Tarot cards come straight out of the Renaissance and are one of the most enduring artifacts and traditions from this period. The cards first appeared as a game in the 15th century in northern Italy, as people used them to play a game that’s common to modern Bridge. It was only from the 18th century that they’ve been adapted to their current use in the art of divination. Many hopefuls use tarot readings to get insight on the events in their life, their feelings and as a tool for offering guidance in particular situations. You can easily learn everything you need to know about reading the tarot in this online course, which takes complete beginners and turns them into professional tarot readers.
For many people, they imagine tarot card readers to be elderly woman in flowing robes, sitting in a dark candlelit room while they foretell all of the impending death and doom in your life. The reality couldn’t be more different. At its heart, tarot cards are not meant to tell your future, only to aid you in getting in contact with your own higher self.
How to Do a Tarot Reading
The simplest way to do a tarot reading is to buy a tarot deck that you like, and a book that explains and interprets each of the 78 cards. Some enthusiasts consider it bad luck to buy your own deck, and that your first set of cards must be given to you. Others believe that you should feel the cards calling out to you as you buy them. For beginners, the Rider Waite deck is the most common, and forms the basis for many other decks so it’s a great place to start. You can also check out this course and learn the meanings behind each card with a fantastic story, which is a great way to remember them all. Tarot decks all vary greatly, and have various different themes, like nature, animals, dragons or even fantasy. Some people even like to do readings with a normal deck of cards, have a look at this course and discover the hidden meanings behind traditional playing cards.
The next step is to create a relaxing atmosphere, for both you and your guest. This is best done with peace and quiet, in a location free from distractions. Your goal is to be able to think and interpret the symbolism of the tarot, and the faster you can get into this mindset the better focus you have over your thoughts. As you get started there are two main types of readings:
When you do a question reading, you’re looking into the background of a specific concern. The goal isn’t to get an answer to a yes or no question, or even using the tarot to make decisions. What it is best for is simply being a guide to help you make the decisions yourself. This means that the way you state a question when doing tarot readings is very important. Your questions should:
- Leave you open to many options. Don’t approach a reading when you have the answer (or think you do), because you won’t be letting the cards guide you to the right decision.
- Find the right level of detail. You want to be focused on the question, but not overly detailed. If your centered on a particular aspect of a problem, try to find a way to see it broadly. Include the minimum amount of detail that you need to express what you’re looking for from the cards.
- When you’re doing a reading for yourself, make sure that you’re putting the focus of your question on yourself. Don’t question others, by ask what role you play in their circumstances and bring the focus of the question onto you.
- Keep it neutral, so that you remain open to every different point of view. From the cards you will find the guidance you need.
- Ask your questions in a positive light, focusing on what you can do to make specific events or actions take place.
To address the larger aspects of your life you need to do an open reading. These types of readings are typically done as you enter new phases of our life, like when you get married, start a family or graduate from college. This allows you to direct the reading when you have areas you want to cover, like diving into your career or your health. Unfortunately it doesn’t get much more specific than that. Doing a tarot divination allows you to discover your emotions and feelings, as well as discovering what is most important in your life. You can also get answers from meditation, check out this recent post and discover the benefits for yourself.
Ask the person you’re doing the reading for to shuffle the cards. They can be large and awkward and it really doesn’t matter how they are shuffled, so long as they are mixed around. The belief is that this helps to transfer the energy into the deck. Ask them to cut the cards, but while they are doing so they really have to think about the question they wish to ask, or the area they are looking for guidance on.
After the cards have been shuffled and the deck is cut, the tarot reader lays the cards out in a particular pattern. This is what is called the spread. With every position in a spread there is a different meaning. You can find spreads that only use a single card, to complex readings that make use of every card in the deck. There are also different spreads to be used when you are looking for certain information. Some focus on emotional concerns, while others are best about determining the influences of others.
When looking at the different variations of spreads, the most common are:
- Three Card Spread
Lay out three cards, from left to right. Each card represents the Past, Present and the Future.
