately understand.
The paradigm of evolutionary astrology aligns perfectly with the way we think about tarot. And in fact, others have also found parallels: tarot practitioner James Wells took some of the core concepts of evolutionary astrology and described how this paradigm can be infused in a tarot practice. I love this idea and made a video about it a while ago if you’d like to learn more.
Our approach to finding the imagery for these cards was similar to our approach in creating the Spacious Tarot: instead of trying to stick with traditional symbolism, we felt into what imagery arose for us. We hope you can experience the zodiac cards as energetic realms. In this email course we won’t be going into great depth about how we developed the imagery on our cards, but if that is something you’re curious about we discuss each card individually in the audio guide.
Perhaps you find some parallels in our imagery to the way each sign is traditionally viewed. But perhaps you find some completely new experiences in these images, as well.
But what if I’m not interested in astrology AT ALL?
This is something we touch upon in the paper guidebook. By all means, feel free to ignore the titles on the cards and interpret them however you wish! It’s as simple as that.
What we say on the inside of the tarot deck applies to the expansion pack as well: this space is for you. Make it your own space.
Perhaps you want to create new titles for these cards and see how that changes your connection with them. Maybe you want to rename Aries as The Volcano. Capricorn as The Geode. Scorpio as The Misty Rose. If you like the idea of experimenting with titles like this, you could take it a step further by shuffling all the zodiac cards in with your tarot deck and considering them your personalized extension of the major arcana.
Even without renaming the cards, you can interpret them solely based on imagery. What stands out to you in the illustration? What does it make you think about? How does it make you feel? This is an invitation to form an intuitive connection to the images.
In this way, the expansion pack can serve more as an oracle deck. The key difference between tarot/minchiate and oracle is that the former have an underlying structure, whereas the latter is freeform. Not that you need our permission, but you do HAVE our permission to use the expansion pack more like an oracle deck!
Activities to try with the Zodiac Cards
Aside from integrating them in with the tarot and interpreting them in a more open ended way as we shared above, it’s also fun to do more ‘outside the box’ reading methods with these cards. Here are a couple activities featuring the zodiac cards. Give them a go and see what insights arise!
Activity: What surrounds me?
The initial stage of this first method comes from a user on the now defunct Aeclectic Tarot forum (may this purple website rest in peace; if you know you know). This is a simple method which you can go into with a question, or to seek general guidance.
To try this for yourself, begin by locating the zodiac card that represents your sun sign (or that of the person you’re reading for). Take this card only and shuffle it into your tarot deck. Once you have shuffled thoroughly, look through the deck face up until you find your zodiac card. Take it out, as well as the card in front of it and behind it. These two cards symbolize the core energies influencing your question/generally surrounding you at this time.
The next stage of this activity is an optional extension I've added. Now you’ll take the zodiac card that represents your moon sign (or that of the person you’re reading for), going through the same process of shuffling and then locating the card in the deck. This time, the two surrounding tarot cards speak to your unconscious emotional needs at this time.
Activity: Big Three Energy
This next activity was created by the Artistry of Tarot on Instagram. We think it’s fantastic and want to share it with all of you:
“I’m not usually one to do elaborate spreads or even use spreads much anymore and I certainly don’t create my own. However, the expansion pack to the The Spacious Tarot inspired me. I probably could have come up with a prettier or more clever layout but I’m limited on space. But here is how this one worked:
Shuffle all of the expansion cards EXCEPT the astrology cards into the tarot deck.
Lay down your big 3 (I did it vertically):
Sun sign - who you are
Rising Sign - who you are to others
Moon sign - what will fill your cup emotionally
Shuffle the deck and cut into 3 piles.
From the first pile pull 3 cards for your sun sign
From the second pile pull 3 cards for your rising sign
From the third pile pull 3 cards for your moon sign
Then read the lines including the astrology cards for energy.
I gave myself A LOT to write about! Plus aren’t these cards just beautiful.”
Gratitude to @theartistryoftarot for this!
Next time… the value cards!
That wraps up our brief lesson on the zodiac cards. We hope you’ve found some interesting perspectives to consider here. If you develop your own ways of using these cards, we’d love to see them! Feel free to tag us on Instagram (@thespacioustarot).
In our next post we’ll focus on the Values cards: what they are, why we chose them, and how you might read with them.
Until then, sending you wishes for spaciousness.