The following is an excerpt from The Back in Time Tarot Book by Janet Boyer. Copyright 2008. Used by permission of Hampton Roads Publishing Company.

How to Use the BIT Tarot Method

What You’ll Need

You need only two items to do the BIT Method: the Tarot deck of your choice and a mental “snapshot,” such as a memory or scenario from pop culture. If you grew up in the 1970s, as I did, you may remember those instant cameras that snapped a scene and spit out a picture that developed right before your eyes. Just as those cameras captured a moment in time, your mind can freeze any memory, movie, story, conversation, or historical event so you can re-create it using Tarot cards.

I recommend that you also pick up a notebook or journal to record your back-in-time scenario and the cards you choose to create your BIT Snapshot. By recording your correlations between past situations and Tarot cards, you will create a treasure trove that you can mine for future readings or simply use for expanding your self-awareness. The BIT Method is simple enough to perform in your head, but because you’re unlikely to be able to recall all of the associations you make with the cards over time, I recommend recording scenarios and card associations in a BIT Method journal. (This journal could be an actual journal, a blank tablet, index cards, or loose-leaf pages placed in a folder or three-ring binder.) If you prefer journaling on a computer, you can record your BIT Snapshots by using a word-processing program or even in a personal online blog.

The original snapshot that you use can be an event from the distant past, if you’d like—such as the first Christmas you can remember—but you can also use a snapshot of something that happened to you five minutes ago. Events can range from momentous occasions, like graduating from high school, to more mundane situations, like taking your car to the mechanic for an inspection. Snapshots can also be situations that you’ve witnessed, such as an amusing exchange between a department-store clerk and a shopper or a current event that has just scrolled across the ticker on a twenty-four-hour news channel. You could use a historical event as a snapshot, or, if you’re a fan of celebrity gossip, you could even use scenarios found in your favorite pop-culture magazine or tabloid. Your snapshot could even be a dream you had one night or your favorite movies, books, or songs. The possibilities are only as limited as your imagination.

What to Do

There are two basic ways you can approach creating a BIT Snapshot.

In the first option, write down a list of the individual components of the snapshot. (Don’t feel obligated to include every little detail as a component; the BIT Method is intended to be fun, exciting, and illuminating, not overwhelming or tedious.) Then sort through your Tarot deck to find cards that you feel best represent them. Select your cards one by one, recording each one beside the component on your list as you go. You can choose your cards based on gut feelings, emotional reactions to the card images, the resemblance of figures on cards to people or situations—whatever works for you. For example, if you were working with a memory of the first time you attended a circus, the lion on the Strength card might remind you of the female lion tamer who happened to throw you a rose after her performance. So you choose the Strength card to represent that particular moment from your experience.

The other way to choose cards is to hold the entire your snapshot in your mind’s eye instead of writing down its individual components. Then look through the Tarot deck and pick the cards that seem to “speak” to you about the  situation in general. Set your chosen cards apart from the rest of the deck and record your reason—even if it is “just a feeling”—for selecting each one. My husband, Ron, prefers to use this method when creating his BIT Snapshots; he forgoes writing down the actual components but holds the memory, movie, or situation in his mind’s eye as he’s looking through a Tarot deck. In one instance, he created at BIT Snapshot of a pivotal day when he and I—as still friends—connected deeply at a golf outing. That event signaled the rapid evolution from us being “just friends” to something else. The day before the outing, Ron’s dad had written him an enigmatic note saying, “Look for her, son. She’s there.” As my husband went through the Tarot to capture the event in a BIT Snapshot, he chose the King of Swords to represent his dad, because the man shown on this card of his Tarot deck physically resembled his father.

Your level of experience with the Tarot will likely determine how you select your corresponding cards. If you’re familiar with all seventy-eight cards of the Tarot and already associate a certain meaning with each card, you might find that a particular card automatically springs to mind for each element. Then again, it may not. You may find yourself shuffling through your deck and coming across a card that may not be one that you thought you’d choose for a particular component, but which seems like the perfect fit because of some type of unconscious personal association. That’s the beauty of the BIT Method—it prompts you to unearth associations from the unconscious and bring them into the light of your conscious mind. (For this reason, the BIT Method works especially well for decoding puzzling dreams.)

