Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Good Cards for Something Bad

Cheerful, soft, gentle images from the Hanson-Roberts Tarot include three women leaning in over golden chalices, a man and woman outside a castle under a flowering arch, and a couple embracing as their two children play while a rainbow spans the sky. Are you pulling good cards for something bad? Discover five reasons for this common tarot complaint, and how to steer yourself back on track.
Cards from the Hanson-Roberts Tarot by Mary Hanson-Roberts, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. 1985.

About five years ago I did a reading for a woman who asked about starting a business. She told me she had just found the perfect storefront to lease. It was in the fall, maybe September, and she asked about opening a retail shop. I had never seen quite such an array of positive cards, ending with the Ten of Cups. Filled with excitement for her, I outlined a fulfilling and successful outcome for her business.

After doing the initial interpretation, I asked her a few questions. It turned out she had never run a retail business before, never worked in retail, didn’t have any money of her own to live on while it grew, didn’t have any inventory in stock or money to invest in inventory. If she wanted to be up and running for the busy holiday season, she needed to get going now. As it stood, it was simply not possible for her to be successful. Why were we getting good cards for something bad? This is a common tarot complaint. Here are my top five reasons you might be getting good cards for something bad and how to steer yourself back on track.

1. All Up Might be a Downer

Certain tarot cards have a reputation for being positive, while we have the opposite opinion of others. However, the cards we generally consider negative are our constructive feedback. This is where the problem is, they say to us. A reading that is all rainbows and dancing alerts us to the possibility that we are living in a fantasy. Keep the rose-colored glasses on if you like, but if you’d rather live a productive life than slip into a utopian dream, you’ll demand truth from your cards. I’d rather see a generally positive outlook with some helpful glitches highlighted. Then I know it’s real. (If you need help reading difficult cards, check out this and this article.)

If you think your good cards for something bad are due to ignoring real life problems, try asking the follow up question, “What hidden factors should I consider?”

2. Atta Girl

I’ve seen all positive cards in readings for myself when I have a great plan but don’t follow through on it. It’s like the cards are saying, “Great idea! You’ll love pursuing this!” But if I don’t actually do the work, it’s not the cards’ fault. Your tarot cards will cheerlead, but it’s your job to make the play.

Let your cards coach you by asking, “What actions are best to take to stay on this course?”

3. Karma’s a Hitch in your Giddy-Up

I try to avoid ideas of karma and past life influences. I don’t find it useful or helpful. We can’t do anything practical about past lives, but we have plenty of opportunities to make our present life the best it can be. However, I undoubtedly see indicators of unresolved karmic effects in certain readings. When you’re getting good cards for something bad, like an unhealthy relationship that you can’t let go of, the reason is probably an energetic connection that is more powerful than current circumstances. Rather than try to recreate past life bliss in your current life mess, my recommendation is to release the connection using psychological and spiritual methods so that you can be free once and for all.

When you suspect your fabulous spread is reflecting karmic chains holding you to a long-gone past, inquire, “What can I learn from this experience?” or “How can I release this so I’m free to move on?”

4. Inspiration

If I do a reading for someone and the cards are all positive, but the client tells a different story, it’s not a puzzle. In fact, the cards are reminding the client what their situation will feel like when it’s right. If current circumstances do not match what the cards describe, then that’s a clue to leave behind what doesn’t work and start looking for what the cards describe. The cards know what is right for you and when you are ready for it. When you’re looking at a spread of all good cards for something bad, the cards are not teasing or taunting, they are inspiring you to achieve what is best for you. Focus on changing your life to match the outcome the cards describe, and you’ll be well on your way to rainbows and dancing with no irony.

When you’re ready to have the life the cards envision, ask them, “What’s my first step (or next step) to achieving this outcome?”

5. You’re Visualizing the Outcome You Desire

When you ask your question of the cards, what are you focusing on? If you shuffle and cut while visualizing the outcome that you desire, the cards will reflect your positivity. While some people seek positivity, others avoid negativity. The result is the same. I had a client who when they cut the deck, said the phrase, “No bad cards!” Guess what–they didn’t get any bad cards, and the reading ended up being inaccurate. If you place limitations on how the cards can speak to you, you risk plugging your ears against the truth. Visualize your desired outcome all day–it’s a fabulous practice that can bring about real change. But when you sit down with the cards, release your expectations and ask for honest guidance. The cards want to be real with you — let them!

To get the best results, ask the cards for truth, clarity, and compassion regarding your specific question.

Solutions for Getting Good Cards for Something Bad

When you’re turning up good cards for something bad, ask follow-up questions such as the suggestions I made above, or ask more detailed questions about your specific situation. If the cards say “it’s perfect,” and it’s not, one of the best solutions can be to drill down on the cards already pulled until a course of action is revealed. For instance, if the Ten of Cups comes up for your crummy job, ask the cards, “How can I achieve a Ten of Cups fulfillment in my career?” Let the cards guide your questions until you have a clear task list of actionable items.

Also, be able to separate a helpful optimistic attitude from New Age blinders. If you’re expecting a silver platter from the universe, if you anticipate life will always flow easily, you might be circumventing the very growth that will lead to the results your good cards promise. Real results come from real work. The cards have an amazing ability to highlight the areas of stuck traffic in your life like your mapping software does for your commute home. Bad cards aren’t bad–they simply let you know when you’ll need to get off the highway and take to the side streets. Chances are you’ll get there faster and have a more pleasant experience. I’d rather see bad cards for something good than good cards for something bad any day!

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Joy Vernon
Joy Vernon

Joy Vernon is widely recognized as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty-five years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup grew into one of the largest and most active tarot-specific meetups in the world. Now Joy runs the Greater Seattle Tarot Meetup. Joy works as a tarot reader, astrologer, and teacher in Burien, Washington. To learn more, please visit

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  1. Thanks, Joy. Came to this article by starting with your email newsletter. Great ideas for interpreting those counter-intuitive draws we can get. I’m definitely guilty of influencing the cards with my own desires when doing readings for myself.

  2. Hi Joanne! Thanks for joining my newsletter and thanks for leaving me a comment! Yes, me too — I was able to write most of this from personal experience. 😉

  3. WOW! I really love this article! This is something that happens quite often, particularly with clients who are in complicated relationships, if they also read, I have the most terrible time trying to explain why that Two of Cups + Four of Wands is not what is going to happen but what they want. So well explained! I love it!

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