How to Read Tarot Cards

Tarot cards conjure images of gypsy women, crystal balls and hocus pocus. It's hard to separate the cards from their long history. However, the tarot cards themselves are rather benign; their only power is the belief we place in them. And they fill a spectrum of needs, from an amusing hobby to a powerful tool for exploring the inner workings of our lives. There are no hard and fast rules for the care and reading of your cards, but these are some suggestions to get you started on your way.

Get a deck of tarot cards. The Rider-Waite tarot deck is a good choice to start with. Shop online or at bookstores, which often carry tarot decks.

Use a scarf or cloth and wrap your cards to create a safe and clean environment. You may also want to buy a special box in which to store your wrapped deck.

Season your deck of cards by sleeping with the wrapped cards next to your heart or under your pillow for a week. Now you're ready to read!

Concentrate on the question being asked, and shuffle the deck. You can mix the cards in a big pile using both hands, and then gather them up neatly and proceed with a regular card shuffle.

Cut the deck. If reading for someone else, have him or her ask the question out loud as he or she cuts the deck. If you do the reading for yourself, ask your own question as you cut.

Deal the cards using the tarot spread of your choice. A simple card spread is four cards in a diamond shape.

Look first at the design on the cards. Cards that look right side up for the reader are in a positive position; cards that look upside down for the reader are reversed. Reversed cards indicate conflict or blocked energy or weaken the card's influence.

Begin to learn the card meanings. Start with the Related Site, "Individual Tarot Cards," or a good book.

Come up with your own card meanings and descriptions to personalize your reading style. Don't be afraid to follow your instincts.


In the four-card, diamond-shaped layout, card No. 1 at the top point of the diamond represents your romantic life. The next card, below card one on the right point, represents finances. The third card on the lower point of the diamond represents health and happiness. The fourth card, which is placed opposite card No. 2 on the left diamond point, represents career. You may want to burn candles with your readings. You can choose a color or fragrance that is reflective of the questions you're asking or the mood you're seeking. Try blue candles for healing, patience, peace and happiness. Purple candles work in much the same way but also help for visualization and dreaming. Or burn green for prosperity and growth or black to absorb negativity. It's uncertain just when tarot cards came into being, but they are the forefathers of our domesticated, four-suited deck of 52. The 78-card tarot deck is broken up into the Minor Arcana and the Major Arcana. The 22 Major Arcana Cards present the strongest messages and images and have the most to tell us. The Minor Arcana cards more resemble the deck we use today, with four suits; most often the deck depicts these suits as wands, cups, pentacles and swords. Today, tarot card collecting and reading has become a popular hobby, there are hundreds of decks, with themes as diverse as goddesses and baseball.


You should be the only one to handle your deck unless you want the person for whom you're reading to shuffle or cut the deck. Don't feel you must be a slave to a book. Let the cards speak to you.

Things You'll Need

  • Candles
  • Card Tables
  • Journal
  • Tarot Cards
  • Tarot Cards Software
  • Pens
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