Because I’ve studied and used the Tarot for years, I have dozens of associations stored in my particular “Fool’s pouch.” While I often dig around in there when doing readings or contemplating the Tarot, I remain open to intuition for fresh interpretations or use the BIT Method to generate new ones. 

Sample BIT Snapshot

I’m going to walk you through the creation of a BIT Snapshot to give you an idea of how I often perform the BIT Method. 

Recently, my husband and I took our son to see a live Sesame Street production. We also did other things throughout the day. Here are a few components of the day that I zeroed upon to create my BIT Snapshot: buying the production tickets online, going the actual show, going at a restaurant afterwards, and going to Wal-Mart. (Of course, I could have chosen the characters from the show, the meal itself, or even the drive home to pair with Tarot cards.) What follows is a BIT Snapshot, showing the components I chose and explanations on the Tarot card selections. For this BIT Snapshot, I used the Pictorial Key Tarot deck by Davide Corsi.

Buying Tickets, Six of Pentacles: In many decks, the Six of Pentacles shows a figure giving coins to individuals. Some artists portray the giver as a wealthy man holding a scale and the receivers as mendicants on the street. Based on imagery alone, there is some exchange of money or goods implied for the Six of Pentacles. Some of the personal associations I have for this card are based on motifs of giving and receiving, including going into debt, “robbing Peter to pay Paul,” charity work, donations, receiving help in a time of need, obtaining loans, and so on. I also associate this card with buying on credit or with credit cards in general. Because I ordered the tickets online, I had to use a credit card. Therefore, the Six of Pentacles came to mind when I was thinking of the actual purchase.

If I instead were to have chosen to represent myself in this component rather than the transaction, I would have selected the Queen of Pentacles. In this card from the Pictorial Key Tarot, a green-clad queen gazes at a large gold coin before her. Just as the queen ponders the coin before her, I did take a few moments to consider if the show was worth the money, especially since we had taken my son to see a different live show two months prior.

The Show, Six of Cups: My husband noted that perhaps my son was getting a little too old for kiddie-oriented live shows. He had no more than uttered that phrase, when, upon noticing the smirk on my face, he commented wryly, “You do this as much—or more—for yourself, don’t you?” I burst out laughing. Of course I do! I grew up on Sesame Street, so seeing a live show with Bert, Ernie, Elmo, Cookie Monster, Big Bird, Grover, the Count, and Oscar filled me with glee. Many Tarotists associate the Six of Cups with nostalgia, despite the fact that in many Rider-Waite–style decks, the card image alone lacks any indication of this meaning (only showing two children exchanging cups with flowers in them). Nostalgia is one possible meaning that I’ve used for this card, as well. Although a few cards could have adequately captured other aspects of the show—including my son’s delight and an unexpected show-ender that scared the begeezus out of us (canisters of confetti exploded out on the audience, and a lid hit my husband in the head)—I chose the Six of Cups since the show stirred thirty-year old nostalgic memories within me.

The Restaurant, Three of Pentacles: In the Pictorial Key Tarot, a figure wearing an apron holds a group of paintbrushes in one hand and a palette in the other. He is standing inside building with stone archways—presumably a church. Two men stand before him, one wearing a black robe with a gold cross necklace and the other wearing a rust-colored robe. These two men may very well be a priest and a monk who have commissioned the figure for work or who are at least supervising him. The monk gestures to the painter, perhaps giving him instructions.

Over time, some of the associations I’ve made for the Three of Pentacles include collaboration, commissioned work, employer/employee relations, architects, lay ministry, home remodeling, service industries, and redecoration.

I chose this card to represent the restaurant because not only had the restaurant been refurbished since we’d last been there, but there was also a completely different atmosphere. In place of the once consistently enthusiastic, competent young waitstaff in a noisy, crowded dining room now there were bored-looking youth milling near the front of the restaurant, decorations that bore tacky price tags to indicate that the items were for sale, and only a few diners. While five waitresses stood at the front talking—and often looking back at our table—we waited over ten minutes before a server even came up to take our order for drinks!

