This is a guest post by the winner of my Tarot Apprentice contest – Hilary Parry. Enjoy!
It’s bad enough learning the “accepted” meanings of all 78 cards in a tarot deck. If you read with reversals, that’s 78 x 2! Add on your own interpretations if you’ve read long enough and have come to know that in your head, the Empress + [blank] = pregnancy (or whatever tarot formulas you personally have seen to be true). Tack on spreads and where each card lands positionally and you’ve got a whole lot for you and a client to talk about. But did you ever stop and think, “Which cards are NOT here?”
I know, tarot is complicated enough thinking about all the scenarios that can play out when the cards are on the table, so you might be wondering, “Why bother with discussing the cards that are not present during a reading?” Well, sometimes the absence of certain cards says more than what the cards actually dealt in a reading say.
A couple of scenarios to illustrate my point:
Someone comes to the table, asking about a potential love interest. It isn’t a yes/no question, but more of a how/when. The cards are laid out. But the solution isn’t so obvious, and there are no Major Arcana cards that arise in the reading. What do we look for? What do we note that is missing?
If it’s about love, and there are no Cups in the reading… well, there are a couple of things that could be interpreted from that, but not limited to just these interpretations (in general):
- a frivolous crush that isn’t substantial enough to constitute a true emotional connection; the client’s romantic intentions might be best suited elsewhere or a focus inward is in order; or
- the object of the client’s affections isn’t interested (again, keeping in mind this is a hypothetical)
Still talking about a potential love interest, what if there ARE Cups present, but no Pentacles (Coins)? This might indicate lots of emotion, but little stability, if any. There may be lots of love but perhaps not enough of the practical aspects that go into making a relationship work.
Moving on to another scenario. Someone has to pick between two jobs. In this case, you might choose to do two spreads, one for each of the potential jobs. In one spread, lots and lots of Coins. Of course, depending on the specific cards laid out, you might suggest the job that’s abundant in the money would be the “correct” choice. But what about job fulfillment? So you look to the other spread. Wands and Cups, but no Coins. Again, depending on the cards, you might conclude that this choice would be more fulfilling, but not likely to be as lucrative as the other choice.
These scenarios are a lot more black and white than normal readings go, I know. But as readers who spend a lot of time in the crossroads of other people’s lives serving them as a guide at the juncture of the roads, it helps to keep in mind that what isn’t present in a reading is often just as important as what is.
PS I’d love to hear your thoughts on “missing cards”. Post your insights in the comment section below!