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How to Accurately and Effectively Read Tarot
What Is Tarot?
Tarot started in Europe, around the 15th century as a card game. In the late 18th century, it was used by mystics, occultists, and gypsies for divination. A spread, is a Tarot term for the cards placed in front of an individual in a predictable pattern. A mystic could tell a person's fortune or spiritual pathways by determining which card(s) end up on a person's spread. For a fee...
There are a total of 78 cards in a traditional deck. Like a deck of cards, there are four suits, (wands, pentacles, swords and cups). These suits are commonly referred to as Minor Arcana. As the deck is made primarily of these cards, these are the more fleeting emotions. (Anger, sorrow, happiness, peace.) They are often seen as minor flaws in a personality or minor solutions within a problem. Major Arcana are the 22 additional cards. These are the cards that change destinies and reveal fates. They are often displayed as very powerful symbols.
0- Fool (Often depicted as a youth facing crossroads. It represents innocence, choice, potential).
I- Magician (Often depicted as a man, with a wand or candle, overlooking a table of magical supplies. It represents transformation, creativity, and individuality).
II- High Priestess (Often depicted as a woman, who sits on a throne during the night. It represents the feminine, balance, and mystery).
III- Empress (Often depicted as a woman who is pregnant, in a scene of beauty. It represents motherhood, unconditional love, and perfection).
IV- Emperor (Often depicted as a man, who sits on a throne during the day. It represents the father; wisdom, structure, and rules).
V- Hierophant (Often depicted as a holy man sitting next to a scale; or two figures of black and white. It represents the soul, religion, and the spiritual plateau).
VI- Lovers (Often depicted as two people holding hands, or being struck by arrows. It represents sexuality, the powers of love, and emotions.)
VII- Chariot (Often depicted as a man on a throne controlling beasts beneath him. It represents self-control, force, and action).
VIII- Strength (Often depicted as a man wrestling a lion, or a solitary lion. It represents ideas, control over one's emotions, and courage).
IX- Hermit (Often depicted as a lone man, wrapped in a cloak or completely hooded, holding a lantern or candle. It represents solitude, patience, and knowledge).
X- Wheel of Fortune/ Destiny (Often depicted as a wheel turning clockwise. It represents destiny, connection, and spiritual pathways).
XI- Justice (Often depicted as a woman on a throne, either blindfolded or with scales. It represents law, Karma, and fairness).
XII- Hanged Man (Often depicted as a man hanging upside down, either clothed or naked. It represents paradox, vulnerability, and sacrifice).
XIII- Death (Often depicted as a man in black, a wraith, a skeleton, or a demon, holding a scythe. It represents rebirth, transformation, and forced sacrifice).
XIV- Temperance (Often depicted as an angel pouring water. It represents purity, moderation, and harmony).
XV- Devil (Often depicted as a demon, Satan, or a skeleton. It represents submission, counter-actions, and ignorance).
XVI- Tower (Often depicted as a crumbling castle, a tower in a storm, ruins, or figures falling from the sky. It represents separation, reality, and necessity).
XVII- Star (Often depicted as a picture of the cosmos, nighttime, or a woman pouring water. It represents enlightenment, faith, and guidance).
XVIII- Moon (Often depicted as a full lunar body, wolves howling, or images of light and dark. It represents deception, basic instincts (bestiality), and the subconscious).
XIX- Sun (Often depicted as a solar body, with babies or couples in harmony. It represents reliability, redemption, and celebration).
XX- Judgment (Often depicted as an angel or judge proceeding over a couple in chains or bonded together. It represents cleansing, reconciliation, and the journey's end).
XXI- World (Often depicted as the Earth as a whole, or a circle, similar to the wheel; with a woman standing below or inside it. It represents completion, the divine, and new beginnings).
Rider-Waite Deck, Major ArcanaClick thumbnail to view full-size
How To Choose Your Deck
Now that you know a little bit about Tarot, it's time to buy your first to 800th deck. There are thousands to choose from. What are you into? Cats? Dragons? Faeries? Egyptian mythology? Celtic mythology? Norse mythology? Vampires? Angels? There are decks for all of these.
Having trouble coming up with sites to browse and choose your deck?
Now that you know where to go, it's time to teach you how to choose your deck.
It's not enough that you like the pictures, you have to feel drawn to it in some way. Some people get anxious, some swear that they feel the images come to life. It's different for everyone, the draw that needs to come from a deck. It needs to pull at your frugality, no matter the cost, you must need this deck. And if you're that person that likes to wait a few days before making a purchase, it must call you back, once or twice, proving that you need this deck.
