Welcome to this introduction to Tarot reading. I have been reading Tarot cards now for nearly eleven years and find it a wonderful form of divination. Over the years I have introduced many friends to the Tarot and helped them start on the path of reading the cards, now I hope to be able to share my love for this fantastic art form on a much wider scale. In this article I intend to cover how to conduct a Tarot reading, the cards and how to interpret them and also a sample Tarot Spread. I hope that this will inspire at least a few people out there to try their hand at Tarot reading as I firmly believe that anyone and everyone has the potential to read the cards. All you need is an open mind, and a set of cards.
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Finding The Right Deck For You
The first step to conducting your Tarot readings is, of course, to find a Tarot deck. This is not always easy. These days there are hundreds upon hundreds of variations to the original Tarot design; all with different themes, images and symbolism. What is important is finding a deck with imagery that suits you. If you prefer the classic imagery, then the Rider Waite deck or Tarot of Marseilles may be the deck for you, but if you prefer something different then that is absolutely fine. I personally favour the Phantasmagoric Theatre Tarot deck as its circus and theatre theme and cartoon style appeals to me. You may find that you work your way through a few decks until you find one that works for you, this is not a problem and doesn't mean you are a bad Tarot reader. Over the years I have amassed quite a collection of Tarot decks searching for the one that was right for me. Your best bet to avoid quite a costly search is to search for Tarot decks online and search for pictures of the cards and see if any of the images speak to you. This is much easier than shopping around for Tarot cards in the shops as they are usually sealed packs and you are unable to take them out and look at them. Once you have found a deck that works for you (and you will, I firmly believe there is a deck suited to everyone out there) it is time to conduct your first reading!
Have you had a tarot reading before?
How To Conduct A Tarot Reading
Now this is actually completely down to you as the Tarot reader. There are many different ways to conduct a reading, I imagine as many as there are Tarot readers, but here I will explain how I conduct a reading along with some variations that I have encountered. It will then be for you to decide what works well for you.
The first step in reading the Tarot is to find out what is being asked by the inquirer. In most cases the inquirer will be another person, as it is considered by many to be a bad idea to try and read for yourself. This is due to the level of bias we have towards ourselves, making it very easy to misinterpret the cards and just say what we want to hear and make connections where there are none. I would strongly suggest if you want a Tarot reading for yourself, getting someone else to do it for you.
So, you now know what is being asked of you by the inquirer, be it a direct question, a reading on an area of their lives (an overview of their love life for example) or a completely general reading. General readings are something that some Tarot readers do not like to do, as they feel that the reading may be scattered or random as there are so many things in a persons life for the cards to pick up on. I am of the opinion that the cards will pick up on what the inquirer needs to address at that moment in time, so have no problem conducting a general reading. It will be up to you to decide whether or not to include them in your repertoire.
Once you have the question in mind it is now time to shuffle the cards. Remember that Tarot cards traditionally have an upright and a reversed meaning so it is important to shuffle the cards in such a way that some will come out reversed. Some people do not like to use reversed meanings in their readings and in that case would not reverse any cards in shuffling. There are many different ways to shuffle the cards before a reading. Some readers shuffle the cards before passing them to the inquirer to shuffle, or in some cases, cut the deck or just tap the top card to have some of their energy transferred to the reading. However, some readers consider it unacceptable for anyone other than them to touch their cards, feeling that this can alter the energy of the reading or the cards in a negative or non beneficial way. I am of the opinion that the reading is for the inquirer, so having their energy mixing with the cards is a massive help. Obviously if you are doing a reading for someone who is not with you, they cannot shuffle the cards. In this case I would suggest picturing the person in your mind as you shuffle so as to tune yourself and your cards into what you hope to achieve. It is important for both you as the reader, and the inquirer, to focus on the question at hand whilst shuffling the cards, try not to let your mind wander as this may affect the clarity of your reading.
Interpreting The Cards
Right. You have selected your question, shuffled or cut the cards, now it is time to read them. So let us now turn to the cards in the deck and discover how to interpret them. What I intend to provide here are some of the basic interpretations of each card that I have come to know through working with my Tarot deck. I would like to point out here that many Tarot decks have different symbolism and imagery, which cause different interpretations, and also many readers have found through years of working with the cards that they have developed their own personal different meanings for them. So these meanings are by no means set in stone, I offer them as a starting point and hope that you will go on to find deeper meanings for the cards through working with them. I would just like to repeat that I will only be writing some possible meanings for each card as writing every possible interpretation is a potentially endless task.
