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4 tips to read tarot cards in weird positions in a spread

Reading the cards when they throw you for a loop

If you are like me, you prefer to use set spreads to read the cards, for you or others. This is because a set spread helps me align the narrative with the cards, and gives me a foundation for reading the cards honestly and clearly.

However, even in specific spreads with specific positions, there can be cards that come forward that throw you for a loop. I know because it has happened to me often.

So, what to do about this surprising card in this position that now has you asking more questions instead of providing clarity. Here are the ways that I read the cards that surprise me, or throw me for a loop.

1.) Focus on the spectrum of the card

The Sun from the Herbcrafter’s Tarot

Let’s use an example:

Let’s say you are doing a simple two-card reading with the spread positions WHAT TO FOCUS ON and WHAT TO RELEASE. For the WHAT TO RELEASE position you turn over the Sun. The Sun is always a welcome sight in any reading, so what to do when it is in this position? I mean, who wants to release the energies of the Sun card? Go to the spectrum of the Sun card.

It isn’t saying you need to release your luminous light. It isn’t a bad omen. The Sun card invites needed illumination, and nourishment to feed your wild spirit and the growth you working through. So, in this position (at least the way I would read it), is to say that you have gained what you needed from the Sun. You have been given the clarity and the nourishment. You have fed your wild appetite. The burial part of the spectrum of the Sun would be to stay in this energy now could merge into complacency, or a comfortability that is no longer serving you.

Simply put, what you are releasing is the inclination to stay. You have gained what you needed. You have the clarity, the resources, and the strength. At some point, comfortability confines you to a space you have outgrown, and your spirit is ready to go forward.

2.) Look to where the card resides within the deck

Let’s go back to our previous example. Another way to read the Sun from the position WHAT TO RELEASE is to look at where the Sun sits within the deck.

The Sun comes after the Moon, and before Judgment. The Moon invites us to call in our wild magick, the Sun gives it nourishment, and Judgment invites us to take that wild magick and move into a position of purpose and interconnection with the world, or the bigger picture.

So, in releasing the Sun (again, how I would read it), it is saying that your wild magick and wild reclamation are ready to align into your devotion to yourself, and your bigger purpose.

The Sun has given you everything you need to take your wild and beautiful spirit into a position that expands to cosmic reclamation and sacred devotion. There isn’t any bad omen in that, is there?

3.) Look to how the cards interact with each other

From the Hush Tarot

I hate to depart from the example of the Sun, but for this section I have to highlight a real moment that happened to me, because it speaks to this tip perfectly.

For a little backstory, a little over a year ago I was looking at potentially renting office space with another person to do in-persons readings. I knew the person, adore and admire her still, the office was intimate, and was in a location that I loved (downtown Littleton to be exact). This little hamlet was my stomping ground since I was little, and I thought the location was a sure sign that I should sign the contract and get the keys.

I left the meeting with a lot to think about. Much of it seemed great, but I was also dealing with a lot of personal changes that could affect my decision, and before I make any big decisions like this, I consult my cards. So, I sat down when I got home and pulled three cards. These were the positions

Card for renting office space / Card for not renting office space / and a card for myself between these two huge choices.

The card pulled for renting the office space was the Page of Pentacles (not a bad sign). The card pulled for not renting the office space was the Queen of Wands (again, not a bad sign), and the card that represented myself was Strength. Look at how the Strength card is looking clearly at the Queen of Wands.

I had my answer. The Strength card was literally directing her focus, and mine, to the option that would best direct me. The Strength card was also looking away from a card that may have provided a lot of opportunity and growth, and I needed the strength to let an opportunity like that go.

I didn’t take the office space, and moved a few months ago to Conifer. The drive would have been over an hour if I taken the office and was committed to a lease.

So, look at how the cards interact together, or don’t interact. This isn’t about forcing it either. They may not interact, but you have the previous tips to help if there is no interaction to be had. However, if you look close enough, many times you will find interactions that you initially didn’t catch.

4.) Look to the symbolism in the card image

Sun Card from the Ostara Tarot. Perhaps my favorite depiction of this card

The final tip is to look at the symbolism in the card. Symbols speak to the unconscious mind, create depth outside the rudimentary understanding of what the symbol is, and encourage a deeper narrative and connection to occur within us. Most decks are stacked full of symbols.

