Today I've taken a slightly different approach. Instead of showing two different card combinations I've decided to illustrate how important it is to remember that not every combination of two cards will work across the board using all decks.
To illustrate this point, I have chosen to use the Five of Rings/Disks/Pentacles and the Eight of Swords/Blades from the following two decks: The Zirkis Magi and Tarot of The Holy Light.
One is a deck loosely related to RWS and the other is one of a group of tarots classified as continental style, with meanings that predate RWS imagery. Keep in mind also, that readers who use Marseille style decks might have an altogether different interpretation between two or more cards that in turn will vary from reader to reader.
In my earlier blog articles about assigning meanings to numbers, I encouraged everyone to establish their own understanding of what each number means in relation to each suit.
Having said that, even if you have your own assignments to numbers, you will still need to go with the flow when presented with a deck whose imagery does not align with your number system. You might be able to make reference to your meaning as a possible alternate meaning, but (and I've made this point several times as well), it makes no sense during a reading to proclaim that a card means sunshine and happiness when the card portrays an altogether different feel. The same applies to vice versa scenarios.
Let's look at the first combination of cards represented by the Five of Rings and the Eight of Blades. This representation of cards more or less aligns with the RWS system. We have two cards that when presented together might suggest difficulties brought on by our own actions. The woman represented in the Eight of Blades has clearly willingly allowed herself to be put in harm's way.As she is preceeded by the Five of Rings, which has a tragic feel to it, it is reasonable to suggest that she will face some time of challenges, probably of a financial sort, as a consequence of a choice she has or will be making. Depending on the question of course, and the other cards in the spread and their positional meanings all taken into consideration, this interpretation is a reasonable jumping off point.
But what about the lower pair of cards? Here, although the Five of Disks does look like it has a powerful message, it doesn't look particularly upsetting. And when you investigate the symbolism of this card and its intent by its creator, you will learn that its meaning has more to do magnetism and charasmatic charm than it does to harships of a material nature. Likewise, this particular Eight of Swords next to it, does not communicate being trapped or being a victim of our own doing even if it does seem to represent a wall created by swords. It does have a 'Cross this threshold if you dare' type of feeling, but there is nothing about the imagery that suggests the querent has brought this condition to his or herself. As it is placed next to the Five of Disks that we just discussed, it would appear that the interpretation of these two cards together would suggest that by virtue of the querent's charisma and charm, she/he will probably succeed in whatever challenge they are facing. This interpretation differs greatly from the message of the same two cards of the previous deck. It is worth noting that in both, there is a possible challenge being presented, but the outcomes are strikingly different.
I've said it a number of times in previous blog posts, that reading from different tarot decks requires a skill set similar to learning multiple languages, or at least different dialects of the same language.
The more decks you use, the more you learn about symbolism and systems. They do not all fit the same mold, which is what makes it a fun challenge to keep learning and fuels my tarot card collection and addiction.
Tarot of the Zirkis Magi and Tarot of The Holy Light may be purchased through their respective websites.