Quick Reference Table
Other Names for Suit
Pentacles, Rings, Disks
A Tarot deck is split into two Arcana, the Major and Minor Arcana. Each individual card is called an Arcanum. The Minor Arcana is then further split into four suits – Coins (sometimes called Pentacles, Rings or Disks and attributed to the Element of Earth), Swords (sometimes called spears and attributed to the Element of Air), Wands (sometimes called rods or staves and attributed to the Element of Fire), and Cups (sometimes called chalices and attributed to the Element of Water). You may find in some Tarot decks that all the suits have been substituted for different imagery, but you will usually be told in the accompanying book which of the original suits they correlate to.
The Major Arcana are archetypal symbols they can be seen to be mapping out the journey through life of the first card – The Fool. When they turn up in a reading they show powerful forces at work in the inquirers life. There are 22 cards in the Major Arcana numbered from 0 to 21.
The Minor Arcana are split into four suits and each suit contains ten 'pip' cards numbered 1 to 10 and then four face cards. The face cards can represent people in the inquirers life.
The Major Arcana
0 – The Fool
Meaning – Young at heart, blind impulses, breaking free, a new adventure.
Reversed Meaning – Carelessness, irresponsible, hazy, lack of focus.
1 – The Magician
Meaning – Determined, using ones skills, organised, manifesting ones dreams into reality.
Reversed Meaning – Sly, Liar, pretences, arguments.
2 – The High Priestess
Meaning – Inspiration, creativity, imagination, insight.
Reversed Meaning – Mistrust, fear of the unknown, psychic attack, not trusting ones inner self.
3 – The Empress
Meaning – Compassion, feminine dominance, empathy, the divine feminine.
Reversed Meaning - Vanity, cruelty towards weaker beings, blocked empathy
4 – The Emperor
Meaning – Will power, stability, leadership, the divine masculine.
Reversed Meaning – Unable to listen, cowardice, bad temper.
5 – The Heirophant (In my Deck he is know as the Grand Master)
Meaning – Spiritual guidance, teacher, philosophical.
Reversed Meaning – Hypocritical, intolerant, rebellious.
6 – The Lovers
Meaning – Love, new love affair, the heart fighting the head.
Reversed Meaning – A bad relationship, a wrong decision.
7 – The Chariot
Meaning – A challenge, focus, achieving your goals.
Reversed Meaning – Loss of direction, failure, being invaded.
8 – Strength
Meaning – Strength, will power, courage, self assurance.
Reversed Meaning – Repression, impulsive, harming others through your deeds.
9 – The Hermit
Meaning – Prayer, study, a time of retreat.
Reversed Meaning – Loneliness, immaturity, narrow minded.
10 – The Wheel of Fortune
Meaning – Opportunity in disguise, good fortune, change.
Reversed Meaning – Setbacks, bad fortune, negative change.
11 – Justice
Meaning – Try and see things from another view point. Seek balance. Fairness.
Reversed Meaning – Prejudice, misjudgement.
12 – The Hanged Man
Meaning – Transition, sacrifice for a change.
Reversed Meaning – Playing the victim, self – centred, playing the martyr.
13 – Death
Meaning – Rebirth, fresh start, obstacles removed.
Reversed Meaning – Holding on to things that are bad for you, resisting change.
14 – Temperance
Meaning – Balance, harmony, self control.
Reversed Meaning – Corruption, refusal to learn from the past, imbalance.
15 – The Devil
Meaning – Sexual obsession, materialism, greed, things that are bad for you, addiction.
Reversed Meaning – Overcoming urges, developing self worth.
16 – The Blasted Tower
Meaning – Calamity, destruction, a bolt from the blue, violence.
Reversed Meaning – Break down of old ways making way for the new. Breakthrough into new areas.
17 – The Star
Meaning – Hope, unconventionality, revolutionary ideas, dreams coming true.
Reversed Meaning – Narrow minded, lack of confidence.
18 – The Moon
Meaning - Unaware of distanced state. Instability, nightmares, bad influence, unknown enemies.
Reversed Meaning – Unforeseen dangers. Illusions.
19 – The Sun
Meaning – Success, happiness, a secure period, open hearted.
Reversed Meaning – Wasting energy, over reacting, minor problems.
20 – Judgement
Meaning – Rewards for efforts, positive change, good health.
Reversed Meaning – Past coming back to haunt you, lack of enthusiasm, fear of change.
