In the ten card layout that I work with I am often particularly paying attention to the balance of elements that come up. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts it’s a lot like lifting the hood and looking at how an engine is running. I have learned to pay attention not only to what comes up but sometimes what is a “conspicuous absence”.
Generally a healthy balance would have some aspects of all four suits being present. If there is an absence of suit entirely I have to look at the other cards for some indication of that absence needing to be addressed or not. A profusion of wands and pentacles with no cups present could be an indication of work and security taking precedence over personal relationships. It would depend a lot on the other cards present. This may not be a concern if the other indicators (including major arcana cards) are positive.
An absence of pentacles is not a bad sign, it doesn’t mean “no money”, on the contrary it could mean that material issues are not of primary concern. Sometimes no news on a particular front can be good news. On the downside an absence of pentacles with strife indicators could suggest a need to pay attention to issues of self worth, values and security.
Perhaps the most conspicuous absence would be where no swords are present. This can sometimes indicate a pleasant reprieve from stress or perhaps the person has “used them up” for a while. If the other cards suggest a recovery taking place emotionally mentally or physically this would back that up. At the same time an absence of swords with a profusion of difficulties in the other suits could indicate a lack of decisiveness, poor (or non existent) boundaries. No suit is good or bad in itself. Again a healthy balance is preferable.
I also notice (sometimes unconsciously, like a reflex) when a suit is absent other than a court card. If there are no base elements of the suit (Ace through Ten) but a court card, it may be an indication of someone who could play a key role, positively or negatively in the otherwise absent element.
This is also why aces play a very big part in my readings when they come up. They are often signs of realization, the commencement of a new cycle of the element’s energy and a new perception of the other signs surrounding them. an ace is a reminder of the inner tools we have to work with and can change the focus to a more pro-active level. There is often signs of what is both producing this realization as well as it’s effect.
As I was saying, these interpretations are often working on an intuitive level. Influencing my perception sometimes directly, sometimes not. I don’t tend to get into the technical side too much in the reading itself but it does work with the message I’m delivering, sometimes when needed it provides me a with a visual image to what I am already picking up intuitively.
Robert Wang (one of my favorite authors, scholars and creators of tarot decks) in his book “Qabbalistic Tarot”, talks at one point about how we come to work more over time with an internal deck. The physical cards themselves become secondary. I have found this to be so.