What is Tarot Reading?

Updated: Jul 4, 2018

If you are newly introduced to the world of tarot, or you have had your cards read before and would like to read for yourself. Please keep reading.

If you think reading tarot or tarot cards in general are for the occult witches, you are wrong. Tarot is simply a conversation between a querent and the practitioner. The practitioner, or tarot reader if you will, uses the cards to guide the conversation. In this way, the cards are simply a tool. As a former crisis counselor who worked with hundreds of veterans and family’s in distress I can tell you, it’s human nature to focus solely on the issues in front of you. More often than not, my role as crisis counselor was to determine the root cause of the most pressing issue and begin working through it. As a tarot reader, when a querent asks a question, there is always valuable peripheral information the cards lead the conversation that draws out root causes. In both cases the real healing work is must be done by the person seeking counsel.

“A lot of people describe tarot as a mirror, so it’s not like I’m pulling some secret out of you.” -Janet Horton

If you are just getting started with tarot don’t let the research overwhelm you. This is a centuries old practice spanning across all cultures. Which means all kinds of contradicting rules and flighty best practice concepts will show up in your search engine. In my opinion, all the rules helped to protect the craft. This is also why we are taught to see tarot as some secret esoteric thing. I don’t think that’s as necessary anymore. Anyone can read tarot. The most recent superstition floating around regarding tarot says: you’re not supposed to buy your own deck, you’re supposed to have someone gift it to you. So, what if no one buys you a deck? Then you never get to learn how to read for yourself and others. All these gates and gate-keepers prevent people from learning an art that will have tremendous positive affect on their life.

Here’s how I suggest getting started:

Learn the Cards

After you’ve purchased a deck, the first thing to do is to familiarize yourself with the cards. Yes, there are 78 cards. Yes, it’s a little intimidating. Do it anyway, you’ll be surprised how fast you learn. Taking the time to sit with your cards once a day will isure that you learn the meanings and build a good working relationship with your cards. Learning hands on will make you a far better tarot reader than learning meanings and symbols from rote memory. Suggestion: shuffle the deck a few times pull a card, think about what that card means to you, read the meaning given to the card by the artist, then go about the rest of you day identifying things that happen in association with the card you’ve pulled.

Say It Out Loud

Tarot and counseling is really similar, in that you have to read a persons entire language and communicate with all of it: verbal, body, and spirit. You must learn to trust yourself to say and do what is needed in the moment. Your intuition is key, and trust me, everyone has it! (See my articles on the zodiac sun signs and intuition for more on that.)

Even if you are reading for yourself you should get in a place where you can speak freely without feeling awkward. Get comfortable using language that you already have, or knowledge that you already have, so you can see it less as a memorization task, and more like a task of making connections and being able to articulate them. The more you read the cards out loud the more your own perspective comes into play, you learn to be freer with the things that you’re saying, and develop your unique style.

Don’t focus on spreads

All you need to learn is a three card spread, (past, present, future/ mind, body, spirit) and the Celtic Cross. By the time you are able to read those fluently you will already have developed your own way of reading and your own spreads. That doesn’t mean this is easy, the Celtic Cross is quite complicated. It’s also a very ancient spread and all the centuries of practitioners before you can guide you spiritually to a deeper relationship with the tarot.

In the Celtic Cross spread there are ten cards and each card has an assigned position and an assigned meaning for that position. It offers a lot of information and clarity to any question. Just try to keep the question open ended. My reading style still includes the first four positions of the Celtic Cross. Then, I branch out from there allowing my intuition to guide the rest of the reading.

Never Fear

The Death card and the three of swards have a tendency to send shivers down the spine of new tarot readers. I was no exception. If there is a card that really causes you anxiety when it shows up. I recommend you sit with it. Spend more time with it and all of its meanings and interpretations. Tarot imagery is designed to reveal the human psyche, human relationship dynamics, and the entire lifecycle of the human. This mean we can learn why we’re afraid for example, who taught us that fear, and where in our personal evolution we developed it. If a card makes you nervous, is it because you fear end of life, you fear transformation, you fear change? If so then why? Is it because of childhood, or your concepts of a certain figure in your life? Are you afraid to grow up? I challenge you to confront these questions.

As always, best of luck to you!


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