How Do Tarot Card Readings Work?

Have you ever wondered how tarot card readings actually work? It’s a fascinating practice that has been around for centuries, yet many people are still unsure about its mechanics. In this article, we’ll explore the mysterious world of tarot card readings and uncover the secrets behind this ancient art form. Prepare to be amazed as we unravel the intricate connections between the cards, the reader, and the universe itself. Get ready to embark on an enlightening journey of self-discovery and spiritual guidance.

Overview of Tarot Card Readings

Tarot card readings have been used for centuries as a tool for gaining insight and guidance into various aspects of life. The practice of using tarot cards to gain spiritual and intuitive insight dates back to the 14th century in Europe, but its origins are believed to be even older, possibly stemming from Ancient Egypt or China. Today, tarot card readings are popular among people seeking guidance, clarity, and self-reflection.

History of Tarot Cards

The history of tarot cards is a fascinating journey through time. The precise origin of tarot cards is shrouded in mystery, but it is widely believed that they were first created as playing cards in 14th century Europe. The deck consisted of four suits, similar to modern playing cards, but with the addition of a series of trump cards. Over time, these trump cards evolved into what we now know as the major arcana, which represents powerful archetypal energies and life lessons. The minor arcana, on the other hand, represents more specific situations and everyday aspects of life.

The Deck of Tarot Cards

A traditional tarot deck consists of 78 cards, divided into two main categories: the major arcana and the minor arcana. The major arcana consists of 22 cards, each with its own unique symbolism and meaning. These cards represent significant life lessons, spiritual growth, and profound experiences. The minor arcana consists of 56 cards divided into four suits: cups, swords, wands, and pentacles. Each suit represents a different aspect of life, such as emotions, intellect, willpower, and material possessions. Each card within the suits carries its own specific meaning, creating a comprehensive system for interpreting the messages of the tarot.

Understanding the Tarot Spread

The tarot spread is the layout or arrangement of cards during a reading. There are numerous tarot spreads, each serving a specific purpose and offering insights into different areas of life. The most common spread is the three-card spread, which provides a simple yet insightful overview of a situation. The Celtic Cross spread is another widely used spread, offering a more in-depth analysis of a particular question or issue. The relationship spread, as the name suggests, focuses on matters of the heart, whether it is a current or potential romantic relationship. Each spread has its own unique positions and interpretations, allowing the reader to dive deeper into the meaning behind the cards.

The Role of the Tarot Reader

A tarot reader plays a vital role in delivering meaningful and accurate interpretations of the tarot cards. It is important to approach a tarot reading with an open mind and a willingness to explore the hidden messages that the cards may hold.

Intuition and Psychic Ability

One of the key attributes of a tarot reader is their intuitive and psychic ability. While not every tarot reader possesses psychic gifts, intuition plays a significant role in the interpretation process. The reader must be able to tap into their subconscious and connect with the energies surrounding the cards to gain insights. Intuition helps to bridge the gap between the cards’ symbolism and their relevance to the individual seeking guidance.

Interpretation Skills

Interpretation skills are essential for a tarot reader to be able to translate the symbolism of the cards into meaningful messages. Each card carries a multitude of meanings, and the reader must be able to discern which interpretation is most relevant in a given context. This requires a deep understanding of the tarot deck, as well as the ability to apply personal experiences and insights to the reading.

Communication with the Divine

Tarot readings often involve a spiritual connection between the reader and the divine. Whether it is through prayer, meditation, or simply opening oneself to divine guidance, the reader seeks to channel higher wisdom and insights during the reading. This connection allows for a deeper level of understanding and can provide profound revelations to the recipient of the reading.

Preparing for a Tarot Card Reading

A successful tarot card reading begins with adequate preparation. To make the most out of your reading, it is important to take certain steps beforehand.

