Q: What do you do when two cards in one spread seem to be total opposites? I was reading for myself and had both the Fool and the 10 of cups. I’ve always thought of the Fool as beginnings and 10 of cups as a happy ending. How can you have both beginnings and endings in one reading?
A: Several things come to mind.
First question to ask yourself is “are these two cards talking about the same thing?”
If each card resonates with different facet of life, they could easily carry vastly different messages. For example, the Fool might refer to work where someone might be ending a project successfully while at the same time they may only be at the beginning of a new romance.
Another helpful thing is to look at the placement of the cards within the layout. Could the cards be pointing out different points in a process, or different sequential parts of some larger overall idea. Even though they are different, can they work together in sequence like the parts of a sentence? For example that work project…the Fool and 10 might combine into a sequence something like “Don’t make the new project harder than it really is. A light heart makes for a light load and a happy ending.”
Knowing the “meaning” for each card’s position within the larger spread can help figure that one out.
Like I’ve always said about the 8 of Cups – the best way to solve a paradox is to look for the bigger picture. Often a step back and a wider view will show that two seemingly very different things are just different pieces in a bigger jigsaw puzzle. Beginnings and endings seem opposite if you think of them as a single, linear process. But what if you take a step back and think of them as natural cycles instead? Then they cozy up together very nicely. Summer ends, but fall begins. The caterpillar ends, but the butterfly begins. Is there a big-picture cyclic message of some kind here?
If none of that makes sense out of the reading for you, it’s time to do a little logical legwork. Each Tarot card has lots of “meanings”. The fool can be associated with beginnings…or a reminder to play. 10 of cups can be a good ending…or deep roots and family happiness. If the other context clues don’t help, break out your favorite reference books and warm up the google machine…a little light browsing of other meanings and associations might let an idea jump out at you.
If worse comes to absolute worse, you could always re-do the reading, but in my experience it seems to work out better to wring the meaning out of your original cards rather then keep re-reading the daylights out of a question. Looking for guidance about the same thing over and over and over seems to muddle and frustrate things more than clarify them most of the time.
Good luck! Any other questions, don’t hesitate to let me know