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Opening of the Key

Hi, and thanks for checking out my blog. This is the first of 365 readings, one for each day starting from the autumn equinox of 2013. I explain the rules for this project here.

This is my first ever tarot reading. I have never even touched a deck of tarot cards, nor have I used any online or phone apps having to do with tarot, or had a tarot reading done for me. In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, and because it’s the equinox, I chose to do the Opening of the Key. This is probably the most complicated spread you will normally come across, and it also takes the most time to complete of any that I’m currently aware. I don’t recommend it for beginners. By rights I shouldn’t even be doing it, but I am reckless and foolhardy, and doesn’t afraid of anything.

However, I also hope to demystify the OOTK for you a bit. Suffer no illusions, this is going to be a long post – but if a novice like me can tackle this complex spread, then what do you have to be afraid of? I will do my best to explain each phase, called “operations,” and also try to spell out my logic for why the cards mean what they do. By the time you are done reading this, you should know exactly how to perform the Opening of the Key.

I may from time to time break from traditional methods. I make no apologies for this. Tarot reading is an art rather than a science, but I will try to be as scientific as possible in my methods. That said, I reserve the right to place and interpret cards at my own discretion.

Let’s begin.

Opening of the Key

The first thing you need to do before you even touch the cards is to determine the question you want to ask. It’s best to meditate on this question, to allow your subconscious to set to work. After you feel sufficient time has passed, then you can pick up the cards and begin to shuffle. Handling the cards is an important part of the process, because once you stop shuffling the answer is set; what comes next is simply a revealing of the answer. Technically the divination is over once you draw your first card.

In this case, my question is: “What do I most need to know about my spiritual journey for this year?” Or, if you like, “How will my spiritual path unfold in the course of the next year?” with “year” meaning the next 365 days.

The next thing you need to do is to choose a significator. A significator is a tarot card that represents you in relation to the question. It doesn’t have to be your favorite tarot card. For myself, I chose the Ace of Swords, which, among other things, symbolizes awakening of the mind and discerning the truth. You should chose a significator that you feel is true to yourself and also relevant to the question. It should also be a court card (Aces – Kings).

There are no reversals in the OOTK. Any reversed cards are interpreted as normal.

First Operaton


This phase represents the “opening of the question,” or the present state of affairs in relation to your question at the time of asking. For me, this represents how my spiritual journey is unfolding now. There are six steps.

  • After shuffling, cut the deck in half. Then, cut each half in half, so you have four equal piles
  • Turn each pile over. Interpret each card facing up according to the symbolism of the tetragrammaton
  • Find the significator. Whichever pile it is in, spread these cards out side by side or in a horseshoe configuration (INCLUDING the significator)
  • Interpret the significator in relation to the two cards on either side of it. Depending on the number of the card, you will then count either to the right or left that many spaces, and the card you land on will then be interpreted based on the card to either side of this
  • Repeat counting until you land on a card you have already landed on
  • Pair the cards

If you don’t know, the tetragrammaton is the four Hebrew letters YHVH, which spell “Yahweh” or “Yehovah” depending on how syncretic you want to be. Each letter symbolizes a different classical element. These letters are all vowels, which, while not necessarily relevant, is interesting to think about.

Y – Fire. In the Yah position I drew the Eight of Cups. Since fire is the element of inspiration and creativity, and the Eight of Cups symbolizes walking away from vice and pursuing something better, perhaps unknown, I can draw from this that in my creative life there is something holding me back that I need to walk away from, in order to pursue a path that may not be entirely clear to me now, but that I recognize is better than sticking to what I’m currently doing.

H Primal – Water. In the first Heh position, I drew the Fool. An auspicious card, it can often mean naivete, a blank slate, or not knowing what to do in the face of infinite possibilities. Taken under the influence of water, which symbolizes emotion, intuition, and inter-connectivity, this card depicts a sense of emotional renewal into a carefree attitude as well as a natural curiosity that leads to putting oneself out there and seeing what happens, according to where intuition leads.

V – Air. In the Vav position, I drew the Ten of Wands. This card speaks of taking command or responsibility, and in doing so rediscovering things that bring you joy. Air is often used as a symbol for spirit, or the breath of life, but here it also represents trials and challenges that must be faced, as well as the intellect you must bring to bear to do so. In light of this, the Ten of Wands can come to mean taking control of one’s spiritual journey and choosing to face head-on the challenges that come with this decision.

H Final – Earth. In the second Heh position, I drew the Nine of Cups. Earth is the element representing the material world, including wealth, health, success in earthly endeavors. In contrast, the Nine of Cups can be taken to symbolize spiritual attanment, as well as a sense of satisfaction and the cycle of giving and receiving. Taken together, it seems to suggest a beneficial synergy between the spiritual and physical aspects of life that results in a sense of contentment and productivity.

