The Stepping Stones to Success Tarot Reading Method

Is your tarot reading stuck? Can’t see how on earth you’re going to get from the present to the future? Let the Stepping Stones to Success tarot reading method help leapfrog you from being stuck to successful, in a few easy steps.

We’ve all been there, it happened to me this week. You’re looking at a tarot card, and the one next to it and you know it’s where you’ve got to go – but you just don’t know how you’re gonna make it! Well my dear readers, I have the answer for you. It’s called the Stepping Stones to Success Tarot Reading Method. Catchy eh?!

So what are Stepping Stones to Success?

A Stepping Stone is a card that helps you get from one card to another. It’s that simple.

Okay, I know you want more than that and you deserve it. So here it is.

A Stepping Stone Card is an action card, it tells you what you need to do or how you need to act or function. It’s all about doing and is very pro-active.

Using a Stepping Stone is taking the situation under your control and making the best of it by seeking the best outcome – helping to create it instead of waiting for it to happen.

stepping stones to success diagram

A Stepping Stone Card can be used in any tarot reading but comes into its own when using a pro-active tarot spread such as the Grow Model Tarot Spread or the Logical Levels Tarot Spread. It’s also very useful when you seem to have a great gap between your here and now and the future outcome.

For example, you’re doing a Past, Present & Future reading and while the past was nice, the present hasn’t been so good and yet the future card is a doozey. So what’s the problem with that? You have no idea how you’re gonna go from the dreadful here and now to glorious technicolor in one easy step! What we actually know is, you’re not. Not in one easy step anyway, two maybe, but not one. Your answer is to draw another card, a Stepping Stone.

Using a simple Past, Present & Future spread, you ask about your relationship, things haven’t been going well and you’re arguing a lot. You draw:

  1. Past – 2 of Cups
  2. Present – 5 of Swords
  3. Future – 3 of Cups

three card tarot reading that is stuck

Well that looks very familiar. You fell in love and then you fell out, with each other. There’s a lot of bickering and point scoring and it’s all rather unpleasant right now. The future looks rosy, you like it that the tarot is telling you things will change, you’ll get back on track. Only you don’t really believe it, not based on how things are right now, you just can’t see a way to the 3 of Cups, not without some drastic action or some huge changes.

So what can you do next?

Draw another card. Only this card is going to act as a Stepping Stone between the 5 of Swords and the 3 of Cups. Let’s draw that other card and see what the tarot recommends for some pro-active action:

  1. The Magician

Excellent! Let’s see what that looks like:

tarot reading improved using stepping stones to success

Ooh, what a difference that makes! Here we have the Magician using that negative energy from the 5 of Swords and controlling it, transmuting it. Look how the electricity moves between those instruments and the direction of his hands, his skill and mastery – that’s how we can get from the angsty 5 of Swords to the happy 3 of Cups, by embracing and taking on that very skill and mastery, by becoming the Magician.

To help you embrace or ‘become’ an archetypal card, meditating on that card and journeying into it will help put you in touch with its qualities and essence. Also thinking about how the character in the card would act. If we stay with the Magician as an example, when faced with an everyday situation, before you respond or react, stop for a moment and think about how the Magician would respond to the situation and then align your response accordingly. Extra study of a particular card will also help in understanding it as an archetype or the essence of what you need to embrace.

I haven’t finished with these cards yet though. Look at the movement of the woman in the 3 of Cups – doesn’t she also look like she’s working some magic of her own? Looks to me like she can whip up a storm in a heartbeat. Is it too fanciful to think that by bringing in the archetypal energy, or essence of the Magician, by embracing his skills, they’ll have a lasting effect on the woman, for the better? I think it’s exactly what she needs to do.

By wanting to improve a situation, by seeking a positive outcome and being pro-active about it, it’s possible to change yourself, and therefore your life for the better. I think that’s worth pursuing, and is an attractive way to move forward with your life.

Isn’t a Stepping Stone really just a link card?

Not at all! Though it’s easy to see the similarities. To be clear, the new card isn’t a bridge, or even a link. It’s a means of getting from one card, or situation, to another by being pro-active and wanting to get involved in the future, not just to find a way to make it easy for you to see more details by linking or bridging the gap.

It’s important that you’re aware of the difference. In a large portion of Tarot readings, you have an outcome card, a prediction or divination. You’re being told what is coming your way. Leaving the debate aside about how much influence you have in effecting a change in your future by deciding to take a different course of action, what I’m proposing here is that you get pro-active and make the changes you need to without waiting for an event to come to you – effectively putting you in control of your life, as much as you possibly can be.

