Let’s face it, reading Tarot can be tricky. Learning the card meanings, reading multiple card interactions in a spread, incorporating reversals and jumpers, it can all be overwhelming. And in our realistic day-to-day lives sometimes all you want is a quick yes/no answer to a simple question.
Generally speaking the Tarot is designed for more complex inquiry. It’s most useful for deep questioning, philosophizing, and contemplation. But just because you’ve got your hands on an age-old divination system doesn’t mean it can’t be utilized more simplistically!
That’s why in today’s post I’ll be giving you some useful tips for how to do yes/no Tarot card readings in convenient, practical applications as well as some tips and guidelines to get you started!
Word of Caution
Going forward, I recommend attention to one caveat in doing simple yes/no Tarot readings: Don’t overuse the yes/no questioning system. Unless you’re using multiple cards or tools, answering a simple yes/no question is pretty quick. It can be tempting to want to ask again, or ask multiple times, or on different days.
But doing this will often give you conflicting answers and can confuse and frustrate you even further. I recommend that you stick to asking just once, that you give the one-time draw your full attention and focus and are fully serious about it. I find that, when I feel the temptation to ask multiple times, it means that I have to dig deeper into why I feel conflicted, into why I’m asking the question in the first place, in which case a larger, more in-depth Tarot spread is often needed, or I find that I already know the answer I seek.
The Single-Card Draw: What means Yes and what means No?
In going about a standard one-card draw for a straightforward yes/no question, you will need to first establish which cards of the Tarot mean “yes” and which cards will mean “no.” Here are some techniques you can use to determine which ones hold which values:
Reversals – You can simply set it so that all upright cards mean yes and any reversals will mean no (you will need to previously shuffle your cards with half of them upside-down and half of them right-side-up). In a normal reading, many people use reversals to mean “not for me,” “something’s unbalanced,” “look further,” “not yet,” and similar challenges posed to the situation, which means that reversals can be super useful and revelatory in a yes/no reading.
Nix the Majors – Take out the Major Arcana cards. With the rest of the cards, assign two suits with the meaning “no” and two suits meaning “yes.” For instance, you can have all Wands and Cups cards mean “yes” and all Swords and Pentacles mean “no.” (You most certainly don’t have to do it that way – choose what makes best sense to you!)
Only the Majors – Conversely, you can keep just the Major Arcana and choose for yourself which of the resulting 22 cards are “yes” and which are “no” based off your own personal associations or research. In case you’re unsure of what to do, here’s what I do:
- “Yes” cards: Magician, Empress, Hierophant, Lovers, Chariot, Wheel, Strength, Temperance, Star, Moon, Sun.
- “No” cards: Fool, High Priestess, Emperor, Hermit, Justice, Hanged Man, Death, Devil, Tower, Moon, Judgment
Yes/No Draws and Spreads – Single Card vs. Multiple Card Draw
Obviously drawing a single card is the easiest way to answer a yes/no question, but what if there’s more to it than that? What if you want a little more or need some more structure? In this case you can use multiple card draws to go deeper and give more substance to your answer.
The Assisted Single-card Draw – Start by drawing the one card for your yes/no question, and then draw an additional cards asking “why yes?” or “why no?” (You can choose whether you want to draw the extra card before or after you reveal your original card, either way is fine.)
Pros and Cons Spread – Maybe you want a little more than just “yes” or “no.” Maybe you want to go into the why. If this is the case, the Pros and Cons Spread will serve you nicely.
This is a spread that involves three cards. Each card in the draw adds more clarification to the dilemma at hand as well as some potentially much needed nuance as to why you should or should not go the course.
1) The Situation – Even though we’re doing a simple yes/no reading, it might be good to draw a card that represents the heart or character of the matter. This could illuminate anything you might be missing, anything unseen, about the situation. Or it might just verify for you what’s going on. You can also consciously pick this card, based on what best represents for you what the situation is, and place it in the center of your reading to give yourself a reference point and focus for the situation. The act of choosing a card to represent your situation might also help you clarify it for yourself better, maybe even to the point that you won’t even need to draw anymore card
2) In Favor / Pros – This card represents your “yes,” the reason(s) why it would be favorable for you to go forward with the situation, or whatever your “yes” action would mean. Pay attention to the subtleties of this card to read details of why this path would be beneficial.
3) Unfavorable – This card represents your “no,” the reason(s) why you should not go forward with this idea or action, or whatever your “no” action would mean. It’s pretty straightforward, but drawing a card here within this spread might give you more details as to why the situation is unfavorable at this point in time, which could help you move forward more informed than you would with a simple yes/no answer.
Sometimes I like to use some helpers with my yes/no readings. Below are my favorite additional divinatory tools for helping me ascertain a situation and course of action:
If you’re unsure of what exactly your card is saying, if you’re stumped, or if you’re still learning card meanings, flip a coin! You can use any ordinary coin, just make sure you determine beforehand which side means which (i.e. “heads” is “yes” while “tails” is “no” or vice versa). You can also get a fancy, specialized coin just for your yes/no readings. Just search “divination coin” on an online marketplace like Etsy and you’ll see dozens of beautiful examples that will make your yes/no readings so much more special and fun! Plus, you’ll be supporting an artist, which is always a huge plus 😉
Similar to the coin, you can use a single die or multiple dice to supplement your reading. This adds even more nuance than a coin but not overwhelmingly so like an additional Tarot card might. You can set beforehand that evens mean “yes” and odds mean “no” (or vice versa, if you want), and that the higher the number the more “no” or the more “yes” it means. For instance, when I do this, I read a six as definitely yes and a five as definitely no, while a one or two has some wiggle room to the “no” or “yes” or tells me the “no” or “yes” isn’t really that important, that I could go with either option.
And, of course, you can combine your yes/no Tarot card reading with a pull from a deck of oracle cards! Whether you’re drawing just one card for your question or doing a multiple-card spread like the Pros and Cons Reading above, drawing an extra oracle card – or an extra one for the Pro card and another extra for the Con card, or even just an extra one for the Situation card – can really help delineate what’s going on or why that course of action is favorable or unfavorable!
Trust Yourself & the Cards
At the end of the day, the most important advice for doing yes/no Tarot card readings is this: trust the cards, and trust your interpretation. Oftentimes you’ll find yourself leaning in a direction while you’re reading, finding that you already know the answer or what you wanted to do, and the cards just solidify that for you.
Or the opposite could happen, that, once you draw your cards and get your reading, you even more strongly want to choose the opposite course of action than they highlighted. If this happens, remember that this is a very viable method and use for the yes/no draw, that this, too, is a way that the cards can help direct and guide you to the best possible outcome.
Was this article helpful? How did your yes/no reading go? Let me know in the comments below!