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Divination: Family Questions

October 22, 2011

In her third article on Tarot divination, Miss Montalban shows readers of Prediction how to answer queries relating to their families.


How to answer family questions

By Madeline Montalban

The suit of Wands (sometimes called Rods or Staves) is used for answering all questions which concern your family, and it must be borne in mind that, when reading for family affairs, you are not the Querent, but the Interpreter, therefore the method differs slightly from those given previously.

In seeking the guidance of the Tarot on behalf of a member of your family, you must be detached and dispassionate, and avoid the pitfall of considering the repercussions on yourself, however close that relative may be to you. The word “family”, in Tarot parlance, embraces only Father, Mother, Husband (or wife), Brothers (or sons), Sisters (or daughters).

“In-laws” do not constitute your family, neither do nephews, nieces, aunts or uncles. These are designated as “friends”. Only the nearest relatives are family, but if you had, for instance, an adopted niece whom you are bringing up as a daughter, you would, for the reading, consider her to be your daughter.

This is a crisp and efficient laying down of the rules for using the Tarot to answer questions concerning one’s family. The most important, and the hardest to keep, is that “you must be detached and dispassionate, and avoid the pitfall of considering the repercussions on yourself, however close that relative may be to you.”

I have not come across this method of answering family questions anywhere else.

Taking the Wand suit of cards only, first identify the card which represents the Querent (or the one for whom you are inquiring).

For Father or Husband take The King of Wands.

For Mother or Wife take The Queen.
For Brother or Son take The Knight.

For Sister or Daughter take The Page.


Shuffle the complete Wand suit together, and then cut into three heaps. Search for the heap containing the Querent’s card, for this contains the answer. Discard the other cards, as only those in the Querent’s heap are to be used. Here are the meanings of all the Wand cards, but only those in the Querent’s heap are to be considered.

King: Represents father or husband. Also successful business dealings. Reversed: Danger.

Queen: Represents mother or wife; also (reversed) suspicion, jealousy and mistrust.

Knight: Brother or son. Also prudence in money matters. Reversed: Ill luck due to carelessness over finance, or the imprudence of a friend.

Page: Sister or daughter. Also well regulated financial affairs. Reversed: Thriftlessness and extravagance.

Ten: An unfamiliar town, sometimes travel abroad. Reversed: An undertaking is apt to go awry.

Nine: Good judgement and complete honesty solve the problem. Reversed: Underhand dealings and disloyalty.

Eight: If the Querent be a man, this card represents a dark-haired young woman of upright character whom he may marry. Reversed: Worry and deception due to a woman.

Seven: Legacies, business gains, assured success of any question. Reversed: Business affairs in a precarious state.

Six: Complete or partial failure of a project. Reversed: Abandon your hopes of a successful issue.

Five: Triumph over impediments. Sometimes a successful love affair. Reversed: Unhappy love.

Four: Pleasure and social life. Reversed: An unsympathetic atmosphere .

Three: Wealth and renown are indicated if the Trumps with this card are good. In any case, some stroke of luck. Reversed: The laying of the foundation of a successful career.

Two: Crossings in love, trouble, unforeseen obstacles in a business enterprise. Reversed: The receipt of a pleasant letter.

Ace: The start of a new undertaking. Reversed: There will be many difficulties to overcome, and care and prudence will be needed.

Laying Out the Wand Cards

Take the heap in which the card lies which represents the Querent, and lay the cards out in a semi-circle from left to right in the order in which they fall. Now take the 22 Tarot trumps, and discard all but the following: No’s. 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 15, 17, 18, 19, and 22.

Shuffle these twelve cards well, cut once, from left to right. Now place the left hand heap on top of the right hand pile, and place on every card of the semi-circle of Wand cards one trump card. If you have not enough trump cards to complete the semi-circle, it does not matter. If you have, on the other hand, any trump cards left over out of the dozen discard these.

The trump card lying on top of the Querent’s card should be first read, as this contains the heart of the matter. The cards lying to the right and left of the Querent’s card are next in importance.

When the Wand cards are read in conjunction with the trump cards that lie with them the answer to the problem will be found:

For example: Knight of Wands with No. 19, (The Sun), flanked on the left by Six of Wands with No. 9, and on the right by Three of Wands with No. 22, the answer would be: Your brother (or son) is absent from home.

Though she is not explicit about it, Miss M. has arrived at this conclusion by marrying the meanings of the Knight of Wands and The Sun together. The Knight is the significator, representing a son or a brother. The Sun can indicate the return of a wanderer (see below) and Miss M. takes this to imply that the son (or brother) is away from home at the time of the reading.

Cards lying to the right read: a project on which he was engaged has failed. He has been indiscreet about the matter he was engaged upon, and gossip has prejudiced his position.

This prediction is based on the combined meanings of the 6 of Wands (complete or partial failure of a project) and The Hermit (reversed: wagging tongues cause grief). (The Hermit is evidently reversed. Or maybe the upright and reversed meanings are so intimately related as to be interchangeable; for surely the warning behind “be more reserved about your private affairs” is that, should one’s private life become common knowledge, one will become the focus for speculation or gossip, some of it ill-informed or malicious, and unfortunately mud sticks. )

Cards to the right give new hope, as they forecast wealth and renown if the trumps with this are good. As the trump card lying with it is No. 22, this warns of extravagance and impetuous action which, if persisted in, will bring regret.

