Yes or No Tarot Spread

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One of the primary reasons why people turn to the Tarot with their most burning questions and heart-felt worries is that they are hoping to find answers – preferably ones that are clear and concise.

While the Tarot cards often offer answers that are precise and eerily spot-on, they are notoriously difficult to ask Yes/No questions. The reason for this is that each of the 78 cards that make up the full Tarot deck contains multiple layers, shades and facets of meaning within it. While some of the cards are predominantly positive (a good example would be the Minor Arcana card, the Three of Cups) and others appear to be primarily negative (such as the Major Arcana card, the Tower), neither positive or negative cards are static or one-dimensional. On the surface, the Three of Cups card promises celebration, optimism and joy, but on the flip side, its lighthearted, happy-go-lucky energy can cause you to shun the weight of responsibilities and fail to plan for or build your future. Similarly, the Tower card appears catastrophic when only taken in at a glance; a lightning bolt strikes the tower structure, causing it to crumble, and the two figures falling from its top are no doubt in for a brutal impact once they hit the ground. The fall of the Tower is undoubtedly painful and difficult, but what follows is freedom and renewal.

In other words, when looked at in their own right, it can be neigh impossible to decided whether any one specific Tarot card indicates a clear Yes or No to the question being asked. This is where Yes/No Tarot spreads can be incredibly useful.

Can the Tarot Cards Answer Yes/No Questions?

There is some debate among Tarot readers as to whether the cards are even capable of providing a definite yes or a definite no.

I happen to believe that they can, but only when placed in the context of a Yes/No Tarot spread. In their own right, the cards may be more positive or negative, more light or more dark, but obstacles do not necessarily mean that you should not be pursuing something you truly want. Sometimes a less pleasant Tarot card appearing in the reading can simply be an indication that the path you have chosen is not going to be all smooth sailing, and that you are going to be encountering some opposing forces and a handful of obstacles. The reading revealing that part of your journey is going to be uphill is not the same as the the reading telling you that you shouldn’t pursue a particular goal.

In order for a Tarot card to yield anything approaching a definite yes or no, it requires a framework. On their own, the Tarot doesn’t tell you yes or no – instead, it tells you about the energy of a specific situation. When placed into a framework, the cards can get very close to giving a clear yes or no, and your own intuition may provide the final piece of certainty you are seeking.

It is important to note that nothing is ever set in stone – least of all the future. Often when people are seeking clear yes or no answers, it is in relation to something that will or could happen in the future. For example, a querent might ask, ‘Is he going to propose?’ In the moment in time when the question is being asked, the answer may not even exist yet, not even in the mind of the person who is expected to propose. Unless you believe in fate being predetermined and set in stone, you will have to agree that the answer, in this case, is going to be a tall order for the cards to provide a clear yes or no answer to.

In cases like this, where the answer may not exist yet, the cards can still indicate the likely shape of events to come, given the path that the person in question is on at the exact moment of reading the cards.

Why do Yes/No Tarot Readings?

Yes/No questions are the hardest to answer using Tarot cards, but coincidentally, every Tarot reader gets them a lot! Common Tarot questions every reader gets asked revolve around:

  • Will (a particular event, for example a proposal, a job promotion, a business deal) happen?
  • Does (person, for example a love interest) love/like/hate/forgive me?
  • Should I (take a particular action, for example apply for the job or change my major)?

Just like the Tarot cards themselves, our lives are often complicated, nuanced and full of contradictions. Sometimes, our mind body spirit trinity seems to pull us in different directions. The Tarot cards capture and reflect this, which is part of the reason why they are so reluctant to divulge clear, one-word answers. It is also precisely because life is rarely clear-cut and simple that clear-cut, simple answers are so desirable – and that Yes/No Tarot readings are so popular.

How do Yes/No Tarot Readings Work?

Yes/No Tarot spreads have been developed and refined specifically with the aim of eliciting clear and accurate yes or no answers from the cards.

Yes/No Tarot readings provide a simple framework – a scaffolding, if you will – for the generally fluid, multi-faceted cards. A spread with specific card positions that are assigned specific meanings can be a great help when you want the cards to provide an answer without too much nuance and without any contradictory messages interfering, like static on the line, with the clear yes or no you are seeking.

Many Tarot readers develop their own spreads, usually by elaborating on existing spread designs and adapting them to their own practice. You can do the same, and over time, you will find the Yes/No spread or spreads that work best for you.

