Updated: Sep 8, 2021
Here are 5 Simple Tips to Read Tarot cards whether you're a total newbie or brushing up on your skills. Those tips will help you read for yourself or as you practice with friends and family.
1- PREPARE YOUR READING ENVIRONMENT
You will find it easier to focus on the cards, their colours and energy if you remove distractions. Make sure the room is tidy and as zen as possible. You may have a lot of objects in the room, but it shouldn't be a mess. The table on which you read should be reserved (at that time at least) for Tarot. No magazines, hand lotion or what not should be lying around and therefore getting in the way of the reading. Some flowers, a green plant or candles are welcome on the table if they make you feel calm and focused. Many like to use crystals.
Whether you read directly on your table or on a cloth, make sure the background is not too busy. Some "Tarot reading cloths" are printed with lots of little stars and dots and and and. I don't recommend those. A plain colour will help the cards pop out and speak to you louder.
It's not to say that you cannot read in the middle of a dirty kitchen with the tv on, but if you do it that way, you'll lose at least 50% of the reading. If not more. So even if you live in a small apartment or a flatshare, take some time before the reading to prepare the room and turn it into a Tarot parlor, if only for an hour. It's worth it :)
Now the cards are on the table...
2 - GO WITH YOUR FIRST INSTINCT
You may have read that the 10 of Swords is a card of no return, the one closest to death and disasters. But as you draw it, you may feel a sense of relief. So you are torn between what you've been taught and what you're actually feeling. It's not easy to make a choice in this case but my experience of reading for hundreds of people has taught me at least one thing: go with your first instinct.
Why you are sensing something that contradicts what you have learned could come from the design of your deck: maybe you are drawing from a gypsy cat deck and using knowledge from a book about the Marseille Tarot? Maybe you are simply immersed in a reading that only you can fully understand? Maybe the sitter is talking too much and trying to give the answers they are hoping for... Let none of that get in the way.
Of all the simple tips to read Tarot this is probably the most important one, especially as you build up your confidence.
Your gut feeling is always the right answer. The language of Tarot is based on intuition and energy. Yes, it takes study, time and dedication to learn all the symbols and messages of the cards, but even once you own this knowledge, always follow your intuition.
3- DON'T MAKE UP THE ANSWER BEFORE DRAWING THE CARDS
Even if your heart is burning with a crazy desire for the person you're asking questions about, even if you want this job more than anything else: don't decide of the answer before the reading. Before doing the reading for yourself or before reading for someone who is very eager for something to happen, take a deep breath. Try to rationalize your thinking and put some distance between your desire and your question.
Don't influence the cards or the way you read them to make them say what you want to hear. Cards can always be interpreted endlessly, but somewhere in your head, even when the answer is not what you hoped for, you know what the cards are saying. You know if it's a yes or a no. Accept the answer. Not getting what you want, or getting something different than what you expected is part of life. It's also part of the reading.
If the answer is not what you wanted: go deeper with a new spread. Try to learn from the message you received. Make the most of it. Don't contradict it.
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4- DON'T ASK THE SAME QUESTION TWICE
In the same vein as the advice above: do not ask your question again and again. No, a slight re-phrasing will not fool the cards or make them see the light. Accepting the answer, as disappointing as it may be sometimes, is a matter of respect for your deck.
If you are reading for someone, don't let them reformulate the question somehow. If someone cannot accept the answer the cards have given, it is maybe a problem of phrasing this answer. It is maybe just a matter of time for the sitter to process the information they have been given. But the cards have a message to pass on and they will not change their mind. No matter how many times one asks if their ex will return or if the job interview will lead to a contract.
Try instead to dig deeper into the hows and whys. Try to find learnings and advices in a new spread. The worst that can happen is to ask the same question several times and get more and more confusing answers. Until the cards become silent and simply refuse to speak. Use your deck wisely and if an answer is frustrating, ask something else that can shed some light on what comes next, what can be done to help etc.
Don't forget that Tarot is a tool for guidance above all. Once you are warned, you can better prepare yourself and never forget that you always have your free will. If you get an answer you don't like, accept it. And then try to find a solution with the cards to paint your own canvas.
5 - PRACTICE WITH PEN & PAPER
Whether you are a beginner or not, it's always good to keep your favorite Tarot reading book at hand when practicing alone or reading for a friend. Ideally, the book should match the deck you are using but if you are familiar enough with the system of Tarot any book that inspires you and helps you dig deeper will do. Take notes of your reading and double check in the book when in doubt.
It is very helpful to keep a Tarot Journal. Simply write the date, the question asked and the cards drawn with some keywords to keep it short and sweet or describe your feelings and go in more details if you feel that the writing will help you process the information better. You will also sharpen your skills when going back to earlier readings and previsions after some time has passed.
You can see where you possibly made a mistake or where you missed a clue. I like to do this for my weekly readings. On Sundays, I read for the week ahead and take some notes (see my tutorial for the weekly reading here). A week or two later I can easily check my interpretation. It also helps to learn, hands-on, all the smallest, most subtle meanings of a card.
Got more simple tips to read Tarot to share with us? Then leave a comment below :)