So now that we’re clear about exactly what a Stepping Stone to Success is, and what it isn’t, let’s have a look at it in action in a large spread.

Stepping Stones to Success in a full tarot reading

I recently published the Tarot Elements Past, Present and Future Spread. It’s a souped up version of the old 3 card classic. The Stepping Stones method is perfect for a spread like this one. As a spread, it allows for a lot of creativity and freedom of movement amongst the cards. Once you’ve analysed the cards in their appropriate positions, you can then begin to read them diagonally and horizontally, not just vertically. Let’s have a quick look at what Stepping Stone cards look like on the Past, Present and Future Spread.

using stepping stones to success and the past present future tarot spread

The Major Arcana are very effective Stepping Stones because of their archetypal natures. Where you need to embody an archetype, they’re second to none. If you have split your deck to use in a spread like the Past, Present & Future, I recommend you use the Major Arcana as your first choice. A Minor Arcana card will give you an action, a specific thing you will need to do; whereas a Court Card will either advise you to take on the qualities of that character, or to enlist outside help.

Stepping Stones in multiple directions

You may have noticed a Stepping Stone card from one of the past positions into the present and may wonder at the relevance of this. This shows the flexibility of this tarot reading method. How many times have you said to yourself, “how did I get here, to this point?” Perhaps you have clients who asked the same question. A Stepping Stone card from the past to the present can show you exactly how you got to the point you’re in, not just how to move into your future, but where you were in your past. This gives you a wonderful spotlight on past events and in doing so highlights areas where you might have made the same mistake again.

Moving diagonally from one area to another, as in the Past, Present and Future Spread, allows you to see how those areas of your life affect the others. Your life isn’t a box or grid of topics, it’s a complex melding of all topics that crisscross, over-lap and affect each other continually. Defining those topics helps to highlight them and look at them in detail, and once you’ve looked individually in detail, you should then look at reading more fluidly across the spread of cards, using Stepping Stones where necessary. They provide you with a lift to your future, one that you can actively participate in, not just witness.


The Stepping Stones to Success Tarot Reading Method was born and defined during a wonderful evening of dinner, tarot readings, spread design and general chit chat with my very good friend Jules Roberts from Living Tarot. It was Jules that really brought this method to life and all serious credit must go to her for her vision, ingenuity and faith in how I would present this method to you.

See more of the gorgeous Legacy of the Divine (Llewellyn) in the Tarot Deck Gallery

Pro-Active Tarot Reading

Similar Posts:

23 thoughts on “The Stepping Stones to Success Tarot Reading Method”

  1. Thanks again Catherine – you are d bomb !
    Here’s what I experienced. My past card for the issue was excellent, my present card was iffy and my future card sucked.
    So, I built stepping stones from future back to present and from present back to past – – figuring out where I had gone astray and what I needed to do to recapture the energy I had in the past.
    Thanks, too, for pointing out the difference between stepping stones and a bridge. It really did make a difference.

    • Hi Nancy – glad you enjoyed using Stepping Stones to Success – they provide a real boost when a reading becomes stuck or you just can’t see a way forward or to the next card.
      Thanks for sharing your experience with us :)

  2. This is brilliant! It’s such a simple technique, but really powerful. And I love how it’s proactive – I always hate waiting around for cards to come to pass and this gives us something to actually do!

    • Hi Fae – thank you for your comment – I’m glad you liked the Stepping Stones method – I’d love to hear how you get on with it :)

