Maybe you don’t want to buy another Tarot book or even the Triadic Tarot deck.This section, MARSEILLES MINIS,  will help you learn to read your own non-scenic pip deck. At almost no cost, you can order the little tan booklet shown under NEWS in the menu. Its 20 pages will give you the basics.

Reading Non-Scenic Pips

The numbered suit cards: Rods, Coins, Swords, and Cups of traditional Tarots, show only the suit emblems and floral motifs (not scenes), so they must be understood differently.

Cards 1-9 in any given suit are divided into three groups of three cards each. Each 3-card group represents a major stage of an undertaking in the realm of that suit.

Cards Ace, 2 & 3 comprise the Commencement Triad—Beginning a new undertaking.

Cards 4, 5, & 6 represent the Opposition Triad—Difficulties one faces in that undertaking.

Cards 7, 8, & 9 make up the Equilibrium Triad—The endeavor is mature and fully functioning. One has dealt with problems and made necessary compromises while still achieving much of the intended goal. Think of the cards arranged this way with each 3-card group mirroring the larger larger triad so that: In the Commencement Triad:

  • Ace is Commencement of Commencement. A new idea or goal in the realm of the suit.
  • 2 is Opposition of Commencement. (inside opposition) Hesitation, doubts, reconsideration.
  • 3 is Equilibrium of commencement. The new undertaking is established.

In the Opposition Triad:

  • 4 is Commencement of Opposition. Strong outside opposition.
  • 5 is Opposition of Opposition. Help arrives to counter the opposition.
  • 6 is Equilibrium of Opposition. Losses balance gains, so CHOICE/S are required.

In the Equilibrium Triad:

  • 7 is Commencement of Equilibrium. Major changes herald a new and more positive approach.
  • 8 is Opposition of Equilibrium. A challenging situation requires quick executive action.
  • 9 is Equilibrium of Equilibrium. Successful completion and recognition.

Card 10 of any suit is always a stage of gratitude, a time of reviewing and integrating lessons learned in this cycle of growth. It is also a time for contemplating a new direction or undertaking in the realm of the suit. Ten 10 marks completion of one cycle and an invitation to begin again—the 0 signifying infinite possibilities.

In a traditional Tarot, pips 1-10 would each have a separate card. In this Triadic Tarot, each 3-card group appears on one square card, so when a pip square appears in a layout, only the top image is read. It is as if the others weren’t there.  Card 10 is always added to the Equilibrium square (see Exercise 4).

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Reading the Triadic Tarot

Marseilles Minis are short exercises that teach an intuitive image-based style of interpretation. The lessons begin with this single card and interpret it under three different circumstances.You may want to find and read about this card under the ARTICLES tab.

EXERCISE 1 (Single Card Draw): Interpret the card as shown here—

First: As a source of inspiration for the day.

2nd: As advice in a troublesome situation.

3rd: Adjusting after a life-changing disaster.

Start a notebook to record your interpretations of the card in each context. Simply gaze at the image, let it speak to you. There are no wrong answers.

Possible interpretations are posted below. If they differ from your own, you may want to note them as alternative interpretations.  Please make your own effort before reading on. ###


Possible Interpretations: First (a source of inspiration): The people are rising. It is important to stay above the petty jabs and destructive antics of those who simply want to cause trouble. Stay focussed on your goals and aspirations. 2nd (a troublesome situation): There will always be those who oppose new and innovative ideas. Sometimes traditional attitudes must be overturned (the crown falls upside down) to allow you to follow higher principles that serve the greater good.3rd (a life-changing disaster): A disastrous event can, after the initial shock, be strangely freeing. It makes you reevaluate what is really important. It may even cause a “lightness of being” when you realize that you are no longer bound by the burdens and superficialities of your previous situation. In this new reality you are free to choose. ###

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EXERCISE 2 (3-Card Reading): Let’s add 2 cards to see how the images relate to each other in a reading that follows a life-changing event.

