Ascension Tarot| Exploring spaces between Upright and Reversed | Artist’s Advice

5 November 2019

In the column Artist’s Advice divination authors and deck designers give their never before seen reading tips, divination techniques or unique essays to share their expertise and showcase a new release. This issue:
Modern Marseille: A WCS Reversed extra-approach to traditional imagery | Ascension Tarot | Scott Davis

Disclaimer: Even though the artwork is from the Tarot de Marseille, the Ascension Tarot is not an actual Marseille deck (TQS: Depending on your POV you could name it a Modern Marseille, but based on the vision of the designer I’ve baptised it an “Altered WCS with historical imagery”). I chose that artwork to use for this deck, simply because I have always liked it. Since the Ascension Tarot has multiple orientations, however, it functions very differently than any of the traditional decks, even though it is visually strongly based on them (uses the same suits, ranks, and card names).

Scott Davis

“I have always loved cards – card games, playing cards, and of course, the Tarot. My love of games led me to become a game designer, but I never lost my fascination with tarot cards. So, while designing a game which used square cards, I was suddenly struck by the idea of a square tarot deck with four possible orientations, instead of the usual two. I eventually used this concept to create the Ascension Tarot.

The Deck
My goal for this article is to explore the transitional states between the Upright meanings of cards and their Reversed meanings. To do so, I am using the Ascension Tarot, which has two additional orientations: Ascending, which represents a shift from Reversed towards Upright, and Declining, which represents a shift from Upright towards Reversed. When a card comes up Ascending or Declining, it means that the situation is in flux – moving away from one meaning and towards the other, which is something I hope to examine further by presenting an actual reading.

The Reading
For the purposes of this article, I did a basic 3-card spread. Since my objective is to show the effects of the new orientations, I decided that if I didn’t draw at least one card that was Ascending or Declining, I would need to try again with a different spread and question. Fortunately though, that wasn’t necessary, as the reading ended up providing a good example of how the transitional states work.

The Question: “What should I focus on in the coming year?”

I always like to start with the question. Before I even touch the cards, I like to have the question clearly in my mind. For this reading, I was trying to decide what I should focus on in the coming year. Since I have a wide assortment of projects, in various stages of development, that seemed like the best thing I could ask.

While mentally repeating the question, I shuffled the cards. Note that when shuffling the Ascension Tarot, it’s important to *always* turn one stack a quarter turn for each shuffle, so that there will be a good mix of all 4 orientations. Once the cards were thoroughly shuffled, I laid out the spread.

Three card reading with the Ascension Tarot. Question: What should I focus on in the coming year.

The Layout: 3-Card Spread

After turning up all three cards, I looked up the basic meaning for each card, as determined by its orientation. Nine of Cups (ascending) has a basic meaning of meditation and accomplishment; King of Wands means apathy and boredom; and Eight of Swords (reversed) means confidence and flexibility. Of course, the basic meanings don’t tell the whole story. The meanings of the cards affect each other, and it’s all driven by the underlying question of the reading. Plus, when reading the Ascension Tarot specifically, I need to take into consideration any cards whose meanings are in flux (cards that are Ascending or Declining). So, the next thing I do is look deeper.

Card 1: Nine of Cups (ascending)

Because the Nine of Cups is Ascending, its meanings are in flux. This is representing a shift from the reversed to the upright, which in the case of the Nine of Cups means moving from turmoil and disappointment towards tranquillity and fulfilment. It doesn’t necessarily signify that I’ll achieve those ends, but rather that there is the potential to do so, and this possibility can provide additional insight into the card’s basic meanings of meditation and accomplishment.

Whatever projects I undertake in the coming year need to be well thought out and I need to keep a strong sense of purpose, so I can move forward towards achieving my goals.

Card 2: King of Wands

Because the King of Wands is Upright, it represents a more static state, rather than a transitional one, and given the reading of the previous card, seems to indicate that apathy and boredom are obstacles that might stand in my way.

Losing interest or becoming bored with what I’m working on could cause me to abandon projects, without ever completing them.

Card 3: Eight of Swords (reversed)

Because the Eight of Swords is Reversed, it also represents a static state, and would seem to indicate that confidence and flexibility could be the keys to overcoming or avoiding the threats posed by the previous card.

Maintaining confidence in my abilities and staying flexible in my approach can allow me to adapt and make any changes needed to keep my projects interesting and prevent falling into the trap of apathy or boredom.

The Answer

Reading all 3 cards together, they present a pretty clear answer to my original question.

Question: What should I focus on in the coming year?

Answer: Take the time to thoroughly plan out your projects. Stay committed, even as the situation may change. Avoid falling into a rut and losing interest, by focusing on what you do best. And always be open to altering your plans, when needed.


Having done a variety of readings with the Ascension Tarot, using several different layouts, I am finding that the transitional states between Upright and Reversed can add some interesting insights, and I hope that this article, along with the sample reading, have shown a hint of those possibilities.”

C. Scott Davis is a game designer, writer, computer programmer, humourist (of dubious quality. His words, not mine! TQS), musician, and generally interested in almost everything. He is also an Olympic-class waffler and has two silver medals in procrastination. The Ascension Tarot is available from