Using the Tarot for Creativity and Empowerment

Using a Shadow Card

One technique often used by many Tarot readers is the Shadow card technique. The technique is as follows: after you have laid out your cards for the reading, look at the card at the bottom of the deck and make a note of it – or pull it out and put it off to the side.

The Shadow Card may indicate several possibilities:

  1. Darker aspects of a situation
  2. Aspects of the situation that you may be unaware of
  3. Unknown aspects of the personality (things that have not yet come to the surface)
  4. Things going on in our subconscious
  5. Aspects of the personality/situation that we deny
  6. Aspects of the personality/situation that we fear
  7. Aspects of ourself where we feel unfulfilled (this can be especially evident if the card in question is one of the “happy” cards like The Sun or the 10 of Cups)


For instance, let’s say you are doing a relationship reading and the card on the bottom of the deck is the 6 of Swords. The could indicate that the querent fears that the other partner may leave them – or perhaps the querent is thinking of leaving their partner.

The Shadow card can sometimes reflect what is really on in the client’s mind at the moment – any may be completely unrelated to their initial question. This card can be an underlying energy just beneath the surface, perhaps an issue that the querent knows must be dealt with but has been ignoring or pushing aside. Often, I find the Shadow card can help to put together and summarize the other cards in a reading. They can often bring to light that which the client is not telling you. You may be surprised to discover that often, this is the real reason the client came to see you.

There are many uses and methods for the Shadow card technique. I once came across one reader who considered the card at the bottom of the deck to be “that which is far off or out of reach at the moment”. This actually makes a lot of sense considering that it is the last card in the deck at the moment.

Another excellent use for the Shadow card is to incorporate it into your daily readings. In addition to the cards you draw for your daily spread, glance at the bottom card as this can give you some extra insight on what may be going on that you are unaware of – or bring to light something that you may have been denying. What I have done in the past is before dealing out the cards for my daily spread is to look at the bottom card first. Then, read the cards for the normal spread and compare them to the Shadow card. Perhaps ask yourself the question: what do I fear about this card? The results can be quite eye-opening!

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