5 Simple Ways of Doing a Yes/No Tarot Reading

There are countless ways of doing a Yes/No Tarot reading. Here are a few examples.

Upright Vs. Reversed Yes/No Tarot Spread

Sometimes it helps to keep things simple, and the upright vs. reversed yes or no Tarot spread is the simplest there is.

For this simple Tarot reading, all you need to do is shuffle the cards thoroughly, making sure you have a roughly even amount of upright and reversed cards. Cut the deck, turn the cards 180 degrees from top to bottom, then shuffle again. The reversed Tarot cards indicate no while the ones that are upright indicate yes.

When you are done shuffling, draw a card. In this case, the advice of the card itself doesn’t matter – only its position does. If you draw an upright card, it is a yes, and if you draw a reversed card it is a no.

Pros

I personally really like this yes or no Tarot spread, as it doesn’t allow any room for fluff. It cuts right to the chase with a quick, clear answer.

Cons

Because this Yes/No Tarot reading is so simple, it doesn’t leave any space for intuition or interpretation.

Yes, No or Maybe Cards Yes/No Tarot Card Meanings Spread

For this Yes/No reading, allow your intuition to guide you along. Go through your entire Tarot deck and determine for each card whether it is going to represent a Yes, a No or a Maybe.

It is important that you are clear, before doing the Tarot reading, on whether each card is a Yes, No or Maybe. Otherwise, you may be tempted to change your interpretation while doing the reading.

Pros

This Yes or No Tarot reading can be worked seamlessly into a bigger reading. That way, if a yes or no question comes up, you will have an instant answer for the querent to discover.

Cons

Memorising your own list of Yes, No and Maybe cards could take a while and is definitely not for beginners.

Favorable Vs. Unfavourable cards Yes/No Tarot Spread

This version of the yes or no Tarot reading is similar to the previous one, in which you decide whether each Tarot card is either a Yes, a No or a Maybe.

Going through the deck, instead of assigning each Tarot card a Yes, No or Maybe answer, decide whether its overall meaning is Favourable or Unfavourable.

Pros

The Favourable/Unfavourable card approach leaves room for a little more nuance and flexibility than locking cards into hard yes or no categories does and is more in line with the way life actually tends to unfold.

Cons

Whether a Tarot card is truly favourable or unfavourable can be difficult to determine, as a card might look unfavourable but hold mix of negative and positive meanings.

Likely Vs. Unlikely Yes/No Spread

Yet another version of the yes or no Tarot reading involves deciding for each of the Minor Arcana cards and each of the Major Arcana cards whether they seem to indicate ‘likely’ or ‘unlikely.’

This version of the yes or no Tarot reading works in the same way as the Yes, No, Maybe and as the Favourable Vs. Unfavourable.

Pros

Just like the Favourable Vs. Unfavourable yes or No Tarot reading, the Likely Vs. Unlikely method provides you with a bit of intuitive wiggle room and gives you a softer way to interpret the yes or no question you have been asked.

Cons

Not every querent is going to be satisfied with a soft answer to a direct yes or no Tarot question.

Yes…if, No…if Spread

Outcomes can often be conditional. The Yes..if, No…if Tarot reading reflects this perfectly.

For this take of the Yes/No Tarot reading, you don’t need to pre-assign any of the cards. All you need is the two card positions, Yes…if and No..if. Shuffle the deck and pick two cards, one for each pre-assigned position.

Let me use a common question that Tarot readers get asked for this example: Is he going to propose?

Let us say that the card that comes up in the Yes…if position is the Empress. In this case, the answer is yes, he will propose, if you are able to stand in your own power and be self-reliant, instead of leaning on him or demanding that he guide and steer the situation.

Let us say that the card that comes up in the No…if position is the Devil Major Arcana card. The interpretation could be, no, he will not propose if you try to control him and shackle him to the relationship.

Pros

This version of the yes or no Tarot reading leaves plenty of leeway for intuition and nuance.

Cons

If you want an unconditional yes or no, this version of the Yes/No reading may not be for you.

Lucius Nothing

Lucius has been slinging tarot cards professionally since 2014. He’s taken the tarot to places most wouldn’t think of: His best-known patrons include Torture Garden, The Dark Circus Party, Handel & Hendrix, A Curious Invitation and The Candlelight Club, where he has been resident tarot reader for the past half-decade. His writing on divination, magic and creativity has been published in Sabbat Magazine and on Medium.

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