Brief Encounter Tarot Project


Can The Tarot be used for fortune-telling as opposed to giving advice? Many claim this is not possible or appropriate. But here we see how powerful the Tarot can be when used as a fortune-telling tool. The Tarot can tell a story, as here in this 9-card layout on the story of Laura Jessel, the love-stricken heroine of the movie Brief Encounter. The cards tell her story by being read line by line in three lines from top to bottom. (Click on the image to enlarge it)


This layout shows how the language of Tarot works when used as a fortune-telling tool. The meanings of the cards enable them to give precise information about events taking place in a person’s life, either present or future. I refer to ‘fortune-telling’ as distinct from ‘advice, insight and guidance’. ‘Advice, insight and guidance’ readings are by far the more common way of using Tarot. They are done simply by reading one card at a time. The meaning assigned to the card is governed by its position in a layout such as the 10-card Celtic Cross. The Rider-Waite or a similar modern illustrative deck is frequently used in this way.


However, for extended and precise fortune-telling, it does not work to use a Rider-Waite type deck, nor the method of assigning a fixed meaning for each card according to its position. An older more esoteric and patterned deck such as the Marseille however, is ideal. So is a free-form layout of the kind shown here. With a traditional patterned deck and a freeform layout it becomes possible to read interconnecting events into the cards in such a way that a unifying story emerges.


In each line, the three cards are read as a single picture. In Line 1, note how the romantic Knight of Cups with his desirous attentions advances towards the placid female in The Star. This results in Laura’s uncomfortable love triangle shown in the Lover reversed. In Line 2, note how the the gaze of the loving Queen of Cups is drawn into the deep psychological uncertainty of the Moon card. And note how the composed King of Coins, her husband, looks the other way. In Line 3, the 9 of Coins stands for Alec’s imminent departure and ending of the affair. Note how the final outcome is the compassionate 8 of Cups, sign of a continuation of forgiveness and friendship between husband and wife. At the same time, Laura’s unresolved feelings for Alec, represented by the 10 of Cups reversed in the middle of the line, remain central to her shaken life.


    1. Hi, thank you for your comment. There is a new in-depth article I’ve just published on this blog called ‘We Are Infinite Awareness …’ and adapted from my forthcoming book on Tarot and Star Trek. Enjoy! Clemens

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