Be Your Own Tarot Expert! Dealing with ‘Difficult’ Cards

No matter our level of expertise, there are always those cards in the Tarot we have difficulty with. Perhaps they came up for us in a reading when we were going through a particularly challenging time – and now we associate them with negative events. Or maybe some images just fill us with dread when we look at them – to the point that if they come up in a reading, either one we are doing for ourselves or for someone else, we tend to skim over them or even ignore them entirely.

However, if we don’t get to know every card in the Tarot well, we are missing out on key information that can open up our readings and also help those we read for. And it’s important to remember that every card – no matter what its traditional meaning or what emotions it evokes in us, has a dark and a light side. One example of this is The Lovers card. Yes, its appearance can herald a wonderful new romance or reconciliation. But it can also indicate a love affair which is an eternal triangle situation or there is a conflict of some kind – perhaps between one party’s career and their personal life. This duality is present in all the cards.

If you have practiced another exercise here on MK which asks you to pick six cards you are drawn to and six cards that you’re adverse to, then you will already be familiar with how the following exercise works. The goal here however is to improve your relationship with cards you find intimidating or just downright scary and tap into their secret messages for you. In other words, make friends with these cards!

As usual, unplug or turn off your phone. Have your Tarot journal to hand and pick a time when you are unlikely to be disturbed. Lay all your cards face up in front of you. Now, pick six cards that for one reason or another you associate with challenging events, break-ups, unhappiness, strife or you just feel that you don’t like them or can’t ‘read’ them on some level. Go with your gut feeling when picking them. Do not pick more than six even if you feel you have barriers connecting to more than six cards in the deck. You can always repeat this process with the others later.

When you have chosen your six cards spend a few moments with the one that you have the strongest negative response to. Look at it closely. What does it symbolise for you? Has it come up for you in a challenging time or heralded some problem to come in the past? What form did this challenge take? If there has been no specific event associated with this card stay tuned to the emotions it is evoking. Why do you feel this way about the card? What events do you think it refers to? If it is a court card do you associate it with a specific person and if so, what was your relationship to them? Now, when you are ready write down every negative outcome you think this card signifies. Really go to town on this! What is the very worst thing that could happen if this card comes up in a reading? When you have got this down on paper now step back a moment. If all this happened, what could be the best thing that could emerge from this? Often a crisis is an opportunity in disguise. A card that many people have a deep reaction to is the 3 of Swords – the image of a heart being pierced by three swords. The background to this card is usually grey or grey clouds evoking a feeling of loss and heartbreak and this card often appears when someone has experienced a break-up. The card signifies pain and suffering but there is the other side to this card. I liken it to a wound that has become infected. Think about this – if you do not pierce a boil and drain the infection then the infection will spread throughout the body. The message of mourning and tears the 3 of Swords carries is saying that the tears and mourning are necessary for the person to heal – and they will. Looked at this way, the card becomes a natural part of the grieving cycle.

When you have written all you can about the first card, move on to the next and so on. As you delve deeper into ‘difficult’ cards you will cease to dread them coming up in your readings and will see them as guides to help you and clients navigate their problems, not just a portents of doom and gloom! All cards in the Tarot have a secret gift for us. So unlock your most challenging cards and receive yours.