What is a significator?
A significator, is a card we give an special meaning to within the reading. This could be either a person or a situation. There are different kinds of significators and different ways of choosing them.
Significators can be chosen beforehand or they can appear in the reading. I usually assign a court card to the querent beforehand, and another one if someone else is involved in the question (for instance, a partner). At this point, some readers take the significator(s) out of the deck and lay them on the table, and some others prefer to leave them into the deck and relate them to those persons in case they come out in the reading. Personally I do the last. What is the difference? If you take the significator out of the deck, it’s only meaning will be depicting the querent, while if you leave them in, they can add more layers of meaning to the reading. There is no better or worse, it is just a matter of personal preference.
Significators for people.
There are two kinds of significators for people, Court cards and Major Arcana. While Court cards give more room to our own interpretation, Major Arcana significators are more static.
There are several features that allow us to choose a significator. I usually pick it based on the zodiac sign, but not always.
Court cards significators:
— Significators based on the zodiac sign.
Those that where born under Capricorn, Taurus or Virgo are assigned to the Court cards of Pentacles, as it is the suit of the earth element. I use the page for young females, knight for young males, queen for grown up women, king for grown up men.
Aquarium, Gemini or Libra go to the Court cards of Swords, the suit of air.
If born under Pisces, Cancer or Scorpio, I assign them to the Court cards of Chalices, the suit of water.
Last but not least, Aries, Leo or Saggitarius go to the Court cards of Wands, the suit of fire.
— Significators based on psychological features or career.
Kings: Grown up men, those able to wear their big boy pants, they rule over themselves and sometimes others (bosses), grounded and centered.
* King of Pentacles: Provider, hard worker, a man of his house, familiar, stubborn. Usually financially stable. It is perfect for depicting a boss, enterpreneur or businessman, CEO.
* King of Swords: Intellectual, sometimes over thinker, communicative, sharpy, very rational, he is the coldest of the kings and usually not the kind who show and share his feelings. Writer, journalist, judge, high military position.
* King of Chalices: Sensitive and emotional, creative, big hearted, solidary, spiritual. Can be led by his emotions and be a bit of a drama king. Doctor, social worker, surgeon…
* King of Wands: The sexy guy, proactive, full of vitality, seductive, passionate in everything, funny, brave. Sometimes easy to drive nuts. Professor, pilot, hotel owner…
Queens: Grown up women, mothers, professionals, grounded, centered, rule over themselves and / or others.
* Queen of Pentacles: Care taker, provider, familiar, an enterpreneur, a 50’s like housewife, patient and slow tempered, in control of her finances and properties. Sometimes over protective. A boss, housewife, staying at home mom, real state agent…
* Queen of Swords: Femme fatale, intellectual, overthinker, very rational woman, seductive, sharpy and intelligent, cold tempered, communicative but not much when it comes to their emotions, sometimes controlling. A writer, scientist, surgeon…
* Queen of Chalices: Sweet and emotional, empathic, intuitive, calmed, motherly, sometimes dramatic. Care taker, can be introspective. Art related professionals.
* Queen of Wands: Sexy, independent, proactive, lively, passionate, can be easy to piss, a risk taker. Hospitality, turism, travelling related professionals.
Knights: Younger male or female, vital, active, more adventurous than kings. Can be immature or childish on occasion. Usually are depicted with less good features. (Please, take into account that carreers are other way to choose or identify the significator, separately from the personality depicted.)
*Knight of Pentacles: A gold digger, with social abilities, a people person, interested in finances and career, mean with money. An insurance seller, facing the public professionals.
* Knight of Swords: He is a jerk, manipulative, controlling and sometimes obsessive. Law related professionals.
* Knight of Chalices: Cassanova dressed as Prince Charming, this guy or girl will get into your pants faster than a bullet. Depending. Minor medical professionals.
* Knight of Wands: Always horny, the good thing is that they won’t lie about their intentions. Risk takers, often reckless, hot tempered, you better run for your life if you get to piss them. Teachers, drivers…
Pages: Pages usually depict children or very immature people.
* Page of Pentacles: Quiet child, well mannered, good student, whimsical.
* Page of Swords: Introvert child, a child with a vivid imagination, someone neurotic.
* Page of Chalices: A very depending child, sticked, to mommy, total drama queen.
* Page of Wands: Mischievous, hyperactive, temerary.
— Significators based on age.
* Kings: 50 +
* Queens: From late thirties on.
* Knights: 20 to mid 30’s.
* Pages: Under 20 or children.
— Significators based on physical features. (It is not necessary that the person meets all this standards, it is enough with the most remarkable feature.)
* Pentacles: Brown hair, brown, greenish or hazel eyes, kind face, beautiful, curvy, tanned.
* Swords: Dark eyes, grey or green eyes, sharpy facial features, tall, olive skin, skinny.
* Chalices: Fair hair, blue eyes, usually fair skin, big eyes, cheerful look, weird hairstyles, chubby.
* Wands: Ginger or red head, dark eyes, freckles, average or muscular complexion.
Major Arcana significator.
— Based on zodiac sign.
* The Emperor: Aries.
* The Hierophant: Taurus.
* The Lovers: Gemini.
* The Chariot: Cancer.
* Strenght: Leo.
* The Hermit: Virgo.
* The Justice: Libra.
* Death: Scorpio.
* Temperance: Saggitarius.
* The Devil: Capricorn.
* The Star: Aquarius.
* The Moon: Pisces.
— Based on familiar bonds, relationship, or status.
* The Magician: Cheater, illegitimate lover (male or female), single, querent’s son.
* The High Priestess: Partner if there is a significant age difference, querent’s daughter.
* The Empress: Female querent, wife, legit partner, querent’s mother.
* The Emperor: Male querent, husband, legit partner, boss (male or female).
* The Hierophant: Significantly older partner, senior consultant, grand father, married.
* The Lovers: Cousins.
* The Chariot: Uncle.
* Strenght: Brothers or sisters.
* Temperance: Aunt.
* The Star: Aunt that is like a mother.
* The Moon: Grand mother.
* The Sun: Sons and daughters of the querent, as a whole.
Significators for situations.
We can also use significators for situations. For this, we use Minor Arcana. They work as significators for people do, so the significator card can be taken out of the deck, and the question will be focused on the topic the card is picturing, or it can be left into the deck and serve as a confirmation for our question.
Let’s see an example:
John wants to know if his relationship with Jane is going to get serious. We shuffle the deck as usual, giving the cards the intention that if Four of Wands comes out, it will mean marriage. Two of Chalices will appear for committed relationship and Three of Swords for breakup.
We lay out the spread, and in case any of these cards appear, we will have our answer. If none of those cards appear, we will do the reading as normal, taking into account that the outcome is not already set.
This kind of significators are way more personal, so you can work on them, based on your own meanings.
In conclusion: Significators open a great world of possibilities, and choosing them depends on your own preferences, there is no right or wrong, but I wish you have enjoyed this article and find it of use.
I originally wrote this article for Healing Light Tarot Group on Facebook.