Clarifying Cards with Tarot & Oracle: When to (and not) use them

Clarifying cards are often used in Tarot and Oracle readings to provide more clarification when a reading is unclear. But when should you use them, and how? Let’s find out!

What are Clarifying Cards?

Clarifying cards, or clarifiers, are when you draw an extra Tarot card in a reading to clarify a particular card. If a card in the spread is unclear, this method can give you more information to work with. Clarifying cards are a helpful tool but can be overused.

Some readers rely on clarifying cards when they have an ambiguous prediction. Others use them to narrow down a prediction or gain more information when they are confused by one particular card.

Since cards can have multiple meanings, clarifying cards are used to determine which card meanings apply most closely to the situation.

I have been reading cards for over a decade and have talked with hundreds of Tarot readers. Many people use Clarifying cards, but they shouldn’t be something you are constantly relying on.

There are many situations where Clarifying cards can hold back a reading.

In the rest of this article, we will look deeper into using Clarifying Cards in a reading. 

Learn More: What number of cards to pull in a reading

How to Pull A Clarifying Card

In general, to pull a Clarifying Card, you would take the top card from the deck you are working with and place it next to the card you want to clarify. This makes it easy during a reading to pull another card and keep your current spread.

Steps to Clarify A Card:

  • To clarify a card, you have to first select the card that you are going to clarify.
  • After drawing a card, apply this meaning to the card you chose.
  • The clarifying card should not change the meaning of the original cards you pulled but just add more insight.

Steps to Clarify An Entire Reading:

  • Clarifying Cards can be used for the entire message/reading, but you should make that intent clear before pulling a card. 
  • After drawing a card, apply this meaning to the whole message/reading and not to the individual cards.
  • The clarifying card should not change the meaning of the original cards you pulled but just add more insight.

You are also not limited to pulling a card from the original deck you were working with. Here are some other options.

Pulling a Clarifying Card from another deck

One technique is to take out another deck and pull a clarifying card. This can be helpful because the new deck has all the cards, so it would be significant if there is a repeated card. 

Using Oracle Cards as Clarifying Card

If you are working with a Tarot or an oracle deck, it can be helpful to pull from a different deck. Every deck has a unique feel to it and can be better at particular inquires. Adding a Masculine Archetype Card to your reading might work better, or going with a spirit animal deck, and so on. 

Reshuffling the Deck

In some instances, you might want to reshuffle the entire deck to pull a Clarifying Card. This would give you the whole set of cards to work with again.

When To Use Clarifying Cards

There are many instances when Clarifying Cards can be helpful. 

  1. If you’re ever not sure what a card means, start by asking, “What are you trying to tell me?” or “What are you referring to?” Pull another card from your deck and put the two next to one another. Try to see how this new card can add more clarity.
  2. When you feel that the card has answered your question, but you want more details, you may use one of the clarifying cards. 
  3. At the end of the reading, you might want to clarify how to use the information. You can draw another card, or group of cards, to explore how to utilize the information you just received. 
  4. If two possible outcomes seem equally “right,” pulling another card and reading them together might help clarify things for you so that your prediction isn’t biased by what you want to happen.

When to Not Use Clarifying Cards

Clarifying cards can hurt your ability to read tarot and oracle decks if you rely on them too much.

The downside of clarifying cards is that they can often lead the reader astray if they use extra cards to get the answer they are looking for or are too impatient to let their intuition work. 

Here are reasons you SHOULD NOT use clarifiers:

  • You don’t like the answer. If you feel upset by the answer, pulling an extra card is like cheating or not listening to good advice.
  • You don’t know the meaning of the card. If you are unfamiliar with the card, try to take your time and examine the symbols. Given enough time, the answer will surface through your intuition. 
  • You don’t trust your intuition. Some readers, especially new ones, haven’t learned to trust their readings and want more cards to validate their thinking. Your natural intuition is clearer than any other tool. It should be your first choice when reading a card situation that doesn’t require immediate clarity or second-guessing yourself on what’s possible given all of the variables.
  • When you are not skilled with the cards or tarot in general, the more confident you are, the better this technique will work.
  • When you are unclear on the original question, if there is any ambiguity, it will be amplified when reading with clarifiers because they amplify ALL possible outcomes–not just one possibility given your assumptions about an outcome!

In Conclusion

Clearing cards are not appropriate for every reading, but they can be a valuable tool when done correctly.

The best way to use clearing cards is when you feel uncertain about a reading or the meaning of one card. This will help clarify your thoughts and give you some more direction on how to proceed with your reading so that it’s not biased by what you want to happen. 

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Isaac Cotec
Isaac Cotec
Creator of HeroRise, Isaac Cotec has dedicated his life to empowering others through art and creativity. He is a scholar of the subconscious and has studied the power of symbolism to help create enduring change.