The Life Year Card Spread

As a popular New Year reading, I suppose this comes a little late in January. But here in Korea, the lunar New Year (Seollal 설날), is just around the corner. So many people here are getting Saju 사주 readings (Korean numerology), in the same fashion we would make New Year’s resolutions. Why not incorporate a little numerology and Tarot to make a fun and easy spread to reflect on the last few years?

The Year Card

Your Year Card can point out the general themes of the year, including areas you can focus on improving for the future, and moments of learning and reflection on the past. Year Cards can also act as signposts for major life events, and may even act as a shorthand reference when thinking about a particular time in your life.

In a previous post, I talked about how to calculate your Birth Year Card. Once this is done, it’s easy to find out the Year Card. You just switch your year of birth with the current year. My birthday is January 14th, 1988.

(2016 + 01 + 14 = 2031 –> 2+0+3+1 = 6)

Time to figure out what is negatively affecting my relationships. Is it the stink lines?

My Year Card for this year is number 6, the Lovers. Some potential themes for this year then, could be to work on my relationships and decision-making process.

But if you really want to get deep with the symbolism of the Major Arcana cards and numerology in your life, I highly recommend Mary K. Greer’s Tarot for Yourself – A Workbook for Personal TransformationShe gets expansive with numerological calculations for your Soul Purpose Card, Hidden Factor Card,  and even your Zodiac Card. 

She also gives an exercise where you place your Life Year Cards on a graph, so you can reflect on any patterns over a specific period of time. Here is an example of mine over the last 5 years.

Life Year Card Graph
Here is an example of my Life Year Card Graph as per Tarot for Yourself.

Things you may notice include “cycles” or trends in your life. You may also see cards that repeatedly enter into your life, or which simply don’t appear at all.

Ta-da! The Year Card Spread

While the graph is helpful to recognize patterns, we are human, and we do have this thing called memory. It can be difficult to remember as far back as 15 years ago or even 4 years ago, so I found it necessary to draw some more cards for extra clarity. The other problem I had with this graph is that it isn’t very visual – not like a whole Year Card spread has the potential to be.

The extra cards are especially helpful for upcoming years where you want to plan and focus your efforts. Say you got the Lovers card for 2016, like me. “Relationships” might be narrow enough for some people to work on, but what if there is a specific aspect of the relationship you aren’t recognizing, such as shared financial responsibility with your partner?

Here I show you the spread, ordered by the general theme of the year, as well as the triumphs and trials. I will use the last few years of my life as an example. Things may get a little personal and teary-eyed, but I’m OK with that.

Just a reminder, when dealing with the future (the current year, or years to come) you should use this spread as a tool for planning and focusing areas of self-improvement. When reflecting on the past, use the cards to help you reflect and learn from past mistakes. 

Now let’s get to the nitty-gritty of the past 5 years.

 RWS_Tarot_11_Justice2012 – Justice:

This card is about achieving balance in your life. It was this year that I first moved to Korea to teach ESL after being unemployed for a stretch. Too much free time wasn’t good for me, but neither was working all the time to make ends meet. I was happy to finally find a job that left me financially secure while leaving me enough time for travel and to enjoy the rest of my life. I finally felt like I had achieved a balance, while realizing my life-long dream of travelling the world.

Triumphs: King of Wands – I had the ambition and drive to move across the world. I was scared shitless living abroad for the first time and had many naysayers, but I didn’t let that interfere with my determination.

Trials:  The Star – There were obstacles to actually moving to Korea. It isn’t the easiest application process. My friend Lilith and I would read Tarot a lot in the days leading up to my move. She was actually the one to teach me Tarot. The Star was her favorite card at the time, as we were both going through a hard time and struggling to reach our goals. It was the light urging us both forward. I love you Lilith!

maj122013 – The Hanged Man:

Here was a point where I thought I had it all, a great job, world travel, and a new boyfriend. Then came my mother’s terminal cancer diagnosis. There was only one thing to do: move home. Like the Hanged Man, my options had become very limited overnight and I felt powerless. Suddenly I had all these awful emotions to deal with and nothing to take me away from them. Obviously, my perspective was never quite the same after this, everything had been turned upside down.

Triumphs: Judgement – This seems odd as a triumph, but if you think what happens when someone close to you is dying, you are forced to deal with your inner pain and past selves. Your past ghosts rise up from the grave. You learn what patterns of behavior are no longer working within this new paradigm of the terminally ill. For me, these were a lot of pent-up anger issues towards my family. I was quickly learning that being angry kept getting me the same negative reactions from those around me and that I had to face my past in order to change.

Trials: 8 of Cups – During this time of complete upheaval, my relationship fell apart and I had to walk away from something that I had clung to so tightly. I had invested so much and felt that it was the only concrete thing I had when everything else was crumbling.

maj132014 – Death:

This card is usually not about a literal death, but in this rare case it was. My Mother’s death truly forced me to look at myself and “transform.” I am not sure if anything else would have had such a drastic effect.

Triumphs: 2 of Pentacles Reversed – Of course, during this time I had a lot on my plate – dealing with my Mother’s death, trying to find temporary employment, and moving back to Korea. It was too much to juggle, but somehow I made it out alive and came back to SK.

Trials: 3 of Cups Reversed – A lot of my relationships suffered because of my grief. I especially noticed it with my peers when I moved back to Korea. I was no longer the same and couldn’t maintain the priorities of drinking and partying that I had in my early 20’s. It was hard to make friends at first.

maj052015 – The Hierophant:

This is my Birth Year card which means that this is the year I began to explore my life’s purpose. I had enough of being sad and wanted to proactively make my life better and meaningful. I got back to the things that genuinely made me happy (can you guess it involved Tarot?!). I think this card also speaks to my strengths as a teacher and my new found confidence in communicating my ideas and passions with others. It also represents my reinvigorated love for studying spiritual and philosophical traditions.

Triumphs: The Chariot – I really made things happen looking back on this year – I changed back to a vegan diet which resolved a lot of my health problems and restored some kind of ownership to my environmental impact, I got back into my art full force, and I even started reading Tarot professionally at local markets here in Jeju Island. I began my blog and Tarot deck, and have started reading Tarot on a Facebook group of over 1,000 members. I never would have thought any of that to be possible before, but like the Chariot, I pushed myself forward before I really thought I was ready.

Trials: 4 of Swords – Despite all the positives, I was pretty anxious to move back to Canada to be reunited with my new and awesome beau (not the 8 of Cups break-up dude!). I appreciated this time in Korea to refocus and energize, but it has been a struggle to be apart.

lovers2016 – The Lovers:

This year I am moving back with my boyfriend and it was a huge decision to leave my job and life behind in Jeju Island, South Korea. I would say this card is pretty spot-on for the year to come.

Triumphs: 10 of Pentacles Reversed – I am weeks away from being reunited after 6 months apart, so this card must be telling me to hold fast and my happy ending will come soon!

Trials: 4 of Cups – I am really nervous about moving to a new city, but I think this card is telling me not to focus on what I am leaving behind or I will miss all these awesome opportunities when I’m there.


And there you have it! The Life Year Card spread. Clearly this would be a massive undertaking for a lifetime, so you might want to focus on 5 years like I did.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be able to realize how far you’ve come despite the mountains of shit life slings at you. More importantly, you’ll recognize just how much you’ve grown and changed, and how all of your hardships can lead to amazing possibilities for the future.

I really hope this puts Tarot in a new light, how it’s not so much about predicting the future, but raising your conscious awareness. It can give you some ground when coming to terms with yourself and help you focus.

Did you try this for yourself? Do you have a Year card that you really resonate with?


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