You can read an introduction to the light & shadow series and find links to its other installments >> here! If you aren’t yet familiar with my interpretation of the card in discussion you might want to read up on their meanings before you continue with this article.
Fittingly, one of the Crossroads’ main meanings already makes a pretty good comment on the question of the card’s positiveness or negativeness: ambivalence! All of the Crossroads’ meanings can apply to a concrete reading in a productive or in an unproductive way, and maybe even both at the same time.
The Crossroads represent quite a few positive, productive, issues and goings-on. If the Crossroads represent different directions, or alternatives, several options, this will be experienced as something positive especially if the querent has been feeling restricted or bored, or if they have been yearning for change, if they have been unhappy with the direction they had been going so far. Then, the Crossroads can help them see that – or what – other options are available – which will come as a big relief.
This directly leads to another dimension of meaning for this card: decisions, choice, and free will, for whenever we are faced with alternatives, we are also faced with having to make a choice. While being forced to make a decision can be an unpleasant experience (see below), we usually do prefer to have a choice – even if we end up choosing to stick with what we already have, changing nothing. Sometimes, the knowledge that we would be free to choose differently if we wanted to is all we need to be happy with the status quo. If that’s what the Crossroads do in a reading – remind us of, or alert us to, the fact that we have a choice – then it is almost certainly a positive and productive card to have drawn. And if the card helps us confront the fact that we have procrastinated making a decision for too long, this mightn’t be a pleasant realisation but it will nevertheless be a productive one.
In some readings, the Crossroad might represent deliberations, considerations. This is a good and productive thing if thinking about things, weighing up pros and cons, is appropriate – if we are still gathering information, haven’t yet fully sorted our thoughts, and if no immediate action is called for. The Crossroads can, very helpfully, alert us to the fact that often, immediate reactions lead to unwanted results, and that it might be better to sit down and have a good think before we act. Especially if the person the card relates too is not a big procrastinater, the card is likely to, positively, advise them to pause before making a decision about their further course of action.
Lastly, if the Crossroads represent ambivalence, ambiguity, different angles, this will probably be a very positive and productive thing especially if the querent tends to think in black-and-white, if they are an absolutist, or have a very narrow perspective. Here, the card advises them that adopting a more tolerant view, looking at a problem from different angles, trying to see the shades of grey between the black and white, would benefit them tremendously. And if a situation is in fact ambivalent, ambiguous, recognising it as such will – while not necessarily a pleasant realisation – also be very healthy.
On the other hand, the Crossroads can represent negative, unproductive, issues and goings-on. If the Crossroads represent different directions, or alternatives, several options, this will be experienced as something negative especially if there are too so many options that they confuse us, if we lack the knowledge or experience necessary for weighing them up against each other, or if there has already been too much of an “open end” feeling in our life while all we wanted is having one clear path in front of us.
This directly leads to a problem I’ve alluded to above: While we usually prefer to have a choice, being forced to make a decision is an unpleasant experience, and having to choose too early, while we still lack relevant knowledge or capacities, can even be very unproductive. From a slightly different perspective the Crossroads can also represent debilitating hesitation, and procrastination. Postponing a decision until we are in possession of the necessary facts and capacities is a good thing – postponing it only because we can’t stop worrying, or can’t make ourselves get moving, is unhealthy. But that’s also something the Crossroads can represent!
If the Crossroads represent deliberations, considerations, the weighing of pros and cons, this can be a negative, an unproductive thing, if all the thinking and considering and pondering becomes circular, leads to no results, is used as a subterfuge from having to make a final decision, as an excuse for procrastination. The Crossroads can be a warning that we are past the point where deliberating is productive; that we are now just arguing with ourselves, uselessly trying to find the one best option where there is none; that we are engaging in fruitless, debilitating brooding.
Lastly, if the Crossroads represent ambivalence, ambiguity, different angles, this can be an unproductive thing especially if the querent tends to avoid taking a clear standpoint or taking action by claiming that “nothing is ever black or white, it’s all shades of grey”; if they are a relativist to such a degree that they allow bad things to happen.
If the Crossroads point at the actual ambiguity of a situation, or at painfully ambivalent emotions, this will almost definitely be an unpleasant realisation (although not necessarily an unproductive one).