Creating Your Own Keywords

by Barbara Moore

Tarot Correspondences by T. Susan Chang

In her book Tarot Correspondences, Chang helps readers use everything they know about tarot to create their own keywords for the numbers Ace – 10 for the Minor Arcana. This is a useful exercise, one I encourage my own students to do. However, focusing on the logic and intellectual robustness of a naming numbers system can pull interpretations into the abstract. Chang presents a practice to help keep those keywords grounded in your mind, making your readings more useful and easily applied to real life. Try it!


Once you’ve come up with ten keywords, see if you can trace a story when you follow them from one to ten.

Here’s mine:

  1. Seed
  2. Balance (or Reflection)
  3. Shaping
  4. Gathering
  5. Imbalance
  6. Purpose
  7. Skills and Seeking
  8. Realization
  9. Peak Power
  10. End and begin again; return

Here we see a story unfolding: birth and growth followed by challenge and resolution, leading to maturity and passing on the baton.

Like most universal stories, this may seem pretty abstract when you reduce it to its bones. But one of the most powerful things you can do to bring this narrative to life is to apply it to something you know well.

For example, suppose I’m making muffins—something I do pretty often:

  1. Seed. I look for a recipe.
  2. Balance (or Reflection). I take out the ingredients.
  3. Shaping. I measure them out.
  4. Gathering. I start mixing them together.
  5. Imbalance. Oh no, I’m out of muffin liners! Or my pan’s too small! Or the oven won’t light! (There’s always something.)
  6. Purpose. I correct the fault and my muffins are now looking all set to go, albeit raw.
  7. Skills and Seeking. Final touches. I decide they need some almond extract or pumpkin seeds on top, so they’ll really be mine and not just somebody else’s recipe.
  8. Realization. I bake them.
  9. Peak Power. I take them out, let them cool, and devour them.
  10. End and begin again. I clean up, run the dishwasher, and whoa! I’m hungry again!

Process Exercise

Try breaking down something you know well into ten steps—whether it’s mowing the lawn, writing a poem, planning a party, washing your car, painting your nails. Feel free to cross out my keywords and use your own.

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