Instructions for reading non-scenic pips (suit cards) are at the top of this page. The Commencement Triad relates to a new undertaking in the realm of the suit. When, however, you are using the Triadic Tarot, and this card falls upside down, it discourages the start of a new project (at the top it says, ”Not time to begin a new project”).  

Write your own interpretation of what this 3-card spread might be saying. There are no wrong answers.  Make your own effort before reading the interpretations below.


Possible Interpretations: The spread begins with The Tower reversed, showing the people rising rather than falling, so although there has been destruction or disillusionment on some level, it is strangely freeing for those involved. Card 2 is the Triad of Commencement reversed. In the Triadic Tarot, this suggests that there should not be a rush to begin a new project right away. It is too soon. One needs to take time to think through what has happened and internalize any lessons that may be relevant to the future. Card 3 is The Justice which strongly suggests that thoughtful analysis and careful deliberations are in order when considering future options. (Note that to the right of the Justice there is a clear sky with birds flying freely. Whereas, on the left of the card (her right), rain is falling against the Ace of Rods further reinforcing the suggestion that rushing too quickly into something new would be unwise. This is a case where it is fun to see a connection to the side image of a pip).

Was this helpful? Feel free to e-mail me:  Annette@ArcanaPress.net   with your comments. ###   

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EXERCISE 3 (Single Card Draw): Interpret the card as shown here (tilted right). Again, for practice, we will interpret it as if it was drawn under three different circumstances:

First: As a source of inspiration for the day.

2nd: An awkward situation has arisen at work. It has been reported but it is not yet resolved.

3rd: You have always looked up to your father as a mentor, and count on not only his love and emotional support but also his technical support and business savvy as you launch your new business venture. Will you be successful?

Record your interpretations for this single card if it were drawn under each of the three situations above. This card has been briefly discussed in the ARTICLES section;  you may want to read it. The interpretations below may differ from your own—that’s fine. This is all just practice. ###


Possible Interpretations: First (a source of inspiration): The Emperor’s regal scepter or staff has risen to the top giving it importance. As a source of inspiration, one might see this as a reminder to think carefully about the use of authority, avoid abuse of power. A leader, is an example for others. 2nd (an awkward situation at work): figure on its back is weakened, either pushed back, held back or perhaps just hesitant. Office politics are often complicated. There may be reasons (unknown to you) why this person is hesitant to take steps to resolve the situation. This may be a test of your ability to solve the problem in a diplomatic way. Consider your options, and act in a way that allows others to save face. 3rd (needing assistance in a new business venture): The father or mentor you counted on for help and encouragement may not be able to help you now; perhaps he is dealing with a difficult situation such as illness, or mental decline. He may be occupied caring for an ill spouse. You will need to be self-reliant now and perhaps offer your help to him.  

Can you see that even a single card contemplated in response to a particular situation can bring new perspectives?  ### 

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EXERCISE 4 (3-Card Reading):  Using the Emperor you are now familiar with, we will add 2 cards for a 3-card spread.

We are faced with two (pip) squares, each of a different suit.

The central square shows card 8 of the Triad of Equilibrium. Card 8 of any suit is called Opposition of Equilibrium (abbreviated Op. of Eq.). The Equilibrium triad means that we are dealing with a mature undertaking, but something has come up that requires swift action. This is the suit of Swords (tests & challenges) so it is a “delicate” situation.

The next square shows the Triad of Opposition–opposition to a creative (Rods) undertaking. Here, however, the entire triad is inverted. This negates the entire triad, meaning an absence of opposition—a good thing!

