Today while I was thinking about the Tarot (as I often do) I got a flash of inspiration for a new way to find solutions for problems indicated by the “problem” cards among the 40 “numbered” cards in the Minor Arcana. (Yes, I know there are no “good cards” or “bad cards” but there are more than a few that people typically see as a warning of trouble.)
Since I like to find new ways to make my readings more helpful, I thought I would explore this nascent technique further by first writing it up (which always solidifies my thoughts and ideas, bringing them out of the element of AIR and into the element of EARTH), and then sharing it here on my blog to get reactions from other people about it. I’ll also be trying out this technique in practice, and if any of you do that too, I’ll be happy to hear about your experiences.
So … Here’s a summary explanation of the technique –
When you get a troublesome card from the Minor Arcana (I’m sure you know which cards I’m talking about, but if you don’t — hold on, I’ll get there), consider its “contra-positive” card (yes, I just made up that term) to find a way to solve the problem. Simple so far, right? Except, what’s a “contra-positive” card? Here’s the definition:
To find a Pip card’s contra-positive card, subtract the card’s number from 11 to get the new card’s number, and use the contrary suit for the new card. The pairs of contrary suits are:
Wands (fire) vs. Cups (water)
Swords (air) vs. Pentacles (earth).
Note that the numerical results of this method pairs up the numbers from 1 to 10 with the numbers from 10 down to 1:
1 and 10
2 and 9
3 and 8
4 and 7
5 and 6
then back the other way.
Okay, that explanation may have made your head hurt, but it’s really not very complex. I’m sure it will help if I give you a couple of examples.
Let’s start with the Five of Pentacles. That’s a card that usually makes people cringe, thinking of misfortune and poverty. So what’s the contra-positive card?
First, the new card’s number: 11 – 5 = 6
And the suit? Swords is the suit contrary to Pentacles.
So the contra-positive card for the Five of Pentacles is the Six of Swords.
That card can indicate accessing a support group or gaining a new perspective, which can be helpful when you suffer misfortune or if you feel financially strapped.
Here’s another example.
Consider the Eight of Cups. Granted, this is not one of the more notorious cards, but I often see in it a person who is moving away from something and having feelings of regret about it, even though they know it’s the right thing to do. So let’s find the contra-positive card:
This card advises one to take the long view, to see the big picture, which can help when you’re betwixt and between, not completely separated from one thing and not yet arrived at something new either.
Once I had this technique spelled out, I decided to make a list of the Pip cards that I find most typically “problematic” and then match each one to its contra-positive card to see how well those pairings might work as far as problem/solution pairs. Granted, my list of problem cards and yours might differ, but probably not by too much. What follows is in the format of “Bad card” / “Contra-positive card” followed by an associated “Problem” / “Possible solution” pair. Note that the list of problem/solution pairs is quite rudimentary; it’s just intended to show potential uses of these card pairs.
Five of Wands / Six of Cups
Strife / Make a loving connection … be “a lover not a fighter”
Seven of Wands / Four of Cups
Feeling attacked / Keeping your eyes open for new options
Ten of Wands / Ace of Cups
Feeling overloaded / Opening to new relationships (which can help take the load off)
Five of Cups / Six of Wands
Grief / Getting back out into the world … supporting other people’s endeavors
Seven of Cups / Four of Wands
Confusion about where your heart lies / Home is where the heart is
Eight of Cups / Three of Wands
(See explanation at beginning)
Two of Swords / Nine of Pentacles
Indecision / What will lead you to prosperity?
Three of Swords / Eight of Pentacles
Words that hurt / Understanding takes work
Five of Swords / Six of Pentacles
Nasty people / Being charitable (it really confuses the heck out of those nasty people)
Seven of Swords / Four of Pentacles
Thievery / Hold on tight to what is yours
Eight of Swords / Three of Pentacles
Victim mentality / Work with other people on solving the problem that you think is victimizing you
Nine of Swords / Two of Pentacles
Worry / Regain balance in your life … have fun
Ten of Swords / Ace of Pentacles
Defeat / Find new opportunities
Five of Pentacles / Six of Swords
(See explanation at beginning)
So there you have them. By the way, it was interesting to note that none of my “bad cards” turned up as a contra-positive card for a different “bad card.” I was heartened to see that and took it as a bit of evidence in favor of this technique.
So, now with this method spelled out, I’d be interested in your thoughts about it. Remember, this is just a hypothesis at this time. It is only intended to be a possible, helpful technique to consider. Sort of like looking at the next sequential card to see where things might be going. (i.e., the Ace in a suit leads to the TWO, which leads to the THREE, etc.)
Also, I have to point out that this method came to me intuitively, not as a logical, methodical calculation, but I do see how it can make sense rationally also. If a card’s meaning combines its numerical and elemental associations, it seems reasonable to look for solutions in the opposites of those associations.
Footnote: The term I’ve coined, Contra-positive, should not be confused with the similar term, contrapositive, from the field of mathematical logic.
Addendum: I have added to this technique in several ways in a subsequent posting.