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What is a Tarot Card Reading?

A tarot card reading is a powerful way to connect with your intuition and receive insights about what’s happening in your life—both spiritually and physically. The cards offer a glimpse into your potential future, offering guidance that’s both empowering and healing.


While some tarot decks have guides that can help you interpret the symbols, it’s best to let your intuition take over. As you shuffle and draw, focus on what each card speaks to you, whether it’s the word, number, image, or colors. Then, close your eyes and meditate on the significance of what you’ve pulled. “This is a moment to truly listen and hear what the cards are telling you,” Sarah Potter, New York-based tarot reader and author of The Cosmo Tarot, said.

Tarot Reading Basics

Tarot cards can be a powerful tool for self-discovery and reflection, but they can also feel confusing and intimidating.

Whether you’re a total beginner or have some experience with the cards, it’s important to approach them with a bit of knowledge and best practices in mind.

In this article, we’ll cover tarot reading basics: the symbols and images on the cards, how to lay out your cards in a tarot spread, and the best questions to ask during a tarot reading.

When you’re first starting out, the most important thing is to choose a deck that speaks to you. The Rider-Waite deck (featuring simple imagery and a clear color scheme) is the most common, but there are countless options on the market.

Whatever you choose, just make sure the deck is sturdy and has a design that feels right to you. When you’re ready to read, you can use a deck of your own or borrow one from a friend.

You can also purchase a tarot guidebook to help you with interpretations, which is often included with the deck.

Next, you need to decide how many cards you want to draw and what question you want to ask. You can do a reading with just one card — which is called an open reading and can provide insight into a person or situation without you specifically asking for it — or several cards, which is known as a tarot spread.

Tarot spreads can be simple or complex, and you can use a shuffle technique that feels comfortable to you. Some people like to cut the deck into two files and fan them; others prefer to split the deck into pairs and riffle them; still others like to shuffle in their hands or mix them up on the floor.

Once you’ve shuffled your deck, look at the images on each card and identify a narrative pattern. Is the pattern going across, down, diagonally, or first to last? Which card is the most prominent, and what does that mean?

Pay special attention to how the cards interact with each other, as this will tell you a lot about your current situation and what you might do about it.

As you learn the meanings of the major and minor arcana, keep a journal dedicated to your practice.

This will be helpful as you move on to more in-depth readings. The more you work with the cards, the easier it will be to read them intuitively.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and play around with your readings. Remember that tarot is an intuitive practice, and you don’t necessarily need to rely solely on your intuition — just be sure to compare the card’s meaning in your guidebook or online with the situation you’re thinking about in your head when you’re reading. Also, it’s important to consider free will when you’re reading. If the cards predict a certain outcome, try to frame your questions with “how” or “when,” rather than “will,” so you can take action.

Choosing a Tarot Card Deck

Tarot is a form of divination that uses cards to help guide people through questions and problems.

It can be used to answer general life questions, like “What should I do?” and to help navigate tricky situations, such as a romantic relationship.

It can even give advice on how to get a job, make money, or deal with a difficult family member.

Tarot is a tool that's been around for centuries, and it continues to be popular today.

Tarot card readings are based on the idea that our thoughts and feelings are echoed in the universe and the cards have a universal meaning that can be applied to any situation or question.

People of any faith or belief can consult tarot for guidance, and no particular knowledge of the deck is required.

The most important thing is to be open to the possibilities of what the cards could mean and trust that there are messages to be interpreted.


When choosing a tarot card deck, look for one that is simple and easy to use. The directions that come with the deck often include pictures of the most common spreads, which can be helpful for beginners.

The cards can be shuffled and rearranged in a number of ways to create different spreads. Choosing the right set of cards is a personal decision, but it should be based on what you feel most drawn to.


The 78 cards of the tarot are divided into two groups, known as suits. The suit of Wands, for example, focuses on creativity and self-expression while the suit of Cups is all about emotions, intuition, and relationships.

Each suit also has a specific archetypal meaning. The major arcana, meanwhile, are 22 cards that represent larger events and revelations in your life.

The Majors tell a story of your spiritual journey, from the Fool's innocent wonder to the full realization of your individuation and connection to oneness.

If you're new to tarot, start by looking at the images on each card and thinking about what the symbols and figures might represent in your life. Then read up on the specific meanings of each card, and try to connect what you see with your own experience.

As you continue to explore tarot, you'll probably find that certain decks resonate more than others.

Some are more traditional, with classic imagery and a conservative feel. The Rider-Waite tarot, for example, has been printed since 1909 and is one of the most widely used decks.

Other decks feature more modern, colorful imagery or incorporate women, minorities, and other symbols that aren't typically included in the classic cards.


The most important thing is to have fun and trust that the cards are a useful tool for answering your questions or helping you navigate tricky situations.

It's also important to keep in mind that your interpretations may change over time, so don't be afraid to experiment and try out different meanings for the same cards!