Have you ever thought to yourself “how do I learn to read tarot?” or “how does a tarot reading work?” or “how to use tarot for the first time?”
Well, you are in the right place!
First off, tarot is not what it looks like in movies. Or at least it doesn’t have to be!
Tarot Cards as a Personal Growth and Self Discovery Tool
I began reading tarot regularly when I began to get deep into my personal growth and spiritual journey. And if you are like me, you might be on a path of self-discovery, figuring out what you truly want out of life and on a path towards purpose and fulfillment.
If you are on your own self-awareness and self-discovery journey, you may also be looking for all the tips, tools and rituals that will help you gain more clarity and aid you in your process.
I am a firm believer that everyone has the answers to all their questions within them. But there are times where we seek confirmation; another perspective or our ego’s voice is getting in the way of hearing our inner guide.
For this reason, tarot is a great tool to help us get out of our own way, way out our options and use its wisdom to make empowered decisions and live an empowered life.
Tarot invites us to take a moment and PAUSE. PAUSE to really think about the situation or question at hand. PAUSE to think about our wants and our ideal option. And each card invites us to reflect and ask ourselves the hard questions that we have been avoiding.
How Do Tarot Cards Work?
Tarot (and Oracle) cards are a form of divination that connects the reader and client to Universal Wisdom and Consciousness. Tapping into this Universal Wisdom AND using your intuition is the ultimate 1-2 combo on getting guidance on the questions at hand.
Each card has it’s own meaning and message that can be applied to your questions, situations or challenges. And each message is meant for your Highest Good.
There are no coincidences when pulling a card. The card that is chosen was meant to be pulled in that instance, for that question, for you or your client.
My #1 Tip While You Learn to Read Tarot Cards
The number one thing to keep in mind is that your tarot journey is very personal to you. We all learn differently. Everyone taps into their intuition differently. And we all have different lenses we view the world through.
There is a lot of leeway within each step of this beginner’s guide to building your own tarot rituals. Make your journey personal. You CAN learn to read tarot in a way that is fun and feels good to you. How you learn to read tarot will be different than how someone else may learn. And both ways are unique and perfect.
Now, let’s get to it!
Step-by-Step Beginner’s Guide to Reading Tarot Cards
Acquire a Tarot Card Deck
It has been said that one should be gifted a tarot deck before they could start reading tarot. In my opinion, this advice is outdated. If you feel called to learn how to read tarot for yourself and others, you should do it. There is no need to wait or hint to friends and family that they should buy you a deck.
Additionally, connecting to the deck or decks you use is just as if not more important than whether it was gifted to you. Whether you are buying a deck in person or online, you should pick the deck that you are drawn to.
Each deck creator has their own take on the cards and their meanings. This gives different decks a different vibe. For example, a majority of tarot decks out there are based on the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot. I have seen many decks recreating similar images but with different artistic flair, animals, more diverse people, etc while I have seen other deck creators creating imagery that closely reflects the meaning of the card versus the original Rider-Waite-Smith card image.
Also, keep in mind, different types of imagery will call to different types of readers. Pick the deck that the images, feel, vibe and energy matches you and your style.
How to Use Tarot Cards for the First Time
Connect with Your Tarot Cards
Tarot is a very personal tool, so you need to figure out what feels good to you. There are no right or wrong answers here.
Some people say to sleep with your deck under your pillow.
For me, I do a combination of things including carrying the deck in my purse or backpack, putting it on my nightstand, looking at each of the cards and/or reading the guidebook. Sometimes, I do one, two or all of these things.
Figure out what feels good to you. It can be trial and error.
Also, the more you use a deck for readings, the more you will connect with it as well. So do not get too, too hung up on this step. Keep it simple and keep on with your journey.
Clean Your Tarot Deck
Personally, I like cleaning the energy of my tarot deck when I get it. I think of it the same way as I think of my crystals, before you purchase people touch it from creation to the moment it reaches my hands. Everyone that touches the crystal or deck leaves a bit of his or her energy on it, so I like to clean it when I get it.
Some ways to clean your deck are: leaving it in moonlight (preferably the full moon), smoking with palo santo or sage, leaving selenite on the deck for a period of time, imagining white light around the deck or spraying the area with an essential oil spray.
Additionally, once you begin using your deck, shuffling your tarot cards cleans out old, stagnant energy.
As you work more with your deck, you will start to get the feel of when your deck may need cleaning or is overused. For example, if your readings are starting to make no sense to you or just feel a little off.
And, I’ll probably sound like a broken record but… find what feels good and works for you.
Bless, Pray or Meditate Over Your Tarot Deck
To keep things simple, most guidebooks that accompany each tarot deck usually give a prayer or meditation to consecrate the deck.
If you feel called to add in your own flair feel free to do so. I always like to emphasize that the deck will be used for the highest good of everyone, I want protection from unwanted energy and I only want to attract positive vibes, energy, and guidance from the universe and my divine team.
Create a Sacred Space to Set the Tone
Creating a sacred space is meant to set the tone for the tarot card reading. You want to bring in positive energy and get you in tune with the tarot cards and the person you are doing the reading for.
At the very least, you will want to cleanse and bless the area.
Similar to how you previously cleansed your cards, you will want to choose you’re your favorite method to cleanse the area where you will do your reading. Say a prayer or blessing of your choosing. As mentioned earlier, I like to ask for protection, positive vibes and information only for the highest good.
While it is not necessary, but it’s nice to have, you can decorate the space you are doing the reading in. You can include crystals, a tarot reading cloth, flowers, candles, statues of deities, incense or whatever you like to make the space feel sacred.
