This topic seems to be an area of challenge for many, and rightfully so. Picking up on surrounding energy is one thing, but being able to say when something may happen is difficult, because as most of us acknowledge, free will exists. Just because something looks to be moving a certain way, doesn't mean it will stay the course. There are so many variables that can impact trajectory, so I think when we're talking about timing, we have to first acknowledge that timing, like anything with tarot, does not live in the realm of absolutes.
With that being said, and in acknowledging the challenges that exist, I didn't have a method for "predicting" timing that I felt comfortable with. So, I did what any other avid tarot reader would do and I made my own!
This method I will outline here is in the style of the First Operation, also known as the "opening of the key". If you're unfamiliar with it, you can find many sources online, but for this exercise you don't really need to know the background. The purpose of this system is to a) determine when an event may happen (if it's likely to happen in the next 12 months) and b) understand the factors behind it so we have an opportunity to influence it either way.
The first thing you will do, once you have your question, is select one card in the deck to represent the situation. This is your significator. For example, if you are asking the question, "when will I find a job?", you may select the Ace of Pentacles. Catch my drift?
Once your card is selected, remove it from the deck, infuse it with your intentions and/or perform any other opening ceremony you feel comfortable with, and then place it back in the deck. At this point, you're going to shuffle 'em up as you normally would and when you're done shuffling, you will proceed to cut the deck into 5 sections. At the end, you should have 5 piles similar to the photo below.
So with your piles laid out, you can now go through each one to find your significator. Below is how I have defined each pile and its specific timeline. Depending on where you find your card, this will determine which season you can expect the event to occur.
Pile 1 = Winter
Pile 2 = Spring
Pile 3 = Summer
Pile 4 = Fall
Pile 5 = Answer lies outside of the year time-frame, cannot be determined at this time or perhaps isn't likely to happen.
Keep in mind that if you're asking the question in December and your card lands in the Fall spot, then it's going to be referring to next Fall. As well, if you're asking your question in July and it falls in the Summer spot, then it's referring to the summer season you're in. If the event was going to fall outside of the year, then it would present in the 5th pile.
This system has been developed to work just within the next 12 months. I feel most comfortable keeping it this way because I think when we start looking for answers that fall beyond that, it becomes too difficult, with the potential of any number of variables getting in the way.
The second important component to this is one which fully acknowledges free will and responsibility to act. So if you've asked our example question, "when will I find a job?", and you locate the Ace of Pentacles in the Summer pile, you can then look to the 3 cards that fall BEFORE your significator for advice or information on how you can impact and influence the event to occur (or not). If the card is at the top of the pile and therefore there is no opportunity to reference cards that fall before it, you can look to the last 3 cards of the pile to the left. OR, you could also interpret it as something that requires no further action or advice. It's whatever you feel comfortable with!
I like this method because it acknowledges that timing is challenging and doesn't allow you to seek information years into the future. In addition, it helps narrow things down to a season and on top of that, it helps provide some insight, so it's not just a black or white, yes or no inquiry. It allows for the variables and respects the querent's probable desire to know more than just, "when will this happen?"
I've used this method a handful of times now to satisfying results. Hopefully it will also serve you well and if you do play around with this method, I would love to hear your results! Enjoy!