From the Page of SWORDS


After counting 9 cards, including the World card, we arrive at the 9 of Cups.

The 9 Cups, the Lovers, and the 7 Wands are all included in this assessment.

Everything seems to be going smoothly (9 of Cups), until he encounters his first opposition or trouble (7 of Wands).

In this position, we could get more out of the 9 of Cups. The themes of satisfaction may show that the Knight is pleased with his new partner (The Lovers), and the way things are starting. This does not include the 7 Wands.


After counting 9 cards, including the 9 Cups, to the right we arrive at the 3 Wands.

Assemble the three Wands as usual, and include the Ace of Cups, 3 of Cups, and the 3 of Cups.

He may be homesick now (3 of Wands), with only the possibility of a love affair (Ace of Cups), holding his attention. As the dust settles, perhaps the excitement has waned (3 of Cups).

It is important to not get too focused on one thing (love), when the Ace of Cups could represent a variety of things. Isn’t that tempting? Initially, the 3 of Wands indicated a desire for expansion, and possibly moving abroad. But now, I think it shows a longing to return home or for something else. He may be assessing what he has achieved and lost and planning his next step. In light of the 3 of Wands and the new triad the 3 of Cups takes on a different tone. It now appears that he ignores the 3 of Cups or has temporarily shifted his attention.


The count is complete when we reach the Page of Swords. Golden Dawn’s instructions don’t show any further analysis, but this could be a development.

His business or work partner (3 of Wands) could be the one who is actually responsible for his melee.

All of this feels a bit sour. It seems that the Knight of Pentacles may have romanticised a situation and worn rose-tinted spectacles. The Lovers may be a clue or confirmation. The 9 of Cups’ smugness could indicate a more arrogant side of his character. It appears that the seduction was a direct result of the Page of Swords’s excellent sales pitch or the Knight of Pentacles’s desire to be dynamic and more active in life. This would explain his apparent dissatisfaction with his new job and life.


We expect that when we arrange a set of tarots in a tarot spread we can interpret every single card. This is true whether we are interpreting them individually, in groups, or in combinations. The only problem we might have is with understanding a card in a certain position.

There are many problems that can occur when card counting.


The count can be short and not tell us much. It can be a sign that there isn’t a whole lot to say, or the most important information is in that count. A lot of information can be gleaned from one card, so even though it may seem limiting at first, you should focus on the information that you have gathered. The short count will also tell you, very bluntly, that your options are restricted.

The Long Count

It can be confusing to keep a long count going. You may forget what you started counting, or where you started. It may even be a bad thing. Too many options, just like in life, can make you blind. And too many chefs, can ruin the pot. You would want to find the best option. Focus on the cards which scream out loudest to you and explore them.


It can be a combination of the long and short counts, but it is essentially a counting that goes round and around in circles and achieves nothing. This can be a sign of repeated behaviours that are not conducive to the best outcomes. In tarot, it’s common to think that you keep drawing the same card for readings or your daily spreads because there is a lesson we need to learn from that card. Loops are the same in card counting.


You have a variety of options, but you can use them even if the count isn’t having any issues, such as in the example I gave earlier. These techniques allow you to explore the cards in greater depth, but they can also complicate counting. Using more complex techniques to count cards is different from learning how to do it.


Golden Dawn states that the Aces are 5 since they represent the four elements of nature plus the fifth element, or spirit. Aleister Crowley says that the Aces should count 11, as he believes the number 11 is magical. Paul Hughes-Barlow introduced me to this idea and I can confirm its effectiveness.

You can also count the cards in the same way if there is an Ace, but you should also count them in the opposite direction if the Ace is present. This can be used to increase a small count, break up a long one and explore a string more in depth.


Golden Dawn stipulated that if the court card is inverted (reversed), the counting will be done the opposite way. The Golden Dawn rule is too rigid for me, as I rarely use reversals.

It works for me to reverse the count whenever I get a court card. This is because I want to show that I am interacting with someone, and depending on how I proceed in my game, this interaction could change my direction or decision. I can go back to seek another path, or I can continue and see what happens.

As we move through life, our path changes and meanders like a river. The interaction we have with people or allowing them into our homes and hearts can change us on multiple levels.

When we look at this string of cards, we can see that the Knight and Page are facing each other but, in essence, they are facing in opposite directions. We could reverse direction if the counting led from one to the other. The card that you used to count from will not be the card you use for counting because the card you land on is the one you’ll use. If you land on either card and reverse, you won’t be locked into a Loop until the cards have the same value. The court cards are locked down when the knight, queen, and king count 4. This can be read as only looking at each other. It can also indicate that the person is stuck in a situation or refuses to move forward.


There are other techniques that can help you read a linear spread of tarot cards. These techniques are not exclusive to linear tarot spreads; they can also be used for any other style of reading. I can personally attest to the effectiveness of these techniques when counting cards.


