What is a ‘Signifier’ Tarot Card?

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The signfier (also known as significator) plays a key role in Tarot card readings. Among other things, it represents the individual who is having his or her fortune read. While there’s no rule stating that a signifier must be used in Tarot card readings, doing so offers several benefits. To learn more about the signifier card and how it used, keep reading.

Signifier Cards: the Basics

As you may already know, a typical Tarot deck contains 78 cards, 22 of which are major arcana and 56 of which are minor arcana. While there have been numerous changes made to the design of Tarot cards throughout the years, the basic deck size and construction remains the same.

The signifier card is a single card that is chosen from a Tarot deck for the purpose to represent the person who is having his or her fortune read (known as querent). It can be any of the 78 cards, either major arcana or minor arcana, although most of the time it is a court card such as a king, queen, knight or page. Either the querent or the reader may select the signifier card from a Tarot deck.

What’s the Purpose of a Signifier Card

The signifier cards lives up to its namesake in the sense that it “signifies” the querent. Most professional fortune readers choose a signifier card based on the querent’s physical and/or emotional description. Querents who are over the age of 36, for instance, are often represented by a king or queen, depending on their gender. Single, unmarried adults, are also represented by the king or queen as a signifier card. The purpose of this card is to represent the querent in the most accurate, honor manner possible. Knights, on the other hand, are used to represent teenagers, and pages represent children.

Benefits of Using a Signifier Card

Because they aren’t required for Tarot readings, some people may assume that signifier cards are useless and offer no real benefit. The truth, however, is that when used by a professional, skilled reader, they will allow for better readings. It’s not uncommon for readers to expose a plethora of information during a typical Tarot reading. Why is this a problem? Well, it’s only a problem if the information that is being unearthed is associated with someone else. By using a signifier card to represent the querent, it ensures the reading will ONLY be about the querent and no one else.

Photo Credit: Jason Chang

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