21 – The World
Meaning – Fulfilment of dreams, success, favourable outcome, travel.Reversed Meaning. - Heavy burdens, stagnation, negative influences.
The Suit Of Swords
The King of Swords
Meaning – Finding people you can trust. Learn to allow for mistakes and enjoy life.
Reversed Meaning – Intolerant, dogmatic, military.
The Queen of Swords
Meaning – A person of complexity, headstrong, determined.
Reversed Meaning – Stubborn, cold, calculating.
The Knight of Swords
Meaning – Balancing power, confronting negativity.
Reversed Meaning – Angry, aggressive.
The Page of Swords
Meaning – Learn the facts before you jump in. Be aware.
Reversed Meaning – Taking hits for other people. Unprepared.
The 10 of Swords
Meaning – Loss, betrayal, sabotage.
Reversed Meaning – Revenge, unable to accept difficulties.
The 9 of Swords
Meaning – Isolation can be overcome by communication. Seeing what you want but not how to get it.
Reversed Meaning – Living with guilt. Mistrust of others.
The 8 of Swords
Meaning – Be patient, don't give up, work hard to overcome limitations.
Reversed Meaning – Impatience, stress, feeling of being lost.
The 7 of Swords
Meaning – Be guarded, someone is out to get you.
Reversed Meaning – Cowardice, you are in a vulnerable position.
The 6 of Swords
Meaning – Time to retreat, move away from difficulties.
Reversed Meaning – Unavoidable danger, stuck in a bad situation.
The 5 of Swords
Meaning – Parting of ways, it is important to let go.
Reversed Meaning – Pessimism, disappointment, seeking attention.
The 4 of Swords
Meaning – Relax, overcome anxiety.
Reversed Meaning – Stress, tension.
The 3 of Swords
Meaning – Heartbreak, emotional pain, self inflicted pain.
Reversed Meaning – Overcoming pain through communication.
The 2 of Swords
Meaning – Crossroads, difficult decisions.
Reversed Meaning – Refusing to see, running away from choices and responsibilities.
The Ace of Swords
Meaning – Birth, initiation, conceiving of new ideas.
Reversed Meaning – Not thinking clearly, clouded judgement.
The Suit Of Wands
The King of Wands
Meaning – A figure of responsibility, a caring and conscientious person.
Reversed Meaning - Harsh, intolerant.
The Queen of Wands
Meaning – Warm, active person who is good at initiating new projects.
Reversed Meaning – Bossy, stubborn.
The Knight of Wands
Meaning – Heaven sent possibilities, someone who can get you moving.
Reversed Meaning – Impatient, impulsive, overbearing.
The Page of Wands
Meaning – Broadening ones horizons, new possibilities.
Reversed Meaning – Bad intentions, ignorant, rude.
The 10 of Wands
Meaning – Struggle, taking on too much, meeting challenges.
Reversed Meaning – Buckling under pressure.
The 9 of Wands
Meaning – The importance of other peoples contribution, learning from others.
Reversed Meaning – Prideful, refusing support.
The 8 of Wands
Meaning – Moving forward, new ideas, leaving the old behind, moving on to bigger and better things.
Reversed Meaning – Overblown ambitions, travelling against ones will.
The 7 of Wands
Meaning – Make an effort when confronted by obstacles.
Reversed Meaning – Ignoring important issues.
The 6 of Wands
Meaning – Rewards for achievements. Recognition.
Reversed Meaning - Self-importance. Pretences.
The 5 of Wands
Meaning – Strength, courage, coping with challenges, using your skills to get where you want to go.
Reversed Meaning – Overly aggressive, running out of ideas.
The 4 of Wands
Meaning – Harmony with others, finding a place in a group.
Reversed Meaning – Not fitting in, feeling in the way.
The 3 of Wands
Meaning – Leading the way, leadership.
Reversed Meaning – Not practising what you preach. Lack of drive.
The 2 of Wands
Meaning – Working together, a good partnership, synergy.
Reversed Meaning - Not listening to advice, unable to make a decision.
The Ace of Wands
Meaning – Great form of action, new potential.
Reversed Meaning – Lack of energy.
The Suit Of Cups
The King of Cups
Meaning – Stability, moving on without attachment, unconditional love.
Reversed Meaning – Overly emotional, too attached.
The Queen of Cups
Meaning – Be in touch with all your emotions.
Reversed Meaning – Insensitive, perverted.
The Knight of Cups
Meaning – Have fun, flirt, artistic, let go.
Reversed Meaning – Unable to express emotions.
