Earth surrounded by zodiac and tarot symbols

Tarot Versus Astrology: Here’s How They Differ

Most people know how to read their horoscopes, but what are the benefits of a card reading?
February 14, 2020
11 mins read

Recently on social media, I’ve seen words like tarot and astrology plastered all over the place. With the common appearance of these words and constant Snapchat stories about them, it led me to investigate the world of tarot, horoscope and astrology. I’ve challenged myself to learn the basics of these concepts in the span of a short week. The first thing I wanted to learn about was the basis of astrology, so I turned to the website called Café Astrology.

What Is Astrology Anyway?

According to Café Astrology, it is the study of the events that happen on Earth and the positions of the planets. Astrology is used to help us understand the things that happen on Earth, as well as someone’s behavior. With astrology, people are separated into different categories based on their zodiac sun sign. A sun sign is based on where the sun was positioned at the time and place of your birth. For example, because of my birthday (March 23), I’m considered to be an Aries.

Zodiac signs are based on a person’s birthdate, and they are represented in the shape of a clock, which is separated into 12 segments. Each one is called a house. The zodiac begins with the first house, ruled by Aries, and moves counterclockwise until it reaches the last house, which is ruled by Pisces. It is believed that according to the house you are assigned to, someone can determine and interpret the kind of personality and behavior you have. The stars and planets are aligned in a certain way to contribute to what kind of person you are.

People born from March 20 to April 21 are in the first house, and their approach to life is considered to be about appearances, attitude and identity. The zodiac signs also happen to be grouped into further categories and separated by elements.

Fire signs are Aries, Leo and Sagittarius. Earth signs are Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn. Air signs are Gemini, Libra and Aquarius. Water signs are Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces. Depending on the element you’re assigned to, it also explains a portion of your personality and character.

How Do Astrology and Tarot Relate?

The philosophies of tarot and astrology often combine and relate to each other. Both of these philosophies often consult the astral world when it comes to looking for guidance in life. The two differ when it comes to focus and interpretation. A person draws mythical power from the astral planes when they’re doing tarot card readings.


Horoscopes, however, focus on planets and how they’re positioned at a certain time. When interpreting tarot card readings, a certain card can relate to a zodiac and vice versa with zodiac signs standing for a certain outcome.

Astrology and tarot differ in how they are calculated, as well as how accurate they can be. Tarot readings aren’t as calculated as astrology since they are drawn at random; they can be different for everyone. Tarot card readings are personalized, and the cards are drawn out by someone’s “spiritual guide,” which can be compared to a guardian angel. The cards that are selected in a reading are messages that your spirit guide is trying to tell you, and these messages can be urgent or minor.

Astrology is based on math and the exact positions of the sun, moon and planets. It’s not as personalized as tarot readings can be, since a birthdate can be shared by multiple people. Astrology, which can sometimes include numbers like the Angel Number 1010, can be seen as the more logical and systematic version of tarot. It’s more factual, while tarot can be interpreted differently for every person and varies on who is giving the reading.

The Basics of Tarot

Now that the differences between tarot and astrology have been explained, it’s time for the fun part. Cosmopolitan explains how a tarot deck is made up of 78 cards, which are then divided into two groups, the Minor Arcana and the Major Arcana.

The Minor Arcana is made up of four suits: wands (inspiration, creativity and goals), cups (emotions, relationships and feelings), swords (reason and truth) and pentacles (careers and home life). These cards happen to focus on day-to-day occurrences. As well as being separated into these four suits, the minor cards also include the categorization of Roman numerals (1-10), pages, knights, queens and kings. Each card contains a different meaning that goes along with whatever suit the card is in.

The Major Arcana is made up of cards that stand for something major that’s going to happen in your life. Unlike the Minor Arcana, if a Major Arcana card is drawn during a tarot reading, then it’s something that will change your life and character. These cards also suggest major themes and lessons that are going to occur, and these cards often don’t have a specific time where they’re going to happen. Depending on different tarot decks, the cards in both the Major and Minor Arcana can mean different things.



Steps of a Tarot Reading

1. Set the mood

Setting the mood is one of the most important parts of the tarot reading. Since tarot is derived from a spiritual and astral plane, it’s best to make sure the space has a comfortable and inviting feeling. Tarot is all about inviting good vibes and thoughts about the future.

2. Shuffle the cards

The shuffling of the cards is where some of the randomization comes from. While the cards are shuffled, it’s best to concentrate on the question you’re asking and to maintain positive energy. The order of the cards is sorted out by the spiritual guide.

3. Cut the deck

When cutting the deck, either you or the person receiving a reading will split the deck into three different stacks, in order to cut the 72 cards down into a smaller pile. After the deck is cut, you or the other person chooses one deck that the reading will be focused on.

4. Decide on the layout

The layout of the reading often depends on the type of question that you’re asking. There are a few types of layouts; the basic ones comprise of either one, three or five cards. The more cards in the reading means that the question must be more complicated.

5. Stay focused

Keeping your focus while doing a reading is something that is very important since you’re trying to get a clear picture of the general future. While keeping focus, it’s best to visualize the question and the goals that you would like to achieve.

Different Types of Layouts

Daily card drawing — this reading is the most basic reading and requires the drawing of only one card. You ask the question, pick any card from the deck and then interpret whatever card is picked.

Three-card spread — this reading gets a step complicated because it is comprises three different cards. The first card represents your past, the second represents your present and the last card represents your future.

Five-card spread — this reading stands for five different things that are occurring in your present life. The cards here stand for your current situation, tasks at hand, new challenges, overall strength and present ideal outcome.

To Tarot or Not to Tarot?

Now that the basics of tarot have been explained, the question of if you should practice this comes up. Tarot is for the modern spiritual person; it’s for anyone who believes in fate being decided by the universe. It’s a fun practice to get into if you’re interested in what the universe has in store for you. Grab your favorite tarot deck, some really nice candles and ask your spiritual guide a question you’ve been dying to ask the universe.

Kayla Placide, University at Buffalo

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Kayla Placide

University at Buffalo

Hello! My name is Kayla and I’m a freshman who is trying to pursue a future career in publishing YA books and fiction. My hobbies include reading, writing, gaming and playing music.

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