Tarot for the 21st Century!
Not every card in a spread needs to be read. This may come as a sigh of relief for some, and become a sore point for others, and maybe others have never even contemplated this yet - but I mean this only in light of my reading experience. This just relates to the way I read cards, and I'm writing this primarily to encourage others who may struggle with finding meaning in every card in a few ways:
Firstly, the larger the spread, the more cards there are and the bigger the story. In a 10 or even 21 card spread, for example, it is highly unlikely that 100% of the cards will speak to you equally, just as chamber music has a different balance than an orchestral sound. Just one trumpet can cut through the entire orchestra, and often in a reading it is just one or two cards that jump out and give the reader a full-blown message, speaking way louder then the other 9 or 20 cards. My take on that is, go with it! When I read, I go with the cards that speak to me first.
It's just the same with an apple - it is chock full of seeds, precisely because not each one will sprout! Some cards are merely there as placeholders, or to give meaning on a different level than the other cards.
Secondly, there are times when we even lay small spreads, such as 3 or 5 cards which may or may not be emphasized by position meanings. On the one hand, yes, a walk through each position may be very revealing and meaningful. It may also just as likely be the case that only 50% to 75% of those cards are really screaming at you, and the rest can be ignored - and still remain pertinent. In this way, I like to use another scenario: If I am with 3 friends and we are going out to dinner, usually it is one or two who will influence the direction of the evening's choice and the rest will comply, go along and fully participate.
For example: Suppose you asked a question and in answer received the Magician, 7 of Wands and 5 of Swords. At first glance the Magician makes immediate sense because of a visual rhyme with your question and you chuckle! Looking at the 5 of Swords, the meaning reinforces the impression and you are satisfied. You return to that 7 of Wands in the center, and it speaks nothing to you. Well, here I would say your reading is complete. You could also work with the 7 of Wands and arrive at its message through concentration or reflection. That is equally valid, but not the focus of this article.
I think it's important to remember that whenever doing a reading, we give ourselves permission to speak initially to those cards that speak the loudest, make most sense, give us the clearest impressions, or carry the most weight. Our personal practice will give us the tools to make these decisions, and ultimately it is for the benefit of the person receiving the reading - so why not give them only the most pertinent and helpful information we have?