Alternatives to ‘outcome’ cards in tarot spreads

I don’t like ‘outcome’ cards.

As a non-predictive reader, I have a pretty big, and pretty self-explanatory, dislike of the traditional ‘outcome’ card in many tarot spreads. As Teresa Read aptly points out, “the cards tell a story, but you write the ending”. I don’t think you can believe in self-determination and still support the idea of a card which tells you the outcome of a situation.

So here are a few alternatives I use in my own spreads, or swap in to existing spreads when I need to:

1. Where the situation is heading

Okay. So this is a lot like an outcome card. But it’s focus in on the path the querent is on. Truth be told, I’m not 100% sold on this one, but it has its moments.

2. Advice

My favourite position to swap into the ‘outcome’ position on 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 when it is so much more useful and proactive to have an advice card.

3. 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.

4. Nothing. Or, if you must draw one more, a final card for clarity

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. But if things feel complete, I’ll offer a final card and place it at the head of the staff. This last card is a simple clarification card.

5. 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.

Do you believe in ‘outcomes’? Do you think tarot can predict the future?

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  1. Ellen says:

    I don’t really believe in predicting the future There are of course stories which can make me doubt but I see Tarot as a self development tool. I’ve called this deck of cards once my cardboard therapist 😀
    I do think it can provide us with options or new ways of thinking and other perspectives. And just to be on the safe side: I don’t ask questions about what is going to happen 😀

    • Little Red says:

      I agree with your comment that tarot is a self-development tool, Ellen – very much because it provides us with those alternative perspectives.
      The reason I don’t believe tarot can predict the future is because I don’t personally believe in one path or one ‘future’… still I love hearing stories of psychic readers who do predict 🙂

  2. Kelly says:

    Thank you for these suggestions. I am in the same boat, and perspective, as you and often struggle with what to DO with those positions. I usually have fumbled with the “generally where things are headed if you stay on this course” but as you said the whole REST of the reading is telling me that. I like the idea of the advice card or the more open “here’s what you need to know.” I also like the idea of pulling an oracle card for that position.

  3. Ted says:

    I’m really new to the tarot and just starting to read for people I know (mostly). So I’m really new at this. But it really stands out for me how many people *want* an outcome; a yes/no answer; a “what should I do for who is unhappy?” (which, IMO, is asking about the other person). Maybe because I’m new at it, and if we’re talking and I offer to pull a card or 2 for them, they’re kind of put on-the-spot and default to what they really believe tarot cards are about — fortunetelling. (“Um…will I be travelling this year?”) So we work on the question: “If you knew that, what would be different in your life? Maybe that’s what your question is really about?”

    OTOH, I read an online post from an experienced reader who considers herself psychic and able to to read the future, and she once told a client that her (the client’s) life was going to hellinahandcart and she’d be living on the streets in a year. Five years later the client came back: she’d cleaned up her life, happy, partnered, working at a job she really really likes, feels great about life. (Interestingly, the reader figured she’d failed as a reader, because she should have seen the client’s change coming down the pipe…)

    • Beth says:

      Wow – that is the power of hearing your future – amazing!

      It is of course absolutely up to each individual reader how they do tarot, and I know most people are happy with an ‘outcome’ card – they just never sat well with me personally.

  4. Endo Alien says:

    Love this, people telling me they too don’t feel tarot can predict the future is what brought me back to tarot – I grew up with tarot around and it was magical, however I never once (even as a kid) felt anyone knew my future, especially if I didn’t. Therefore it was lost to me and I continued to get decks from time to time but for their artwork only. I did however continue to use my Medicine Cards occasionally. Then this year I came back and found blogs and people like yourself, which has been a massive turning point. Especially with my training and background I truly believe that we need to encourage responsibility and not remove things from ourselves like our power of decision and choice.

    Thank you for the replacement Idea’s, I have been changing the outcome to a helpful energy card but its nice to have more options. I’ll be more inclined to try some more spreads too.

  5. Nabil Blaeser says:

    I like the idea of the “where the situation is heading” card, and I guess that’s how I’ve been reading these outcome cards. I don’t feel like we can fully predict the future, but maybe we can get glimpses of possible futures.

    • Beth says:

      I agree – I like framing it as a ‘this is the current trajectory’ kinda thing, rather than ‘this is where you will end up!’

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