How to Read for Yes/No Answers in Tarot
While the best tarot questions begin with a How, Where, What, or Who, there are times when we want a simple Yes or No reply from the cards. Hesitation over a decision, a need for clear insight, or simply a lack of patience can leave us wishing for a clear cut answer. Some readers love a Yes/No reading, others shy away from it. Whichever your preference, Yes/No readings are a great skill for your tarot toolbox, and for beginners in particular, it’s another clever way to get to know the cards.
I tend to avoid Yes/No readings in tarot as such a definitive answer suggests we don’t have free will. I firmly believe the only force that shapes our future, is ourselves, so taking as concrete a Yes/No reply can leave the seeker feeling as if they don’t have control. Yes/No readings can be beneficial if you need a quick ‘n dirty read, but it’s important to be aware that with such a black and white approach, the nuances tarot brings will be lost. I also find that when a client asks for a Yes/No reading, they inevitably ask for more information, as they quickly find the Yes/No isn’t enough. Saying that, attributing a probable or not probable tag to a card does add another layer to your connection with tarot, so even if Yes/No readings aren’t your thing, it’s worth having an opinion on which cards suggest a probable or not probable outcome.
How to decide a Yes or No card
How can you tell which are the Yes and which the No cards? The easiest way is to decide intuitively. To try this out, grab your deck, and one-by-one examine each card and assign it to a Yes or No pile. Take note of your decision for future reference. In time, as your understanding of the cards deepens, it can prove interesting to look back on initial perceptions and see what’s changed.
Another way to choose Yes or No is to intuitively allow the suit to determine. For example, Swords and Pentacles might reflect a No, while Cups and Wands a Yes.
How about the numbers themselves? Associating even numbers with Yes, and odd with No might work for you.
Reversals are another option for Yes/No readings. If you read with reversals you can assign No to reversed cards and Yes to upright. The ratio of reversed to upright in your deck is up to you. It might be preferable to have an even split, or you might simply place trust in whatever amount of cards are reversed within the deck and go from there.
As you work through the deck, you’ll find cards carrying themes that offer definite positive or negative aspects. For example, within the suit of Swords, the 3, 5, 7, 8, 9 & 10 could be considered No cards, whereas the Ace, 4, and 6 represent a more positive answer. But there’s also the possibility of a Maybe, and this is where it can get a little more tricky.
Take the 2 of Swords. This card represents facing choices and the need for resolution before progressing, so it’s neither a Yes nor a No. The same can be said for the 4 of Swords, the card of retreat and recuperation. The message here would be to pause before choosing, so if your question is prefaced with a ‘Should I?’ the answer here would be a Maybe, and a suggestion to ponder your options further before making a final decision. A reply of Maybe can be attributed to Court cards, too. With Swords the cards of logical thinking, the Queen of Swords suggests reflecting on inner feelings before making a decision, while the King and Knight prompt taking all practical aspects of the situation into consideration.
Let’s look at this in relation to a reading: You’ve just attended an interview for a new job. You feel you’ll be a great fit for the role, and are ready for this new challenge, but have heard a few negative mutterings about the company and are nervous you may end up working in a toxic environment. You ask the cards ‘Is this company a good fit for me?’
Drawing the 3, 5, 7, 8, 9 or 10 would indicate a No. But let’s say you draw the 2. The Maybe here would indicate looking at what other job prospects are available to you. Company A might be a good fit, but company B, who you haven’t yet interviewed with, could be a better fit. You might even make a list of pros and cons to gain deeper clarity on the situation.
What if you drew the Queen? Although Swords are cards of logic, drawing the Queen suggests listening to gut instinct. How did you feel during the interview? Did the interview panel give off welcoming vibes? If you were in the actual building and passed through office areas, how did the employees seem; happy, stressed, engaged, frustrated?
The 4 of Swords would indicate holding off on making a decision, and perhaps doing a little more research on the company and its competitors. Perhaps timing needs to be considered. Are you in a good place mentally and/or physically to commit to a big change? Or would a period of self-care place you in a better position to start a new job?
