Dropped tarot cards happen when the client is shuffling the deck and one or more cards get ejected and fall on the table or the floor. There are several approaches as to what to do next.
Ignore dropped tarot cards
The cards are picked up and placed back in the deck and shuffling continues without taking note of the cards.
Interpreting dropped tarot cards
The reader takes note of the cards, and interprets them. We can see this interpretation as either separate, or adjunct to the main reading which follows. The tarot reader can take note of where those “rejected” cards appear in the tarot spread.
There is a problem with this approach as there is no guarantee that all those “ejected cards” will appear in the spread.
The Jungian approach to dropped tarot cards
Much of Carl Jung’s writings concern the process of manifestation from the unknown to the known. Harmony and balance is expressed in the mandala, a circle divided into four quarters. Four represents among other things, the four elements. The Tarot cards are based upon the four elements, and “Tarot” means a wheel, so the Tarot is an expression of that wholeness projected from the unknown.
When a client comes for a tarot reading she is meeting her unconscious. The Tarot reader is the unconciousness, and the tarot cards are the process of manifestation from the unknown where the constellated energies become known.
The unconscious aspects of the client is telling the tarot reader something about the client that she doesn’t want to do. This is very different to the normal approach of tarot readers who simply interpret the dropped cards.
In Jungian terms the tarot reading reveals complexes to the client that need to be worked upon.
Shuffling the cards is the conscious process for accessing the unknown in the client’s life, therefore dropped cards demonstrate the unconscious processes at work. In other words, the unconscious of the client “removes” cards from the tarot deck, a symbol of wholeness.
Dropped cards example
This is a simple example that happened in a reading for a client. Two cards were thrown out when shuffling, and they were the 2 of Swords and the Knight of Disks. In simple terms, the client wants this man back in her life (the 2 of Swords means reconciliation). A good sign!
However, when the unconsciousness of the client removes cards from the deck, we have less than wholeness – disharmony creeps in. What is the unconscious communicating to the Tarot reader?
What if the tarot reader complied with the request from the unconsciousness, and left those cards out of the reading? The 2 of Swords and the Knight of Disks would not appear, and the client would have been frustrated – where is the man she is desperate to get back?
In simple terms, those rejected cards tell the reader that the conscious mind of the client wants to know when and if this man will come back into her life to make things complete for her. The unconscious mind however, knows that this will be disastrous, and seeks to remove those cards from the reading entirely.
This inner conflict is played out before the cards are dealt out. The savvy tarot reader will put the cards back in the deck, and ask the client to continue shuffling, take note of these insights, and incorporate them in the reading, knowing that despite the client’s resistance, the tarot cards will reveal processes for overcoming the complex.