Tarot for the Modern Reader
3 Ways to Give an Accurate Yes/No Tarot Reading
A Yes/No Reading. When it comes to Tarot, the cards are deep, the imagery is rich and the symbolism is plentiful! A reading consisting of even just one card can yield such a depth of nuanced information. Yet there will be those readings, many times in your practice, when someone will ask you a specific question and will be looking for a one word answer. Just one word. Yes. Or No.
***This is the third 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!***
Should you give yes/no readings? That’s up to you. There are plenty of tarot snobs who will tell you that the tarot has faaaar grander purposes and capabilities than that. And yeah, that’s true. But if you read the first post in this series about reading for prediction, or the second post with the story shared by Rachel Pollack, then you know my position at this point is to do whatever feels good for you. Tarot DOES have a wonderful purpose, and we are able to use it in whatever ways we choose.
That being said, I don’t personally LOVE yes/no readings. Here’s why. I believe the future is not static. Something may be lining up as a “yes” right now, but that doesn’t mean future actions aren’t going to change that. So when I do a yes/no reading, I like to lead off with that caveat. That this is what I CURRENTLY SEE, however outside circumstances that are always in play can change that. The further out the event, the more time there is for things to change.
A yes/no reading is a PREDICTIVE reading, so that’s something else that you have to get comfortable with, or be willing to be UNcomfortable with. Putting a stake in the ground and reading for prediction can be scary. But a few solid strategies can help!
A Few Tips for a Good Yes/No Reading
No matter which of the following methods you choose for interpreting yes/no readings, there are a few basic tips that I use. These apply to all methods, and I’ll suggest them to you here:
- Use only one card. If you want to throw more cards then for more info, have at it, but for your yes/no answer, just throw ONE CARD. I see people doing 3-5 cards, and trying to get the answer from the best 2 outta 3, or 3 outta 5. This is not poker. Keep it simple.
- The question should be crystal clear. No questions that are skewed favorably or negatively. Make the question itself neutral and only one question at a time. Don’t have a run-on question with multiple mini-questions in one. Clear questions beget clear answers.
- Stick with the method you decide on. At least for that reading. You can choose different methods to try each time, but you must stick with the one you chose before the reading for that particular reading. Again, mixing it up to get a more favorable response, is really only cheating yourself of an honest answer.
- Be willing to TRUST the answer. Don’t ask a question you aren’t prepared to accept the answer to. Do NOT pull a different card because you don’t like or understand the one you pulled. That just leads to confusion. TRUST that you pulled THAT card for a reason. Sit with it until it makes sense to you, or just go with it even if it is bigger than your understanding right now. That is how you develop trust with the Universe, and with yourself to receive messages.
Let’s get on to the 3 ways to give a yes/no reading.
Decide on Each Card Ahead of Time for Your Yes/No Reading
This is a fairly easy way to give a yes/no reading, however it does require you to go through your deck ahead of time and assign each card a meaning (and remember it!). Now you don’t have to do this for EVERY yes/no reading. You can do it once, making your decision for each card, and then sticking with that for each time you do a reading. You can also write them down in case you don’t remember what you decide and refer back to it in the beginning.
The challenge with this method is that there are some cards that are not necessarily a clear cut Yes or No like some others are. So while some cards are super clear on their position, some may be a bit ambiguous. But the truth is, once you’ve decided what a card will be and made that commitment firm in your mind, then you have also made that commitment clear to the Universe and you can trust it.
When you get one of those cards that isn’t a HARD yes or a HARD no, you can let your sitter know which way the Universe is leaning, but it’s really not set in stone at this time.
When I first learned to read Tarot, somewhere I read that for yes/no readings, all Majors were a yes, even numbered pips were a ‘yes’ and odd numbered pips were a ‘no’. I followed that system! Looking back, that’s quite a disproportionate number of ‘yeses’ haha.
Upright or Reversed Yes/No Reading
This is another really basic and simple way to give a yes/no reading. If you don’t typically read with reversals, that ok, this will still be super simple. Cut your deck in half, as close as possible, rotate half the deck and then shuffle shuffle shuffle. Draw ONE card. Upright is a yes. Reversed is a No. Simple.
Bonus points if you feel called to use the meaning of the card as the WHY. For example…the card you pull is Death, upright. Typically this card would scream ‘no’, but in this method, it is a ‘yes’ because it is upright. So let’s say the question is “will I get a new job?”. Then the answer may be something along the lines of “yes, because your current position is ending”. But that elaboration with the meaning of the card is completely optional.
Yes/No Reading via Straight up Prediction
Ok, arguably this one might make you the most nervous! Instead of any kind of a system that takes the “prediction” off of your shoulders, in this method, you are just making a prediction based off of the ONE CARD you pulled to answer their question. Your answer is going to take into account the nature of their question, and the nature of the card. This method is the trickiest but certainly yields the most information.
“Will I get the job?” The Sun- yes. Death- no. the Three of Wands- yes if you are willing to travel. Ace of Swords- yes and quickly you will hear back from them. The Empress- yes, conditions are ripe and favorable, a woman will take you under her wing. 7 of Pentacles- yes if you show them in the interview that you are a hard worker. Ace of Wands reversed- no, the time for a new beginning is not now. The Fool- yes, a new beginning is favored. 7 of Swords- no, there are things you are not being told. The Hanged Man- it can not be predicted at this time, conditions are yet undetermined.
A Final Caveat
And that brings me to one other caveat, and that is that not everything asked can be answered with a yes/no reading, even if your sitter is asking a yes/no question. This is something that I really try to convey when someone asks a yes/no question. Like I mentioned above, things change as time moves. Also, there are some things that are JUST NOT YET DETERMINED by the Universe. Getting the Hanged Man is a good example of that. The clarity is not there, the decision has not yet been made. You have to be ok with sometimes saying “I can’t tell you yes or no”.
Additionally, some yes/no questions presume information that is not correct to begin with. Your sitter could ask a yes/no question about a scenario that is never even going to come to pass, and that is something to keep in mind. When you use a “system” like upright or reversed cards, you are getting a “definite” answer to something that may not be a definite situation to begin with. This is one reason that I like the final method, even if it is the most scary, because it gives us an opportunity to elaborate on the card pulled and how that may play out.
What’s next in the Back to School Series
I hope you have enjoyed this 3rd article in the Back to School Series. If you have missed either of the first two, they are listed below. Which method above are you most interested to try, or do you have one already? Can’t wait to see you back here next week for our next post in the series, all about how to deliver a sure-fire reading each time. In the meantime, please share your thoughts about this over 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 Tarot Readings
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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