When you imagine a tarot card reading, what do you picture in your head? Does it involve an old woman with long hair and wearing flowing robes? Is she leaning over a small table in the middle of a room lit by candles? And is the old lady foretelling an impending doom? If you answered yes to all of these questions, then you are following the stereotype coming from TV shows and movies.
Don’t worry, this is fine. Many of us thought of the same thing. However, tarot card reading does not generally subscribe to that stereotype.
Having said that, I hope this short guide will help inform you about what tarot card reading is, debunk the common myths surrounding this art form, enlighten you about the beauty of this niche craft, and help you find your perfect tarot reader.
I divided each part per question. I hope I will be able to answer yours.
Side note: If you already know that you want to get a reading yet don’t know where to get it, we have the article for you! Click here to read that post.
However, if you are still wary of getting a reading, I tried it out for myself. You can read my experience here.
Now, onto answering your 8 burning questions about tarot card reading!
What is tarot card reading?
Tarot card reading is a form of cartomancy or fortune-telling in which the practitioner uses cards to draw insights about yourself. Contrary to popular belief, tarot cards do not tell the future. Rather, it is a tool of spiritual guidance in order for you to connect with your intuition. Essentially, by laying out cards in a specific spread (layout), a reader can guide a person to tap into their inner wisdom and connect with their soul. Doing so can help a person gain an understanding of a situation and chart a course of action based on what is known and what the cards say.
What kind of deck is used for tarot reading?
Traditionally, readers would use the Rider-Waite deck. However, many other decks based on the Rider-Waite deck are available. These decks are laden with beautiful imagery and hold various meanings.
The Rider-Waite deck is not the only tarot card tradition in existence. Some readers prefer the Tarot de Marseille. This deck is more common in French-speaking countries. Tarot de Marseille uses pip cards/number cards in which the Minor Arcana uses simple illustrations that indicate the number of the card and its suit.
Another kind of deck that some tarot readers use is the Thoth tarot deck. This deck differs from the others as its visuals heavily reference astrology, Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism), and alchemy.
Side note: for the sake of clarity. I will only be referencing the Rider-Waite deck from this point on.
While its origin is unknown, documented references to tarot cards date back to fifteenth-century Europe. Initially, it was used as playing cards. Now, it is used for divination.
A standard tarot deck is composed of 72 cards, divided into two sections called Arcanas (secrets). The Major Arcana, which contains 22 cards, pertains to the story of beginnings and endings, discoveries and losses, and stillness and growth.
On the other hand, the Minor Arcana contains 56 cards and has four suits, each associated with the four elements. These suits are:
- The Wands: The suit of fire. It pertains to how you apply your energy (sexuality, passion, and creativity)
- The Swords: The suit of air. It pertains to anything regarding the mind (thoughts, words, and beliefs)
- The Pentacles: The suit of earth. It pertains to the physical self (finances, wealth, and career paths)
- The Cups: The suit of water. It pertains to the emotional self (feelings, emotions, and intuition)
Essentially, through the combination of these cards, thousands of insights and narratives can be formed about a topic or issue.
How does it work?
A brief rundown of a session would look like this:
- Before the start of the reading, you will be required to come up with a question that you wish to be interpreted. This question will be the basis of the reader’s interpretation.
- The reader will shuffle the deck of cards thoroughly.
- The cards will be laid out on a spread
- Your reading begins. The process of interpreting the cards will be based on the spread used.
Examples of tarot spreads:
- One Card Spread: Can answer any question. However, it lacks depth.
- Three Card Spread: Can be a past-present-future spread or a situation-obstacle-advice outcome spread
- The Five Card Spread – Cross Formation: Usually better to answer why questions while also delving into the past, present, and future, using the three middle cards (left to right)
- The Celtic Cross Spread: One of the most popular, detailed, and complex spreads found in the tarot community. Can give the most detailed answer to your question.
What questions can be asked?
Basically, anything can be asked. That said, the kind and depth of interpretation would depend on the spread. For example, a single spread can answer a simple why question, however, a Celtic Cross spread can give a thorough, step-by-step explanation as to what is happening, what needs to happen, and what you can do about it.
Here are a few tips to phrase effective tarot questions to get the most out of your reading:
- Ask open-ended questions. While it is generally alright to ask yes or no questions, to get more out of your reading, I suggest using open-ended questions.
- Keep your questions focused on yourself. The point is to pave the way for you to converse with your higher self. Not only is this deemed invasive, but it is also unproductive.
- Keep your questions focused on the present. Tarot reading shines in helping you make sense of what is happening in the present and guiding you towards a path. While you can ask what the future could look like, know that what will happen is dependent on the now. Thus, it is better to ask about the present.
- Avoid asking for medical advice. While readers may take questions about health, they would often suggest deferring to medical professionals for advice. Thus, to maximise your time and money, avoid asking for medical advice.
Note: If you went to a reading without a question in mind, you could simply ask, “what do I need to know?”
When should I get a tarot card reading?
Generally, you can get a tarot reading anytime you wish. However, tarot card readers suggest getting a tarot reading when:
- You need inspiration. Tarot can bring an external input to our situation.
- You are facing a big change. A tarot reading can give guidance and clarity to what is up ahead. Having a reading can assuage fears and lower stress levels.
- You are making a decision. A reading can help you weigh the pros and cons of your options and aid you towards a decision.
- You feel stuck. A tarot reading can be a guiding light towards a clearer/better path.
What are the benefits of getting my cards read?
Here are a few benefits of tarot card reading:
- It can give a different perspective on life. When we are too stressed or anxious, oftentimes, we get tunnel vision. Having our cards read can open up our minds to other perspectives.
- It can help us focus on improvement. While it can be painful when our shortcomings are pointed out, being aware of them can help us improve.
- It can help with decisions. While tarot reading can’t tell the future, it can bring new insights to the fore and help arrive at a promising decision.
Can I read my own tarot cards, or should I get a professional?
Yes, you can read your own cards yourself. Just buy yourself your own deck, get familiar with the cards and their meanings, and you are good to go. However, it is generally a good idea to get a professional reading. Having an outsider’s perspective can make your reading more objective. You can also watch how the reading is done so you’d know what to do when you read your cards yourself.
How to find a professional?
- Learn about the reader
- What is their style? What tarot deck do they use? Do they specialise in a given topic? How long have they been a professional? Do they have any certifications? Use any medium available to know about the reader so you can be assured you will find the right one for you. Doing this can also prevent you from going to fake readers who just recycle information from one client to another.
- Look at the cost
- Expensive rates do not always guarantee an accurate read. Do your due diligence to find a reputable tarot reader that works for you and your budget.
- Read reviews
- Knowing the experiences of a reader’s clients can inform you whether they are a good fit for you. Check reviews wherever you can to ascertain you will get a bang for your buck.
- Ask for sample tarot readings
- Legitimate tarot readers usually attract customers through free readings. Ask for one to know if that reader is the right one for you.
Tarot card reading is a beautiful art that promotes peace of mind and calmness. It helps you tap into your inner self and guides you to know what you need to know about a particular situation. Given that some people regard it as an occult activity, it highlights the fact that it is not for everyone. However, based on the information above, it stands to reason that the stereotype promoted by the media is untrue. Rather, tarot card reading is a complex and elegant craft that mainly aims to aid and guide the curious (and sometimes, lost) mind.
I hope I was able to answer your burning questions about this art form while also alluring you to take a gander and try it out for yourself.