Tarot Tip: Negative Space

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Analyze what isn’t there in a Tarot reading

In a Tarot reading, the primary focus is generally on interpreting the cards that appear while the reading is underway. And that makes perfect sense: we humans have to look at what’s right there in front of us. Sometimes, though, it’s also possible to get a lot of really important meaning from what isn’t there on the table. For example, if you do a 10-card spread, and you don’t draw a single Major card, that’s worth considering: 22 of the 78 cards in the deck are Majors, so you should expect about 3 out of every 10 cards on average to turn up Major. When readings end up defying the odds like this, it’s my own belief that these notable card absences can provide critical info in the same way that negative space can yield vital aesthetic and emotional gains in a given work of art.

So here’s a riff on that idea… What if you pull two cards right next to each other that are almost – but not quite – perfectly in sequence… Say, same Suit, and missing only one card between them, like a near-miss on the Tarot version of a straight-flush. Here, you can see I drew the 5 and the 7 of Wands. The first and strongest instinct by most readers would probably be to think about the blend of these two cards’ energies: the competition vibe of the 5 and the standing off against a united front of aggressors in the 7.

But maybe the message is also the idea that the absent card that would fill out the sequence between these two – the 6 of Wands – is trying to manifest its own energies into the life of the querent, but is being somehow blocked in the attempt. Maybe the message isn’t just about the competition and conflict brewing on multiple fronts here, but also the added idea that a huge victory (6 of Wands stuff!) awaits, and is trying to come through, and that a focus on trying to help it materialize will be the ultimate answer to resolving all of the heated drama currently erupting.

The puzzle pieces that do show up out of the box are obviously crucial to a good reading. But then, maybe so are the ones whose shapes are evident by the unique holes that they leave behind, clearly visible in the overall picture…

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