How to Do Yes/No Tarot Spreads

I remember a charity event I did at the beginning of my Tarot reading career. It was a mob scene, and I was offering free 3 card readings. I did a lot of readings that night, and was honestly dismayed to find that the bulk of those were for yes/no questions.

Like, “will he come back?”  “Does he love me?” “Will I get the job? pregnant? find love?”

Even though I encouraged people to ask different questions, it wasn’t really the place to dive deep with people, so I just sucked it up and did those yes/no spreads. Before that event, I had never read for yes/no questions. I had to make up a system on the fly.

But after that night I realized that there was a place for these types of questions, however less juicy they might be. Now I do them happily–with some guidelines.

Forming a Good Question

ask blackboard chalk board chalkboard

Even though yes/no questions seem quite obvious, you do need to be very clear about what you are asking. The cards will not tell you about the free will choice of another person, so asking a question like “will JimmyJoe fall in love with me?” is not going to work, but “should I date JimmyJoe?” will be a readable question.

Despite the pop culture and party trick reputation that Tarot cards have, they aren’t capable of telling you your exact future. No one can–because you have free will and the future is not already decided. You may feel that your questions for the cards are all of the yes/no variety–but with a little thought you can find the real question underneath all that needing-to-know.

But. Let’s look at the type of yes/no questions that the Tarot can answer.

  • Should I take that job offer?
  • Should I reach out to that friend I argued with?
  • Is it a good idea to start this business?

You see how it works. The questions need to be simply phrased contain one idea, and be about YOUR life. And you have to be clear, clear, clear. For example, if you ask something like “are there any women who are going to come into my life?” you will get a different answer than if you ask, “are there any female romantic partners going to come into my life within the next 6 months.”

Setting Up Your Cards

You need to decide, as a reader of your own cards, how you are going to “program” your yes/no answers. The two ways that I know to do this are to work with upright and reversed cards as your indicators, or the total number value of the cards drawn.


Let me explain.

For the first example, let’s say Susie asks if she should call JimmyJoe. I’d shuffle my deck so that there are a fairly even distribution of upright and reversed cards. Then I’d either draw one card, for just a quick yes or no, or three cards. It needs to be an uneven number, and there’s no reason to draw more than 3 cards unless you are going to layer in a deeper reading after the yes/no is answered.

In Susie’s case, if the one card is reversed, the answer is no. Or, if there are two reversed and one upright, the answer is no. I have “told” the cards that reverse is no and upright is yes.

If you do want to ask deeper questions about the issue, draw three cards and set your intention for the spread. First, the yes/no and then the “mind, body, spirit” or “past, present, future” etc. for the issue. 

For the number value of the cards method, it’s really the same process. An uneven number value is no; even, yes–regardless of how many cards you draw. You need to decide how you are going to break down numbers, or if you are. As in 10 is 1+0, or 1. Or is it 10? And assign the value to court cards as follows: Pages-11, Knights-12, Queens-13, Kings-14.

Here’s an example of a reading I recently did for myself. The question was, should I start a Tarot meetup group in my town?

The cards were: the Hermit reversed, the Four of Cups, and the Four of Swords, reversed. Reversed cards are no, and upright yes. So the answer was “no.”

The deeper meaning was as follows:

  • The reversed Hermit showed that I would be leaving my own important path of self-inquiry and growth if I were to take the time out of my schedule to do this meetup.
  • The Four of Cups seemed to indicate that yes, I could easily do the meetup and it might be satisfying and easy, but that I might find it a bit boring too–and not really what would bring emotional satisfaction. 
  • The Four of Swords reversed showed me that what I really wanted was to continue my more private inner journey, and that starting the meetup would propel me into a more active social and intellectual phase. I made the choice not to start the meetup at this time and it was a relief to let myself off the hook for something I was “shoulding” myself to do.

You have to practice the yes/no thing. It’s really about deciding on your system and then sticking with it. I still try to encourage people–or myself–to dig deeper for a juicier question, which is where the Tarot really shines.

Are you on the fence about an issue or need some guidance? Head over to the Tarot page to see the services I offer. Book a reading now, or sign up for my newsletter and receive a complimentary three card reading!


Photo on 4-11-18 at 2.46 PM #2Elia

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