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.

Referring to a list of meanings 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 people, 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 as ’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; plenty of Tarot meetups and courses are out there. Regularly experiment with new spreads and learn how to read the Tarot by practising on friends you trust and will encourage you – don’t go straight for the sceptic!

If you want to learn new ideas on how to read the Tarot, check out our Online Tarot Course page to see when our next series runs.

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, not something that’s ‘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 that to master Tarot truly, 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 Kabbalistic alphabet, the Tree of Life and the zodiacal associations of the 78 cards. You’ll be so happy that you did!

astrology and tarot cards

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’re uncomfortable with receiving money for a reading, then perhaps exchange skills or ask for a token gesture–they cook you dinner in return for 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 that 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 to the purpose, and 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 never undermine a sitter’s free will or agency in their 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?”

how to interpret tarot cards

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, check out my Online Tarot Course, which I run up to two times a year.