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What is Tarot Card Reading and How Does It Work?

Updated: May 12

We face issues and dilemmas frequently in life.

And we all have our own first port of call to vent out our situation or ask for advice. That best friend, spouse, parent, a close relative, or simply you consider someone your mentor.

Why not add Tarot Cards to this list? Surprised? What is Tarot Card Reading and how can a deck of cards be your best friend, philosopher, and guide?

In this article, we will explore exactly that. How Does Tarot Work?

But before that, we will recap what Tarot Reading is about in brief. You may also check out our previous article to know more about the basics of tarot reading.

What is tarot card reading

Fundamentally, Tarot Card Reading is all about using a deck of cards (generally decks consist of 78 cards) to answer real life questions that one may have.

Tarot cards are rich in imagery and symbolism. The images speak stories by themselves which is then interpreted by the Tarot Reader in context to your question.

There are many symbols within the images of each Tarot Card. For example, did you know that rabbits are symbolic of fertility or lizards are symbolic of intuition?

These are additional guidance given by the cards to interpret them for the questions at hand.

Similarly, every card has a number associated with it. Numbers represent certain characteristics or aspects which when understood along with the imagery, symbols, and question, can also offer insightful perspectives.

The art of tarot reading involves drawing and laying out the cards in a spread. Spreads are different layouts used for different types of questions or situations.

Let's explore some common spreads and how a basic tarot reading works.

Tarot Spreads

There are many different types of tarot spreads that readers use. At times, tarot readers may also come up with their own spreads. Here, I have discussed just select spreads that are commonly used by various tarot readers.

1. Single Card Reading:

As the name suggests, this is the simplest spread of all. You draw a single card to answer a quick question or gain daily guidance. This is a great option for beginners.

2. Three Card Spread:

This is one of the simplest and most versatile spreads. One draws three cards and arranges them in a row. There are many types of three card spreads as well. For example, each of the cards can represent the past, present, and future, offering insights into your current situation and expected outcome. In a different three card spread, the cards could stand for challenge, advice and outcome, thus offering more clarity on how one should go about their challenges.

3. Celtic Cross Spread:

A more complex spread, the Celtic Cross has ten cards arranged in a cross-like pattern. Each card in this spread has a specific meaning and placement, providing a detailed look into your question or situation. This is generally used for very detailed readings and also to get answers to complex questions or situations.

4. Relationship Spread:

In this spread, 6 cards are drawn to get insights into one’s relationship or the potential for a new one. Each card in the spread stands for a situation, and when together, they offer incredible advice and insights on love and relationships.

Now let us move on to how tarot card reading works.

To give you a practical sense of how this works, we have given some illustrations below, a simple two card reading with illustrative questions and meanings interpreted through tarot cards.

So let us move beyond all the theory you usually find online and understand the workings of tarot reading practically.

Illustrative readings

Reading 1: Should I take that new job opportunity?

Card 1: 2 of Pentacles (Minor Arcana)

Card 2: Judgment (Major Arcana)

Two of Pentacles
Judgment Tarot

Interpretation:

2 of Pentacles suggests a need for balance and adaptability in your life. It might indicate juggling multiple responsibilities. Judgment card points toward a decision-making moment and also a message to honor one’s calling. It suggests that taking the new job opportunity could be a transformative experience and may be true to your calling. Having said that the job might require one to be adaptive, flexible and agile in dealing with all the situations and challenges that they bring along. This way the new job will be more fun and transformative.

Reading 2: How can I improve my health?

Card 1: Page of Cups (Minor Arcana)

Card 2: Temperance (Major Arcana)

Temperance Tarot

Interpretation:

Page of Cups represents an open and intuitive mindset. It may suggest that you need to approach your health with curiosity and an open heart. Temperance card is all about balance and moderation. It advises you to find harmony in your approach to health. The message includes loving your body, treating it with tender care, and avoiding extremes. Binge eating, excessive alcohol, total lack of exercise, anything that is not in moderation. Further, it suggests blending two or more solutions to improve one’s health as well. Just eating right may not help, but one may need to supplement it with exercise to get the desired results.

Do You Need to Be Physically Present?

Whether it is a single card reading, three card spread, or a more detailed celtic cross spread, the simple answer to this question is – No!

Being present can make you feel more involved in the reading, and help the tarot reader get instant feedback, helping them in improving the accuracy of the reading.

But this totally depends on your comfort level. You could choose to do a reading on email or chat. You could even choose to get readings online over a video or audio call, if that suits you better.

The key is to be trustful of the process and keep all your skepticism and paranoia at the door. The energy and intention you bring to the reading are what matter most.

How to Take the Messages of Tarot

Tarot can be like a life coach. Now that you know a bit about tarot and have seen some sample readings, let's talk about how to interpret the messages of tarot cards.

  • What does your gut say? This is the most important aspect here. Tarot is all about intuition – intuition that the tarot reading brings to the interpretation of cards and spreads, and intuition that you feel towards the cards when you see them. What are your first impressions when the cards are revealed? Your inner feeling and gut will be your best guide in tarot reading.

  • Look at the images and symbols: You may not be an expert in symbolism and the card images may feel blank to you. Yet, you will immediately get a vibe on looking at the cards. The vibes could be as simple as positive or negative or could be deeper as well. Keep an eye for these vibes and pay attention to the images as the tarot reader draws the cards.

  • Use Guidebooks Sparingly: While guidebooks are easy to understand the images, they may not help as much in interpreting the cards. Like I wrote above, tarot is about personal interpretation. Standard meanings out of guidebooks may not add much value unless you are able to apply it to your own situation.

  • Look at Card Combinations: Cards are best interpreted in combinations. Together, they speak volumes of information. Also, card meanings can completely change when placed along with another card. Look at the positions and combinations to get the best out of a tarot reading.

  • Trust the Context: The context of the reading matters. The same card can have different meanings depending on the question, situation, or time in life. Always look at the background context of the reading to make the best of it.

  • Reflect and Meditate: Feel free to take notes during your reading. After your reading, relook at your notes and reflect on those. You might get some ideas or reflections post the reading, that can add to your insights. If needed, also feel free to reach out to your reader again with additional questions that you may come up with after such reflection and meditation.

Parting Thoughts

So now that you understand what is tarot card reading, I hope you can use this to explore its benefit in your personal situations and get the peace of mind or guidance that you are looking for.

If you wish to do a quick reading for yourself, to see how this works, click here. I am sure you will be amazed by the results.

 

My Digital World 🌏

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