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Significator Cards in Tarot: How to Choose

    In a tarot reading, a significator card is a card that represents the person receiving the reading or the person or situation the reading is about. The signifier card acts like an anchor to which the other cards relate.

    The signifier card helps the reader understand the tarot card’s nuances in the spread. It was more commonly used in the past, but some readers use the technique still.

    You don’t have to use a signifier card if you don’t want to. But using one can be very helpful if you have trouble getting clear answers to your questions.

    To understand how to find signifier cards, let’s look at what they are. There are many misconceptions about what they are and how they are intended to be used; of course, there are no set rules to tarot, but this is the common viewpoint on what significator cards are.

    What a signifier card is

    The significator card helps the reader focus on the specific energy or aspect of the person or situation the reading addresses. It can also be a reference point for interpreting the other cards in the spread.

    The reader chooses the signifier card and is placed in a specific position in the spread, usually at the beginning, top, or center.

    The signifier card is often picked from the Major Arcana as they represent characteristics. You can choose a card from the Minor Arcana if the spread is about a situation. If you are dealing with a problem, you can select a card from the Minor Arcana.

    As you notice, there are no rules on how it should be done. Depending on the situation, the signifier might be picked from different sections of the tarot deck.

    No method is better than another; you must find a way that correlates with you and your vibe and belief; below, you will find the most commonly used techniques and methods to pick the significator card, but don’t let it lock you in.

    The significator card is always chosen or drawn first. The reader then shuffles the deck and begins the reading itself,

    The significator card is often placed in the center or at the top of the spread. It is a personal preference, of course, and not rules,

    In the spread below, you will find the significator at the top. The Death card represents the primary energy of the spread. The other cards are read in the light of the Death card.

    The two swords can, in this scenario, be seen as an indication that a decision must be made for something new to emerge. Without the significator, the message might just have been that the person is struggling with options.

    As you notice, the significator card plays a vital role in deciphering the messages of the spread.

    If you want to learn more about suits, I invite you to read the article below. The suits are interesting as they unveil lots of information in a tarot reading.

    Related article: What tarot suits are: A total beginner’s guide

    Method #1: Personality

    Even if it is common to choose a significator card from the Major Arcana, you can also select a court card as it represents different personality traits.

    Court cards are kings, queens, knights, or pages.

    The court cards are found in the suit of Cups.

    The page is young at heart with limited life experience, the Knight is an adult and takes on the world, the Queen is mature, and rules with the heart, and the King is mature and rules with intellect and rationality.

    The next step is to match the personality with the corresponding suit. The suits are wands, cups, pentacles, or swords.

    The suits of the tarot deck

    Now it is time to take our knowledge into action. Let’s combine a court card with the perfect suit to represent the person at the center of the reading.

    How to identify a signifier card

    1. Identify what court card that correlates the best to the person
    2. Identify what suit represents the personality the best
    Personality traitSuit
    Passionate, driven, wild, social, loves challengesWands
    Grounded, focused, result-driven, intellectualPentacles
    Emotional, Creative, Psychic, SensitiveCups
    Social, Outgoing, Restless, IndependentSwords
    Personality traitCourt card
    Young at heart, impulsive, happy go luckyPage
    Energetic, stamina, young adult, strengthKnight
    Mature, experienced, independent, emotional, caringQueen
    Mature, experienced, independent, rationality, intellectKing

    If the person is passionate and very social, it might be a Wand. If the person is young or young at heart, it might be a Page. The signifier card might be the Page of Wands.

    Young at heart (Page) + passionate and wild (Wand) = Page of Wand

    If you can’t find any personality traits that feel right for you, you can choose your gender or appearance. However, this technique can be limiting, as we are much more than our looks and gender.

    If you identify as having feminine energy, go with a Queen. If your identity is male energy, go with the King. With this said you can, of course, be a Knight and a woman. It is all about your energy and what you identify as,

    METHOD #2: Astrological Sign

    A significator card can be chosen by matching the card’s energy to the person’s astrological sign.

    Each card has a corresponding astrological association, and you can use this to find a card that aligns with the person’s zodiac sign.

