As I’m always saying, there are as many approaches to tarot as there are people to read the cards. One major difference between readers is whether you feel that a tarot reading can predict the future or not. There are readers who use the cards specifically to find out what the future holds, readers who feel that that’s just downright impossible, and people who are somewhere in between. (My 2014 reader survey revealed an almost-even split between the predictors and the non-predictors, with 47 and 53% respectively. I wish I’d asked again in this year’s survey!)
Meanwhile, many common tarot spreads have an ‘outcome’ position. The classic ten-card Celtic cross, for example, ends with an ‘outcome’ card, as do many other spreads. (If you’re not sure what a tarot spread is, here’s a primer!)
So what do you do if you’re a non-predictive kinda tarot reader? How do you reconcile your feelings that tarot can’t foretell future events with the fact that the very last card in your reading is purporting to do exactly that?
You do you, of course! It’s 100% totally fine to remove, alter or swap positions in a tarot spread to that it suits your purpose better. If you’re bamboozled by the outcome card at the end of your reading or it makes you feel uncomfortable, try missing it out or swapping it for something that suits you better.
Here are a few alternatives to outcome cards that I use in my own spreads, or swap in to existing spreads when I need to (feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments!)
Where the situation is heading
Okay, so this is a lot like an outcome card, but its focus in on the path the querent is travelling. It’s more about an overall trajectory than a specific outcome, and it’s a nice way for in-between-ies to still work with an idea of ‘the future’ without committing to an actual ‘this is what is going to happen’ kinda thing.
Advice, or ‘next steps’
This is my favourite position to swap in to the final card in the Celtic cross spread. The other nine cards in this spread give so much indication as to where the querent is headed, that it seems redundant to offer an ‘outcome’ and so much more useful and proactive to have an advice card. So this card could be an overall approach to take, something to do or learn, or a specific thing that needs dealing with.
Many of the spreads I create provide a ‘next steps’ card towards the end and I find it a really helpful way to bring real, practical advice into a reading.
What the situation needs
I suppose this is rather like ‘advice’, but it’s less direct. It’s not an instruction or advisory to the querent, so much as an indication of helpful energies to bring in. How the querent will interpret or do this is up to them.
Often when reading using, let’s say for example the Celtic Cross spread again, I’ll stop when I’ve drawn the first nine cards. I’ll read these, and discuss them with the querent. If we have enough, then so be it.
A final card for clarity
…on the other hand, missing the last card out entirely may leave your reading feeling incomplete. In that case, you could draw a final card, and use it as a lens through which to view the whole reading, clarifying any tricky points that came before and bringing the reading to a close.
Something else entirely
Tarot readings usually take care of themselves, don’t you find? One last option is to leave the ‘outcome’ position open and see what feels right. Maybe you need to go back to a tricky point in the reading and explore it further. Or maybe there’s a sense that there’s *something else* that the cards have not revealed — something they’re asking you to ask them. By leaving the ‘outcome’ position open, you give yourself the opportunity to discover this.
How do you feel about outcome cards in tarot spreads? Do you think tarot can predict the future? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!