This interpretation is similarly based on the combined meanings of the 3 of Wands and The Fool. Miss M. does not allow the Trump card to dominate her interpretation; she gives each card equal weighting. Moreover she treats The Fool as representing a warning, not an inevitability.

These are the meanings of the twelve Tarot trumps used in this lay-out.

3. The Empress: Domestic happiness. Reversed: Disharmony.

4. The Emperor: A man of power who affects the Querent. Reversed: One who will show clemency and pity.

7. The Chariot: Victory over obstacles. Reversed: Preceded by apparent defeat and great discouragement. A hint to persevere against all odds.

8. Justice: Help comes from an unexpected source. Reversed: Warns against litigation, and/or, an adverse decision against the Querent in the matter inquired into.

9. The Hermit: Be more reserved about your private affairs. Reversed: Wagging tongues may cause you grief.

10. The Wheel: Changes are imminent. Reversed: They may not be to your liking.
12. The Hanged Man: Circumstances will need careful handling. Reversed: Sacrificing yourself for another will be of no avail.

15. The Devil: Warns of inter-family strife, Reversed: A stranger in the family circle threatens it with disruption.

17. The Star: Despite the dark clouds it can turn out well. Reversed: The matter is beyond help. Abandon worry and make new plans.

18. The Moon: Either way up, in a family cut this card warns both against self deception, and the deception of others.
19. The Sun: Reversed or not this card is a happy augury. It presages family happiness and/or the return of a wanderer.

22. The Fool: Extravagance and impetuous action, if persisted in, will bring regret. Reversed: Health matters may be in need of expert advice. Where the Querent is a “nervy” type, this card hints that all troubles are self induced owing to health being below par and so affecting judgement.

[Prediction, October 1953 ]

  1. Auntie,
    I’m a long time fan of predictive tarot. (Is that what you call it when the tarot reader tells you what is likely to happen to you?) I knew someone who could do this and was amazing. My own efforts have found me with egg on my face, however.
    But Madeline Montalban’s articles prompt me to try my skill again. It seems like the example is for someone reading the tarot for an absent brother. Or son. My sister lives in Italy with her husband. Can I use this method to read her cards? I’m worried about her from several angles.

    • Hi Walt,
      The family spread can be used in the way you suggest. If you do so, however, take care not to ask questions purely out of curiosity, simply to find out what is going on in their private lives. You should have a real concern in mind before consulting the Tarot about a family member.
      Best wishes,

  2. pearluna permalink


    I note you do not mention stepfamily. Are they considered family in this respect?


    • Hi Pearl,
      It’s the same rule as Miss M. gives for a niece one is bringing up as one’s daughter. It depends on closeness and ‘bringing up’. If you are bringing up, or helping your partner to bring up, a child and feel close to it, then you may treat is as a daughter, or a son, in Tarot terms. With stepchildren much can depend on their age. If you marry someone who has grown-up children, then obviously they can’t be treated by you as a surrogate child.
      Best wishes,

  3. Hi Auntie,
    I’ve done a reading for my sister and I think I understand it even although I didn’t get the answer I expected. But I have a couple of questions.
    The cards in the spread were like this –
    10 of Wands & Chariot, Page of Wands & Star, 5 of Wands & the Sun, 7 of Wands & Justice reversed, Knight of Wands & Empress
    Miss Montalban says that the 10 of Wands means travel abroad and my sister does live abroad so I think this card means just that. It’s with the Chariot which signifies victory over obstacles. I read this as saying that the problems I intuited she was having will be overcome and the next two cards tell the same story. The Page represents my sister and the Star says, “despite dark clouds the matter can nonetheless turn out well.” The 5 of Wands and the Sun are a happy combination. The 5 is triumph over barriers to success and the Sun is a good omen. (Miss Montalban doesn’t say anything more about it than that.)
    Now, the first of my queries. Justice reversed is with the 7 of Wands and one is a favourable card and the other isn’t. I’m inclined to let them cancel each other out but am I just being lazy? Justice reversed doesn’t seem to fit as there’s no law suit involved. However, Justice can also mean a decision against the querent (but that can’t be right – I’m the querent. Should that be a decision against my sister? If so don’t have any idea what that decision would be. And Miss Montalban’s instructions suggest only ‘maybe’. Already confused, the 7 of Wands has to be read as well and that means assured success or business gains. The business gains wouldn’t be my sister’s, not directly, as she is a housewife looking after the children and the home. I’ve had to give up on this and hope you can help, Auntie.
    My other question is about the Knight of Wands. The card can show prudence in money matters, which doesn’t seem applicable to my sister’s situation as I understand it. But if the knight represented a person, could it be her husband? I was worried he was having an affair and the Knight is with the Empress meaning domestic happiness. Reading these two cards that way would answer my question, indicating that the husband (Knight) wasn’t doing anything to disturb the happiness of the family (Empress). Does that sound like a good interpretation to you?
    Many thanks in anticipation of your reply.

    • Hi Walt,
      You’ve made a good fist of this. Miss M. does forget her remit towards the end of the article and starts writing as if the person making the reading was the person the reading is about. But you saw your way through that, no sweat.
      Miss M. also says little about what the court cards might mean when they are not acting as the significator of the person the reader is concerned about. Like you, I would take the Knight in this spread to denote your sister’s husband.
      Not every eventuality is covered by Miss M.’s instructions but with a little ingenuity one can find one’s way through the labyrinth of interpretation, as your effort proves.
      Best wishes,

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