Noticing the signs

Today is all about reading the signs. Reading Tarot is all about waking up to this inner pull, the search for symbols, in the cards and within our lives. Why would we read the Tarot if we did not believe in meaningful messages?

Many explanations for how Tarot “works” rely on the idea of synchronicitydefined by Jung as “meaningful coincidence”. This phrase is powerful and relies on two notions.



Coincidences are events that are low in frequency and somehow spectacular. As a scientist and statistician, I know all about probability. When is something out of the ordinary? A statistician would usually answer something like: “when the probability of detecting this special events (when in fact it was an ordinary event) is less than 0.05”. It’s a long-winded way of saying that we are relatively sure that the event was indeed out of the ordinary. Computers are good at calculating these probabilities but our human brains have to go with rules of thumb.

For example, when reading with reversed cards, 3 out of 5 cards reversed is not particularly out of the ordinary. 4 out of 5 is more significant and 5 out of 5 definitely significant. There are 16 court cards in the Tarot, so the probability of having one court card in a one card reading is about 1 in 5. Having 3 court cards out of 3 cards is about one in 125 so quite exceptional. Then the maths get a bit complicated, because as we pull cards these are no longer available to be pulled (sampling without replacement). If we use multiple decks, pulling the same card twice is very remarkable (1 in 6084).

All these statistics are quite amusing but may bring us beside an important point, as they can distract us from our intuition. This is where the meaning comes in.


I would argue that any pattern that we find meaningful merits attention. The Tarot is this beautiful discipline where almost everything we notice has value. If your eye, heart or ears notice it, it usually means your subconscious is on it! Whether you notice multiple white roses in the cards, multiple numbers, the same body attitude (e.g. the King of Pentacles and 4 of Pentacles look eerily similar in most decks, including the Robin Wood Tarot below). Our conscious mind is great at noticing patterns and pointing us in the right direction. Observe the cards carefully. What does the pattern evoke in you?

I also find it useful to look for information that disproves my hypothesis about a pattern. For example, if I notice 3 cards that are oriented towards the right (side of action / the future), I would assume the querent is future-oriented, but if one card is looking towards the left, I would assume this is the exact point or attitude that is holding the querent back. As metaphysical practitioners it can be easy to fall into confirmation bias (when everything confirms your preconceived viewpoint). Looking for information that disproves your hypothesis can be one way to fight that urge.

Reading signs beyond the cards

I am also very interested in reading signs beyond the cards. I am always on the look out for message from the universe. Am I on the right track? Am I on the wrong track? This requires to be observant and tune into the signs that we can most readily interpret. The first step is to notice something out of the ordinary. This requires knowledge in order not to fall into superstition. For example, if I see a crow or magpie standing calmly on the ground, looking directly at me, this may constitute a sign. However if I see a duck sitting on the ground, this is less likely to be a sign as ducks spend less time in the air or playing than crows or magpies. They somehow always end up staring at you as you walk by in the park. Got it?

The second step is interpretation or translation. In my opinion, reading the signs for your own life is highly personal and depends on what resonates with you. You need to encode your own system of sign-making. This requires a lot of patience and reflection on what different signs evoke in you. I love observing nature so I will usually assume a sign will come through the behaviour of animals in the park.

For example, a few months ago when  I was in London, I saw a fox on the track when I was in the tube. In the same week, I became interested in animal totems and bought Leeza Robertson’s Animal Totem Tarot. I kept focusing on the fox. I told the universe” “if the fox is my totem, make it known to me within the next few days” (it’s always good to put a time frame).fox-008

The next night, coming back from work at dusk, I saw a fox darting into my garden. This is highly significant because: i) that was the third time in 8 years I saw a fox in London; ii) it was darting in my garden (my life); iii) it was within the specified time frame. Over the next few days, I kept seeing foxes on tea towels, posters, and books. Now I am sure the fox is my totem!

Yesterday, a second example occurred. I have been curious about angel readings since two friends gave me amazingly accurate readings through
connection with the angels. I don’t consider myself an angel gal, and I have a weird aversion to them, so I asked the universe: “within the next 3 days, let me know if I should read angel cards”. (I wasn’t even aware of my use of the ‘3’ angel number).

Just last night as a I was driving, I decided to check my milage so I could book servicing for my car. The Number was 79,333. The likelihood of observing 3 threes in a row only comes every 1,000 kilometers, and the likelihood of me seeing it within these 3 days is astonishingly low. This event has considerable meaning for me.

These are two of the most meaningful signs I have ever witnessed. What about you? Do you read signs and omens? Let me know below!