Tarot for the Modern Reader
3 Tricky Cards and How to Confidently Read Each
Tricky cards come up in our tarot readings time and again. This post is going to cover 3 specific tricky card situations you will find yourself dealing with, and help you navigate each of them with ease. “Good cards”, “Bad cards”, and “Court cards”.
***This is the sixth article in our Back to School Series, a collection of 6 posts all designed to help you with your practical reading skills! It presumes you already know how to choose, buy and care for a deck (if not you can visit this post So you want to be a Tarot Reader); and that you have at least a basic working knowledge of each card, even if it's just recognizing the card and knowing a few keywords for each. This series is all about the readings!***
Right about now you might be wondering “why are ‘good cards’ a problem?” The first thing I want to do is clarify that I don’t believe there are “good” or “bad” cards. There are simply 78 cards, each representing different energies, that we may PERCEIVE as good or bad. But ultimately, energy just IS.
And ANY of those energies could be the right one in a given situation, regardless of how we perceive it. So let go of the idea that a card is good or bad. EVERY card has it’s light and dark sides. So let’s dive in.
Tricky Cards: “Good Cards”
So what cards do we traditionally consider “good”? I’ll name a few… The Sun, The World, The Lovers, The Star, Two of Cups, Ten of Cups, Nine of Cups, to name a few. These cards have what we consider a good reputation. When they show up in a reading, we are happy to see them, and with good reason, as they often represent good things.
Where we tend to get tripped up is when we see one of these “good” cards show up in a card position such as the obstacle position, or when one comes up in a spread we created that has a position like “disadvantages” or the path that is “not” recommended etc.
When this happens, we have to stretch our minds a bit, and ask ourselves, what a negative effect of that card might be? For example, there have been times that I have drawn the Sun card as an issue...and ended up with a sunburn that day!
The Lovers or the Two of Cups? It could be that the partnership is not right for you. Just because you aren’t drawing the Devil card doesn’t mean the relationship isn’t good for you. You may be drawing this card because you truly DO feel like this person is your soul mate or you really really want to be with them, but the truth is, in some way, it will be a problem, and the Universe is trying to convey that.
The Nine of Cups may be trying to tell you that you are at risk for over-indulging, and The Star may tell you that your hopefulness in the situation is not going to serve you well; mindset will leave you clinging to something far past the expiration date!
So when you see a seemingly “good” card in a difficult position, dig a little deeper. It could also simply be too much of something. Like the above example with the Sun card and the sunburn. What would too much of something look like?
I also want to take a moment to mention that I think this situation of “good” cards in “difficult” positions comes up more often for those who don’t read reversals. It’s completely fine to not read reversed cards, however I also find that a lot of those situations come out in the reversed cards. Like the sunburn… in the summer, if I pulled the Sun as my daily draw and it was reversed, I inevitably either got a sunburn that day, or a passing thunderstorm rolled through!
Go through your deck and pull out the cards you perceive as “good”. How might they be difficult if you had too much of them? How might they be expressed as an obstacle? My example was the Lovers, a relationship that feels right at the time but ultimately, for whatever reason, isnt. What can you come up with for some others? I truly believe the work we put in when we are NOT in the middle of a reading is what sets us up for a smooth reading when we are!
Tricky Cards: “Bad Cards”
So the first thing I’m going to do is rename this to “difficult cards”. Because the truth is, that no cards are BAD. The 3 of Swords might feel like crap when it’s happening to you, but in the grand scheme of things, the Universe ALWAYS has you best interest at heart, and what is happening is not happening TO you but happening FOR you and for your HIGHEST good. Even when it doesn’t feel like it when we’re in the middle of it!
So that is a bit of foreshadowing to the answer to this isn’t it? That breakup the Three of Swords is representing as a positive outcome hurts like hell, but is likely for our own good. When we get the Death card as the highest ideals or best outcome, we can’t understand it, that seems like the WORST outcome! What we don’t understand is that no good is ultimately going to come of the situation we are asking about, even if we desperately want it, and letting it go quickly is the best thing we can do, rather than dragging out the agony.
What about the Tower? That seems horrible! How can that be a good thing? Well maybe it is if you are stuck in a stagnant situation that you really need to get yourself out of, but are refusing to take the steps and do what needs to be done. The Tower comes along and takes care of it! And the energy of the situation, and your life, are moving forward again. The Tower represents change, and could represent a catalyst for serious changes could be arriving. This is not bad.
The Ten of Swords says that you have hit rock bottom and you are now only headed up from here. The Five of Swords may indicate that a confrontation has to happen so that all parties involved can move forward, wherever that goes from here.
