Binding the Tarot for Yes/No Work

Binding the Tarot for Yes/No Work April 23, 2018

Using the Tarot for guidance with a very specific question can be a very effective form of divination. One way to get very precise answers from the cards is through posing Yes/No questions. By binding the cards to this purpose, their energy becomes even more potent. When we ask well-developed questions, the results can be shockingly appropriate. The method described below is suitable for use by everyone regardless of experience with the Tarot.

Canstock photo.

Getting a New Deck Ready

If you are going to be using a new deck, ensure that it is properly cleansed before delving in. While there are many ways to do this, I typically take a new deck and put it in a black bag for a while before even cleansing it. Then I will do a consecration ritual where I ask for Hekate’s blessing over the cards while I pass the deck back and forth over incense smoke. If the deck is for my personal use, I’ll carry it with me in my bag and put it under my pillow at night until I feel the cards are in tune with my vibration. Those are just a few tips to get your deck ready for use.

Binding the Cards for Yes/No Use

To prepare the cards for Yes/No use, it’s necessary to attune them to this purpose. This process is essentially binding their energy for a specific purpose. There’s many ways to do this, but I’m focusing on using the four suits with their elemental energies. For “Yes” I used Swords and Pentacles because they are the opposites within the same energy spectrum, same with Wands and Cups for “No.”

Swords Pentacles Fire Water
Air Earth Wands Cups


Sorting the Cards

Sorting the cards along these categories gets their energy aligned with each other, a process known as attunement. It’s like training the cards for a specific purpose as opposed to letting them operate according to uncontrollable forces. While they can certainly be used in their normative state, attunement greatly increases the accuracy of a reading. In this case, it’s for an answer to “yes or no” questions. Next,  I separate the deck: placing all the Major Arcana cards in one pile and each of the four Suits in their own pile. I then combined the YES suits into one group and the NO into another, omitting the Major Arcana cards.

Adding Elemental Energy

To help bind the cards for a specific purpose, like for Yes/No work, elemental energy can be used to help guide the cards for their intended use. Although I’m not a very skilled visual artist, I often make sigils for magickal purposes. To help align the energy of the cards for the Yes/No technique, I created a sigil for each group (i.e., YES – Pentacles/Swords, NO – Wands/Cups) by combining the two symbols with the symbol for the suit and the intention (either YES or NO).

I used a simple approach by breaking down the parts of each of the suits and the associated element until a simple shape is obtained. Then I copied them onto two small pieces of paper. I used heavy artist board so they’ll last. Next, I took the sigil cards and shuffled them with their matching group of Tarot cards. Once they left “right,” I placed the sigil on top of each pile.

The two piles during attunement.

Energetic Aids and Correspondences

I typically add correspondences to any working I do with the cards. For me, this means herbs and other botanicals (like tree essences, I’m big on oak right now). This gives the cards further “instructions” on how they will behave during the reading or working. Since two is the magickal number in this approach, I decided on two herbs – one that would help with the attunement of the cards for dichotomous answers and one to purify them from their existing energy structure.  I put the burning incense in between the two groups . Here’s a list with botanicals, stones and substances that would be suitable for this technique:

Purification Attunement
Mugwort Benzoin
Sage Frankincense
Sweet Grass Chamomile
Clear Quartz Black onyx
White Black
Salt Soil

Using the Bound Deck

After the sigil has sat with the deck, merge the two piles back together. I used this technique to do a community reading at Keeping Her Keys and for personal work. Feedback from the community indicates that this is an effective technique. If you’re trying it yourself, give the cards a good shuffle while concentrating on your question. Let the cards do their thing – the right one will naturally emerge. You can ask multiple “yes or no” questions and reuse the deck.

Interpreting Your Answer

I recommend writing down your immediate reaction to the card you chose and then consulting standard interpretations. A “No” card can be interpreted using the reversal meaning from the book or other source you’re using. I’ve provided four sample interpretations from the community reading I did below.

When I do a reading – either for myself, someone else or a large group (like in this case) – I use three categories. The message is the interpretation of the card. I use a mix of my impression with the standard interpretation. Then there’s a short sentence I call wisdom. I often copy  this statement onto a card or other type of reminder for my private work. I recommend this practice for those I read for, too. The last section is about practice – the things that the card suggests I can do to either support it’s interpretation or to change things in the direction that I want to go.

Sample Interpretations


King of Wands – Reversed

Message: The King of Fire decrees the answer is to you question is a resounding NO. Here the message concerns not the outcome of your question, but the question itself. Are there things in the past you’re holding onto? Are you being less than truthful with yourself? In an case, the “no” from the King of Wands indicates the potential for deception and manipulation, that there are real dangers in pursuing the question in its current form.

Wisdom: Play with fire and you’ll get burnt unless you’re wearing protective gear.

Practice: Contemplate the validity of the question you asked because this card refers to that as a caution. You’re asking for the wrong thing and that can lead to disaster.

Six of Cups – Reversed

Message: No…No…Let it go…let it go… Maybe the cold depths of the ocean don’t bother you much, but it’s time to swim a little deeper until you can release that anchor holding you in place. While your question is a valid one, it’s wet from the sea of the past. Proceeding despite this warning not to is likely to get you nowhere. There’s an indication that your question is about hanging onto someone that you should, you know, let go.

Wisdom: If you’re always swimming in the sea of the past, you’re bound to stay wet. Raise your anchor.

Practice: Here the “NO” is about unfinished business or expired relationships. You may need to figure out what it is you need to let go of before you can move on.


Knight/Prince of Swords

Message: Our Prince of Swords rushes in with an enthusiastic “YES!” Here the indication is for a radical change of lifestyle with new adventures, friends and so much more.  This Airy Prince reminds you that the sky is the limit but remember to keep grounded.

Wisdom: Ride those winds of change.

Practice: When new experiences open to us, we can rush in too quickly. Temper your enthusiasm with reflection.

Four of Coins/Pentacles

Message: The “YES” from the Four of Coins/Pentacles comes with conditions. If you do the necessary work, have patience and plan for the long-term, the outcome of your question will be successful.

Wisdom: Slow and steady wins the race.

Practice: This card is all about the necessity of planning and skills development, especially relating to material success. Take time to develop a detailed plan, with goals and dates.

Those are a few examples of how to interpret a YES/NO reading using bound Tarot cards.

Releasing the Deck

If you try this technique, make sure that you release them from their attunement prior to doing other types of readings.The simplest way to do this is to place the entire deck in a Ziploc style bag and then cover them with salt. Leave them in their overnight, preferable under a waxing moon. While preparing the bag, let the cards know that they are now released from the attunement, reciting something like: “Cards of mine, freed from the bind.”

More Tarot

There’s a full workbook with the method for this technique available on the Keeping Her Keys bonus content page. I  host a community Tarot reading in the Keeping Her Keys Facebook community most Tuesday’s. I’ve written other Tarot practices – the Hekate Shadow Taming one is an exploration of the true self with Hekate’s guidance and the Approach/Avoidance method for daily Tarot work.

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