How To Read Tarot Cards

Although this is not a comprehensive guide on how to read Tarot cards, this blog post does provide some simple steps to help Tarot beginners learn how to read Tarot with traditional meanings of the cards while also learning how to read Tarot intuitively. Following these steps will help you get started reading the cards quickly, and you can develop your understanding of the Tarot over time.

What you need

A way to journal: You will need a journal and pen, your favourite journaling app or a dictation app – whichever you prefer! I personally have a mix of all of these that I use depending on the day and my physical abilities.

Tarot cards: You will need a deck of Tarot cards. There are lots of options to choose from these days! I strongly recommend avoiding sites that sell horrible quality, pirated versions of Tarot decks.

There are two general types of Tarot decks: mass market decks and indie decks.

Mass market decks: Typically, mass market Tarot decks are available through standard retailers like bookstores, metaphysical shops, and large online retailers (but be very careful that you’re ordering a real version and not a knock-off). The prices of mass market Tarot decks is typically between $30-$50 CAD (less in USD).

Independently published Tarot decks: Indie decks cost more, because the quality is usually higher and independent Tarot creators like yours truly can’t afford to order enough to get the economies of scale to sell less expensively. Indie decks can cost $85 CAD and up (e.g. $65 USD and up). Again, be extremely careful to avoid knock-offs. Knock-offs steal from years of effort and personal investment, and usually don’t come with the other things you need (they usually leave out the guidebook). Buy directly from the creator, or go to the creator’s website to check for stockists in your geographic region.

How do you know which deck is right for you?

Choose a deck that resonates with you! There’s no right or wrong. I recommend looking up YouTube videos to watch flipthroughs of Tarot decks you’re interested in so that you can see the whole deck to decide if it’s right for you. Or just go with your gut and choose one that appeals to you! The first deck I purchased in a shop was the Golden Universal Tarot, and I was attracted to the shiny gold leafing on each card. It’s my most used and worn deck from years and years of reading for myself and others!

Shuffle your deck: Once you have your deck, you’ll want to give it a really good shuffle. Usually, when I am shuffling a deck for the first time, I’ll actually deal out the cards into seven piles, and then bring the piles together, and then overhand shuffle several times.

Questions to ask Tarot cards

Before we dive into reading the cards, let’s talk about how to ask questions to the Tarot.

Asking clear, single questions

First of all, when you’re working with the cards, make sure you’re only asking one question per card, otherwise your answers will be confusing!

A single question: “Am I even on the right track with XYZ personal goal?” (asking a single question at a time will help you to get clearer answers)

A multiple question that will result in confusing answers: “Am I even on the right track with XYZ personal goal, or am I going in the wrong direction?” (you will get very confusing answers for this question, because this is actually two questions)

Empowering vs closed questions

In addition to making sure you’re asking a clear question, you may want to think about whether you’re asking the question in a way that will give you a meaningful response.

This is important because asking closed questions may give you an answer, but it might not give you much more to work with! You’re bringing questions to the Tarot so that you can feel better and get more insights than you normally would, so it’s important to make sure you’re asking questions in a way that will help you do just that!

For example, if you’re asking about a relationship, you might not get very far if you ask, “Will they come back to me?” Why won’t you get a meaningful response? Because whether or not someone will return to a romantic relationship doesn’t empower you. Just to be clear – there’s nothing wrong with asking questions about romance though! You can bring any issue to the Tarot! Just make sure you’re asking the question in a way that gives you a path forward.

Closed question: “Will ABC person come back to me?” (why is this not a super helpful questions to ask? Let’s work through it. If the answer is “yes” – how do you know that the person coming back to you is actually what you want/is going to work out well for you? If the answer is “no” – what does that leave you with?)

Empowering question: “What is truly important to me in a romantic relationship?” (this will give you insights that you can use to analyze whether the relationship with ABC person is actually aligned with what you want! Maybe trust is something that’s really important to you in a relationship, but you don’t actually feel you can trust ABC because they’ve already been sending mixed messages or they are very come-and-go or they just won’t make up their mind)

You can still get situation-specific questions with empowering questions

Once you’ve asked your empowering questions, you can always get more specific about your situation. But make sure to start with the empowering questions so that you can get meaningful answers that give you a path forward.

