Someone recently emailed me to ask about reading positive cards in negative and challenging positions.
Before I talk about how to do this, I would like to point out that there are no ‘positive’ or ‘negative cards,’ just as there is no black or white magick; It is all just energy and what result we get from it depends on how we understand and choose to wield the energy.
A good Tarot book with card meanings will cover the full spectrum of meanings for each card. However, the techniques I give here creates a more immediate, intuitive and physical connection with the less apparent aspects of the card than memorising keywords does.
The truth is that your body holds all 78 Keys of Wisdom… All you need to do is tune in!
3 steps to understanding the less apparent meanings of a seemingly positive Tarot card:
- Set the intention to see/feel the bigger full spectrum of the card’s energy.
- Connect with the immediate positive feeling associated with this card.
- Make an emotional connection with some of the blocked, projected and exaggerated aspects of this card.
Set the intention to see the bigger picture
This may sound obvious but you do have to make yourself willing to go beyond what is immediately apparent. Take a few deep breaths to relax your mind and body as this will facilitate new information coming in or rising to the surface. Creating a ritual to ground and center before each reading, is also a practice I recommend. Find your own way and stick to it!
Do keep pen and paper handy, so that you can record new insights. Writing them down will help you integrate them more quickly and actually physically helps the brain create new neural pathways for this information.
Make the emotional connection
Feel the positive energy you normally connect with this card in your body.
Imagine a time when you felt this way or, if this is something you have not yet experienced, take a while to daydream about having the feeling connected with this card.
Visit the other end of the spectrum
- How would you feel if the expression of this energy was blocked? What could be causing this block?
- Next, I want you to imagine how it would feel if someone told you that you have to work really hard to feel this way again. Try to picture all the challenges this would entail. What is it you imagine you must do to get there/achieve this state of happiness/satisfaction?
- Now try to connect with this energy in its exaggerated state – Don’t be afraid to cross the borders of sanity! Let’s say the positive card is the 2 of Cups and it has come up as a personal challenge for you. Do you fall in love too easily and give too much of yourself, to the point where you leave yourself feeling depleted or lose your identity?
- Next, examine the expectations and feelings of entitlement that arise when you think about what this card represents. Don’t be afraid to look at how these expectations have tripped you up in the past. For instance, The Sun could create the expectation that you should get whatever you want (whether it benefits your soul or not).
- Finally, imagine everyone around you having what this positive card represents but you were prevented from having it. Of course, nobody could prevent you from having this but this is what happens when we project our Golden Shadow onto others – We disempower ourselves and we’re not even aware of it!
3 steps to understanding the less apparent meanings of a seemingly negative Tarot card:
- Set the intention to see/feel the full spectrum of the card’s energy. (same as above)
- Connect with the immediate negative feeling associated with this card.
- Make an emotional connection with some of the liberated, healed and harmonised aspects of this card.
The first two steps are the same, except the second step is a complete reversal, so we can safely skip talking about them in-depth. Essentially, they are about the process of grounding, centering and connecting with the card image and the immediate feeling provoked by the imagery. For the final step, you need to travel the full spectrum of meanings again… some questions that might help:
- How would you feel if the expression of this heavy, oppressive, sad, scary etc energy was liberated?
- What action would create this liberation?
- Now try to connect with this energy in its harmonised state. For instance, the 10 of Swords is about mental energy run amok due to a lack of heart energy in the problem-solving process. Add in the heart energy and you will see how this might not have worked out but how it has taught (or will be able to teach) you how to harmonise the process in the future – an invaluable lesson! The Tower can be scary but can also clear the air; The Devil can be oppressive and a tempter but can also regale us with abandon and a great sense of humour.
- Finally, examine how you may have projected the negative trait or emotion contained in the card onto people around you. Contemplate how owning your emotion may serve you in moving you forward. As an example, you may feel an aversion to the (seemingly) cold-hearted Queen of Swords and often spot her in others, leading to tense relationships. Had you been willing to own this quality for yourself, you may have adopted a more compassionate approach, which in turn would have elicited a warmer and more trusting response in the other.
Of the bazillion posts you’ve made and that I’ve learned from and enjoyed, this is definitely one of my favorites! So thought provoking and helpful! I am so fortunate to have been taught early on not to look at cards as “good” or “bad” but there are a few that still challenging me a bit at times and maybe even more so when a “good” card ends up in a position of the challenge or obstacle. These step-by-step lessons are so helpful to teach me how to approach these from the flip side!
Thanks Krysten, so glad you found this helpful! Blessed Be!
That makes some sense. Thanks!
You’re welcome! 🙂
Good article, But I confess I’m still a bit confused as to what it meant when I had The World show up in a position about what someone doesn’t like about me the other day. That’s the one card I can never feel as having any negative aspects at all, so I’m stumped.
It could mean that they feel as if you are imposing limitations or restrictions of some kind – Considering the Saturn correspondence for this card could help. I know it may seem as if I contradict using the intuitive feel of the energy of the card when I say this but I work the same way with the astrological correspondences… I like to feel them in my body. Learning correspondences is actually a top tip for getting the full spectrum of any card.
Thanks Lisa, this has stumped me in the past. Some cards I’m able to feel a wider range of meaning but others are more challenging for me. I like the idea of travelling the full spectrum of meanings so I’ll try this out, and thinking of the actions to create liberation – brilliant! 🙂
Glad you found this useful, Laura! 🙂