  3. I just did this one with a question about moving to another house (something I’ve wanted to do for a while and which we plan to do in the next year or 2,).
    The cards thrown were: 4 of Swords, Death, 6 of Wands with the Stepping Stone card as Page of Wands
    I think the first two cards refer to the fact that I’ve been thinking about this a long time (in a “back-burner” sort of way) and that I realze the current situation, being in the old house, is over and out, and I and that I realize it’s time to move on. (I suppose it also could relate to receiving some sort of inheritance that spurs the action.) The situation is in the process of changing, and has been set into motion already, so after some time to mull it all over for a bit, staying in the current house long-term isn’t really an option. Something may even happen in the neighborhood to make us decide it’s time to say bye-bye!
    The third card is the 6 of Wands, always a good card to see, as being a successful conclusion to efforts. It’s interesting that the earlier cards show the forces at work and an initial inactivity around the question, as though things have to *really* ended/let go first before any success can be achieved.
    The Stepping Stone becomes the Page of Wands, which for me is generally exciting news, or something brand new occurring. Pages can be messengers, so it may mean getting word that something new is in the offing related to the situation. I think when I implement other new things in my life, I will move forward in this area as well. It could also be that I get word about a great deal on a house, or a younger fire sign person (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius) brings news related to the move. As a Leo helped us find our current house, this is well within the realm of possibility!
    So using the Stepping Stone card, I would try to actively look to establish contact with people who have news about homes for sale, perhaps real estate agents or other people we know, at least as a first step (reflecting the page). Checking the internet or real estate magazines (relating to communication and messages) is also a good idea, to keep an eye on what’s currently available. Or–I could just hang out with more fire sign people! :)

    • This gives me such a clearer vision of how to be proactive when using the Stepping Stone Card… I was struggling before with understanding the difference between this and a “link” card (I could feel it, though I couldn’t envision it). I love this example, thanks for sharing!

  4. Fantastic! I especially love your graphic showing the Stepping Stone cards on the Past, Present and Future Spread. It reminds me of the Chutes & Ladders game!

    • Hi Craig – thank you! It also reminded me of Snakes & Ladders when I saw how the graphics were developing! I nearly said as much in the post, only we don’t have any snakes to slide down – good job too! :)

    • Hi Cher – thanks for you comment – I’d love to hear how you get on with this method of Tarot reading :)

  5. Hi Catherine I done a read on this system and this was how it turned out, question was “What direction is my career heading, as the month had a major problem that nearly led me to walk away, from my present type of job”?
    Ace Cups/ Page Coins / 6 Cups
    Used The Divine Tarot elementaly these look good together water and earth good start, the ace cups is telling me that yes there is creativity and an art to the way that I do my work and this is also showing that I have love for the work that I do and things look like they are heading good directions then we have the page coins that tells me that there is plenty of scope for me in that kind of work as I am a grafter and money looks like it is moving forward good news as well , then we have the 6 cups this is showing that I am and have for some time been dwelling in my past regarding the career, I know I shold not do this as this I feel that is pulling me away from what I have to do in the work that I do so creatively I have look into this the stepping stone card wait for this The Wheel wow what a card to go between the page and the 6 coins just the card that any one would love to see looks like a good outcome to this just keep heading the way that I currently am doing at present and I feel that all should be ok, i know that I am relatively knew to this Catherine by the way the book has opend another chapter for me learned me loads thcs
    Colin will be great as a valuable index to tarot

  6. I am using the stepping stone read as a daily three card read and wow is it good the way that the read is it is lots more positive than a normal three card read for the day thxs for this catherine

    • Hi Colin – glad you’re having a great experience with the Stepping Stones method. It certainly helps to have an ‘action’ card in the mix to help you on your way :)

  7. Catherine, I just came back to review this once again. I’m going to try to find time to try this out tomorrow. After rereading it, I’m wonder about the process of selecting the stepping stone card.
    When doing readings, I shuffle and pull from the top of the deck. Would I pull the next card as a stepping stone? Or would you suggest a reshuffle of the remaining cards? I’m sure it can be done either way, but how do you select your stepping stone card?

    • Hi Cher – it’s really up to you how you approach this. You can just pull the next card from the deck, which I have done with great success, or you can reshuffle, re-focus and pull fresh or, how bout this – you use a another deck completely! If you work frequently with more than one deck and feel you have a great connection with another one then there is no reason why you cannot do that too – the choice is yours :)

    • Amazing! The stepping stone put a new aspect to the reading. Can’t wait to use it on a larger spread. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Lizzie,
      The are from the Legacy of the Divine by Ciro Marchetti. You can buy them easily online, and often in larger book stores. You can see more images from Ciro’s website.
      Thank you for your comment, welcome to Tarot Elements :)

  8. wow, this is something I was looking for many times … with the stepping stones method the complexity of live seems to be reflected by my cards. thank you for this simple but powerful approach!

    • Hi Tarotduck,
      Thank you for your kind words and welcome to Tarot Elements. This technique is very helpful when we cannot see the way forward or path ahead. It may be clear to others, but we are often blind to it ourselves. Getting from one place to another is certainly made easier when a bridge or path between destinations is pointed out.

Comments are closed.