Empowering set of Tarot questions about romantic relationships:

  1. “What is truly important to me in a romantic relationship?” Pull a card (we’ll get into how to interpret further down). Make notes of what arises for you. It’s okay if it’s several things.
  2. Pull a card for each of the things that is important to you in a romantic relationship. For example, let’s say the card you pulled for your first question was the 10 of Cups. And let’s say you looked at the keywords in the guidebook and you intuitively felt out some meanings, and you jotted down: “equal relationship, playful, trust, monogamous.” Remember – there’s no good or bad here, this is just an example.
  3. Next, you would pull a card for each of those: so you would pull four cards, one for “equal relationship,” one for “playful,” one for “trust” and one for “monogamous.” You would jot down the insights you gained from those cards.
  4. Then, you could pull a card that asks, “What has my relationship with ABC person been like for me?” and another card that asks, “What am I likely to experience in my relationship with ABC person if we were to get back together?” and again jot down in your journal.

This approach will help you gain MUCH more clarity and insight into your situation, and you’ll be able to make wiser decisions that are aligned with what’s actually important to you from your reflections.

How to read the Tarot cards

Grab a journal or open your favourite journaling/dictation app. It’s really important to jot down your question(s), the card(s) pulled and other notes.

  1. Think of a question you want to ask the cards. Remember what we’ve discussed about how to ask questions that will actually give you clarity. Write down the question.
  2. Think about the question as you shuffle the cards. Shuffle until you intuitively feel you’ve shuffled enough, and pull a card from the deck. You can pull a card from the top of the deck, or you can pull it from somewhere in the middle of the deck – whatever feels good for you.
  3. Jot down which card it is in your notes. It’s really important to take the time to record your exact questions, the cards you pulled, and your insights/key phrases/observations.
  4. Take note of what’s arising to you/your interpretations/observations. Here’s what to make notes about:

Guidebook/traditional key phrases: Start by looking at the guidebook, “little white book,” or online for common key words related to the card you pulled. Notice whatever really stands out to you and jot it down.

Details in the art: Take some time to look at the art on the card. Allow yourself to look over the art and notice whatever pops for you when you look at it. Again, jot down whatever arises for you. It may seem like a minor detail, or a colour, or a symbol, or something else about the art that keeps capturing your attention. Just jot it down.

Intuition: Next, notice what keeps popping into your mind. Is there an idea, a memory, a thought, a physical feeling or something else that is arising for you? Again, jot it down. It’s okay if it doesn’t seem obvious how it’s connected.

5. Pull it all together: Then, sit back and think about all of these pieces together. How do all of these thoughts and observations come together for you? Trust yourself as the interpretation arises – it will come! Jot down your thoughts. If you feel a bit stuck, do a few minutes of freewriting (check out this how-to over here if you’re not sure how). It will help you get unstuck really quickly!

What happens if you keep getting confusing cards?

Sometimes, it may seem like we’re getting cards that don’t make sense.

This usually happens if we’re being too narrowly focused. So if you start getting cards that are confusing, pause and expand your thinking.

Imagine you’re floating up above your situation or problem and allow the cards you’ve pulled to float with you, and ask the cards what you need to recognize.

Again, doing more freewriting will help to bring you clarity on your thoughts!

Have fun with it!

I hope this is a helpful guide to getting started with Tarot! Most importantly, have FUN with this! You can ask about all sorts of questions, you can just do a daily card pull as a gentle form of self-care. It’s so nourishing to have a daily Tarot self-care ritual!

If you love cats and/or energy work, check out my latest indie deck that I created, Cat Aura Tarot deck with guidebook!

If you want to check out other blog posts on spirituality, check out these posts. Or, if you’re more interested in career-related content, check out these posts.

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