This technique is similar to Reversed Counting but takes it further by using the entire deck. This technique can be used in any Tarot spread or reading. It works well with the Celtic Cross, as well as other spreads which have cards arranged in different ways.

You can change the count when you strike any cards of people that face a certain direction. This can be a sign that they are looking in the past, future or at another person. You can explore these options to learn more about the other people in the card and their interactions with you.

Reversed counting allows us to see that the King of Wands and the Queen of Swords are locked on eachother. The Queen of Swords & the King of Wands are both facing each other, indicating that they have only one eye for each other.

The cards between the King and Queen are also part of the story.

Miss Organized is the Queen of Swords. She has everything running smoothly and in balance (2 of Pentacles), but she’s bored (4 of Cups), and she spots the King of Wands. The King is bored too (4 of Cups), and sees some action (2 Pentacles). He also wants to find out more about the Queen of Swords.


This technique will help you see situations and interactions from the perspective of other people. What are they doing? What are they up to? What will you do? You can count the court cards and other people cards to simplify your reading. It can be confusing to have so many counts. You may feel unsatisfied.

Checking these counts in your early learning stages of tarot cards counting will give you more practice. It’s not possible to check all the counts. You can see more influences if you limit alternative counting to the court cards.

This technique can be used with any spread, even if it seems contradictory to use the Celtic Cross, which has a distinct beginning, middle, and end. It is actually quite restricted as the story can start with the people involved, and not only the opening card.

If you’re going to count cards in a spread that has no beginning, middle or end, it is important to remember this. These techniques were defined by the Opening of the Key Spread. It was circular and the counting started with the card representing the querent in the reading.

Putting it into Practice

Remember the spread we did earlier? The one count was simple and straightforward. The length was perfect and there were no problems. Now I’ll look at other strings in that spread and use the techniques you have shown.

We will start by counting the cards. We will start with the Page of Swords, who is also in this card.

To keep things simple, I will not assess each card like in Part One. However, I will provide a summary at the end. The interpretations are not important, as you’ll have your own. You should use them when you count these strings.


We are immediately faced with directional dignity. The Page of Swords of the Rider Waite Smith is facing to his right. This could be interpreted as looking backwards or at the Knight of Pentacles.

If we count from right to left and follow his direction, we will land on the World. Keeping the right-to-left direction, we land on the World by counting 9. We count 3 to the left from the 3 of Wands. This will lead us to our first challenge, the Knight of Pentacles.

We know the direction of the Knight if we use our original counting. What does it mean? According to the original meaning, this shows two people coming together for a common cause. They are again overseas. Their paths will cross and their lives will be intrinsically linked.

If we count from the Knight of Pentacles, and continue counting right to left for the sake of exploration then we will land on Judgement. This is the first time we’ve landed directly on this card. We count three cards left from Judgement and land on 7 of Wands. We then count seven cards leftwards and arrive at the Ace of Cups. By using its Golden Dawn value we can get to the Judgement Card and end the count.

What does this number suggest? The nature of tarot counting is very similar to other interpretations. It can reveal subtleties and nuances but also some details you may not have noticed before. The 7 of Wands follows the Judgement Card, suggesting that the Knight of Pentacles’ opposition and difficulties began almost immediately after answering the call. The Page of Swords may have also been unaware of the events that were taking place in the background if we include him. It is possible that dissension existed before the Knight arrived abroad.

You will notice that the Ace of Cups is included in this string. We can now explore the card’s value using a different number. What will happen if we use 11 instead of 5? Take a look.

After counting 11 cards to the left of Ace of Cups we arrive at the 3 of Cups. This brings us back to Ace of Cups. The love interest of the Knight of Pentacles seems to be his best option. He will be happy if he stays abroad and not because of his business.


Uncounted Cards are a phenomenon that occurs often within a linear spread. Paul Hughes Barlow, of Supertarot first noticed these uncounted Cards in isolation. He concluded that these cards were the key to the future of the questioner and named them Source of the Nile because they represent the beginning of everything.

The 6 of Swords is the only card that has not been counted in this spread. If you were to count each card individually, it would be missed. This indicates that the card is about the future or what’s unknown.

This card confirms our suppositions that the Knight of Pentacles was moving abroad. It’s fascinating to count the cards and see how they affect and interact with what we know already about this situation.


We count six cards right, using direction dignities. This will land us directly on the Ace of Cups. We know the direction of this card if we have previously counted 5. Let’s count to 11 and then see what happens.

We land, surprisingly, on the 9 Pentacles. (Our love interest?) We can continue to count right, pushing past the 9 of Pentacles. (In other words, we ignore her) This will land us on the 7 Wands. The Ace of Cups is reached by counting 7 cards right. The Knight of Pentacles is likely to succeed, with or without his help. However, he will have an easier time doing so if she helps.

The Ace of Cups is reached after the 3 of Cups. The count goes on through a number of cards, and finally ends with two Aces (using either value).