I’ve taught many people how to read the Tarot and I’ve developed a list of dos and don’ts. So whether you’re a veteran reader or new, here are my top tips that you will find invaluable:
Don’t look up Tarot card ‘meanings’
I cannot stress enough but please do not look up the ’meanings’ of the cards. I know this can be the most difficult rule to abide by, yet it’s the most important.
If you refer to a list of meanings it shows that you do not trust your intuition, and Tarot is about honing our instincts.
Secondly, you’re relying on the interpretations and opinions of other peoples, whereas you should be developing your own connection with the cards.
Finally, Tarot is a VISUAL modality that works with your clairvoyance (clear seeing). There is no such thing a ’clear reading’!
Do be experimental and brave!
People often think that they need to learn how to read Tarot only for sittings, and yet it is so much more diverse than that! Use the cards for storyboarding, dream activation, manifestation, talismans or astrological birth charts; the possibilities are endless.
Like everything in life, Tarot takes practice. Find a good support network, there are plenty of Tarot meetups and courses out there. Regularly experiment with new spreads and learn how to read the Tarot by practicing on friends that you trust and will encourage you – don’t go straight for the sceptic!
If you want to learn some new ideas of how to use the Tarot, be sure to check out my events page, as I host regular workshops and events.
Don’t mix your spirits!
I shudder with horror when someone tells me, “Oh, I’ll read for my friends once I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine.” Do not do this. Ever. Firstly, Tarot should be seen as a sacred practice and not something that is ‘a bit of fun’. Secondly, when you’re intoxicated you do not have a firm command over what energies you are letting in or out. The likelihood of you picking up something that doesn’t serve you increases once you’ve had a drink or two.
Do learn astrology and Kabbalah!
Dion Fortune, the famous British occultist said, to truly master Tarot you need to learn astrology and the Kabbalah. I don’t fully agree with this, but learning these other modalities will certainly unveil new meanings in the cards. Explore the Kaballistic alphabet, the Tree of Life and the zodiacal associations of the 78 cards. You’ll be so happy that you did!
Do not offer free readings!
If you give readings without some sort of exchange you are undermining both your talents and the Tarot, it is a skill and needs to be recognized as such. You wouldn’t ask a plumber friend to fix your bathroom for free – the same applies here. In addition, people don’t value the messages of a reading if it’s free. I know this from firsthand experience. If you are not comfortable with receiving money for a reading, exchange skills or ask for a token gesture, perhaps they cook you dinner in return of a sitting.
Do keep a journal
I would suggest keeping one of the seventy-eight cards with you every day, perhaps starting with the Major Arcana, followed by the suits of Minor Arcana. Then record any people you meet, synchronicities you notice or messages you receive, which you feel relate to the card you are carrying. This brings the cards into your everyday experience and deepens your connection with the deck.
Alternatively, keep a dream diary – buy a notebook dedicated for the purpose, don’t just use anything you find lying around! Place a card – either at random or one that you have selected – underneath your pillow and record your dreams in the morning
Don’t predict or fortune tell!
Many people have the misconception that Tarot is about predicting the future. Although you do look at likely outcomes in a reading, this is based upon unfolding patterns of the querent’s current circumstance – if you go running every day, you’re going to get fitter! It is unethical for a reader to tell a client, “So and so is going to happen”, because it can instil fear or anxiety in people. Besides, neither Tarot nor spirit will ever undermine a sitter’s free will or agency of his or her life. Furthermore, predictions such as these can make people complacent. For example, if you say to someone, “Your business is going to grow and be very profitable”, they could very well rest on their laurels in expectation of the success to just come; you’ve taken away their need to strive. So instead of answering questions, “When will I get a new job?” rephrase it as, “What steps do I need to take to help me get a new job?”
Do say what you see!
Sometimes as Tarot readers we can overcomplicate the work. Always come back to ‘say what you see’. Look for the similarities in the symbols, colours, backgrounds, and characters in the cards. Remember to look for the common theme between cards or is there a detail that appears in more than one image?
To further develop this skill, take a card and meditate on it, or perhaps draw or paint your own version of the deck.
If you would like to learn more about the Tarot, visit my events page to see my upcoming workshops and webinar:
My name is Fiongal Greenlaw. I am the founder of The Wellness Foundry, London.
Several years ago, my health hit crisis point because of the constant pressure I was putting on myself. So I began a journey to find a solution to my condition:
I discovered many incredible practices, and my relief was so great, that I was driven to share these treatments with others. Since then I feel as though I have aligned with my life’s purpose: to help others on their journey.