The Page of Cups
Meaning – Give everyone a chance, unable to see clearly, blinded by emotion.
Reversed Meaning – Insecure, withdrawn.
The 10 of Cups
Meaning – Marriage, unity, strength of emotion, strong relationship.
Reversed Meaning – Unstable, selfish, uninvolved.
The 9 of Cups
Meaning – Harmony, emotional stability, making the best of a bad situation.
Reversed Meaning – Too sentimental, superficial happiness.
The 8 of Cups
Meaning – The answer lies within, leaving the old behind to search out the new.
Reversed Meaning – Denying emotional needs, confusion.
The 7 of Cups
Meaning – Confusion about priorities, difficult choices, be realistic.
Reversed Meaning – Daydreaming, make-believe.
The 6 of Cups
Meaning – Friendship, gifts, good will.
Reversed Meaning – Expecting something for nothing, greed, using people.
The 5 of Cups
Meaning – Do not rely too heavily on others, be rational.
Reversed Meaning – Dependent, disillusioned and disappointed.
The 4 of Cups
Meaning – Reach out, take what is offered.
Reversed Meaning – Holding back, withdrawal.
The 3 of Cups
Meaning – Celebration, reunion, a party.
Reversed Meaning – Not enjoying the company of others.
The 2 of Cups
Meaning – New level of friendship, new relationship, love.
Reversed Meaning – Locked in a bad relationship, denial.
The Ace of Cups
Meaning – Creation, new emotions.
Reversed Meaning – Emptiness, selfish actions in the name of love.
The Suit Of Coins
The King of Coins
Meaning – Achieving goals and mastering the material.
Reversed Meaning – Self involved, greedy, all work and no play.
The Queen of Coins
Meaning – Appreciate the good things in life. Celebrate what you have.
Reversed Meaning – Not realising your advantages and blessings.
The Knight of Coins
Meaning – Creative enthusiasm, persistence.
Reversed Meaning – Ideas that are quickly fading.
The Page of Coins
Meaning – Self-improvement, try new things.
Reversed Meaning – Talking rather than doing, ignoring opportunities.
The 10 of Coins
Meaning - Cooperation, inheritance, community, working together.
Reversed Meaning – Monetary loss, problems with work.
The 9 of Coins
Meaning – Gain in fortune, success, appreciation.
Reversed Meaning – Showing off, ego.
The 8 of Coins
Meaning - Mastering skills, becoming a specialist, using your skills in a job.
Reversed Meaning – Wasting talent, empty ambitions.
The 7 of Coins
Meaning – Achievement through working hard. Being rewarded for your hard work.
Reversed Meaning – Laziness, impatience.
The 6 of Coins
Meaning – Self evaluation. Good business prospects.
Reversed Meaning – Generous to the point of putting yourself at a disadvantage. Being taken advantage of.
The 5 of Coins
Meaning – Developing oneself, confronting limitations, new job prospects.
Reversed Meaning – Blaming others for misfortune, financial instability.
The 4 of Coins
Meaning – Financial stability, hard work leading to comfortable living.
Reversed Meaning – Greed, fear of failure, loss of wealth.
The 3 of Coins
Meaning – Using skills to help the community. Being indispensable.
Reversed Meaning – Not interested in helping others, expecting others to do everything.
The 2 of Coins
Meaning – Relocation involving work, a transition.
Reversed Meaning – Unhappy with change.
The Ace of Coins
Meaning – Solid foundations, coming into money.
Reversed Meaning – Hoarding of wealth, insecure foundations.
Celtic Cross Spread Demo
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Now it is time to talk about how to lay out your cards. There are many spreads to choose from, the most commonly used is the Celtic Cross. It is very easy to make up your own spreads, all you need to do is decide how many cards you will use, where they will sit in the spread and, most importantly, what each card will relate to. For example, in the Celtic Cross spread:
Card 1 – The inquirer and where they are now.
Card 2 – The situation.
Card 3 – The root of the situation.
Card 4 – The recent past.
Card 5 – The future.
Card 6 – Aims and goals.
Card 7 – How the inquirer sees themselves.
Card 8 – How others see the inquirer.
Card 9 – Hopes and fears.
Card 10 – Final outcome.
So that is that! We have covered finding your Tarot deck, how to conduct a reading, some basic meanings of the cards and how to interpret them and how to conduct a Celtic Cross Spread.
I hope this Hub has been useful and interesting and most of all; I hope it has inspired at least a few people to try their hand at Tarot Reading. Please leave feedback and feel free to ask any questions!