The reality of being a Tarot reader is that there's no way to completely divorce card meanings from your own personality. We place our individual perception onto everything and that's actually what makes getting a reading so interesting and enriching - another person's point of view. If the meaning of each card was totally mechanistic and meant to be 'one size fits all', we could become first rate Tarot readers in a matter of months but the experience of getting a reading would quickly become dull and pointless. Tarot isn't about going through the motions. Each card works on a myriad of levels.
So, how do we deal with those cards that we personally feel negative towards? Those cards that give us a bad feeling as soon as we look at them or that don't seem to contain any positive messages? Recently over on Aeclectic Tarot there have been some discussions about cards that readers have difficulty viewing in a positive light. One reader said that they feel The Emperor is just a controlling, stubborn guy who won't listen to reason. Another said that The Empress seems spoilt, arrogant and unaware of the reality of life. I've often heard readers saying that The Hanged Man is a deeply frustrating card because it only seems to represent self-sacrifice, compromise, delay and struggle. And don't even get me started on The Devil, which many readers find problematic purely on the basis that querents' reactions to it are so varied.
Here are some practical steps to get you thinking about the cards you feel negative towards.
The importance of unbiased sources
Take another look at the book that accompanies your deck. How does it describe your negative card? Is it possible that you've learned a negative meaning from the book and been unable to shake it? It's important to remember that books can be flawed sources of information on card meanings because they were written by an individual who might well be casting a negative light onto certain cards. Just because someone's published doesn't mean they're higher beings who have managed to get rid of any stereotypes or personal bias. I've read books that described The Fool as an arrogant idiot, The Wheel of Fortune as representative of gamblers and alcoholics and, frankly, at times the Queen of Swords has just come across as a total bitch. Freeing yourself from the extreme opinions of others is a good first step.
Try aspecting practice
If you see a card as completely negative in every situation it's obvious that you're being far too mechanistic. A good way to shake this habit is to try placing your negative card in the middle of a three or five card reading and write detailed notes on how the cards around it have swayed and altered its meaning. Each card in a spread is 'aspected' by the other cards, meaning that it's altered and influenced by the other messages and circumstances. Let's say your negative card is The Emperor. If The Emperor represents the present situation, how does its meaning change if The Star on its left represents the past and The World on its right represents the future? How is The Emperor's identity changed if it's surrounded by lots of Wands? If The Emperor and The Empress appear in a spread together, what could that mean? Try doing this exercise three or four times with each of your negative cards.
What's your problem?
Place the negative card in front of you and write down a list of all the reasons it gets on your nerves. You might start with writing things like, 'I just want to punch The Emperor in the face' but eventually you will come to the deeper reasons behind your negative perception. Let's say you've written, 'bully, doesn't listen, self-opinionated, cold-hearted.' Now try to pinpoint which people or situations those character traits remind you of. When have you been the victim of a self-opinionated person? Have you been on the losing end of a bully you felt you couldn't fight against? This exercise frees you up to let go of your pointless bias and move on with the card in a more productive way. It's not fair on your querent to paint a card in a totally negative light but it's also not fair on the card itself. What has it ever done to you?
Ask other readers
Ask other readers what their perception is of your negative card. Sometimes it's tough to remember that what rings true to us might not have even entered someone else's head. (Believe me, I know from experience. I recently got involved in a discussion about The Star that made me question if we were even talking about the same card!) If other readers can glean positive messages from your negative card, it might not be so bad after all. Maybe you're just stuck for inspiration and finding there's a blockage when you try to imagine what the hell could be good about this card that pisses you off. Other readers are the best people to answer that question and to show you that, in the end, every card has its positive uses and die-hard fans!
What does the querent think?
It might be worth holding your negative card up to the querent when it appears in a spread and asking them what they feel about its image and symbols. The Empress might look like a spoilt, snobby aristocrat to you but the querent might see a glamorous, empowered woman who's in control of her own environment. If the querent can see the positive influence of the card it means they're feeling positive about their own chances of finding a solution to their issue and your negative card has been a part of that. So, it can't be all bad. As you get different perceptions from different querents you'll build up a more rounded definition in your mind which will serve to help you get more from the negative card in the future.