It's the energy that draws you to it. Your spiritual energy, you must have an instant bond with each picture, feel like the artist has made this deck for you.
Celtic Cross Spread
How To Read Tarot
We've got our decks and we're psyched! What's the next step?
Rip your cards away from the instruction booklet.
THROW YOUR INSTRUCTION BOOKLET AWAY!!!
I can't emphasize that enough. You don't need it. Even if you're a brand-spanking new reader, you don't need it. Even if you have no idea what you're doing, toss it into the trash. Even if you think the pictures are pretty, or you just want pictures of the spreads, or a friend of yours recommended that you read it-- you'll be wasting your time. Just put the book in the trash can and walk away.
You're doing this for you. You are drawn to a specific type of tarot. Your energy will charge this tarot deck and no others. Why would you waste your time on interpreting a deck with someone else's thoughts, someone else's meanings? Tarot decks are only effective if they are charged and read by the individual. Yes, someone else drew the deck and had a specific meaning in mind when the deck was published. But it's not their deck anymore. It's yours. So, make it your own. Throw the booklet away.
Look at each card individually. Have a notebook beside you to jot down what the card means to you. Cards can be read positively and negatively, so, write down both interpretations as you place meanings with each card in your deck. Once you've labeled each card with both a positive and a negative meaning, it's time to charge your deck.
How To Charge Your Deck
I) Place each card into the palm of your dominant hand. Place your other hand above the card.
II) Imagine your hand heat up with positive emotions. Picture things that make you laugh, things that make you feel joy and love. Imagine those emotions flowing into the card.
III) Cover the entire card with this light, this energy.
IV) Repeat with all 78 cards in your deck.
(Note: Some decks come with blank cards, throw these away with your instruction booklet. They serve no purpose while you are doing your own readings).
Time To Read!
Think of an open-ended question. (Yes or no questions will yield both answers, so try to avoid them. There is a spread to use if it's unavoidable). Something that's been bothering you, or something you've been worried or anxious about. When will you get married? When will you finally get out of your parent's basement? What does your future look like? Visualize the question in your mind, as you shuffle your deck.
Shuffle your deck. Shuffle the deck until the cards stick together. Or shuffle them a number of times until you feel that it's sufficiently shuffled. You'll want to make this a habit. Shuffle the cards the same way, every time you read. These are your cards. They need to be shuffled habitually. Shuffled in your individual style, in your individual way. Some people cut the deck, if you do so, make sure that all the cards are facing in the same direction. Each card can represent both positive and negative attributes; so it's unnecessary to have them "flipped".
Let's start with a Traditional Spread. The most famous. The Celtic Cross Spread (see picture for a visual).
Card 1: Self (The Self card is the mental or spiritual state of the Seeker-- the person who has asked the question).
Card 2: Conflict (The Conflict card tells us why the person is asking this. What negative or obstacle is in the way of the Seeker?)
Card 3: Past (The Past card shows us what happened to the Seeker in the past. Why wasn't this an issue before? Why is it a concern of the Seeker now?)
Card 4: Present (The Present card shows us what's happening now. What's happened recently to make the Seeker have whatever conflict is bothering them).
Card 5: Best Outcome (The Best Outcome card shows us the Seeker's best option for the road ahead of them. Negative cards are common. Some times it's not worth fighting for and a loss may be just apart of their path).
Card 6: Future (The Future card shows us what will happen in the next couple of days or weeks. Note: This reading is not for distant future paths. Just the immediate future).
Card 7: Factors (The Factors card shows us what is going on that's affecting the situation. Check the Self card. Are the two meshing well? If not, there's something going on with the Seeker to have the two imbalanced or conflicting with one another).
Card 8: Influences (The Influences card shows us the external influences that are fueling this problem. People, events, and emotions can affect the outcome outside of the Seeker's control).
Card 9: Hopes and Fears (The Hopes & Fears card shows us what the Seeker is hoping and fearing regarding this question).
Card 10: Final Outcome (The Final Outcome card shows us the answer to the Seeker's question).
Phew! Good job!
After a reading, place the cards you've read back in order, and underneath the rest of the cards that were not pulled. Never read another question with a non-shuffled deck!! Every question deserves to have its own shuffle. Once you've read, and you'd like to read again, shuffle the deck. You should feel tired after a reading. After you've been reading for awhile, you may feel drained or unmotivated. This is normal.
As always, your readings might not be 100% accurate. If you're getting paid, always warn your Seeker that this is for their entertainment and that you're not responsible for anything that happens. This is to protect yourself from lawsuits. As you get more familiar with your cards, and their meanings, readings will become more accurate.
