Tarot Games by Jeanne Fiorini


People have been coming to my home once a month for the past eight years to participate in what we call “Tarot Play Night.”  Some of those who attend are part of the original crew, and others have come and gone as their life’s circumstances have led them.  We all love and appreciate the tarot, its wisdom and surprises, and how it is the bond that allows us to sit with the unknown on a regular basis. 


The focus of these gatherings is to work with the tarot in new and varied formats. You might find us exploring a ritual or concept from my favorite resource, Mary Greer’s workbook Tarot for Your Self.  Depending on the time of year, we might do a relationship spread (Valentine’s Day) or a layout that focuses on intentions (New Year’s). One of the more inventive and well-liked spreads is the “Turkey Spread” (I love a good pun!), a layout in the shape of a turkey that calls up what there was to be thankful for and how to move forward in life from that place of gratitude.


      As you can see, in order to keep folks interested and excited about this monthly event, I’ve been forced to get very creative in how we work/play with the cards. It is a bit surprising to find that what people enjoy most are not particular spreads, but the interactive “exercises” invented for use with the Tarot. I’d like to share two of my favorite creations with you.


     The first is called “Tarot Scavenger Hunt.”  We last played this on a warm summer evening, and it was a trick for each person to take their turn before it got dark!  Players were given identical tally sheets with the names of 12 Tarot cards listed down the left margin.  Each of these 12 cards had been placed in various spots in my yard, in a place that was appropriate to the meaning of the card. Each player had 10 minutes to be alone outside in search of these 12 cards, marking them off their tally sheet as they were found, and making note of their location.


     For instance, let’s say the first three items on the scavenger list were the Wheel of Fortune, the Two of Swords, and the Death card.  The Wheel of Fortune might be found on the sundial in the garden, the Two of Swords taped underneath the lounge chair on the deck, and the Death card sitting atop the compost pile.  Any 12 cards can be used; the challenge is to think about what the card signifies and then seek out a place likely to be harboring it.


     We had a lot of fun with this exercise. While each seeker was outside moaning and groaning and “ah-ha!”-ing, the rest of us spent time doing mini-readings for each other.  The scavenger hunt is a wonderful way to enjoy the out of doors on a warm summer evening and to experience the Tarot symbols “in action.”


     The second exercise, and a personal favorite, is “Speed Tarot.”   You’ve heard of “speed dating?” Well, this is the same idea but with reading cards…short hits, no time to think…just know.


     For this game you need an even number of participants plus one “referee.” We’ve played it with eight participants and that seems to be a good number for this exercise.  Begin by having the numbers 1 through 8 drawn from the hat, so that you end up with two teams, one being the “evens” and the other, “odds.”  One team, say those with the odd numbers, will be the “Readers,” the other (in this case the “evens”) will be the “Querents.”


     The four Readers will each go to a corner of the house (or the space) where there is privacy and room for two people to sit. The Readers will stay in this space for the entirety of this round of play, seeing each of the four Querents separately at their appointed times.


     Each of the Querents will make a list of four questions to be used in their readings, questions as specific or as general as they wish.  To begin play, Reader #1 will pair with Querent #2, Reader #3 with Querent #4, and so on.  Each Querent will have their list of four questions before them.


     The game gets interesting when the “referee” lets everyone know that querents will have the opportunity to have their questions read by all four Readers, but that there will only be 5 minutes spent with each reader. (Use a timer so that there is no doubt when time is up!) That means all four questions need to be posed, answered, and tied up within that 5 minutes.  It goes by quickly, trust me.


     Once the first 5 minutes have expired, the Querent moves along to the next Reader.  For instance, Querent #2 will now move to where Reader #3 is located, Querent #4 will move to Reader #1, and so on.  (As stated before, the Readers stay put.)  Querents now pose the same four questions to their new Reader, and the Reader is faced with being spontaneous and insightful with a whole new set of questions!


     Continue on in round-robin fashion until each Querent has spent their 5 minutes with each Reader.  Once the round is finished, take some time as a group to talk about the information received as well as the experiences on both sides of the table…and to catch your breath.  If time and energy permit, switch roles and play the game for another 20 minutes.


     This game forces the Reader to go on pure instinct.  Like in speed dating, information needs to accessed and transmitted quickly.  First impressions are crucial.  It is important to say what you really mean and mean what you say. 


     We were amazed, the first time we played this game, at the consistency of the information from the four different readers who knew not of what had been spoken by others. Personal reading style, it turned out, was less important that the truth of the content.  We also found that the querents heard different pieces of their puzzle as they moved from Reader to Reader, and once finished, could see a bigger picture in their answers than they might have gotten from a single source.


     The group experience of the Tarot is a positive one on so many levels: we get confirmation of our intuition, we laugh, we learn, and we get a chance to share something magical with like-minded souls.   Anyone who works with the Tarot knows that the cards’ significances are played out in personal life as well as in community and global events.  It is an even greater testament to the essential truths contained in the Tarot that the cards can be utilized in such frivolous, enjoyable ways and yet remain harbingers of clarity and awareness.


Jeanne Fiorini is a Tarot reader and teacher, working in the Portland, Maine area since 1991. She studied transpersonal psychology at the Synthesis Center in Amherst, Massachusetts, holds a BA in Art History, and has extensive experience with the symbols of the Tarot and archetypal psychology. 
Jeanne's first book Invitation to Wonder was published in 2002.  Tarot musings as well as her new line of Tarot-themed gift wrap can be seen on the TarotWorks site.