How to Read Tarot Cards

How to Read Tarot |

In this article, learn how to read Tarot cards as a beginner in 6 easy steps.

If you are not really sure what Tarot is, I recommend you start with these two articles first:
Tarot Guide: What is Tarot, and what is Tarot used for?
History of Tarot Cards: How Tarot began as a card game, before it became a tool for divination and fortune telling.

If you have ever wondered, how do I start learning Tarot cards? Read on!

Step 1: Choose a Tarot Deck

There are literally hundreds of different Tarot decks on the market today. Not surprisingly, this makes it confusing to know which deck to buy when you are starting off with Tarot.

Comparing Death Card in Rider Waite and Angel Deck
(L) Death card in the Rider Waite
(R) Death in the Angel Tarot Oracle Deck

If your goal is simply to pull a few cards for yourself occasionally, then a Tarot oracle deck is a good option. This is a type of oracle deck based on the Tarot system. Some beginners like oracle decks because the meanings are printed on the front of the card and the illustrations seem less scary than traditional decks. In the example above, see how Death is depicted quite differently in the two sets of decks.

Tarot Oracle Decks

Popular decks include:

  • Angel Tarot Cards by Radleigh Valentine
  • The Psychic Tarot Oracle Deck by John Holland

Best Tarot Deck

However, I recommend you start with the Rider Waite Tarot deck, if you are interested in studying Tarot more seriously and you desire deeper spiritual guidance.

Alternatively, you may consider the Marseille Tarot, although I feel this particular deck is better suited to advanced students.

Read more: What is the best tarot deck for beginners?.

Related Questions

How to welcome a new Tarot deck: How to bless your cards

Is it unlucky to buy your own cards? Busting Tarot myths

Step 2: Buy a Tarot Book

Most Tarot decks are accompanied by a little booklet which explains the basic meaning of each card. These booklets are fine if you only plan to use an oracle Tarot deck, but they are of limited value with traditional decks. If you plan on using the Rider Waite or Marseille deck, then you should buy a Tarot book to teach you the basics.

There are lots of Tarot books on the market which will help you learn how to read Tarot cards and perform readings for yourself.

In my book Tarot in 5 Minutes, I provide all the basic training you need to start reading your own cards quickly and accurately. As well as providing all 78 card meanings, it includes 23 Tarot lessons and 3-card readings to speed up your learning process.

Step 3: Learn About the Types of Cards in a Tarot Deck

The next step to learning how to read your own Tarot cards, is to understand the structure of the Tarot deck. What I mean by structure, is the different types of cards in the deck and what they symbolically represent, including trumps, minors, court cards and suits.

Here is a brief summary of the structure, with links to more detailed learning resources:

If you become curious about the symbols on any particular card, like why is the maiden pouring water from jugs in the Star card, or why is there a snake climbing up the tree in The Lovers card? Then check out my in-depth analysis of Tarot card symbols, or find each card listed here: Tarot card symbolism.

Step 5: How to Prepare for a Tarot Reading

Rituals are traditionally prescribed in witchcraft and sorcery to invoke spirits.

A ritual draws a curtain between everyday reality and the consecrated time of spiritual work.

In much the same way, Tarot readers like to perform a ritual before beginning a reading. In effect, the ritual is used in Tarot to invoke spirit helpers for clarity of guidance.

Tarot Reading Ritual

It is a good idea to clear a space for performing a tarot reading. Tidy away everyday distractions, and bring out the candles, incense, crystals and any spiritual statues or pictures which are significant for you.

Consider your reading space, if only temporarily, your sacred temple.

I always start a reading by lighting a candle and take a moment to say a quiet prayer to clear my mind.

Step 6: How to Perform a Tarot Reading

Select a Question

Always ask the Tarot a focused question. Whenever you shuffle the cards, try to be clear about your question. Confused questions lead to confused results.

Common questions in a Tarot reading include love, work and money.

  • Will I find love?
  • Will my relationship survive, or how can I heal my relationship?
  • Is this a good time to look for a new job?
  • What will happen if I look for a new job?
  • What is the best career path for me right now?
  • How can I attract more money?

Shuffle Your Cards

As you start to shuffle the cards, think about the question on which you seek guidance.
Shuffling and handling the cards is a great way to physically connect with the deck that you are using. I recommend you count to ten as you shuffle the cards, and then stop on reaching the number ten. Draw the top card, then as your guidance.

One Card Reading

If you ask the Tarot a question, usually, one card is enough to provide an answer. As you look at your card, next, refer to your Tarot book or the meanings on my website for further guidance.

This type of reading is called a one-card spread.

A Tarot spread is the pattern or way in which a reader lays out the cards during a reading. There are lots of different types of spreads, the most popular being the 3-card spread and Celtic cross spread.

End Reading Ritual

At the end of a reading, take a moment to thank your spirit guide and spiritual team for being with you. Ask them to clear your cards of any absorbed energy.

I also recommend you go through your deck and turn any reversed cards into the upright position. This may take an extra minute of your time, but it will ensure that your deck is in ‘neutral’ position for your next reading. Doing so prevents you from worrying if a reversed card is left over from a previous reading, or if it is significant to the current one.
See: How to cleanse your Tarot cards after a reading.

More Tarot Questions

How to store your Tarot cards and where to put them after a reading

Can you read your own Tarot cards? Discover the rules of cartomancy

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Tarot Facts

Karina, author of Tarot in 5 Minutes.

How to Read Tarot Cards

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