When three isn’t a crowd: reading tarot for polyamorous couples

She sat across from me, shuffling the cards with a nervous smile. I’m used to that.  People are often a bit anxious when they come to a tarot reader the first time.  “I want to know about my relationship.”  she said.  No problem…I do lots of readings about love, I assured her and laid out the cards.

The Three of Cups…looking good so far.  And then I lay out three Court cards.  A possible love triangle.  Yet it didn’t look unhappy from what I could see. I asked her point blank “are you in a polyamorous relationship?”

Sighs of relief.  Yes, she was in a relationship with two other people and she was nervous because she worried that I would judge her.

Nope.  Judging someone’s lifestyle is not my jam.  I’m just here to read the cards, ma’am.

If you work as a tarot pro, at some point in your work, you may read for a relationship that involves multiple partners.  These readings can be a bit tricky so you’ll want get familiar with the rules and potential issues of such partnerships.

First, let’s get clear on what polyamory is and isn’t.  The basics:

The word polyamory (also spelled polyamoury) can be broken down by their Greek and Latin etymology: poly for “many” and amor for “love” = many loves.

Polyamory means a relationship that is not exclusive to just two people. It’s the practice of loving more than one person simultaneously.  But here’s the clincher: all parties are in agreement.  It’s consensual. No one is forced into it nor is there any hidden stuff going on.  It’s out in the open and everyone involved is cool with it.

If it’s hidden from one partner, it’s not polyamory…it’s plain old cheating. Polyamory is straight up.  Everyone is aware of what is going on.

Polyamory is not “swinging”.  Swinging is “recreational sex” with multiple partners whereas Polyamory is more relationship-oriented.  Real bonds are formed and it’s not casual.

Polyamory is not the same as “polygyny” or “polygamy” (a man with a bunch of wives like those “Sister Wives” or “Big Love” shows).  In these situations, a man is able to have more than one wife while the woman doesn’t get the same deal. There’s usually a religious slant behind this and it’s illegal in most countries.

Keep in mind that there many types of polyamorous relationships – you can find diverse combinations of female, male, gay, straight, bi, transgender, married, single, etc..  Some may live under the same roof, others not.  Some polyamorous relationships may not be totally exclusive and may allow for additional relationships outside the group.

Confusing?  It can be.  But if you find yourself reading for a member of a polyamorous relationship, just ask.  They can help clarify any questions you may have.

Note: I am NOT an expert on poly relationships. While I have read for a number of them over the years, you might want to research the topic further if you are curious.

A few websites worth exploring:

Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyamory

A Bouquet of Lovers: Strategies for Responsible Open Relationships by Morning Glory Zell: http://www.patheos.com/Resources/Additional-Resources/Bouquet-of-Lovers (I HIGHLY recommend this page.)

Loving More http://www.lovemore.com

Here are my thoughts on reading for people involved in poly relationships:

If you have a moral objection to this (or any alternative lifestyle), then you’re going to need to get over it or pass them on to a reader who doesn’t have an issue.  The client deserves to have an objective, non-judgmental experience.  If you can’t keep your beliefs out of it, refer them to a different reader.

If you are unclear about the rules of the relationship, ask.  Each poly relationship is unique with different agreements.

Don’t make assumptions.  Sometimes people assume that all poly relationships are wild and crazy sexfests – when most often they are just like regular relationships with many of the same boring problems that we all have.  (Except with more people involved.)

Potential issues that you may encounter are: jealousy, a broken agreement, one partner isn’t happy with the arrangement, one party feels neglected, someone wants out, someone wants to add a new partner, quarrels over the household chores…and more.  Because there are more than two people, it can get a bit complicated at times but you should treat their issues no differently than you would treat anyone else’s.

Sometimes, if a poly relationship is in trouble, one member may come to the tarot reading to “spy” on the other partners in the relationship.  This requires great sensitivity on your part but you must also be careful that you don’t step over ethical lines.  Keep in mind that although there may be more than one person in the relationship, you need to keep your reading focused on whomever is sitting in front of you. Direct the reading towards questions about their role in the relationship and what they can do to improve the situation.

For the querent:

I recommend that if you are involved in a polyamorous relationship, say so upfront so that the tarot reader isn’t going to immediately assume that there is cheating going on when they see more than one partner in a reading. A tarot reading is always more helpful when the seeker alerts the reader to potentially complicated situations.

Good questions to ask during your tarot reading:

What are the strengths in my relationships?

How can I strengthen my relationships?

What is the best way to handle my feelings while still respecting the feelings of my partners?

What am I contributing to my relationships?

What does __________ bring to our relationship?

What problems might we face and what might be the best way to handle them?

What can I do to ensure both of my partners are happy?

How might we come together and resolve ___________?

What does our relationship need at this moment?

Need an idea for a tarot spread? Check out these polyamory spreads:

From the ever-wise Little Red Tarot: A polyamory tarot spread

A great one from The Red Cloak Register: Romance Tarot Spread for Poly People

reading tarot for polyamorous couples


Tarot cards that might indicate a polyamorous relationship:

Three of Cups is the classic card but also look for three or more Courts.  Other cards that might indicate more than two: the Three of Pentacles or Nine of Cups.

It doesn’t matter if you are reading for a monogamous couple or a poly couple – people are people, and, at the end of the day, we’re all looking to connect in a way that is meaningful for us.



© Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady 2015

photo from stock photography

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