How to Perform a "Yes/No" Tarot Reading
The most common kind of question to ask the Tarot is one which seeks a straightforward "yes" or "no" response.
Let us address this, first: this type of question is often not the most effective. Rather, the best questions for depth of thought, serious advice, and meditative purposes are open-ended questions.
That having been said, sometimes the client (or the Tarot reader performing a self-reading) does not have time, focus, or need for a lengthy, detailed, open-ended reading. Sometimes what is needed is a simple, two-part answer: "yes" or "no", and "why".
Typically, the most effective spread for a traditional "yes/no" reading is a 3-card spread.
Each one of the three card positions signifies a particular reason why the answer of that card is either a "yes," "no," or something else.
The Quick Guide:
1. Draw and set out 3 cards; include the possibility for reversals.
2. Note whether each card is a "yes", "no", or "something else" vote. (See below for which cards signify which vote.)
3. Tally up the votes: 3 "yes" = yes for certain; 2 "yes" = yes, but with some challenge; any other combination of cards = no.
4. Examine each card in turn, interpreting its traditional meanings to understand why its vote is "yes", "no", or something else. Then you will know the reasons for the final answer given.
The Detailed Guide
To perform a "yes/no" reading in the classical method, draw and set out 3 cards. Each card you draw should be either upright or reversed.
Each card counts as a particular vote for "yes," "no," or something else. If all three cards signify "yes," then the answer is certainly affirmative. If two of the three cards signify "yes," then the answer is affirmative, but will require significant effort to overcome whatever the problem indicated by the third card is. Any other combination of votes means "no."
When performing a "yes/no" reading, it is more helpful to know WHY the answer is a "yes" or a "no" than to know only that the answer is one or the other. So, for each card, consider that card's traditional meanings and how they explain why the card's vote is affirmative or negative.
Card Interpretation in a "Yes/No" Tarot Reading
NO: In a classical "yes/no" reading, all REVERSED cards count as a "NO" vote.
YES: All UPRIGHT cards count as a "YES" vote, with some notable exceptions...
1. Always "No":
The following cards always count as "NO" votes, regardless of whether they are upright or reversed:
Swords: 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Knight
Cups: 5, 7, 8
2. Always "Neutral" (or "Neither yes nor no"):
The following cards always count as "NEUTRAL" votes, regardless of whether they are upright or reversed:
The Hanged Man
3. Cards with Special Meanings:
The following cards have unique interpretations:
Swords: 2 (unknown outcome; could be yes, no, or neutral)
Wands: 10 (unknown outcome; could be yes, no, or neutral)
Wands: 5, 7 (counted as a "yes" vote, but implies some major challenges and/or hardships along the way)
Example Reading: Megan and her Ex
(Printed with the permission of the client.)
Last year, a young lady named Megan contacted me and requested a reading. She had the opportunity to restart her relationship with her ex-boyfriend, whom she had previously dated for over four years. They had been separated for about a year, and during that time, her ex had (supposedly) gone through several major changes to rearrange and improve his life.
He had contacted Megan to try to renew the relationship, which Megan had broke off. Megan wanted to know from our Tarot session whether she should accept her ex's offer.
For the first card, we drew the VI of Cups, reversed. This card indicated a "NO" vote, suggesting that emotional reconciliation would be difficult if not outright impossible. Megan agreed; the break-up had been terrible, she said, made worse because of the reasons why they had broken up in the first place: her boyfriend had lost his job due to a drug habit which he had hidden from her for months and then had spent most of his money on either drugs or, as Megan later discovered, prostitutes. Megan had felt utterly betrayed, of course, and had wanted nothing to do with him after that. She left him the very day she found out about all of this.
For the second card, we drew the Ace of Cups, reversed. This card indicated a second "NO" vote, showing that the love which had been violated and the relationship which had broken would not fully recover. Megan nodded tearfully; she had expected this sort of answer, but briefly had allowed herself to hope that maybe her ex really had changed his life around for the better. After all, he had cleaned himself up, acquired a new and better job, and was attending a local church faithfully. He seemed truly regretful, Megan said. I advised her that, regardless of how regretful he was, sometimes love is so damaged that it cannot be healed. I asked Megan if she thought that her emotions would truly recover from this experience and whether she would ever completely trust him again. She admitted that, even if he was perfect from this point forward, the memory would always stay with her and would always be painful. She could forgive, but she could not force herself to forget.
The last card we drew was Justice. This card was the sole "YES" vote, indicating that a logical decision could be made in her ex's favor. Truly, her ex really had---by all rational appearances---turned his life around. An objective observer could look at the issue and suggest that Megan could of course give him another opportunity.
But in this situation, the two emotional "NO" reasons outweighed the one "YES". Megan could have made a purely logical decision to get back together with her ex, but if she were to do so, she would have to ignore and overcome her emotions and feelings. This was a task which she might never have been able to accomplish, by her admission.
Therefore, I advised her to move on from her ex. She should try not to hold a grudge, and should wish him the best, but he needed to understand that, while past acts can be forgiven, some things cannot be truly forgotten.
Now a year has passed, and Megan has just gotten engaged---not to her ex, but to a wonderful man she met about a month after our Tarot session. He is a good man through-and-through, from an excellent family and a great background, and I have no doubt that they will have an excellent marriage together.
As for Megan's ex, he continued to attend church, work hard, and improve his life. Last Megan heard, he had decided to volunteer as a drug abuse counselor for young men, in order to help prevent them from making the same mistakes that he had made.