The Shamanic Layer in Tarot

by Eva Yaa Asantewaa

What insights do you feel in your soul of souls truly need to be brought to consciousness? What questions would tease out those insights? What shape or pattern would nest those questions elegantly?
-James Wells, Circle Ways & Evolutionary Tarot




A few decades at the Tarot game have taught me that layouts help readers organize and decipher the psychic energies and raw data that Tarot’s symbols can trigger. I love layouts and have made up quite a few, but I find I’m using the ritual of formal layouts less and less.

What’s happening instead?

As I listen to a querent talk, I draw a card each time something the querent mentions flags me–particular things that seem to request a card. I find this gets me closer, quicker, to the message the querent needs to hear.

Lately, I’ve begun drawing two cards–not one–for each of these moments. I’m adding a second layer of cards under each card I draw. This powerful under-layer can represent the shadow side of the top card:

–-the hidden background or hidden context of the visible things represented by the top card

–-subconscious/shadow elements that complicate a situation but, with changes in a person’s viewpoint and behavior,   could be transformed into allies.

If you use formal layouts, try this method on select cards in your layout or on each of your cards. It takes extra time to examine this rich layer of meaning and potential but can be so worthwhile.

Before working this method into large layouts, practice with a series of one-card readings and build up your ability to integrate the meaning of a card with its shamanic shadow.

As always, I would love to hear of your experiences with this new experiment. Please use the comments section below to let me know how it works for you!

Eva Yaa Asantewaa


Eva Yaa Asantewaa has been writing about dance since 1976 for numerous publications including Dance Magazine and The Village Voice and is Editor in Chief of Dancer’s Turn. She has published poetry widely, broadcast for WBAI radio, and facilitated numerous events for progressive New York organizations through her business Radical Magick. She maintains a private practice in Tarot-based psychic counseling and is an ordained minister, legally registered with the City of New York as a marriage officiant with special interest in neopagan and secular-humanist ceremony. A native New Yorker of Black Caribbean heritage, Eva makes her home in the East Village with her wife and two cats.