If you are an Empath, or have psychic or medium abilities, don't doubt your abilities. The worse thing you can do is read someone and not trust your instincts. Never give false hope. Read the cards as you see them. Never spare any feelings-- the Seeker asked this question, they should have been prepared for the truth. Lies will end up hurting you and the Seeker in the end.
There are thousands of spreads to read from. I have five layouts for beginners and more advanced readers to try. You can learn about more spreads from these websites:
I- THREE CARD SPREAD (Pic 1)
This spread is used for quick divinations. When most people do "free readings," they rely on this spread because there is not much to divine from. It's straight-forward, easy to read, and gives a vague answer to the Seeker's question. Enough so, that the reader can "fill" in a lot of detail from either cold reading, or by using vague language as to pertain to a lot of people rather than the individual.
Card 1: Past (The Past card shows us what has happened in the past to make the Seeker ask this particular question).
Card 2: Present/ Self (The Present or some times Self card shows us what the Seeker is doing wrong in the present).
Card 3: Future/ Outcome (The Future or Outcome card tells us the answer to the Seeker's question. Remember to be honest. Good or bad, the Seeker has the right to know).
II- YES OR NO SPREAD (Pic 2)
This spread is used for "yes" or "no" questions only. The spread reveals both answers. If you do this, then this will happen. If you don't do this, than this other thing will happen. Tell the Seeker in advance that the spread works this way. They might change their minds and ask their question a different way.
Card 1: Self (The Self card shows us the emotions and state of mind of the Seeker).
Card 2: Conflict (The Conflict card shows us the objects in the way of the Seeker having what they want).
Card 3: Yes (The Yes card shows us the reality of what would happen if the Seeker obtains what they want).
Card 4: No (The No card shows us the reality of what would happen if the Seeker doesn't get what they want).
III- THE RELATIONSHIP SPREAD (Pic 3)
This spread is used primarily for relationships. There are two self cards and two conflicts representing what's going on between the Seeker and the Seeker's other. This spread can be used for lovers, friends, enemies, or for family.
Card 1: Self (The Self card shows us the Seeker's emotions and state of mind at the time of the reading).
Card 2: Conflict (The Conflict card shows us why the Seeker has asked this question. What's gone wrong in this relationship?)
Card 3: Other Self (The Other Self card is what the other person(s) the Seeker is referring to in the relationship. It's their state of mind and emotions at the time of the reading).
Card 4: Other Conflict (The Other Conflict card shows us what's going on that's making the Other conflict with the Seeker).
Card 5: Past (The Past card reflects how they met, happiness or the sorrows they shared, a moment of their unity and balance).
Card 6: Present (The Present card shows us what's going on now. Why the sudden conflict or where the relationship is heading).
Card 7: Future (The Future card shows us what the most logical path that the relationship will follow. Is this a relationship headed for disaster? Or is there a mending here?)
Card 8: Finality (The Finality card is always a warning. People can change, this fate is not set in stone. This is what the Seeker needs to do to fix the issues and resolve problems. If it's something the Seeker won't do-- allow them to let go of their current predicament).
IV- THE WHEEL SPREAD (Pic 4)
The Wheel Spread is also commonly known to be a yearly spread. If someone asks you where they're going to be in a year... or five... or ten, this is the spread to use. It's a 10-card spread, eight cards circling the Self and the Conflict cards. This spread will tell the Seeker pitfalls and successes to look for as they continue their journey over the long haul.
Card 1: Self (The Self card shows us the Seeker's overall state of emotions and mind during the year(s) questioned).
Card 2: Conflict (The Conflict card shows us the major conflict(s) that arise during the year(s)).
Card 3: Present (The Present card is our starting position. What's going on in the Seeker's life at the moment. This could be a feeling or a state of mind or even a memory).
Card 4: Path (The Path card shows us the first step of the Seeker's journey. Depending on the time frame it could be weeks or months into the future. It's this step (either positive or negative) that the Seeker needs to know. This is the beginning of his journey).
Card 5: Discovery (The Discovery card shows us the next step. What's the next meaningful event that happens in the Seeker's life?)
Card 6: Lull (The Lull card represents downtime. Is the Seeker using all of his ability to accomplish goals? Or are there times when the Seeker isn't focused 100%).
Card 7: Emotions (The Emotions card is the mid-way point of the reading. What happens when the Seeker is mid-way into the journey? It's possible that the Seeker scraps a project and moves onto something else. Is the Seeker on the original path? Or are you seeing something new?)
