The Emperor’s House: A Real-Life Tarot Reading

Is my wife cheating on me?


A note from Corrine: This real-life reading highlights some of the techniques I incorporate in my tarot practice. To schedule a reading with me, in person or online, click here.


John, a 40-year-old executive, is worried about his marriage. His wife has been working late almost every night for the last month — and John isn’t sure she’s working alone.

Corrine: Shuffle this deck for me, and as you shuffle, describe what brought you here for a reading.

John: Well, I’m worried that my wife might be having an affair. I want to know if she’s still faithful to me.

Corrine: What makes you think she might be having an affair?

John: Well, we had a baby girl, eighteen months ago. For a long time after the baby was born, my wife and I were just adjusting to that, and our love life kind of hit the skids, if you know what I mean. Lately, it started to seem like everything was starting to get back to normal, but about a month ago my wife started working late almost every night of the week. She’s hardly ever home. She leaves at six or seven in the morning and she’s gone until ten or eleven at night.

Corrine: What does you wife do for a living?

John: She’s a marketing executive. Her company is involved in a lot of projects right now, so she probably is at work, but I’m just not sure.

Corrine: Have you told her you’re worried?

John: No, not really.

Corrine: Does she know you’re getting a tarot reading about it?

John: No. She doesn’t know I’m here.

Corrine: Well, I’m hesitant to look into the cards to see just what she’s up to, because she’s not here and she can’t give her side of the story. Ethically, I just wouldn’t feel comfortable looking into her private life. But I think we can look into your relationship with your wife. We can use an astrology-based spread, where every card will represent one room of your house. That way, on a symbolic level, we’ll be able to see what’s going on in your home life.

John: Okay.

Corrine: First, look through the deck and choose one card that reminds you of your relationship with your wife.

John: Can I look at the cards, or do you want me to just pull one?

Corrine: Look at the pictures.

John. All right … Okay, this looks like me.

Corrine: You’ve chosen the Three of Wands. Is that you, waiting for your wife?

John: Yes, and wondering where she is.

Corrine: All right, we’ll put this card in the center of the spread, because it represents you. Now I’m going to shuffle the deck and lay out the twelve cards. Each one of them will represent a separate room of your house, to symbolize what’s going on in your home life. The first card, over here in the nine o’clock position, is the “Aries” card. On a horoscope chart, Aries represents the first thing people notice about you. It’s like the front door of your house. The card that comes up in this position is the Ten of Swords.

John: That looks really bad. Am I going to be stabbed to death on my front steps?

Corrine: No, but in your mind, you certainly feel as though your marriage is under attack whenever your wife leaves the house.

John: Yeah, that’s for sure.

Corrine: A horoscope chart flows counter-clockwise, so the next card goes here, in the “Taurus” position. Taurus symbolizes a love of beauty and comfort. Most people usually make their living room the most beautiful, comfortable place in the house, so here we’re looking at how you decorate and furnish your living room ¾ metaphorically speaking. The card that comes up in this position is the Ace of Pentacles. It looks to me as though you and your wife are willing to spend money in order to make a beautiful home.

John: That’s one reason she’s working. We do want to provide a comfortable life for our children.

Corrine: Sure. That makes sense. The next card we’ll look at is in the “Gemini” position, which symbolizes communication. This represents the communication system in your house — your phone and e-mail connection to the outside world. Oh, it’s the Eight of Wands. This is the phone and e-mail card of the tarot deck. You must do a lot of communicating by phone and e-mail.

John: That’s true. My wife and I talk on the phone at least twice a day, and we send each other a lot of e-mail, too.

Corrine: Okay. Next, we’ll take a look at the card in the “Cancer” position. Cancer symbolizes homemaking and nurturing and motherhood — the activities that usually center around the kitchen of your house. I think you’ve got a really nice card in this spread. It’s the Queen of Pentacles, which symbolizes your wife, nurturing the family on a physical level. She’s obviously a very loving person, especially toward your daughter.

John: Absolutely.

Corrine: This next card is in the Leo position, which usually describes how you parent, if you’re a father, and how you relax, and how you have fun. It describes all the things you do in Dad’s room of the house — the den. Now this is really, really interesting. This card shows you as the Hanged Man — but look. This card is the only card in the whole spread that’s reversed. The end result is that you’re not hanging upside-down like the Hanged Man. You’re right side up. It might be telling you that you need a new perspective in your relationship. You might need to be looking at things from a different angle.

John: Interesting. What are all those lines coming out of the guy’s head?

Corrine: That’s you, getting enlightened.

John: Funny! Well, I guess that’s what I’m here for.