Begin with the Emperor; you already understand him, then use your imagination and see how the next two cards might inspire a story. Admittedly, this is a challenge, but you only learn by jumping in. You can do it—just give it a try. Again, there are no wrong answers. ###  


Possible Interpretation: The spread begins with The Emperor who may represent your boss or some other significant authority. The figure is on his back so he is weakened in some respect (perhaps temporarily); his authority, however, is emphasized by the scepter being held up. The next card is card 8 in the Triad of Equilibrium. This stage is Opposition of Equilibrium, so it represents a difficulty that has arisen in an undertaking that itself is challenging (Swords suit), but mature. The 8 of a suit calls for good executive judgment and swift action. Because of the weakness of the authority figure, you or some other person may have to take on that responsibility. The third card is the Triad of Opposition of the Rods Suit. Since the suit of Rods is one of birth, growth and development, it would refer to some creative project or educational program that is underway, presumably one that might be affected by the situation above represented by the 8. In the Triadic Tarot, however there is an empty triangle that negates the oppositional stage of the Rods project saying, “there is NO opposition at this time.” This is good news, and a reader might be inspired to add that temporarily standing in for a superior is good training and if handled well, will raise the respect for and the status of that stand-in.  How did you do?  ###  

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EXERCISE 5 (3-Card Reading):  Sometimes a reading is done without a topic-centered question. You may simply say, “What message do the cards have for me (or the querent) today?” Use your intuition to see a message in this selection of cards.    ###  


Possible Interpretation: The spread begins with The Trumpet which represents an important message or a call to duty. When tilted right, it may signify moving on, as if that calling is being ignored or someone is doubting doubting this inner guidance. An opportunity may be slipping away. The next card is Temperance which suggests the healing arts and rituals of sanctity and grace. Being in the center it represents the present time and you (or the querent) since you are always at the center of your world. The third card is The Priestess, who represents knowledge, wisdom and sacred mysteries. She is tilted left facing down which may mean extreme discretion protecting sacred knowledge, or she may be teaching that sacred knowledge to someone below. (The reader may choose to draw a card to place below to indicate the object of her gaze.)   ###

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EXERCISE 6 is a 3-card spread beginning with a pip in the suit of cups. We will read these cards simply for a message with no specific question asked. Take some time to study the cards and see what message comes to mind.  ###  


Possible Interpretations: We begin with The Two of Cups, Opposition of Commencement. Cups is the realm of emotions so human relationships and spiritual commitments. It would indicate that the querent (or you) have been considering a new relationship, weighing the pros and cons. The Wheel (of change) is in the center (present moment); it is tilted right causing the falling figure to rise — a fortuitous change, perhaps a reversal of injustice. Maybe hesitancy to commit to a relationship was due to the querent’s life circumstances, but now things are looking up. The Chariot coming next, shows a person taking charge of his or her life. A very positive outcome!  ###  

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What if you ask a question, and only pips come up?

EXERCISE 7 is a response to the question: “What do I need to know about this new friendship?” Try to interpret this. What comes to mind? Remember, you are only reading the top triangle of each pip square.


Possible Interpretation: The Equilibrium Triad refers to a mature creative or educational (Rods) project in your life. The 8, Opposition of Equilibrium, shows that a matter that requires a quick and competent response has arisen. The next square card is the Triad of Opposition which usually means strong outside opposition, and since this is the realm of Coins, that opposition is of a financial nature. The 4 of Coins at the top is Commencement of Opposition, commencement means beginning so some sort of financial opposition has begun. Because 4 is a number of stability, it may translate into rigidity and extreme control. Sometimes one must spend some money (invest) to make money. The final square is the Commencement Triad in the realm of cups. This triad refers to the beginning of an emotional or spiritual matter, but the square is reversed putting the empty triangle at the top. This shows that the beginning of such a new involvement is discouraged. The card says, “Not the time for a new emotional or spiritual involvement.”

Why might this be? Well, perhaps attending to the present situation referred to by the 8 of Rods, will require your exclusive attention, so you are not at a point in your life to commit to a new involvement. OR, it is possible that this new person presenting the possibility of a relationship is actually the disturbance. He or she may be demanding too much attention or even attempting to restrict your financial choices, if so, this person is “controlling.” Such a relationship is counter productive to your goals and well-being. ###  

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