Thunderbird’s Future: A Tarot Reading

By Emma Livingston, Co-editor

With Thunderbird’s future so uncertain, and the business strategy going forward hazy at best, the school may need to turn to more occult methods to understand its new position and predict what lies ahead. That is why I have decided to give a Tarot reading for Thunderbird School of Global Management at ASU.

First, a brief introduction to Tarot card meanings:

Tarot cards are divided into “major arcana” and “minor arcana”

The major arcana are numbered from 0, the Fool, to 21, The Universe. Each card is an archetype, embodying a fundamental lesson. When these cards appear in a reading, it means you should pay extra close attention because the card is trying to tell you something important.

The minor arcana are divided into 4 suits. These are:

Wands – The suit of fire. This suit symbolizes action and creativity.

Swords – The suit of air. This suit symbolizes the mind, thought and struggle.

Cups – The suit of water. This suit symbolizes emotion, love and desires.

Pentacles – The suit of earth. This suit symbolizes money, material things and survival.

Here is my reading for Thunderbird. I used a simplified version of the Celtic Cross method which gives you information on the situation, challenges, as well as a potential future outcome if things continue on the path they’re going.

Tarot Reading

At first glance, I can tell that it is a very powerful reading. 4 out of 6 of the cards are “major arcana,” the main archetypes, and the other 2 cards are what we call “court cards,” major players in the minor arcana cards. Let’s go in depth into what each card means.

The Situation:

The HierophantCard Meaning

The Hierophant symbolizes collective wisdom and human spirituality. He represents the best – and worst ideas of the past. The Hierophant can be overly dogmatic and corrupted by his authority. He demands adherence from his subordinates to his own way of doing things.


In this situation, the Hierophant in the card could represent ASU, with the groveling people before him representing ASU’s respective schools, including Thunderbird, forced to bow down before the school’s bureaucratic system and the “Sun Devil Way.” An alternate interpretation is that the Hierophant represents Thunderbird becoming so attached to its self-promoted dogma of “We are the #1 International Business School in the country” that it failed to see the threat that internationalism was becoming a commodity, not a differentiator. Because the Hierophant is holding a torch (Sun Devils) and also wearing feathers (Thunderbird), I think that the Tarot reading suggests both readings are correct.


The FoolCard Meaning

The Fool symbolizes a person (or in this case, an institution) that is highly curious, adventurous, and confident. The fool lives in the present and follows her instincts to make decisions. However, the fool does not always look into the future to find out where she’s going. This can lead to unpleasant, or even dangerous situations (in this card, for example, the fool is so busy playing with the birds that she’s about to step off the roof).


Thunderbird is confident in its value as an institution and is willing to take risks and try new things. However, we need to take care not to jump into new programs, and new ideas blindly without carefully analyzing potential outcomes and ensuring that the direction we are going will allow us to fully embody what makes Thunderbird special. An additional interpretation of this card is that the good qualities in the fool: curiosity, adventurousness, confidence, are exactly the qualities that make Thunderbirds special and will be found in the types of students we want to continue to attract. A challenge for Thunderbird is to figure out how to attract these students so that our school can continue to be a special place for future international leaders to learn and grow.

Root Cause of the Situation

Card MeaningSeer of Pentacles

The Seer of Pentacles is quietly dedicated to comprehending the world around her. She moves slowly and methodically towards her goals and feels confident in her place in the physical world. However, sometimes she fails to notice the hum of activity around her, such as the woman in this card who doesn’t even notice the goat trying to take her pentacle away or the buzzing bees above her.


While Thunderbird was quietly enjoying its place as a top global management school, other schools were busy reforming their programs and beefing up their international focus so that suddenly, Thunderbird’s ability to make money was seriously compromised.

Past Influences

Sibyl of WandsCard Meaning

The Sibyl of Wands is completely confident in her actions. She is passionate and generous and wants the best for her friends and family.


This card speaks to the motivation of the people who put together the deal to make Thunderbird a part of ASU. I believe they had the best interest of the students and the institution at heart. Thunderbird needed a partner in order to save the school, and joining ASU was an effort to preserve the Thunderbird brand and Thunderbird legacy for future generations of students with global mindset. The torch represents both the future with ASU and the opportunity of new life that this action has allowed us.

Goals and Aspirations

Card Meaning

Hanged ManThe Hanged Man represents times of uncertainty, when your world feels like it’s been turned upside down. Rebalancing yourself requires a shift in attitude and perspective that will allow you to hang comfortably in the uncertainty.


Thunderbird’s goal in this time of uncertainty is to achieve a balancing act, in which the programs and people that made us special as an independent entity are allowed to flourish, while we work to become an integrated part of ASU’s “knowledge enterprise.”



The Future

The TowerCard Meaning

The Tower is the scariest card in the Tarot deck (worse even then Death). It represents absolute uncertainty, drastic change, disaster. When the tower appears in a reading it is a flash of insight, telling us that something needs to change and that we need to let go of our ideas on how things should turn out, because we’re probably wrong.


While we could be terrified that this card has appeared in the future slot of the Thunderbird Tarot reading, I prefer to have a more optimistic view. We know that Thunderbird is in the midst of change and that the future is very uncertain. This card is warning us that the school needs to have a strong business plan in place, a strong sense of its worth and the value it offers prospective students, and a strong sense of the place it wants to occupy in ASU in order to successfully manage the changes that are coming and that are already here, rather than fall blindly into the uncertain future.


For more information, or to schedule your own Tarot reading, contact Emma Livingston at

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