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How Do I Read Tarot Cards?

Updated on March 7, 2018
Susan May Gudge profile image

She has written seven novels, a book of thirteen short stories and a small book of poetry.

The Deck of Cards

Many people use a regular deck of cards for Tarot readings but there are drawbacks to such a method. A real Tarot deck has twenty-two extra cards called the Major Arcana (the fifty-six regular cards are called the Minor Arcana) and are very necessary in a pure reading. Without those twenty-two cards, the readings are missing a lot of the important aspects of life. If you are serious about reading fortunes, past present and future, it would be a good idea to invest a bit of money on a real Tarot deck. One of the best decks is the Royal Fez Moroccan Tarot. Their pictures are artistic and colourful. They may be difficult to find and somewhat expensive but well worth the effort if you plan on using them as a tool for concise readings. The human brain reacts to bright colours and images, therefore causing us to 'think' with our subconscious mind when faced with detailed images and brilliant colours.

Quality Tarot Cards

The Rider Tarot Deck
The Rider Tarot Deck

Although I prefer the Royal Fez Tarot, they are very expensive (approximately 300$) and quite hard to find. This deck is very close to the Royal Fez in looks and colours. At an extremely reasonable price (approximately 17$), it is one of the best deals for a good quality, well designed deck of Tarot cards.

The Ultimate Guide to the Rider Waite Tarot
The Ultimate Guide to the Rider Waite Tarot

It is always good to have the book explaining the cards. This book goes with the Rider Waite cards and is a great guide to the descriptions and meanings of each card in the Tarot deck.


The Major Arcana

These special cards depict many aspects of life. Over and above the regular playing card deck of fifty-two cards, they number twenty-two. There are twenty-one numbered cards as well as the fool, who bears the number zero. Also, unlike the fifty-two regular cards, they are the only cards with a double meaning. When they show up in a reading upside down, their meaning is reversed. Learning each one's meaning and their reverse meanings takes a little time and effort but after awhile their images are easily remembered for the good and the bad in their meaning. They are extremely important for a pure reading. A good idea would be to buy a book on Tarot that explains each card and use that book until you are familiar with the qualities of each of the Major Arcana.

Major Arcana List

0 - The Fool
1- The Magician
8 - Strength
15 - The Devil
2 - The High Priestess
9 - The Hermit
16 - The Tower
3 - The Empress
10 - The Wheel of Fortune
17 - The Star
4 - The Emperor
11 - Justice
18 - The Moon
5 - The Hierophant
12 - The Hanged Man
19 - The Sun
6 - The Lovers
13 - Death
20 - Judgement
7 - The Chariot
14 - Temperance
21 - The World

The Minor Arcana

These cards have fifty-six in number. They are somewhat like a regular playing card deck although each 'suit' has an extra card. Each suit contains numbers one through ten, as well as a Page, Knight, Queen and King. The numbers one to ten are action cards and the other four represent people. Again, a book explaining each card is helpful until you are able to distinguish each card by the image it gives to your subconscious. A well made, artistic deck helps our brain in decisions as to the worth of each card and its action on our lives.

Minor Arcana List

Playing Cards
1. Cups
2. Wands
3. Pentacles
4. Swords

Basic Minor Arcana Meanings

Letter or Document
Home and Love
Delay or Worry
Harmonious Change
Peace Restored
Established Strength
Material Works
Perfected Work
Earthly Power
Blended Pleasure
Rest from Strife
Material Trouble
Loss of Pleasure
Material Success
Earned Success
Success Unfulfilled
Illusionary Success
Unstable Effort
Abandoned Success
Shortened Force
Great Strength
Material Gain
Material Happiness
Despair and Cruelty
Perfected Success

Minor Arcana Representing People

You may have heard the expression that you are going to meet a dark haired man, etc. It is by using the Page, Knight, Queen and King that gives the reader the clues. Each card of those sets represents a person's age, colouring and force. Knowing each card when they show up helps the reader to specifiy what is going to happen to a certain person, depending on the cards directly surrounding it. When reading cards, it is always important to see the cards that are in the immediate vicinity as they will determine what action will happen to that person.

Minor Arcana People

King, Queen, Knight, Page of Wands
Brown eyes and Hair
King, Queen, Knight, Page of Cups
Light to medium brown hair with blue, gray or green eyes
King, Queen, Knight, Page of Swords
Dark Complexion, dark brown or black hair, dark eyes
King, Queen, Knight, Page of Pentacles
Blonde, red or white hair with blue, gray or green eyes
40's and up
A woman or girl (One never asks a woman's age, of course)
20's to 40's
a young boy up to the age of 20

Reading the Cards

In order for the cards to take on the 'personality' of the person being read, it is recommended that you have the client shuffle the deck. Once it is shuffled to their satisfaction, have the client pass the cards to you and the reading can then begin. Don't ever rush them in the shuffling. The cards will tell them when it is time. They will shuffle willingly and then a questioning look will come to their faces as if to ask, is that enough? That is the cards telling the client and you that it is time. There are various methods of reading the cards. The best idea is to find which one suits your style and ability. You can use a simple three card reading, having the client cut the deck into three separate piles and turning over the top three cards. This method is a good way to read a simple yes or no question. I prefer the Ancient Celtic Method. I remove the card depicting the client based on the Minor Arcana People as explained above and place that card in the centre. Then I begin the laying of the cards. It is a complex method and takes a lot of time to read the actual 'fortune' but it gives a clear and concise picture of the client's past, present and future life.

Celtic Cross

© 2017 Susan May Gudge


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