The Importance of Context and Named Positions

Updated: Sep 16, 2019

It doesn't matter whether a reader reads using standard meanings or reads intuitively, context is very important. Just as the context a word is used in a sentence so we can understand what the speaker or writer intends to say, so the context of a card in a spread also helps the reader to understand what Tarot is saying to us.

For instance, if a friend were to walk up to a friend and say "San Francisco" without saying any other words, you'd be left trying to figure out what she means. Does she mean she just came from San Francisco? Does she mean she has friends there? Has there been another earthquake? You can't tell from the the name of the city what she means to tell you about it. In context, however, he would know what she was trying to tell him about this city if she stated what she wanted him to know about that city.

The same thing applies to reading Tarot cards. If you ask Tarot a question, it will work much better if you give the card its context. Context means asking cards a specific question rather than just drawing some cards and trying to figure out what they mean by themselves. And to take it one step further, naming the positions will clarify the reading even further for you. Ask a question within its proper context. This means be very explicit and pointed with the question.

Another "tweak" that's very important and helpful is to name the positions in your spread. Think of some position titles that are more precise. Instead of past, present future, exactly what do you want Tarot to tell you about the matter you've asked about? When we wonder how another person sees us we need to pause to think exactly what we want to know---are we wondering how they see us sexually, or as a friend, or how we dress or some other facet of our lives?

If you're new to reading the cards, I suggest you write your question out and write the named positions out too. Then when you've got the question, the positions and the cards all in front of you and you don't quite understand what a given card means, glance back at the original question and position names to re-orient yourself.

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