How to Conduct a Tarot Reading

One of the most enduring artifacts of the Renaissance is the Tarot. The Tarot first appeared in northern Italy during the 15th century to be used as a card game similar to the modern game of Bridge. It is one of the first card games to employ a trump suit and many people especially in continental Europe play variants of the original Tarot card game. Since the 18th century, The Tarot has also been used in the divinatory arts. The symbolism of the Tarot can provide an insight into the events and feelings in your life, guidance when we need to make decisions; not answers, but another perspective on your situation. The art of Tarot divination is a way of using your intuition to gain a better understanding of not only your life, emotions and feelings, but also those of others who are important in your life.


  1. Image titled Conduct a Tarot Reading Step 1
    Buy a Tarot Book and a Deck. Buy a Tarot deck that you like, and a book that will explain the interpretation of each of the 78 cards. If you are a novice reader, the Rider Waite deck is the most popular in the US and other decks often base themselves off it, so it's a good place to start. However, if there is a tarot deck that you are drawn to, then use that deck because it will channel your energy best to deliver the message.
  2. Image titled Conduct a Tarot Reading Step 2
    Create a Relaxing Atmosphere. This is not only important to your guest, but to you as well. You will need to establish mutual respect with your guest (the questioner), and gather thoughts on the symbolism of the Tarot. The atmosphere ideally should be quiet, peaceful, and without distractions.
    • It is important to get into the habit of creating the right mindset; however you do this, try to create a focus for your thoughts.
  3. Image titled Conduct a Tarot Reading Step 3
    Ask the questioner to shuffle the cards. Some Tarot card decks can be quite large and awkward to shuffle; it doesn't matter how they are shuffled if your guest can't shuffle in their hands.
  4. Image titled Conduct a Tarot Reading Step 4
    Ask the questioner to cut the cards. It is important that they are thinking about the question that they wish to ask while they do this.
  5. Image titled Conduct a Tarot Reading Step 5
    Decide the spread that you will use. There are many different spreads which you can use, here are a few of the most common:
    • Three card spread. Lay out three cards. Left to right, each card represents the Past, Present and Future.
    • Five card Horseshoe spread. Lay out five cards in an upright arc. Left to right, each card represents the Present Position, the Present Desires, the Unexpected, the Immediate Future and the Outcome.
    • Celtic Cross. Lay out ten cards as shown in the diagram to the right. Each one of the numbered cards represent the Questioner's:
      1. Present Position
      2. Immediate Influences
      3. Life
      4. Root of the Reading
      5. Past Influences
      6. Future Influences
      7. Feelings
      8. Outside Influences
      9. Hopes and Fears
      10. Outcome
  6. Image titled Conduct a Tarot Reading Step 6
    Ask the questioner to choose a card for each position in the spread. Many Tarot practitioners have the questioner pick out and lay down the card, they do not touch the deck themselves.
  7. Image titled Conduct a Tarot Reading Step 7
    Interpret the Cards. There are two sections within the Tarot deck, the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana.
    • Major Arcana. [1]. There are 22 of these cards. In some Tarot Decks, these are numbered, except the Fool. They represent different stages in life, different aspects of yourself, the situations you will encounter and the qualities you will need to help you.
    • Minor Arcana.[2] There are 56 of these cards. They are divided into four suits with 14 cards in each, similar to normal playing cards. The suits are Cups, Wands, Pentacles and Swords, and each suit comprises of 10 numbered pip cards, and four court cards (Page, Knight, Queen and King).
      • The Cups Suit (also known as the Chalice Suit) is linked with the standard Hearts Suit, and henceforth with your feelings and emotions, especially love, kindness and admiration. It is also associated with the classical element of Water.
      • The Wands Suit (also known as the Staves Suit, Rods Suit or the Batons (the French word for Wands) Suit) is linked with the standard Clubs Suit, and with your intuition, especially vision, prediction and "gut-feelings". It is also associated with the classical element of Fire.
      • The Pentacles Suit (also known as the Coins Suit) is linked with the standard Diamonds suit, and henceforth with the material world; your possessions and the things you cherish. It is also associated with the classical element of Earth.
      • The Swords Suit is linked with the standard Spades Suit, and with your mind, especially your intellect and your decisions. It is also associated with the classical element of Air.


  • Many Tarot readers never let anyone else use their cards as the psychic reader is supposed to always choose the cards and not the receiver.
  • Tarot is not fortune-telling. Tell the person being read that the cards selected are a reflection of present energy in a given area or circumstance. The cards do not predict the future and the one being read is always free to change what they are doing or feeling about a situation and that would therefore alter the outcome.
  • In some tarot divination circles, buying your own deck is considered bad luck; they hold that you are to be given your first deck. In others you must chose a deck of cards that call out to you.
  • Don't just rely on finding the definition of your cards. Follow your heart and your own intuition. Your soul knows what the cards mean. Focus on that and the answers will come. Practicing this skill will help your awareness and your ability to read tarot cards.

Things You'll Need

  • A 78 card deck of Tarot cards suitable for divination. The Rider Waite Smith Tarot and the Thoth Tarot are two of the most popular Tarot decks for this purpose.
  • Books on Tarot card interpretations. The internet has also become a useful source for information on many of the common Tarot card meanings.

Article Info

Categories: Card Reading