The beautiful thing about this is that symbols create a very personal dialog within us to help take the invitations of the card and work them into the fabric of our lives. This is also subjective. I don’t connect in any way with the traditional symbol of the baby or the sunflowers in traditional depictions of the Sun card. I do, however, connect deeply with the beautiful warrior in the Sun card from the Ostara tarot.

The symbol of the wings, the armor, the scepter all speak to me on an unconscious level that the Sun invites us to take all we have, use it promote more light, protect what is sacred, and journey to the places that need our light and our fight.

So, use the symbols to create connections that transcend the spread position. Use what you see to create an internal dialog that helps build the foundation for the card energies to move from surprising to clarifying.

Certain cards can throw us for a loop in reading, but these are the tips that I have found to really help for my personal and professional readings. May they do the same for you. Thanks for reading!

If you like the way I work with the tarot, and need some guidance, check out my Store and Services page to see the spreads I offer!

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How to remain unbiased when reading your own cards

The cards provide beautiful invitations and considerations, and also accountability to truth.

It is true that reading your cards is one of the best ways to tune into yourself, your situation, your life to gain a deeper understanding. It is also true that the tarot can be used both creatively and analytically to engage this understanding. The tarot provides an outlook that, while scoffed at by many, can create an intimate moment of connection. All of these things are true, and yet, it is also true that reading your own cards, objectively and without bias, can pose an obstacle to an honest analysis.

I have been reading the cards for five years now, for myself, friends and family, and clients. There are still days that I have to really sit in my reading and make sure that I am not pulling a meaning out of ego, need for comfort, or an effort to assuage some deep feeling I haven’t fully worked through completely.

Over the years, I have found some tips and techniques that have helped me reach for an unbiased and honest understanding, no matter how uncomfortable or called out I may feel. I would like to make this a bit of a series, otherwise this would be a hella long blog post because your girl can write and talk about this until the cows come home.

Tip #1: Don’t keep pulling cards, clarifying or otherwise

The Wild Unknown tarot deck

This first tip comes with an asterisk. If your intuition is clearly saying that you should pull another card, honor that voice. Your intuition is paramount to any reading, and comes first. The reason that I place this tip at number is that it can be really easy to get sucked into what I call the pull-reflex (where something isn’t clear initially, or may present an edge, and another card is used to assuage the message, but it’s wrapped up in the context of clarity).

I have always said that more cards doesn’t mean a better, more clear reading. Some of the most profound readings are single cards. If you’re in a reading for yourself, pulling with a spread or intuitively, one of the most profound ways to have an unbiased reading is to the let cards chosen speak for themselves. It can feel easy when pulling the Tower or the 10 of Swords to reflexively pull another card for clarification, but that may diminish the biasness of the reading. Let the Tower talk to you. Let the cards that come forward be heard.

The reason I place this technique at number one is because it is important to get a connection with the cards that isn’t about what you want to hear. If that is what you are searching for, the tarot is not for you. Sorry, it just isn’t. Even cards like the Star, the 2 of Cups, the 4 of Wands can present an edge or challenge in reading. There are no good or bad cards. Some cards feel better than others, but that doesn’t diminish the nourishment that comes with each and every card.

Every card is of benefit, even when it feels heavy and hard to bear.

Going into the pull-reflex is honestly like fishing for compliments. It is an impulse reaction to ease the ego, or seek to gain comfort in some way. Again, if your intuition is knocking on the door, telling you to pull another card, than do so, but that presents the need to clarify if it is ego or intuition talking. This speaks to another tip that I will discuss at a later time.

The main point here is that no matter how you read, that you create a container, or a boundary around the reading. This means that your reading may go slower, may have fewer cards, or may take some time to really let the messages sink in. That is perfectly fine. I would wager that no one, myself included, always knows the deeper underbelly of a tarot analysis on every reading.

So, to sum up, the first tip that I can give you is to create a boundary so that you don’t get sucked into the pull-reflex. It is very hard, I know. However, the pull-reflex can diminish the capacity of the guidance of a card because it has been taken over by others. Let the cards pulled guide you towards creative and analytical observation and connection. Check back in for the next blog installment of tarot tips for an unbiased reading.