The One-Card Draw as “Barometer of Well-being”

Parsifal the Scribe
5 min readMar 15, 2023

AUTHOR’S NOTE: A long time ago I lost interest and confidence in pulling a daily card to reflect the circumstances and events of the upcoming 24 hours. I found that it was simply too static and failed to offer much “breathing room” for the environment to evolve without bringing intuitive guesswork to bear on its short-term potential. Even over such a limited span of time, life can progress to the point that it is often more useful to “bookend” the day with two cards (“morning” and “evening”) and treat any shift in emphasis as a learning opportunity, or — better yet — draw three cards to imply the “beginning, middle and end,” with the middle card representing an opportunity for a “mid-course correction.” To be honest, though, my own home-life changes so little on a day-to-day basis that pulling a single card became boring and pointless.

Although the three-card reading has become my de-facto daily approach when something out-of-the-ordinary is afoot, I finally settled on using a single card to suggest the overall “tone” or “mood” of the period. It can reveal whether my situation is likely to be dynamic or uneventful without putting too fine a point on the specifics. It’s OK for what it is, but I do it mainly out of curiosity and I often forget to draw the card at the start of my day.

I recently came across the notion that a single card can be applied to one’s state of well-being across four modes of daily existence: intellectual. emotional, aspirational/creative and physical. Depending on the inherent nature of the card pulled, it can intersect in a different way with each mode, either intensifying or trivializing its significance. To establish a practical approach to using these factors, I decided to assign suit/element associations to each one: intellectual status is represented by Swords/Air; emotional by Cups/Water; aspirational by Wands/Fire and physical by Pentacles/Earth. (To give due credit, the basic idea for “finding yourself” in this way came from Alejandro Jodorowsky but the elemental ramifications are my own addition.)

I then pull a single card and consider its qualities in relation to the underlying elemental nature of each area of life to determine how favorably or unfavorably they are aligned. If there is a significant mismatch I can place more emphasis on managing that area during the course of the day to “iron out the wrinkles.” If all scenarios are unremarkable, the “barometer” predicts “fair winds and smooth sailing.” Even when a traditionally difficult card portends diminished energy or challenging conditions, an affinity between the elements is usually advantageous and should permit riding lightly over any snags; while their visibility may be heightened, their “staying power” should be diluted, ultimately making them inconsequential in the hour-by-hour narrative. (This is my way of rationalizing the “bad card in a good setting” conundrum.)

We have all had days when we feel out-of-sorts or ill-at-ease in one of these general areas of experience, without being able to put our finger on exactly where the problem lies. I propose pulling one card and comparing it sequentially to all four modes to help determine where the “rub” is and let us focus on improving our sense of well-being in that (or those) aspect(s) of our daily affairs. Even when we know exactly what’s up (maybe our dog has died), this exercise can offer us a psychological springboard (and perhaps even depict an activity) by which to “get a leg up” on our malaise. I would caution against doing it with no more justification than idle curiosity or routine practice since the observation could very well become a self-fulfilling prophecy. This may be fine when the augury is agreeable, not so much when it isn’t because the power of suggestion can take over and sabotage our peace-of-mind, precipitating a downward spiral. As with any “daily draw,” it should be taken with a grain of salt.

Here is an example reading showing how I will tackle it. The 9 of Pentacles was pulled randomly as my daily card but I didn’t draw it until the evening as I was developing this post, so it doesn’t qualify as a “real-life” outlook. The 9 of Pentacle forms its most constructive relationship with the element of Fire and the practical application of ambition. It is also well-favored in its own element of Earth but not particularly energetic unless it is jolted into action. It is probably at its worst with elementally friendly Water because it could wind up cheerfully “playing in the mud” rather than buckling down and “making bricks” (which should be its forte). With unfriendly Air it is non-confrontational and would just let things slide. This looks like a good day for moderate creativity and an excellent one for pursuing health and fitness interests; mentally and emotionally there is little appeal for striving to excel. As an “advice” reading I might look for a way to “tone up” my flaccid emotional state; everything else should take care of itself..

It’s worth noting that every card will have one area of life where it is in its own element (here it is Earth in Earth), in which it is thoroughly “at home” and can be itself, “warts and all;” the danger is that it can act with habitual negligence and little forethought, which should raise a warning flag. (I’m thinking “Old habits die hard.”) In another area it is paired with an entirely friendly element, which can magnify its virtues but also it flaws; circumstances may move rapidly like they’re on “greased skids” and seem too good to be true while they may in fact not be for the best when examined closely. (Here the Golden Dawn’s caveat “for good or ill” has its greatest applicability). The third case is an element which is actively hostile to that of the card, thwarting or at least encumbering its easy expression at every turn; these are the situations that demand the most effort to make any headway (or, as in this instance, we can just give up and “let them flow” with no serious harm done since, after all, it is only a 24-hour forecast and a day of slacking shouldn’t amount to much) . Finally, there is the scenario where the card and the element are “neutral and supportive” toward one another; in my own words, they are “complementary opposites,” in which one supplies what the other lacks. (In this example, Fire supplies enthusiasm to Earth’s steady-going but stolid nature.)

Originally published at on March 15, 2023.



Parsifal the Scribe

I’ve been involved in the esoteric arts since 1972, with a primary interest in tarot and astrology. See my previous work at