The classic Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot illustrations are bursting with subtle visual clues. Some of the most obvious, but easy to forget symbols in Tarot are the color of the skies in the background of Tarot cards.
Rider-Waite illustrations have 5 primary sky colors:
- Pale blue skies (daytime)
- Deep blue skies (evening)
- Black skies (night)
- Grey skies (haze)
- Yellow skies
Each of these colors conveys special meaning about the cards. This additional layer of meaning can be used to add to the overall interpretation of the card, and sky colors can also be used to get a quick idea of the the positivity or negativity of the issue at hand.
Let’s walk through each of these sky-colors and see what they mean for your Tarot readings:
Pale blue skies on Tarot cards
Bright blue-colored skies generally indicate clarity and positivity, just as they feel in the real world. While there are a few possible exceptions to this rule, for the most part a pale blue sky is indicative of a clear message and a generally positive meaning.
Evening skies on Tarot cards
Deep blue skies and evening skies on Tarot cards tend to have an idea of mystery, magic and the liminal realms between night and day, life and death, reality and fantasy and the physical and spiritual. The deep blue sky also symbolizes emotional depth, something unknown, or an outcome that hangs in the balance. A deep blue sky can also represent higher levels of perception and consciousness.
Black skies on Tarot cards
Black skies in Tarot are foreboding and serious. They represent times of caution, fear and the dangers of the unknown. Black skies in tarot are also indicative of secretive truths and the ending of cycles — where the events of the past culminate into a final chapter and may precede new beginnings.
Grey skies on Tarot cards
Grey skies in Tarot represent a hazy ambiguity and a dreamlike, primordial uncertainty. Multiple possibilities branch out into the mist. Nothing should be taken as a certainty, and every option should be weighed carefully. A grey sky can also indicate the need to wait — even time itself is uncertain here.
Yellow skies on Tarot cards
Perhaps the most striking color choice in the classic Rider-Waite Tarot deck was the choice of bright yellow skies. Yellow skies symbolize vitality and hopefulness. There is a sense of optimism here, and a magical quality of manifestation. Yellow cards are also symbolic of energy, inspiration and innovation.
Grey skies are “Maybes”?
A popular “quick read” of grey-sky cards is that they represent “Maybes”. This isn’t a universally held practice, but many tarot readers will use this technique when using clarifying cards.
Likewise, black-sky cards are often read as a quick “No”, to a yes or no question when using clarifying cards.
Of course, if you’re doing Yes or No tarot readings, there are more precise “yes / no” meanings assigned to each card.
Skies are just one type of symbol
The classic Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot cards are some of the most symbolically rich Tarot cards in the entire Tarot universe. Sky colors are an important class of symbolic representation, but there are many more. To be a true master of Tarot, it’s important to understand the meanings of all popular Tarot symbols from garlands to green fields, and from serpents to salamanders.
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