- The Five Card Horseshoe Spread
Lay out five cards in an upright arc, from left to right. In order they represent the Present Position, Present Desires, the Unexpected, the Immediate Future and the final Outcome.
- The Celtic Cross
With this spread there is a specific order that the cards are laid down in, so that every card and its position can be interpreted with a specific meaning. It’s one of the most complex spreads used, and is great when you have a specific question to address. It’s fantastic because it takes you, step by step through the problem, and by the end of the reading you should have a thorough understanding of every aspect of the situation.
Lay out ten cards as shown in the diagram from left to right. Every one of the cards represents the questioners:
- Present Position
- The Immediate Influences
- Heart of the Reading
- Old Influences
- Upcoming Influences
- Feelings and Emotion
- External Influences
- Hopes and any Fears
- Final Outcome
Ask the person you’re doing a reading for to choose a card for each position in the Celtic cross. Sometimes the tarot readers don’t even touch the cards themselves, but ask the person who wants the reading to pick out and lay down each card.
- The Romany Spread
This is a simple spread, and can reveal a large amount of information when you want a general overview of a situation, or there are many connected issues you want to resolve. This is a free-form spread, and allows you to be flexible in the way you interpret it.
The Pentagram Spread
The pentagram is considered a magical symbol to many pagans, as its the star, a source of light brightening the darkness. Within the star each of the five points has a meaning, and they reflect the five elements, earth, air, fire, water and the fifth element of spirit.
The interpretation comes next, and within every tarot deck there are two different sections. The Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana.
There are 22 of these cards, and they are all numbered – except for the fool. They represent different aspects of yourself, different stages in life, the situations you are soon to face, and the qualities you need to help you.
There are 56 of these cards, which are divided much like normal playing cards. They are split into 4 suits, with 14 cards in each. The suits are Cups, Wands, Pentacles and Swords.
- Cups are also known as the Chalice suit, and are linked to Hearts in normal cards. They represent feelings and emotions, kindness, admiration and even love. The element it is associated with is water.
- Wands are linked to Clubs, and represent your intuition, vision and “gut feelings” which is associated with the element of fire.
- Pentacles are also known as the coins suit, and is linked to Diamonds. The meaning is aligned to the material world, all the things you cherish and all of your possessions, and is linked to the element of Earth.
- Swords is the final suit, and links with Spades. It reflects your mind, your intellect, and your decisions, and is linked to the element of air.
Reading someone’s tarot is not fortune-telling, and the cards reflect only the present energy in a given set of circumstances. Tarot cards do not predict the future, but can be used to discover meaning based on the cards, their positions and any neighboring card pairs. This is what a few of the face cards mean:
- The Fool: New Beginnings, Spontaneity, Folly, Faith
- Death: Transition, Elimination, Endings, and Unstoppable forces
- The Lovers: Personal Beliefs, Values, Sexuality, Relationships
- The High Priestess: Mystery, Potential, Inaction, Subconscious Awareness
- The Magician: Awareness, Concentration, Power, Action
How to Become a Tarot Card Reader
There are many different ways you can learn the art of tarot reading. There are books to study, courses to follow and even many certifications that can be earned online or in classes through tarot reading organizations or independent tarot teachers. In America the Tarot Certification Board has seven levels of certification, where you need to have certain levels of experience and pass many aptitude tests. The certification levels are:
- Certified Apprentice Tarot Reader (CATR)
- Certified Tarot Reader (CTR)
- Certified Professional Tarot Reader (CPTR)
- Certified Tarot Consultant (CTC)
- Certified Tarot Master (CTM)
- Certified Tarot Instructor (CTI)
- Certified Tarot Grandmaster (CTGM)
All you need to get started is to get your hands on a deck of tarot cards, study what it takes to interpret them and give yourself a shot at doing your first reading for someone else. It could be a close friend, a family member who needs a little guidance, or even a friend of a friend who has a problem and wants to learn what their future holds.