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Suggestions about contra-positive cards in the Minor Arcana — Part 1

August 21, 2010

About a month ago I introduced my new concept for exploring what a card is saying in a reading, which I called “contra-positive cards.” As a review, here’s a summary explanation of the technique as set forth in that post —

When you get a troublesome card, consider its “contra-positive” card to find a way to solve the problem.  What’s a “contra-positive” card?  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).

Then in a subsequent post, I explored the suggestion that you can consider the contra-positive card for warnings or obstacles about “positive cards” too.

Basically, then, the contra-positive (CP) card may be considered the original card’s shadow, whether that be a bright shadow for a “bad” card or a dark shadow for a “good” card.

Now in this post, I want to consider the pairings of contra-positive cards for the Ace through Ten in the suits of Pentacles and Swords. I will present suggestions about what they might say about each other, which will provide you with illuminating examples of the process of using CP cards.  (Note that I already considered some of them in the first post on this topic, so this discussion will be an expansion on that.)  I’ll consider other groups of contra-positive pairs in future blog posts.

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Ace of Coins -- Tarot of the MastersAce of Pentacles & Ten of Swords —

A.  When the Ace of Pentacles indicates a great new opportunity, its CP card, the Ten of Swords might warn you to check the fine print since often the devil is in the details.Ten of Swords -- Tarot of the Masters

B.  When the Ten of Swords indicates defeat, the Ace of Pentacles may suggest that you would do well to start looking for new opportunities, or it may say that this defeat opens the way to new opportunities.

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Two of Pentacles & Nine of Swords —

A.  The Two of Pentacles may seem like a sign that it’s all so much fun while you juggle your various responsibilities, but is there a downside or warning to this?  The CP card here is the Nine of Swords, and it may suggest that you can’t keep juggling forever, and when the balls start to fall, you’ll begin to worry about how you’re going to be able to pay the piper.

B.  If the Nine of Swords says that you’re worrying too much, perhaps the advice of the Two of Pentacles to regain balance in your life (perhaps less work and more play?) will help cure your worry problem.

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Three of Pentacles & Eight of Swords —

A.  When the Three of Pentacles urges you to work well with other people at your job, its shadow card, the Eight of Swords, may remind you that to do so, you will have to release your prejudices and preconceived notions about them.

B.  Sometimes the Eight of Swords indicates having a “victim mentality.”  At such times, the CP card, the Three of Pentacles, may suggest that you work with other people on solving the problem that you think is victimizing you.

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Four of Pentacles & Seven of Swords —

A.  The shadow aspect of being tight-fisted with your assets, which we can see in the Four of Pentacles, may be that you come to see everyone around you as a potential threat your security, which the Seven of Swords can indicate.

B.  If the Seven of Swords warns you of possible thievery, its CP card, the Four of Pentacles, suggests that you hold on tight to what is yours.

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Five of Pentacles & Six of Swords —

A.  The difficulties inherent in the poverty and misfortune ominously portrayed by the Five of Pentacles may be mitigated by the support group that the Six of Swords may depict.

B.  The Six of Swords can suggest accepting the support of other people during a difficult time in your life. However, for some of us, it can be hard to do that since it makes us feel like the beggars on the Five of Pentacles.

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Six of Pentacles & Five of Swords —

A.  When you see a message of generosity in the Six of Pentacles, you have to be careful that you don’t let your act of charity be tainted by the inflated ego and sense of moral superiority that lurks in the shadows of its CP card, the Five of Swords.

B.  One way to deal with the nasty people that the Five of Swords can indicate is to take the advice of the Six of Pentacles and be charitable toward them.  (If nothing else, this will confuse the heck out of them.)

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Seven of Pentacles & Four of Swords —

A.  When the Seven of Pentacles comes up, it may indicate a need for patience with your progress toward your goals. In that case, the CP card, the Four of Swords, says that a bit of rest and recuperation can help.

B.  The retreat from conflict indicated by the Four of Swords is all very well and good, but it might not help you very much without considering the message of the CP card, the Seven of Pentacles, which is to reassess what you want out of the situation where the conflict exists.

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Eight of Pentacles & Three of Swords —

A.  It’s great to see the diligence of someone who is indicated by the Eight of Pentacles, but in the shadows of its CP card, the Three of Swords, we may see that this diligence can be the warning sign of a workaholic who is avoiding a difficult relationship at home.

B.  The Three of Swords may indicate that an argument has wounded a relationship. In that case, we might look to the CP card, the Eight of Pentacles, and get the advice that a relationship takes work; it’s something that we build bit by bit, day by day. So if there’s been an argument, fix that piece of the relationship, and then go on and keep working on building a good relationship.

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Nine of Pentacles & Two of Swords —

A.  People generally love to see the Nine of Pentacles with its indication of prosperity. However, a challenge of this (at least, on a spiritual level), which is demonstrated by the Two of Swords, is to remain impartial about it, to be able to “take it or leave it.”

B.  The indecision of the Two of Swords may be solved by consideration of the CP card, the Nine of Pentacles, with its implied question of “What will lead you to success?”

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Ten of Pentacles & Ace of Swords —

Ten of Coins -- Tarot of the MastersA.  The people in the Ten of Pentacles seem to be surrounded by the abundance of the Universe, but did their success come from having a one-track mind (Ace of Swords) that was focused on materialism?

Ace of Swords -- Tarot of the MastersB.  The mental clarity and incisive vision advocated by the Ace of Swords may be hard to come by if you are constantly being distracted by your business dealings, as implied by the Ten of Pentacles.

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From → Card meanings

4 Comments
  1. Wonderful sieve for adding symbolic adjectives to a reading! A great way to look a gift horse in the mouth or find a silver lining in storm clouds!

  2. Paul — Interesting metaphor: Looking a gift horse in the mouth.
    In a metaphorical sense, though, this isn’t what I’m doing here, but in a literal sense, it may be pretty apt: There’s something good, but you might want to check for hidden problems.
    Best,
    James

  3. ‘Contra-positive cards’ might better be termed.

    ‘Contra-Mirror cards’. Instead of Contra’ use;

    ‘Contrasting-Mirror Card/s’

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