Corrine: Okay, the next card is in the “Virgo” position, which symbolizes how you work and help other people. In this spread, I guess you could compare it to the way you take care of all of the housekeeping. You and your wife aren’t doing so well here. You’ve got the Five of Wands, and you can tell by the card that everyone is trying to help, but you’re just getting in each other’s way. When you and your wife are together, you’re not communicating your intentions very clearly. This is one area of your relationship where you definitely need to clean house, so to speak, and work better as a team.

John: Yes, I guess so.

Corrine: This next card might be the most important card in the spread, since we’re looking at the issue of your relationship with your wife. It’s in the “Libra” position, and Libra is the card that relates to marriage and partnership. Since it’s directly across from your front door in this spread, it could symbolize the back door of your house. For some reason, the Seven of Wands has landed here. Why do you think that is?

John: That’s me, fighting back all kinds of men with sticks. They all want to attack my marriage.

Corrine: Is that what you really think? You can’t even see what’s coming at you in that picture.

John: That’s what it feels like.

Corrine: Well, you never know. You obviously feel as though outside forces are trying to break into both doors of your house and undermine your marriage. Let’s see if it makes more sense after we look at the rest of the cards. The next card falls in the “Scorpio” position. Scorpios are usually fascinated by deep, very private issues, like sex and death. Those are the sorts of things most people deal with in their bedrooms. In this case, you’ve got the Eight of Swords. You’re blindfolded, and you’re tied up, and you’re surrounded by eight swords in the ground. When I see this card, something tells me that you and your wife tend to avoid discussing your private life together. It’s like you’ve turning a blind eye to the whole subject, and now you’re trapped.

John: I haven’t talked to her about any of this.

Corrine: Well, you might want to, now that you’ve seen this card, especially. You’re not tied up so tightly that you can’t free yourself.

John: Okay.

Corrine: On to bigger and brighter things. The next position is the “Sagittarius” position, which symbolizes your studies, your thought, and your philosophical explorations. Since we’re comparing every card to a room in your home, this card would probably symbolize the types of books you keep in your library, or on bookshelves in your house. It’s the Hierophant, which shows you are a deeply philosophical thinker, and you’re not afraid to explore the history and traditions of other cultures to help you make sense of your own life.

John: Yes. And we have a lot of books.

Corrine: The next card is the Seven of Pentacles, in the “Capricorn” position. Capricorn is usually associated with career, and the career room of your house would be your home office. It looks, in the card, as though you are waiting for harvest — and this card applies to both you and your wife. You’ve planted the seeds, and the fields are almost ripe, but you’re still waiting to really reap the rewards.

John: True enough.

Corrine: “Aquarius” is next, which symbolizes the way you plan for the future and rally around social causes. If this position were a part of your house, it would be your back deck, where you can sit out at night and look up at the stars and dream about tomorrow. The card that landed here is the Moon, which is a lovely, romantic card that symbolizes hopes and dreams and reflection. It couldn’t be a nicer fit. That crab crawling out of the water onto dry land also symbolizes your evolution as a couple, and as a family.

John: Well, good.

Corrine: Finally, we’ll look at the twelfth position in the spread, which represents “Pisces.” Pisces is the sign of intuition and unconscious knowledge, buried deep below the surface. If you’re comparing it to a room in your house, I’d say it was the basement. Now look at the card: It’s the Empress. Well, I think, deep down, even in your subconscious mind, you know that your wife is an Empress. I have to tell you, when I look at this card I think you’re wife really is just at work. Especially when I see all the other really positive cards here that relate to work, like the Ace of Pentacles, trying to furnish a comfortable house, and the Queen of Pentacles, nurturing on a physical level, and the Seven of Pentacles, waiting for harvest. I really don’t see any other men in the spread, except for the ones you’re afraid are trying to stab you on your front step or break in through your back door. And to tell you the truth, I think you’re imagining them. There’s nobody else in your marriage but you and your wife.

John: I think you’re right.

Corrine: Let’s throw down one more card, just to give you a final word of advice. I’ll lay it right here in the center, on top of the Three of Wands we started with. Look, it’s the Emperor.

John: It’s the Empress’ husband.

Corrine: Exactly. The Empress is loving, and giving, and nurturing, and creative — but all that creativity can be chaotic. Your wife has been gone a lot, and that’s led to a fair share of chaos in your home life. You can take steps to change that. I think this card is giving you permission to take back some control, to create order out of chaos, and to reinforce the structure and stability of your empire.

John: Yes. That makes perfect sense. I’m going to talk to my wife tonight. Actually, I think I’ll take her out to dinner, and I’ll make sure everything works out. I really didn’t think there was another man involved, but I just wanted to see what the cards said before I jumped to any crazy conclusions.

Corrine: You are an Emperor.

John: Yes, I am.

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