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How To Read the Tarot

Gypsy Magic - Jessica Allain Art
Gypsy Magic - Jessica Allain

Intro to Tarot Ė A Brief History

(Article written by Sakura Blossom and posted to the forum. You can find the original article plus replies to it here.)

Tarot Cards are a tool for divination, and have been used for years. They are probably the most common form of divination reading with other popular methods being pendulums, runes and coffee/tea grounds readings but are by no means limited to just these! These methods have been portrayed in various forms through popular media, some of which include Harry Potter and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Kassandra has made a beautiful thread that has a complete list of the different forms of divination, which can be found here: The -Mancies: a Glossary of Divinatory Terms.

Tarot originally started out as a playing card game in the mid-15th century in early Europe and that is why they have four suits like regular playing cards. These four suits are what we know well today:

  • Wands
  • Pentacles
  • Swords
  • Chalices

Tarot is now, of course, used mainly for the sole purpose of the divination weíve come to see today and itís also not religion-specific. Tarot card reading (as well as Oracle reading which is a bit different than tarot) is used by a lot of different people who have different beliefs. Iíve seen Christians using them to connect with their arch-angels and I have a personal friend who is Jewish and uses them as well. This is a common misconception that I felt should be shared!

So how do you start?

First you need to find your deck! Selection of a deck can take awhile, as it is recommended that you select a deck that greatly calls to you. If youíve ever heard anyone talking about feeling a Ďconnectioní with their deck, this is what theyíre speaking of! When I first started looking for my own, I looked at quite a few decks but just didnít feel interested in buying them. It wasnít until I visited my first spiritual store that I found the deck that was meant for me. I felt a very strong pull towards it and I loved how beautiful the art was on it. Itís okay if you donít find one right away, because itís better to wait for the one you truly feel a bond with so that your work with the cards will be even better!

Some ways to know if a deck is right for you are:

  • You love the art
  • The theme appeals to you
  • You feel happy or grow excited when you look at them
  • You see them and you just know immediately that they have to be yours

Once youíve selected your deck, itís time to use them!

Now, some people like to charge their cards in the moonlight or by other methods, which brings us to an important topic. There are many different beliefs as to how tarot cards work and the energy surrounding them, so I will be sharing the main ones that I have encountered myself (but they are not limited to these):
 

  • Deity Energy: Some people connect to their deities through the cards and that is how they receive their information and pick the cards they are meant to pick for a reading. Some may call upon their deities to bless and empower their deck which is where they believe the power comes from.

  • Card Energy: Some believe that the cards themselves carry their own power and have their own feelings and thoughts as they are a divination tool and hold a higher power. When they pull cards or use the deck, they are drawing from the energy and power of the cards and not anything else.

  • Personal Energy: Some people instill their own energy and positivity into the cards, and draw from this when they do tarot readings. Iíve found this is used quite often with those who believe in personal empowerment with magick work.

  • All of the Above: Some people may draw from all of these energy sources to conduct their readings.


Having shared these, itís very important to note that there is no right or wrong way to read tarot. As with any kind of spiritual practice, there is no definite rule as to how you should do something because itís all relative to you and your personal beliefs.

How to Conduct a Reading and Interpret the Cards

As mentioned above, there is no right or wrong way to perform a reading or to use Tarot cards. Some methods that might work for others, may not work for you. I can only do three card readings, as trying for anything higher usually doesnít work out well and results in random cards being thrown in while I have a friend who cannot do any less than four cards or she faces the same problem as me.

Also, like it was stated before, there is no right or wrong way to do read the cards either. Some people like to use the literal definitions of the cards which are usually shared in books or sometimes even sent along with the particular deck that you have. Others donít like to take the literal meaning and choose to go based off the pictures and intuitive impressions they get themselves.

To find methods that work for you, I highly suggest looking into different spreads and finding those that might appeal to you! You could try doing single card readings or the three card reading which usually takes the form of Past, Present and Future, or any other kind of card layout you find that seems of interest to you! I also highly recommend studying your deck and getting to know the images and the feelings you get from certain cards. Keep track of what feels right and what doesnít, and this will help lead you to success!

You can also practice on yourself and anyone else who may be willing to help you out such as friends and family!

If you'd like to look at different types of spreads you could try, look here: Tarot Card Spreads (off-site link opens in new window).

Please note that this was the best website I could find for examples of spreads, so I'm not sure if any of the free readings or the like are anything you should try.

Some important points to keep in mind:

  • Say everything that comes to mind! There are times you might come across something that doesnít make any sense to you, but this doesnít mean you should discard that detail! While it might not mean anything to you, it could very well mean something to the one youíre reading for. So share everything!

  • Itís okay to be wrong. There is no way you can know everything about everything. It is totally fine to make mistakes, because as they say Ďto err is humaní. Do not let this deter you if the one youíre reading for tells you the information you relayed wasnít accurate. At the same time, some of the things you share may not have happened yet and you might never know if what you told them was accurate or not. Just have faith in the fact that you did the absolute best you could do.

  • Be positive! There are times when information relayed isnít the best, but our goal as readers are to ensure the experience is pleasant for those we are reading for. Do not outright say ďOh, this is absolutely and utterly horrible and horrifying!Ē as this will surely get you onto bad terms with the one seeking a reading. Try to put everything in a more positive light and try to offer advice as best as you can. You may not be able to help too much, as you may not be the right or qualified person to offer insight on a matter, but you can urge them to seek help from the right professionals if you feel itís needed.

  • Nothing is set in stone! These are merely tools of divination, to try and get some ideas of what could potentially be an outcome to a situation. Nothing is 100% fact, and everything is subject to change.

More information on the Ethics of Divination by Xiao, our forum admin.

I hope this guide helps you to get started and gives you some information on the basics of Tarot Divination. Enjoy your practicing!

Sources: Some of the information about the history of Tarot was found from the Tarot Entry on Wikipedia.

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