Do what you need or like to do to set the tone. Make it personal and fun. Also, these are just suggestions. You don’t have to go out and start buying things to create a sacred space. If you have them on hand and you want to use them, great! If not, all you need is you, your tarot cards and good intentions.
How to Read Tarot Cards
Think of Your Question
So this is where tarot card reading goes from what you typically see in movies to a personal growth and self-discovery tool.
As Tony Robbins says “The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your questions.”
If you are looking to be told what to do and relinquish responsibility for yourself and your life, tarot is not for you.
Each tarot card provides its own unique message or clues to help guide you in the direction that is for the highest good of yourself and others. Another important thing to keep in mind is you ultimately have your own free will. Even if you get a certain message or download, you have to do your part to get the outcome that you want.
As a good rule of thumb, avoid questions that involve “yes or no”, “when” or “why”.
It’s better to ask open-ended questions using “what” and “how”. For example, “what do I need to know about XYZ?”, “what can I do to make this better” or “how can I achieve XYZ?”.
Open-ended questions give you the space to apply the tarot cards’ unique messaging to your situation. And also give you time to use your intuition to guide you on what you really want and what next steps are best for you.
Shuffle Your Tarot Deck
Shuffling your deck is important for many reasons. Shuffling is meant to clear the deck’s energy, to infuse the deck with your energy and for you to connect with the deck.
This helps with assuring that the answers you get are aligned with the universe, cosmos, what-have-you and connecting with your deck helps you intuitively interpret the cards that you pull.
While shuffling, you or whomever you are reading for will want to think of or ask the question they would like guidance on to infuse the question into the deck.
There is no wrong way to shuffle your cards. Find what works best for you and feel free to use a combination of these techniques. And switch up styles as you want or need to.
Here are the most common ways to shuffle your deck:
- Overhand Shuffling– moving cards to the front and back of the deck to mix your cards
- Casino Style Shuffle– fanning two piles together to mix the tarot cards
- Big Messy Pile– sounds like the name. Reminds me of the trick/game 52 card pick up. Make a big messy pile, mix it up and then put it back together
- Cut the deck– Make as many or as few piles and then put the deck together
Choose or Make a Spread
There are many spreads that you can use. The most typical spreads are 1, 3 or 5 card spreads and the Celtic Cross. You would choose the spread depending on the question and how much guidance you would like.
For example, for a deeper view of a situation, you may want to use the Celtic Cross. For a quick daily draw, you may want to pull 1 card.
Most guide books have examples of some spreads you can use for your readings and explain where to place each card and what question is being answered with each card. This is a great place to get ideas and use it for reference.
Also, If you have questions already in your mind, you can use them to make your own spread!
Interpret Your Tarot Cards: Tap into Your Intuition
Now the fun begins! The main ways to read the cards are to read the guidebook for each card or to use your intuition to read the card. At the beginning of getting to know a deck, I usually use a combination of both.
Some cards are easier to interpret than others. Each tarot card reading will get easier as you practice more and more.
Some things to keep in mind while using your intuition are the differences in the Major and Minor Arcana.
The Major Arcana are considered the trump cards that depict major life events throughout your spiritual journey. Each major represents has a different archetype, energy and lesson associates with it.
The Minor Arcana is made up of 4 suits: cups, wands, swords, and pentacles. Each suit is associated with an element and life area. Cups typically represent water and emotions; Wands represent fire and spirituality; Swords typically represent air and mentality/inner world; Pentacles represents earth and physical.
First, I look at the card and ask myself a series of questions:
- If a Major Arcana is pulled, what big life lesson is being depicted here? And how does this archetype relate to the question that was asked?
- If a Minor Arcana card is pulled, the first thing I ask is what suit is this card?
- What theme is associated with this card?
- How does this card make me feel?
- What energy do I feel from the card?
- What do these images look like to me?
- How does the story being told in this card relate to my question?
- Are there symbols on the card and what do they mean?
Sometimes I say to myself “Ok, Universe and Divine team, what are you trying to tell me today?” And I just sit with the card and listen to what comes.
Don’t second-guess it. Sometimes the message you get using your intuition is not in the guidebook. And that is ok. There is nothing wrong with that.
Interpret Your Tarot Cards: Check the Guidebook (Optional)
If you really want to hone your intuition and not be dependent on looking up the meaning of cards, I recommend checking the guidebook AFTER you did your own interpretation.
When reading the tarot card meaning, I compare what is in the book to what I intuitively interpreted. Also, look for additional messages that apply to the question.
As with anything, take what resonates with you and leave the rest.
Journal or Take Notes
To kick your tarot journal up a notch, I found it helpful to document my readings.
For daily draws, I use a monthly calendar in my notebook with different symbols to represent each card. At a glance, you can see all the cards pulled throughout the month. Additionally, if I had time, I would write my interpretation of the card with the date and how it applied to my life.
For larger spreads and more specific questions, I would include the date, the deck used, the question(s) asked, if I used any crystals, the spread and my interpretation for each card and the overall message or summary.
These are just some basic suggestions. Include as much or as little information as you would like!
To close out the session, I usually give thanks. Give thanks to the Universe, my divine team, the deck and the person I am reading for.
RECAP: Simple Beginner’s Guide to Read Tarot Cards for Yourself and Others
I hope you enjoyed reading this simple guide on tarot reading basics! The most important part is to remember there is no right or wrong way to learn how to read tarot. You have to find a process that feels good to you. We all learn differently and we all are own our own special journey in life and in tarot!
Please like, comment and share if you found this how-to-guide helpful!
P.S. The 2020 Tarot Forecast & Journal Experience is still available. Check it out here if you love done for you tarot spreads and journal prompts to help you apply tarot messages to your life!
P.P.S. If interested, I offer a variety of readings here.