The Basics of Reading Tarot Cards: A How to


Learning how to read tarot cards requires you to develop both your knowledge of the cards and your intuition. It takes time and dedication, though you are certainly encouraged to begin doing readings, at least for yourself, right from the start so that you get comfortable both with the deck you are using, the meanings of the tarot cards, and the different layouts.

The Basics of Reading Tarot Cards: A How to

Reading Tarot Begins With a Tarot Deck

To begin with, you will need to pick a tarot deck. Different decks have different symbols on the cards, so it’s important you look through the different decks and pick one that stands out to you, or calls to you. The most popular decks are the Deviant Moon, Rider-Waite, Aleister Crowley Thoth, DruidCraft and Shadowscapes decks. Each one will use different imagery for the cards and you’ll want to pick the one that speaks to you most because it means you will be able to build a better connection to the cards. Remember, tarot isn’t just about knowing the definition of the cards, but also about the feel of the cards. Each card’s definition is fluid within the reading and so you must develop your intuition so that you can understand it’s meaning within the scope of the reading.

Each deck is made up of 78 cards, twenty-two major arcana and fifty-six minor arcana. Each have different meanings that you’ll want to work on familiarizing yourself with. Having a book of the meanings handy when first starting out is a great way to do this. Spend some time imparting your energy into your deck by playing with it and handling it. Shuffle the cards, put them in order… it doesn’t matter what you do with them, just spend time holding and playing with them so that they absorb your energy and become a part of you.

Set up some tarot routines, such as picking a card a day to look at. This can be just to work on learning the meanings, or on building a connection to the cards by looking for information on what kind of day to expect ahead. If you choose to do a single card reading at the beginning of your day, work on building your intuition with it. What does the card make you feel? What thoughts do you pick up about it? Record these in a journal so that you can begin to develop your intuition for the different cards. We go over some helpful tips on recording a tarot journal on this part of the website.

Getting Started Reading The Spread

Once you are comfortable with the cards, begin working on doing spreads and noticing the interactions of the cards with one another. Each of the spreads has a different purpose, a different question that the querent is looking to have answered. Using your intuition and knowledge of the question, look to see how the combinations of cards answer the question. When you are comfortable, reach out to a friend and see if they would be willing to let you do a reading for them.

Begin a reading by relaxing and meditating. You don’t want to be nervous or anxious as this can block your natural intuition. Clear your deck of old energy by shuffling it, then giving it a light bath. Bathe your cards in light by visualizing a bright, brilliant white light traveling down your arm and into your deck, filling the cards with light. This will help your cards clear themselves of old energy and connect more deeply with you. Next you will want to ask the cards the question you or the querent has and begin cutting the deck. Always cut the deck by setting it on the table in front of you and using your left hand to cut. Cut the deck in half and place the top half on the left of your pile. You begin your spread by taking the card that is on the top of the right pile and turning it over.

Notice your first impressions of the card as you play it, notice how your body feels. These are the first and most intuitive signs of the reading. Say the name of the card out loud, notice the colors, actions and characters of the card. Notice any symbols. These are all necessary to understanding the reasoning behind the card and its meaning in the reading.

Completing The Reading

Once you have finished the reading, you will need to close it by holding the deck in your hand and thanking it for its guidance and insight before reshuffling your cards and setting them in their resting place to wait for the next reading. Hopefully this guide answered any questions you had on how to read tarot cards. You can learn more by browsing the rest of our Tarot section!


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