Now it’s time to look for the significator. This will determine which pile we will unpack and examine in greater detail. Oh, look–

Got it in one

My significator, the Ace of Swords, ended up under H Primal. This would mean that at the present time my spiritual journey is primarily focused on the aspects of emotion and intuition. All further card interpretations must be viewed through this lens if they are to be accurate.

The Ace of Swords is flanked by the King of Pentacles as well as the Fool. These two cards actually seem to balance each other, since the King of Pentacles symbolizes being cautious, serious, and exercising maturity. This keeps the brash naivete of the Fool in check. This should be a reminder that in my search for spiritual awakening, I should keep an open heart but not get my head stuck in the clouds thinking about what could be or what might have been.

Counting five from the Ace of Swords, including the Ace itself, I land on the Page of Pentacles flanked by the Nine of Pentacles and Temperance. The Page represents working hard, self-improvement, and taking advantage of opportunity, whereas the Nine represents a level of achieved comfort and one’s own personal paradise, and Temperance stands for equilibrium, compromise, and moderation. The message here is that for my efforts to create my own “slice of heaven” to pay off, the key will likely lie in making compromises and not letting myself get carried away.

Counting seven from the Page of Pentacles, I land on Judgment, flanked by the Knight of Swords and the Eight of Pentacles. The Judgment card can usually be taken to mean finding new answers, making peace with and laying to rest old habits, relationships, or ways of thinking, and coming to a final decision. The Knight represents, skillfulness and brash cunning, whereas the Eight of Pentacles represents accepting the situation as it stands and, often, working alone. Together these cards would suggest using a combination of cleverness and steadfast resolve in order to make progress and achieve a sense of finality.

Counting three from Judgment, I land on the Three of Wands, flanked by the Eight of Pentacles and the Devil. The Three of Wands denotes that the journey has only just begun, while the Devil signifies temptation, instinct, or cutting ties. This reinforces the idea that I must face my challenges on my own, but in this case the struggle is internal. Perseverance is key here.

Counting three from the Three of Wands, I land on the Queen of Wands, flanked by the Devil and the King of Swords. The Queen of Wands denotes a gentler nurturing of ambition, and a further developing of the journey. The King of Swords represents having strong beliefs but also being able to see both sides of an issue, as well as the tendency to judge others. In this case I think the King of Swords is magnified, or even tempered by, the Devil. I should take this as a reminder not to be caught up in judging others for their decisions, when my true goal is self-discovery and improvement.

Counting four from the Queen of Wands, I land on the Ace of Wands, flanked by the Seven of Pentacles and the Five of Swords. The Ace of Wands primarily symbolizes passion, which is then strained by the Seven of Pentacles’ meaning of worrying and patience being worn thin and the overconfidence signified by the Five of Swords. This seems to bring light onto a habit of stressing over things that are very important to me personally, especially when there is competition involved or I’m comparing myself to others.

Counting five from the Ace of Wands, I land on the Ace of Swords, which brings us full circle and leads us to the next step of this operation: pairing the cards. Cards are paired from either end of the lineup, or horseshoe, and interpreted together. I’ll keep this brief.

The Fool & The Empress

This looks to the new genesis of motion, acting on those infinite possibilities represented by the Fool and planting new seeds in fertile soil.

Ace of Swords & Nine of Pentacles

In seeking spiritual awakening, bliss is found.

King & Ace of Pentacles

With a surge of new luck, playing it safe and relying on myself will pay off.

Temperance & Wheel of Fortune

This speaks of maintaining equilibrium as some things come to a close and new doors open.

Five of Cups & Swords

Overconfidence leads to brokenheartedness or a sense of loss.

Knight & Ace of Wands

Following my passion leads to rapid change and a slant toward narcissism.

Knight of Swords & Seven of Pentacles

Impatience or worry causes me to use cunning and unusual tactics to solve my problems.

Judgment & King of Swords

I must make peace with my ideals and what it will take to attain them versus what I’m capable of.

Eight of Pentacles & Queen of Wands

I must accept the nature of my path and go easy on myself, and use a light touch in my endeavors.

Three of Wands & The Devil

The journey has just begun, and I am already tempted to turn back and return to the “devil I know.”


So that’s the end of the first operation of the Opening of the Key. Later I’ll do today’s reading and post it tonight. Tomorrow I will post the second operation of the OOTK as well as tomorrow’s reading. I plan to continue like that for the rest of the week.

[The reading itself was done on 9/22/13 at around 6:24pm]



  1. Hi livingnexus,

    Wow, what a cool project. I am learning a lot from your page!
    Tarot is so great, huh. I bought my first pack about two years ago for a bit of fun, was pretty skeptical, but have since been amazed at how accurate it always is – not just in my own readings but when friends ask me to do ones for them, too.

    • It’s very interesting, and I’m finding out exactly how accurate tarot can be. Any time you wanna comment on one of my readings and give an alternate take on it, feel free. I always enjoy a different perspective. I’m doing this project to learn after all.

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