Jumpers, Clarifiers and Shadow Cards


You may have heard of jumpers, clarifiers and shadow cards…

If you aren’t completely new to the Tarot, you may have heard of jumpers, clarifiers and shadow cards. You may even have an idea about what these three terms are referring to… but do you know how to make the most of them? Many readers are muddled and lack a strategy for understanding what these cards are trying to say, so they end up more confused than before instead of benefitting from the advice. This is true of people who have been reading the cards for quite a while too… BUT! Good news, it’s never too late to learn new, healthy Tarot habits!


The jumper card (or cards) shows up when we are shuffling. It’s got nothing to do with poor shuffling. If you are a total klutz and are forever dropping cards all over the place when you shuffle, you can skip this portion of the article: you should not pay attention to jumpers. However, if you are OK at shuffling but have experienced the odd card occasionally seeming to jump or fly out of the deck when shuffling, you can bet Spirit is using this method of communicating with you.

But, as you probably know by now, it’s difficult to understand a single card without any context, so the trick here is to have a premeditated context to fit any jumpers into. A favourite way a jumper card in with the reading I’m about to do is to see it as a heads up about an aspect of the situation that I need to pay attention to – a sort of red flag.

If you get 2-3 cards jump out of the deck, you could simply do a mini reading with them and again read them as a heads up about a part of the situation you may not be aware of. As opposed to the shadow card which we will cover later, I tend to see jumpers as pointing at external circumstances that may impact the situation at hand.

You could also do a mini reading around the jumper card before you do your main reading. I would choose a three-card situation-challenge-action advice spread for this and again look at this as outside circumstances. The jumper would, in this case, be the situation and I would simply pull two cards from the top of where I stopped shuffling for the challenge and action advice.

Still, there are some readers who are deft at shuffling and choose to disregard jumpers completely. If you choose to do the same, you would just pop the card back into the deck and keep shuffling until you get that internal ‘click’ that tells you the shuffling is done. But be consistent and continue to disregard them. It’s no good changing tracks and paying attention to some jumpers. The cards will rebel if you, for instance, start paying attention only to the cards you like. The same goes for doom and gloom merchants out there who only make a mental note of the darker cards. No, no, no. You can’t have it both ways. 🙂

So, to summarise – Here are three valid ways to deal with jumpers:

  • See the jumper (or jumpers) as a heads-up concerning external circumstances
  • Do a mini-reading about how external circumstances may affect the main issue at hand
  • Completely disregard all jumpers


One of the worst and most persistent Tarot habits I come across all the time is to pull clarifiers. Because it is done with little or no thought, rather than providing clarity, clarifiers tend to make the already confusing reading even more muddled. Typically, people pull a clarifier when they don’t like the outcome of a reading.

Here is how to avoid confusion in five easy steps:

  • Look carefully at the card which is causing you confusion
  • Decide which aspect you are seeking to clarify. For instance, if you got a court card as the outcome, you may wish to know exactly how they will affect the outcome and not just that the outcome is in their hands.
  • Formulate a question which will shed light on your confusion. Again, using the example above, you could ask ‘What will the King of Wands do that affects the outcome?’
  • Pull a clarifier
  • Write down the answer you receive

Please note that only once you are satisfied that you received clarity by pulling the initial clarifier, do you have a green light to pull further clarifiers. The same principle applies to any extra clarifiers you pull – Above all, be very clear about which aspect of the previous card(s) you are seeking to clarify.

You can of course clarify combinations of cards too but if the whole spread is confusing you, you can bet your bottom dollar that now is not the time for you read on this and/or you are better off getting an impartial reading.

It may interest to you that many of the questions I get here on the blog are from people who have managed to confuse themselves silly by pulling clarifiers. No shame in that – We’ve all been there… but no more – Now you have a rock solid strategy for coping, right?! 😉

The Shadow Card

You may have noticed that some readers look at the card at the bottom of the deck for further information. This card is often referred to as the ‘shadow card.’ Now, I’m going to assume that we are on the same page here and aren’t talking about some spooky, ghostlike shadow but rather of shadow in the Jungian sense, i.e. a repressed aspect of the self.

The reason we repress aspects of self and consequently end up projecting these less desirable traits on others is that shame and guilt are unbearable feelings and sweeping stuff under the rug is easier than facing what terrifies us about ourselves squarely. However, if we wish to grow and mature into decent human beings, we must all face our shadow sooner and later… and when that time comes, we could do a lot worse than relying on our 78 trusted friends who never shy away from reflecting the truth back at us.

Here then, in contrast to the jumper card, we have a card that mirrors the very depths of the Seeker, bringing to light an unconscious aspect that is impacting the situation at hand.

I would recommend using the shadow card only where the ‘unconscious/subconscious’ spread position is missing from your reading, or we will be engaging in Tarot tautology. Typically, I would use it for smaller spreads and in contrast to the quint, where the quint gives us the overarching spiritual theme (read about taking the quint HERE).

I hope this helps shed light on some common but often poorly explained Tarot practices. Please share this article with fellow Tarot enthusiasts and learners.

Thank you.


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