How to do a Tarot reading

setting up / drawing cards / chosing a spread / reading the cards / reversals

As with most things on this path, ask seven people how to do a reading and get seven different answers.

The most important thing to remember is that there is no wrong way to do a reading. As long as your intent is pure, you will get what you need to know.

What is suggested here is merely a guide. You will develop you own style fairly quickly.

Setting up

This can be as elaborate or simple as you'd like.

You probably noticed that most Tarot readers will spread a cloth over whatever surface they are doing readings on. This serves two purposes. On the practical side, it keeps your cards clean. On a psychic side, the color you chose to use can help with the vibrations of the card. I tend to like black, as it doesn't interfere with energies. Others like blue, yellow or purple for divination and psychic ability.

Here are some elements of set up you might consider:

  • Some readers start by purifying their space, even smudging it.
  • Clothes can be draped over surfaces where readings are to be done
  • Appropriate gemstones can be spread about
  • Appropriate incense and candles lit
  • Some meditate
  • ·Some readers go through a whole ritual before reading, including casting a circle and calling quarters
  • Some light candles and incense and play soft music.
  • Others do nothing but pull out the deck.

Do what feels right to you, whatever connects you to the energy of the universe or puts you in the "groove" to do readings. The one thing I suggest, if it is possible is to do a quick smudge of the room to rid it of any energy that might interfere with a reading. And it's always a great idea to ground and center and take a few deep breaths before beginning.

You do want to make sure you won't be interrupted when doing a reading so turn off the TV, the phones (your client's cell phone) and shut the pets out. Make sure the atmosphere is at a comfortable temperature. And make sure you are dressed comfortably. You can't concentrate on a reading if your top is constricting your breathing.

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Drawing cards

Once you have everything set up and are focused, it's time to begin. Take out your cards. As you shuffle them, it is important to concentrate on what it is you want to know. It is better to ask open-ended questions as opposed to yes or no questions. The clearer the question, the clearer the answer will be. Keep questions simple. Focus on the experience rather than the outcome. Make sure your question is specific and it is worded to represent exactly what you want to know. If you don't have a specific issue to address, you can ask for general guidance or what you might need to know for the next week or that the spirits/deities tell you whatever it is you need to know right now. Just be sure to concentrate.

When you feel ready to do the spread, stop shuffling.

Whether or not you cut the deck now and how you do it is up to you.Some people will then deal out cards from the top of the deck. Others fan them out and randomly draw cards. Others still will use a pendulum to choose cards. The choice is yours.

A point of note: If a card or cards fall out when you are shuffling, put them aside; they usually jump out for a reason and should be included in your interpretation.

(If you are doing a reading for others, you need to decide their level of involvement. Will they do all of the above? Will they only shuffle or cut the deck? Will they even touch the cards at all?)

Remember, you cannot draw a wrong card.

If you are doing a spread, you might want to look at it as doing two readings. The first reading is the card in relation to the position it occupies in the spread. The second reading is how the cards relate to each other. Each reading tells a story about someone's life. It is your job to piece it together.

When doing a reading, if something is unclear, don't be afraid to pull more cards from the deck for clarification. Or, when you finish the first reading, you can reshuffle the deck and move on to a clarification readings. Some readers will keep the initial card that raised the question as the focal point for the second reading.

Also don't feel limited by a spread or a deck. There have been times when I would switch decks mid-reading. I've done 40+ card readings. Go with your gut. You'll know when a reading is over; you'll either feel it or you will find the cards repeating themselves or all of the sudden the new cards won't make any sense.

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Choosing a spread

Again it is up to you if you use a spread or not. Spreads are nothing more than a way to organize your cards. It doesn't impact the reading. You could get the same reading by randomly throwing out 10 cards as you would doing the famous Celtic Cross.

The more readings you do, the more comfortable you will be. You will begin to develop you own way of laying out the cards, be it spread or random.

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Reading the cards

Whether you do an intuitive or by-the-book reading, be sure to pay attention to any Major Arcana and any multiples of number or face cards or of suits.

If you feel stuck, don't be afraid to add more cards to the spread for clarity or to set aside the card that is troubling you and do a second spread with that one as your focal point.

Trust your instincts and remember there is no wrong way to read the cards.

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A word on reversals:

Whether or not to use reversals is a decision you must make for yourself. There are six general schools of thought on this issue.

1. There is no need to use reversals since the entire spectrum of emotion and action is already covered in the 78 cards.

2. Reverse cards mean the exact opposite of the upright meaning

3. A reversed card signals that the energy of the upright card is blocked or may be delayed in some way

4. A reversed card has the same meaning as an upright card but special attention should be paid to it.

5. There is no reverse definition but a reverse card signals to use the negative, extreme aspect of each card's meaning (as I am sure you noticed throughout the lesson, each card offers a spectrum of meanings).

6. Reverse cards can indicate direction as if an action or event or emotion is coming or going, past or present. This is especially true of cards that signify movement such as the knights.

7. (unofficial) any combination of the above. I find my reverses work differently in each situation.

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