If having Maybe cards seems too daunting or complicated, then simply assign a Yes or No to the cards, and leave out the Maybe. Go with what feels right to you, especially if you’re just starting out with Yes/No readings.
The Major Arcana
When it comes to the 22 cards of the Major Arcana, you can apply a similar approach by allowing your intuition to decide. Personally, I read The Fool, The Magician, The Empress, The Emperor, The Lovers, Strength, The Star, The Sun and The World as Yes cards, with The Hermit, Death, The Devil, The Tower, The Moon as a No. The High Priestess, The Hierophant, The Chariot, The Wheel of Fortune, Justice, The Hanged Man, and Judgment I usually interpret as Maybes, but with conditions. How deep you go with the Maybe cards is up to you, and once again, you may prefer to stick with a clear cut Yes or No and avoid the ambiguous Maybe option!
Sticking with the job scenario, here are a few examples of reading with Yes/No and Maybe for the question ‘Is this company a good fit for me?
Example #1: 7 of Wands: Yes
As long as you’re willing to stand firm and defend yourself, this company will be a good fit. You may have to endure a period of struggle, and possibly prove your worth, but if you believe in yourself and what you can bring to the role, you’ll succeed.
Example #2: 3 of Wands: Yes
This company brings the opportunity for your career to expand. New horizons will open to you, allowing you to progress and dream bigger than you may have initially anticipated.
Example #3: 8 of Cups: No
Better opportunities lie elsewhere. Although prospects in this company appear good, greater advancement exists in another setting. Move on and face a new direction, no matter how good the situation may appear.
Example #4: The Hanged Man. Maybe.
I would interpret The Hanged Man as telling me to firstly hit pause on making a decision, then ignore the external opinions on the in favour of listening to my own internal voice. The Hanged Man warns against being swayed by others at this time, and that the choice must be made by me alone. To turn the Maybe into a solid Yes or No, I’d take The Hanged Man’s lead by retreating within and really listening to my intuition. With the theme of sacrifice within this card, I’d also consider what I’d be willing or unwilling to sacrifice for the role, and consider if that sacrifice will ultimately serve my better good.
Keep your questions focused
When asking your question, keep it focused by avoiding too broad a subject. For example; ‘Is this a good company to work for?’ isn’t specific to you, or your needs; it could be a superb company for one person, but not for you. Whereas ‘Is this company a good fit for me?’ zones right into the root of the matter. Other examples would be ‘Will I fall in love with X?’ compared to ‘Will I form a meaningful and lasting relationship with X?’ You might fall in love with X, but they may not reciprocate the feelings, but asking if you’ll have a solid, loving relationship is more specific.
Watch out for double questions, too. ‘Will I meet and partner and get married next year?’ If you get a No, does that improbable relate to meeting a partner, or not getting married? And even then, the No to getting married might be for next year, but not the year after.
Broad questions can also result in an ambiguous answer. ‘Will I be wealthy?’ for example. You may get a Yes, but wealthy in what aspect; love, material possessions, talent? A better question would be ‘Will my chosen career bring me financial security?’
Drawing a second card
As I mentioned, in my experience, Yes/No answers often prompt a further ‘but how?’, so if needs be, pull a second card for further clarification, especially if you’ve drawn a Maybe card you can’t quite decipher. A second card can add a caveat to your initial answer, so a Yes may become a ‘Yes, if you . . .’ or a No become a ‘No, but . . .’
If after drawing a second card, you’re still not satisfied, it’s probably best to set aside the Yes/No format and use a spread that will allow you to get into the nitty gritty of your situation. You might also just need to step away for a few days and try the Yes/No after you’ve given the matter more thought.
Give Yes/No readings a try, and see what you think! I’d love to hear your experience, so if you’d like to share, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org Likewise, if there’s a topic you’d like to see featured on the blog, or would love to feature as a guest blogger, reach out to me. Our creative community is wide and deep, so don’t be shy! The more we share our wisdom and experiences, the more we spread the love.
Deck: The Golden Art Nouveau Tarot (Lo Scarabeo) Illustrated by Guilia F Massaglia
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