There are obvious details we notice as we lay out the cards
in a spread. First, of course, are the cards themselves.
Then there are the prominent details, such as the figure on
the card, colors, titles, etc. These all give us our first
informational clues about how to interpret the cards in
relation to the querent.
Interestingly, what isn't in the spread can also give you
important and relevant information for the querent. From
the onset of learning to read tarot, we are essentially flexing
and increasing our observational skills. Observation is not
just about seeing details and objects, It is also about
making sense of all the information we take in during the
In the course of a reading, whether for oneself or others,
you become a tarot detective, looking for clues; combining
what you feel to be true of the card meaning with
conclusions drawn from your own life experience.
The following contains a short list of "missing" details
and what you may want to consider as significant by their
absence from a spread:
Are all suits represented in the spread?
Are there only Minors?
Are there only Majors?
Is there a dominant gender?
Is an element missing? Fire, Water, Air, Earth?
Are there clouds?
Are there no trees?
Can I see the figure's face?
Where is the figure's family?
What part of the body is missing in the picture?
Are there no windows or doors?
Here is a brief example in a reading:
The querent's focus is on job and career. She works in
roofing and construction, typically a male-dominated
field, but is confident in her skills. Although she works
in the office, she desires to go out to the actual construction
site more in order to learn about the business.
She asks about her current boss and whether or not she
should look for another job. The Magician, The Hanged Man
and the Page of Wands appear in the spread. The reader
observes that in all three cards, the ears are not depicted
on the figures. All figures appear to be male to the
querent. All are apparently outdoors with cloudless skies.
Ears represent sound, listening and hearing. The issue that
sparked the reading had a lot to do with the querent feeling
she was not "heard" when she made suggestions to her
In this example it is demonstrated that the "missing"
details gave important information to the reader and
querent. Sometimes it can be minute details or perhaps
something the artists never intended but that we often see
in our daily existence, such as the clouds.
Hopefully, this insight about observing what is missing
proves useful for your tarot reading skills.