An Archetypal “Yes-No-Maybe” Template

There is constant argument on the tarot forums and pages about whether the cards can or should be used to address “yes-or-no” questions. I strongly believe that any inquiry can be put to the tarot as long as we are perceptive and sensitive about how we interpret the verdict. Simply saying “The tarot is ineffective for yes-or-no questions” is not helpful and not true. With a little thought, we can usually infer a qualitative message from the interaction of the cards, even if it’s only “Yes, you’re likely to come to a bad end.” I have a table of “Yes-leaning; Maybe; and No-leaning” cards that puts me in the ballpark, then I consider the character of the “outcome” card within the context of the question or topic and draw a conclusion. Quite often the answer is still conditional, coming across as “Yes but” . . . “Not unless” . . . “Maybe if . . . “).

But here I’m taking a slightly different tack. Using the aforementioned table and selected trump cards from one of my favorite decks, the PostModern (or “PoMo”) Tarot by Brian Williams, I created an archetypal matrix that can be viewed as a kind of “sounding board” to derive a graduated “yes-or-no” answer. Here is a step-by-step method for its use.

Choose a significator in advance to identify the subject of the reading (e.g. the querent’s situation) and leave it in the deck.

Shuffle the cards and lay them out randomly, face down, into the nine positions until all have been dealt in a roughly equal distribution.

Find the significator card in one of the sub-packs but don’t remove it from the sequence. Its position in the matrix will show the optimistic or pessimistic nature of the answer and its relative certainty or strength in that regard. (A “50/50” result will amount to a coin-flip.)

With the significator as the central focus, read that card, the two that come before it and the two following it as a five-card narrative that describes the circumstances underlying the conclusion and ideally gives the querent a suggested path to follow.(Reversals may be used in the interpretation.)

If the significator appears at (or near) the top or bottom of the pack with no (or insufficient) cards before or after, fill the vacant positions from the opposite end of the series.

Images are from the “PoMo” (PostModern) Tarot of Brian Williams, copyright 1994, HarperSanFrancisco, a Division of HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY.

A Synopsis of Inflected Position Meanings (aka “There are few black-or-white answers”)

Day (the Sun) – The most affirmative card in the deck; calm seas and smooth sailing.

Just Desserts (Justice) – A “split decision;” proceed with caution, the need for judgment implies growing doubt.

Night (the Moon) – Clouds on the horizon, but with prompt attention to suspected double-dealing all is not lost.

Evil (the Devil) – That “sinking feeling” of impending doom not yet manifest; the “deer-in-the-headlights” outlook.

Disaster (the Tower) – Take a deep breath and prepare for the worst.

Wheel o’ Fortune (Wheel of Fortune) – The tide turns, chances for success improve; more positive than negative.

Sweetness & Starlight (the Star) – A faint spark of hope emerges, nurture it.

The World (The World) – A favorable disclosure; “running in the black” but still trading on future profitability.

Neither Here Nor There (Temperance): A “50/50” proposition; flip a coin or sit on the fence until things clear up.


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