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5 Tips for Reading Positive Cards in Negative Positions

This post was written by Barbara Moore
on March 16, 2012 | Comments (5)

Most tarot readers agree that any card can have many meanings. Determining which meaning apply to any specific reading depends on several factors, such as the deck used, the question asked, the reader (including her/his intuition), and spread position.

Some spread positions have what we might think of as “negative” meanings, such as “challenge,” “problem,” “roadblock,” or even the “crossing card” in the Celtic Cross.

What happens when a card that we generally read as a “positive” card falls into a negative position? How do we interpret it? For these examples I will use the “stable family life” interpretation. Yes, I know there are many other possibilities!

Here are some tips:

1. Leave your assumptions at the door: just because you think that having a stable, full home life is a positive thing, it might be your client’s worst nightmare, a suffocating ball and chain that they’d rather not have

2. Avoidance: read the card as the client’s action in relation to the card rather than the card itself. For example, the challenge is that the client is “avoiding a warm, stable family life.”

3. Grasping: this is the reverse of number 2; it is the client’s “grasping for or obsessing about a warm, stable family life.”

4. Reversed: if you read reversals, read upright cards in negative positions as if they were reversed and read reversed cards as if they were highlighted or intensified.

5. Cues from other Cards and Numbers: Since the 10 of Pentacles, is a 10, bring the number into play. A 10 means the end of a cycle. If other cards in the reading support this (Tower or Death, for example), it can be the ending of a stable family life. 10 can also mean completion or too much. If the Queen of Cups is present (and particularly if reversed), read it as “being suffocated by family life.”

Reader Comments

Written By Joanne
on March 16th, 2012 @ 10:52 am

This is a great post. I love all these tips…very helpful, indeed!

Written By Teresa
on March 16th, 2012 @ 1:24 pm

Great tips! thank you 🙂
this was one of my stumbling blocks and this post makes sense, you gave me an aha moment!

Written By Isabelle
on June 1st, 2015 @ 2:30 am

I was having trouble deciphering a positive card in the “crossing” position of the celtic cross, while inquiring about a specific task that was worrying me.

I thought that perhaps it was a sign that something positive in my life was going to lead to a bad outcome…but in fact everything that day went exceptionally smooth, and I was even over-prepared!

I think as someone who is still a relative Tarot novice, it pays to write down what my question is and the cards that turn up…then go back and look at them to see how they relate to the actual events that transpire.

I do think that positive cards can be signs of hindrances (such as being too comfortable, or succumbing to the trappings of material comforts when it’s not really in one’s best interest)…but it might also be saying “Hey, there actually isn’t anything to worry about”.

So much else about the reading was spot on, but that part had me stumped…until after when I realized that it was trying to say “Stop worrying. There’s nothing bad blocking your path. Everything will be fine.”

I guess there’s always going to be a level of ambiguity in the cards (no matter what the spread, or what is drawn), and being able to decipher what they’re really trying to convey is a matter of practice and honing one’s intuition.

Written By Anita
on January 2nd, 2016 @ 1:26 pm

My client has a son who has autism. Her question was whether all the treatments (behaviour therapy etc) would help him overcome some of the challenges of autism, or if they won’t help him (these therapies are not successful for everyone affected). The challenge card was the sun card. I was not able to interpret this well. Is the challenge the boy’s health (he is only 2), or is the challenge being positive.. or any of the other options. It was a difficult question, and I was wondering how you might interpret the sun card in the challenge position.

Written By Bhuvana Shridhar
on August 17th, 2016 @ 5:14 am


Thanks for these great and extremely useful tips. It’s really an informative and helpful post indeed. Keep it up.


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