Tarot Spread: Connecting with History

“The only way to really appreciate your way is to compare it to somebody else’s way. Figure out what you love, specifically. In detail. Figure out what you want to keep. Figure out what you want to change. Otherwise, it’s not love. It’s clinging to the familiar – to the comfortable – and that’s a dangerous thing for us short-term thinkers to do.” –Becky Chambers, Record of a Spaceborn Few

Today’s post is a little different from my usual content. That’s because I want to celebrate my younger brother and one of my best friends, B. B’s birthday is this week, and then in a few more weeks he’ll be graduating with his bachelor’s in history. He’s going right into a master’s program from there. To say that I’m proud of him is an understatement. B is genuinely one of the smartest and most creative people I know. He can hold several encyclopedias’ worth of knowledge in his head at once. He’s amazing at synthesizing information and then relating it in an approachable, accessible way even for someone who knows MUCH less about history than he does (AKA me). And literally anything he reads, watches, sees, hears, etc. can spark a new idea for a story, a fantasy world, a sci-fi alien species, an alternate history. He is, in other words, incredibly bright and talented, and I can’t wait to see where he goes next. 

Anyway, I’ll be flying in to attend his graduation, but in the meantime I wanted to do something else to honor my amazing brother. So I decided to create a tarot spread that peers into history and draws back wisdom from a time period of your choosing. This has some in common with my ritual to honor disabled/neurodivergent ancestors, but instead of connecting with specific people from history, this spread asks you to pick a time in history that interests you. Maybe it’s a time and place that your ancestors hail from. Maybe it’s just a section in your high school history book that piqued your interest back in the day. Whatever the case, this spread will open the door for you to gain insight from that time. 

Let’s begin! 


First and foremost, you have to pick what time you want to work with. I suggest you pick a time and place that you’re already somewhat familiar with. You absolutely don’t need to be an expert, but if you’re completely new to the time period, it will be more difficult to contextualize whatever messages come through your tarot cards. 

Now, a quick note about cultural appropriation. Normally I err on the side of caution when it comes to cultural appropriation. I wouldn’t choose to work with a deity from Yoruban tradition, for instance, because I have no claim or connection to it. But for this tarot reading, as long as you approach it with humility and openness, I think you can choose a time and place even if you have no personal connection or claim. The intention of this tarot spread is to learn, and it is for your personal use only. In my opinion, it’s more akin to picking up a book from the library about a time that interests you. If YOU were trying to write a book about a topic that isn’t yours to speak on, that would be a problem. But we’re simply here seeking information, trying to broaden our knowledge. (Obviously, that’s my personal take–if you consider a time period and it makes you uncomfortable for any reason, simply choose another time period!) 

It might be worth doing a bit of research on your chosen time period ahead of time–even if it’s just skimming through a wikipedia page or two. Obviously Wikipedia isn’t the MOST accurate source, but it can give you a general overview of a topic. And you can always dive into more detailed research later, if the mood (and spoons) strike you. But it’s a good way to prepare for the tarot spread itself, familiarizing (or refamiliarizing) yourself with the major events and cultural backdrop of your chosen time period. 

With all that out of the way, let’s get to the reading itself! 


Image description: A tarot spread that calls for four cards. The cards are arrayed in a square. Card number 1 is at the top. Card 2 is to the left. Card 3 is across from card 2 on the right-hand side. And card 4 is directly below card 1.
  1. What does this time in history have in common with the time I’m living in?
  2. What is one beautiful thing about this time period? 
  3. What is one challenge from this time period that I can learn from?
  4. What other wisdom can I gain from this time period? 

As always, I’ll walk us through a sample of this spread. For our purposes, I’ve chosen ancient Egypt as my time/place, because it’s a time period I read a lot about as a kid, and recently I’ve been putting out feelers about working with the Egyptian goddess of writing, Seshat. I’d love to get some personal insight from this time as I explore a potential working relationship with Seshat. To be clear, I am NOT a history expert. Take everything I’m saying here with a grain of salt! Since I have a (frankly absurd) array of tarot decks at my disposal, I used my Cat Tarot. I can always appreciate a culture that loves/honors cats. 

Image description: A sample reading of the tarot spread above. The cards all feature cats. Card 1 is the Eight of Wands, which shows an orange tabby playing in leaves. The second card is the Nine of Cups and features a black cat and a white cat drinking from nine water dishes. Card 3 is the Page of Swords, which shows a brown/orange cat scratching the wallpaper. And card four is the Knight of Pentacles, featuring a grey cat at the dining table with a human.

Here’s what we came up with. 

What does this time in history have in common with the time I’m living in? We got the Eight of Wands, which I always associate with creative flow. It’s that feeling when you’re so caught up in a project or pursuit that you don’t even notice that hours have passed by. So what do modern times have in common with ancient Egypt? This card seems to point to a shared ambition and drive. Both cultures value(d) progress with a capital P, and for good or ill, both cultures are/were very capable of making their goals reality. It also bodes well for a potential relationship with Seshat, since writing is my biggest form of self-expression/creativity and this card points to big creative energy. 

What is one beautiful thing about this time period? The Nine of Cups is one of the most positively-associated cards in the deck! This isn’t to say that ancient Egypt was a perfectly rosy, flawless period in history (obviously–there’s no such thing in human history). But we tend to think of ancient Egypt as an industrious time–just look at the architectural marvel of the pyramids, for example. That certainly must have felt like an imaginary structure come to life when it was completed, and that is fitting for the Nine of Cups’ position as the so-called “wish fulfillment” card. Perhaps I can draw on that abundance in my own life by making offerings to Seshat and calling on her aid. 

What is one challenge from this time period that I can learn from? The Page of Swords is a strategist in the making, but one who is very green. They tend to be overly blunt and opinionated. It’s easy for me to picture the Page of Swords as a soldier in a conquering army, zealous and certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that their culture’s way is the Right One. (Again I’m not going to get into the weeds talking about Egyptian history, but suffice it to say that like many ancient cultures, they were both Conquerors and Conquered at different points.) This card reminds me that I still have so much to learn. If I approach Seshat, I need to maintain my humility and remain open-minded to her teachings. 

What other wisdom can I gain from this time period? Our final card is the Knight of Pentacles. This Knight is a slow, steady force who keeps working and working and working at their goals. They have far more patience and discipline than their fellow Knights in the other suits. And ancient Egypt was certainly a culture that valued industriousness and hard, patient work. The wisdom I can pull from ancient Egypt is to practice consistency and steady progress. Even if the steps I take towards my goals are small and slow, I should keep taking them faithfully. 

And that’s the spread! If you give it a try, I’d love to hear what time period you chose and what wisdom you gained from the reading. And happy birthday and soon-to-be graduation, B. I’m so hecking proud of you. Someday we’ll write a book on the history of tarot together and it will be fantastic. 

Tarot Spread: Connecting with History Tiny Witchcraft

Published by Ru-Lee Story

Tea-drinking, asexual, agender tarot practitioner and author battling chronic illness and social injustices. Not necessarily in that order. They/them or ey/em.

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