Life is NOT all positive experiences. Of course no one wants to experience pain, but where did we ever get the idea that its supposed to be good all of the time? We are here to have a human experience and that includes difficult moments that are meant to push us forward and ultimately help us grow. Difficult cards in positive positions can indicate that even though it doesn’t feel good in the moment, it’s what is ultimately best for us.
It could also be that we need to dig a little deeper on the meanings of the cards. The seven of Swords also carries the meaning of being stealthy and doing our research. It can mean looking out for ourselves in difficult times when we may not be able to trust those around us. So take into account some of the additional meanings of a card and ask yourself how this could help you?
Pull out some of the most difficult cards in your deck and ask yourself how this card might help you, or what positive attributes this card might have to offer that we don’t see right away when it first shows up. For example, the Death card can show up as the ending to a very long and difficult situation that in the long run isn’t going to serve you well.
Tricky Cards: Court Cards
Now these are truly the trickiest cards in the deck for most readers! This is another situation where doing the work up front when you are not in the middle of a reading will serve you well for when you are!
One of the things that makes court cards so challenging is that there are so many of them, so similar and yet so different. For example, what are the main significant differences between the King of Swords and the Knight of Swords and the Knight of Swords vs. the Knight of Wands, or the Knight of Wands and the King of Wands, then the King of Wands back to the King of Swords and around it goes!
We often have a vague idea what it means when, for example a page shows up. Looks like a young person may be involved here? Well, maybe it’s a message….but shoot, the Page of Wands, the Page of Cups, does it start to blend together? And what happens when, heaven forbid, MULTIPLE court cards show up in your reading? That can be enough to make many readers want to throw in the towel right then and there!
I’m gonna say it again because it bears repeating, that what you do when you are NOT reading, has a great effect on your readings! There is no way around it, the meanings of the court cards aren’t just going to sink in with enough practice because there are just too many that are too similar. You need a way to actually learn and understand the subtle but significant differences between each of them.
Then, once you have those 16 distinct and individual personalities down, there is also the task of figuring out whether or not that court card is referring to yourself (or the seeker if you are reading for someone else), OR if it is referring to someone in the seeker’s life, or if it is symbolic of an event in the seekers life, for example, a Knight can indicate a move of house or a trip of some sort. Pages can represent messages coming. How do you know in each reading which one it is referring to?
No doubt, court cards can be the trickiest cards of all in the tarot deck! So for this I’m going to give you 3 practical tips for narrowing the field a bit! The first thing you will need to do is read up on each card. Don’t worry, you don’t need to memorize them, you just need to make some decisions based on their different personalities. As you read through a give court members character descriptions, answer the following question, and feel free to write them down.
Decide when it’s you
Decide WHERE and WHEN in your life that Court member would represent you. For all of them if you can. So for me the Queen of Pentacles shows up when referencing my home life. The Queen of Cups, when referencing my internal world, my relationship with my true self. The King of Wands when I am teaching my passion (tarot!).
Decide who else it could be
Give everyone in your life one court card based on the MAIN way that you know them. When a card comes up that you have assigned to someone, you will be more likely to consider them. For example, my dad is the King of Pentacles. Both my mom and best friend are the Queen of Wands. My children are pages. I only use pages for children/young people. Not young at heart.
Decide on ONE to TWO events
I consider pages as messengers, Knights as a trip or bringing change, and Queens and Kings as wise counsel or authority in general.
Putting it all together
If you take the time in each of these situations, good cards, bad cards, and court cards, to give some serious thought to each action I’ve suggested you work through, and actually DO THE WORK, you will find yourself much more prepared in each of your readings! Your intuition will have room to flourish when it has a strong foundation!
There is a link in this post to take my 5 day mini court card course, this will give you a strong foundation for each rank. If you want to get to know each court card personally, join us here for our 16 day Make Court Cards Your Friends Challenge, and receive an email each day with my in-depth character profile of a new court member. Join us for that here!
I hope you've enjoyed the 6th article in the Back to School Series. If you missed any, they are listed below. I’d love to know your thoughts about this article so please head on over and share in our community on fb in our group Tarot for the Modern Reader, and don’t forget to join us there Friday at 1pm EDT for the related LIVE!
Lesson 1: Reading for Prediction Vs. Reading for Empowerment
Lesson 2: Should You Give FREE Readings as a Tarot Reader
Lesson 3: 3 Ways to Give an Accurate Yes/No Reading
Lesson 4: 5 Fail Proof Tips Every Reader Needs to Give an Accurate Reading
Lesson 5: Using and Creating the Right Spreads for Everything
I’m Liza, professional Tarot reader, writer and mentor, and this is Tarot Liza. Everyday we're working to bring our mission of delivering more value and Tarot education to the Modern Reader to life! Welcome! Read more...
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