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Same Card, Different Position

This post was written by Barbara Moore
on July 8, 2010 | Comments (10)

Last month, I posted about the importance of asking the right question. You can see that post here. Even though I meant what I said there, for myself and for certain querents, there are times when it is appropriate to play with the question, to dig deeper together in a more interactive way. One technique that I like a lot is one I learned from James Wells at the 2008 Readers Studio.

Use any spread and any deck you wish. Ask your question, shuffle your cards, and pull just one card. Read that card in each position. This technique accomplishes a couple of things. First, as James pointed out, it shows how the question asked has a huge impact on what the answer will be. After all, the positions in a spread are all questions themselves. For example, the “past” position asks “what events or influences from the past are affecting this situation?” The “obstacles” position asks “what obstacles I am facing in this situation?”

Second, it encourages you to think about the different possible answers within each card. Say you are doing a three-card reading where the positions are Challenge-Advice-Outcome and you pull The Tower. Your interpretation of The Tower card as a challenge would be different than The Tower card as advice, wouldn’t it? This is especially effective if you use a spread that has positions that are polar opposites, such “do this” and “don’t do this” or “benefits” and “dangers.”

Give it a try! I think you’ll find it very illuminating. It might even rock your world, kind of like The Tower.

NOTE: The Tower card pictured here is from The Initiatory Tarot of the Golden Dawn.

Reader Comments

Written By tarotfaith
on July 8th, 2010 @ 8:26 am

Hi Barbara,

Intersting post and very relevant. It clearly makes sense but it would be better if you could provide an example reading. For example how would you read the tower differently in a Challenge-Advice-Outcome spread?


Written By Helen
on July 8th, 2010 @ 6:01 pm

Hey Babs this technique is how I read, each card first then I tie them up and show how they interact with each other.

I find card by card is good as it does show what is happening in that particular position, then you can see from the other positions how each influences the other.

I even tend to read like this when there are no pdf’s too lol

Written By helen
on July 8th, 2010 @ 6:08 pm

@ TarotFaith You asked ” For example how would you read the tower differently in a Challenge-Advice-Outcome spread?”

I hope Babs you don’t mind me making a suggestion here?

As a challenge or advice (and remember how you read it really does depends on the question and surrounding cards – but just taking it individually) it could be saying, that you need to look at your beliefs about a situation, and maybe tear down those that really are not true or relevant anymore and rebuild again on a stronger foundation. You could see it as presenting to you an opportunity to clear out that which is no longer working – view it as liberating – making the necessary change in order to build healthy structures in one’s life etc.

Written By Donnaleigh
on July 8th, 2010 @ 9:28 pm

What a great technique to learn about the potential of each card, too. This would make a great tarot class in itself, and would be a fantastic MeetUp activity for tarot enthusiasts!

Top notch blog as always, Barbara!

Written By Ty
on July 9th, 2010 @ 7:27 am


This is also a great way to learn to look at the different facets and nuances of a card by just taking the card and trying it out in the different positions of a spread and seeing how the focus can change.

Written By James Wells
on July 9th, 2010 @ 10:21 am

Yay, Barbara! This is a great way to remember that any card is neutral and that it’s our topics and questions that give it nuance one way or the other. Thanks for posting this. I hope lots of people try it out!

Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on July 9th, 2010 @ 10:25 pm

That’s a great approach to learn the cards, Barbara! If people spent just 15 minutes a day doing this with a different card each day, they’d have a deep understanding of the cards in just a couple of months. I’d suggest doing this with a couple of different spreads, too.

I think that this illustrates one of the difficulties a lot of new students of the Tarot have. It would be soooo easy if each card just had one meaning. The cards have general meanings that only become specific in relation to the position of the card in the spread and in relation to the other cards of the spread.

I remember once giving a brief reading where I told a woman that she was outgoing, but later said that she was shy. At the end of the reading she said she didn’t understand how she could be both. I looked at the cards and explained that on an inner level she was shy, but when she was in public, she covered up her shyness by being an extrovert. This prevented her from having to reveal her inner feelings to her friends.

She broke into tears (tip to readers: always keep some tissues with you when you give readings!), saying that even though she had lots of friends, she often felt lonely and unfulfilled. We discussed potential and safe ways for her to become more open and she was very happy with the reading.

Written By Rose
on July 13th, 2010 @ 10:35 am

Barbara, this is another great post with a neat idea for exploring cards in depth! Thanks so much for sharing this technique (and to James, too, for showing it to you!) I will be trying this at one of my Tarot Wisdom Circles in the future!

Written By Holly
on July 14th, 2010 @ 12:34 pm

Thank you so much for this article and the responses. I’m just learning how to do readings (only practicing on myself, for now), and I’ve gotten some very useful information. I was finding it difficult and confusing to do a whole spread and then trying to understand all of it at once, but taking one card at a time will be helpful and I’ll probably learn faster. Thank You!!

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