    Astrological signPersonalitySuit
    Aries, Leo, SagittariusPassionate, driven, wild, social, loves challengesWands
    Taurus, Virgo, CapricornGrounded, focused, result-driven, intellectualPentacles
    Cancer, Scorpio, PiscesEmotional, Creative, Psychic, SensitiveCups
    Gemini, Libra, AquariusSocial, Outgoing, Restless, IndependentSwords
    Personality traitCourt card
    Young at heart, impulsive, happy go luckyPage
    Energetic, stamina, young adult, strengthKnight
    Mature, experienced, independent, emotional, caringQueen
    Mature, experienced, independent, rationality, intellectKing

    You can use the characteristics if you don’t know the zodiac sign.

    When you know the suit that fits the person at the heart of the reading, it is time to choose the court card that matches the best,

    For example, if I am a Leo and have mature feminine energy about me, the signifier might be the Queen of Wands.

    Feminine mature energy (Queen) + Leo (Wands) = Queen of Wands

    METHOD #3: Intuition

    If you want to go with your intuition, separate all the Major Arcana and Court cards from the tarot deck. When you pick your signifier, add the rest of the cards to the deck and shuffle it as usual.

    You can also use intuition and pick a card that best suits the person or reading.

    This technique allows you to sidestep a strong Ego; sometimes, we want to be a person even if we are not. We might want to be Strength, but we are the Hermit. If we relied on our perception of ourselves, the reading would be skewed,

    Instead, by allowing intuition and “magic” to be a part of the process, we might access the energies we need to work with – not the ones we want to.

    You can also ask the person you are reading to pick a card that they think represents themselves; They do not need to know the card’s meaning. The mood of the card can be used to understand the situation,

    They might be in a dark place if they pick the “Death” card. If they choose the “Sun,” they might be in a light place, and so forth. You have to rely on your gut feeling in these cases.

    If you want to learn more about intuitive tarot, you find lots of helpful information in the link below.

    Related article: What is intuitive tarot?

    What tarot card represents you?

    It is common for us to have a signifier card that sticks with us. I call it an identificator card,

    You can select the identificator card by intuition or use the above methods; There is no right or wrong approach.

    The identificator tarot card is your “guardian” of the deck. Some ask the card for guidance, like a guardian angel or spirit guide; I sometimes do that myself.

    If you are new to tarot, it might be hard to pinpoint your essence at first, But with time you know, When meditating you can resort to the energy of the card to gain Strength and ground yourself,

    I often lean towards the Hermit as “my” tarot card. I am an old soul, psychic, introvert, and deep-thinker.

    My signifier card is often the Hermit.

    If you have difficulty stepping out of your zone, try drawing the card instead of choosing it, I do both depending on the reading and the questions I need answers to.

    If you have a friend who reads the tarot, they might also help choose the card. But, remember, it is ultimately you that selects this card.

    Are Signifier Cards Necessary?

    Some tarot readers use a signifier card to represent the person for whom they are doing the reading, while others do not.

    Using a signifier card is a matter of personal preference and may depend on the specific spread or technique used. Some readers believe that a signifier card can help focus the reading and provide additional insight, while others feel it is unnecessary.

    Ultimately, the most important thing is that the reader can interpret the cards effectively and provide accurate and useful guidance to the person for whom the reading is being done.

    I seldom use a signifier card as I visualize it in my head. But in the beginning, I used the physical card for reference.

    I don’t use signifier or identificator cards every time I read the cards. It depends on the specific situation, question, and need overall.


    When choosing a significator card, the most important thing is to trust your intuition and select a card that feels right to you.

    You can pick the signifier card from a second deck if you don’t want to strip your tarot deck from a card. In this way, you will have a full deck when drawing the cards,

    Remember that the significator card is never a definite answer. Things and people can change; nothing is ever permanent. This is also true with personal tarot cards. They can vary depending on circumstances and mindset, Be open to this,

    For example, I have been the Hermit my whole life, but I have sometimes felt shifts toward Strenght. I guess that I am on both cards. You don’t have to be just one; you can be two or more as well,

    You can ask a trusted tarot reader for help if you have problems finding your card. It can be hard to analyze yourself on the deep level that it takes to find your signifier; at times, people know; other times, it can be very challenging to pinpoint the correct card,

    Depending on what method you choose to find your signifier card, you might have deep knowledge about astrology, numerology, or psychic traits,

    Sandra Törnroth

    Intuitive multi-modal tarot reader with a love for crystals and everything esoteric


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