The food was good, as always, but the vibe, décor, and service were dismal. It’s uncertain if the changes were the result of new management or something else. I chose the Three of Pentacles because this card implies some kind of management/worker interactions, from my perspective. And, because I associate the pentacles/earth suit with the physical world—including physical elements such as hunger, eating, food, buildings, material goods, health, and money—this card reminded me (food quality aside) of the disappointing changes in the restaurant, especially the poor service and changes in the dining-room arrangement and gift-shop products.

Going to Wal-Mart, Seven of Pentacles and Seven of Cups: In a talk with my intrepid editor one Friday night, she advised me to either get a flash drive or some rewritable CDs to back up my work. (Yes, you read right: until today, I hadn’t backed up my work as I was working on a project!) So one of my main aims for going to the mega store was to get a flash drive, so I had a way to back up my files.

In the Seven of Pentacles from the Pictorial Key Tarot, a figure holds a rake in one hand, and the other hand is on his hip. He is gazing at a large tree before him, which is laden with seven gold coins. One of the associations I’ve made for this card is evaluating work or investment, pruning, choosing whether to continue with a present course, and so on. Consistent with my own associations with the number seven in numerology (which happens to be my life path number), I see all the sevens in the Minor Arcana as indicating some kind of deliberation, evaluation, or strategic action. Because I was in the editing process for this book, I was indeed evaluating my work (as was my editor!) and making necessary changes. Not only that, but I was also making a strategic decision to invest in a potentially timesaving, manuscript-preserving purchase like a flash drive.

While the Seven of Pentacles is a fine card by itself to represent the trip to Wal-Mart, I just had to pick the Seven of Cups as well. A figure stands before seven golden chalices, each laden with differing items—a castle, a laurel wreath, sparkling jewels, a dragon, and so on. I often associate this card with indecision or being confronted with many options. And, to tell you the truth, almost every time I go into a super Wal-Mart, the dizzying array of choices numbs my brain and drains my energy. I definitely get good buys there, but I do pay a price for it (and not just in the wallet).

These are just a small sampling of components and possible card choices to give you to get a feel for how simple yet thought provoking the BIT Method can be. By trying your hand at recreating any scenario—real or fictitious, personal or from the world’s stage—you keep adding to your pouch of meanings that can serve you in your future use of the Tarot.
Even if you’re a seasoned Tarot user, I also suggest actually laying out the cards you’ve chosen, because I guarantee that the visual line of pictures will give you additional insights. When doing the BIT Method, I often lay out the selected cards in a row and “read” the story I’ve created, as depicted in the card imagery. I’m always amazed at the additional, often surprising revelations that pop out of as I gaze at the line of cards.

For example, as I was gazing at the line of cards from my sample BIT Snapshot, I noticed that the figure in the Six of Cups is standing at the left of the card and pointing rightward, while the monk in the Three of Pentacles is standing on the right side of the card but pointing leftward. I recalled that in handwriting analysis (one of my hobbies), left to right indicates past to future. While I was indeed nostalgic for the Sesame Street characters of my past, I was able to share them with my son in the present, and we have a shared experience we’ll carry into the future as a fond memory. With the Three of Pentacles, my husband and I were looking to the past when ruing the decline of a good restaurant (although we did try to make the best of it). 

Over time, you may find that your final BIT Snapshots aren’t as cemented as you thought, especially as your perspectives shift or as you mature as a person. For example, you may have once considered an event heartbreaking or overwhelming, but after doing the BIT Method and seeing what cards you paired with it, you realize that you now see it as an incredible learning experience or even a gift. When your perspective shifts, the cards you select will likely change as well. In fact, you may want to revisit your BIT Snapshots after time to see how if and how your card selections change.

To get the most out of BIT Method, I recommend recording in your notebook the elements of your mental picture, the cards you chose for each element, and your reasons for those choices. Recording your answers to the questions will ensure that you retain your associations, plus give you something to refer to over and over again. I think you’ll find that the reasons why you select particular cards (and why you left out certain ones) will reveal insights about your thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and worldview, which can be extraordinarily enlightening and therapeutic.

Content copyright © by Janet Boyer. Further reproduction prohibited.

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