Card 8: Ambition (The Ambition card takes on either the new path or the steam of the Seeker's original path. It steams the Seeker to where the journey must go for completion).
Card 9: Finality (The Finality card shows is the either completion or the failure of the Seeker's projected path. Does the Seeker get what they wanted?)
Card 10: Great Unknown (The Great Unknown card shows us the future beyond this reading. What happens to the Seeker in the future? What does the Seeker get to look forward to?)
V- THE NON-TRADITIONAL SELF SPREAD (Pic 5)
This spread is the one I personally use for Self questions. From where a Seeker is heading to when will a Seeker find a job. I use this spread because of it's versatility and it's less complicated than a Traditional Celtic spread.
Card 1: Self (The Self card shows us where the Seeker is emotionally and physically).
Card 2: Conflict (The Conflict card shows us the reason why the Seeker has asked the question. What's troubling or stopping the Seeker from harmony?)
Card 3: Past (The Past card shows us what's happened prior to the reading).
Card 4: Present (The Present card shows us what's happening now. Or what's coming in the next week or weeks that will affect the Seeker).
Card 5: Future (The Future card shows us what will happen in the future. The Future card can even show us what will happen tomorrow or in the vast distance, depending on what you feel. What's the end result for the Seeker?)
Card 6: Finality (The Finality card gives us the answer to the Seeker's question. Positive or negative, tell the Seeker what you see).
Card 7: Destiny Past (Cards 7-9 are Destiny Cards. Most of the time, Seeker's don't ask you very important questions. They ask you fleeting questions. Destiny cards are pulled to show the Seeker where they are heading. Destiny Past shows where they've been).
Card 8: Destiny Present (The Destiny Present shows where they are now).
Card 9: Destiny Future (The Destiny Future card shows us where they need/ want/ or will be depending on their journey).
A Sample Read
We've got our cards. We've thrown away the booklet. We've given the cards meanings, and charged the deck. We know a little bit of other spreads. We've settled on one and ready to give it a try! Find a friend or ask yourself a question. Shuffle the deck, lay out your cards, then START READING!!
But you may still be asking yourself "how do you read"? "Is there a template, especially if you do a reading online?"
There is! Let's read a spread together!
Question From The Seeker: When will I make money?
This isn't a "yes" or "no" question. The Three-Card Spread will not be detailed enough for this Seeker. This isn't a relationship question. The Wheel isn't necessary because we don't know when this person will make money or if they ever will. Let's go ahead and do a non-traditional spread. (See Pic)
Self: XX- JUDGMENT (Major change- positive way) In the Self position, we look for traits of the card that would reflect a Seeker's mental and physical state.
Conflict: IX- HERMIT (Distraction) This card is in the Conflict position. The Hermit normally reflects wisdom, so the opposition would be what the card reads.
Past: 0- FOOL (Innocence/ untapped potential) This card is in the Past position. We're looking for what happened in the past that enabled the Seeker to make money. Or why, has the Seeker suddenly lost the ability. In this case, it seems the Seeker has had a life-long struggle. As the Fool, innocent/ or unable to make money in the past.
Present: 10 of Wands (Weight of burderns/ responsibility) This card is a Minor Arcana. Remember from the earlier lessons that Major Arcana and Minor Arcana differ. While the Seeker's first 3 cards were all Major events-- this one is lessened. While the Minor Arcana can still give insight to the Seeker's question, we know that, this question has haunted the Seeker. This might be a life-long issue rather than just a fleeting question. The Minor Arcana here, is reflecting the Seeker's life-long battle with money.
Future: 3 of Swords (Rejection/ pain) This card is in the Future position. While this is a wholly negative card, the Seeker is aware of how hard it is to make money. While this sits in the Future, we are aware that this card is minor, and the Seeker may only have to endure a little longer before rewards come.
Finality: King of Pentacles (Wealth/ financial stability) In the Finality position, we do learn that the Seeker's hard work does pay off! It looks like the Seeker will make money...eventually. Only when the Seeker's luck turns, will the tide turn.
Past: XII- HANGED MAN (Wisdom/ sacrifice) We already know this about the Seeker. Unable to make a dime even though they've put in a lot of time and energy.
Present: 6 of Pentacles (Generosity) We see that the Seeker has a good heart. They may not be able to make money due to the fact that they are focused on the needs of others rather than themselves. This may be what's causing the rejection; as their own needs aren't getting attention while so many other things are.
Future: Knight of Cups (Intuition/ passion) The final card shows us how the Seeker will make money. Through their passions and intuitions will the hard work eventually pay off. It's just a matter of letting go of the distractions and focusing on their work.