Why do tarot cards have different meanings with each reading?


Sometimes you might have a reading where one card seems to hold a different meaning than when it came up in another reading.  There are several reasons this can happen, but be assured – the card itself does not change nor does the essence of it change.  What might be different is the nature of the question asked, the position in the spread, the type of spread, and/or the style of the reader.


Let’s start with style. We all know the color blue, but might all describe it differently, for example, so that you never get the exact same description twice.  If that were the case, we could put all the “answers” into a nice computer program and you would not need a tarot reader at all.  The tarot cards are a tool, but the tarot reader is the interpreter.


The nature of the question is another variable that can seem to change the meaning of the tarot card.  Your current question may be about family, whereas the last time your identical card came up, the question might have been about money.  A changed question also changes the interpretation.   Each card of the minor arcana, for example, is part of a suit. The card has certain characteristics it shares with others within the same suit.  The cards of the same number also share certain characteristics.  Low numbers have more in common with each other than high numbers.  There are many factors in play besides just the picture or symbols on the card.  If you wanted the reader to explain every possible thing the card “could” mean, it would take you all day to do a reading.  Your reader takes the issues from the cards which are relevant to your question and generally incorporates only the most important of those into your reading.


Perhaps the most significant way the cards seem to change meaning is the position in the spread.  In a generic three-card spread which reads left to right as “past”, “present” and “future”, for example, even if you could draw the same identical card three times (you can’t, of course!), each position would generate a different meaning.  Some cards are even considered “stronger” in one position than another.


One last thing to consider when wondering about the different meanings of the same card is which deck is used. I almost hesitate to even mention that, because there are so many different decks available with seemingly ambiguous figures compared to the standard Rider-Waite deck that so many of us use.  Each deck comes with its own feel and tone. Some have a more adventurous feel, some are more mystical, others more black and white. Also, the relationship between tarot deck and reader is very personal.  I have 4 decks, two of which I use regularly.  I use one for romantic-type questions and the other for everything else.  If I drew the same card from both decks in the same place with the same question I would still have a different interpretation.


I should counter here, however.  Often a querent will see the same card appear for them again and again.  It could be that the tarot is reiterating a prior reading or trying to send you a stronger message.  If a card does come up for you twice, don’t necessarily disregard that.  It is always best to keep your heart and mind open.



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