Choosing a Tarot Deck

The first step in preparing for a tarot card reading is selecting the right deck. There are countless tarot decks available, each with its own unique artwork and symbolism. It is important to choose a deck that resonates with you and speaks to your personal aesthetic and spiritual beliefs. Take the time to research and explore different decks, and trust your intuition when making a final decision.

Setting the Right Atmosphere

Creating the right atmosphere is crucial for a successful tarot card reading. Find a quiet and comfortable space where you can relax and focus without distractions. Dim the lights, light some candles, and play soft music if it helps you to relax and set the mood. You may also choose to cleanse the space by smudging with herbs, such as sage or palo santo, to clear any negative energy and create a sacred space for the reading.

Formulating Questions

Before diving into a tarot card reading, it is important to have a clear intention and formulate specific questions. This helps to guide the reading and ensure that you receive relevant insights and guidance. Take some time to reflect on what you are seeking clarity on or what areas of your life you would like to explore. Write down your questions and keep them in mind during the reading to provide a focused direction and maximize the benefits of the session.

The Process of a Tarot Card Reading

The process of a tarot card reading involves several steps, each contributing to the overall experience and insights gained.

Shuffling and Drawing Cards

The first step in a tarot card reading is shuffling and drawing the cards. This process allows the reader to connect with the energy of the deck and the individual receiving the reading. The shuffling process is an opportunity for the reader to focus their intentions and send their energy into the deck, creating a sacred bond. Once the shuffling is complete, the reader draws the cards based on the chosen spread or the nature of the question being addressed.

Laying Out the Tarot Spread

Once the cards are drawn, the reader lays them out in the chosen tarot spread. Each position in the spread represents a different aspect or question, offering specific insights based on the card drawn for that position. The layout of the spread provides a visual representation of the situation or question, allowing the reader to interpret the cards in relation to one another and the overall context. This step helps to organize the reading and facilitates a structured approach to understanding the messages of the cards.


In addition to drawing the cards upright, many tarot readers also work with reversals. Reversals involve intentionally turning some of the cards upside down before laying them out in the spread. Reversed cards can offer nuanced interpretations and indicate challenges, blockages, or internal conflicts related to the card’s upright meaning. Incorporating reversals adds depth and complexity to the reading, offering a broader range of insights and perspectives.

Interpreting Tarot Cards

Interpretation is a crucial aspect of tarot card readings, as it allows the reader to unlock the messages and guidance contained within the cards.

Symbolism and Imagery

The symbolism and imagery of the tarot cards play a significant role in their interpretation. Each card is rich in symbolism, representing different aspects of life, archetypal energies, and spiritual meanings. By analyzing the symbols and imagery displayed on the cards, the reader can uncover deeper meanings and insights. The interpretation of these symbols is not fixed or restrictive but instead allows for personal intuition and subjective understanding.

Numerology and Astrology

Numerology and astrology are two additional tools that can enhance the interpretation of tarot cards. Numerology assigns significance to the numbers on the cards, unlocking numerological meanings and associations. Astrology, on the other hand, relates the cards to the celestial bodies and their corresponding energies, allowing for a holistic understanding of the messages conveyed by the cards. These additional elements provide a more comprehensive and multifaceted interpretation of the tarot.

Personal Intuition

While traditional symbolism, numerology, and astrology provide a solid foundation for interpretation, personal intuition is an invaluable aspect of the reading process. Every card resonates differently with each individual, and the reader’s intuitive insights can unveil unique nuances and personal interpretations. Trusting one’s intuition allows the reader to connect deeply with the cards and the energies surrounding them, offering a more personalized and insightful reading.

Common Tarot Card Spreads

Tarot card spreads are predetermined patterns or arrangements in which the cards are placed during a reading. Different spreads serve different purposes and allow for a more focused exploration of specific topics or aspects of life.

Basic Three-Card Spread

The basic three-card spread is one of the simplest yet most versatile spreads. It consists of three cards laid out in a row, with each card representing a different aspect of the situation or question at hand. The first card represents the past, providing insights into the factors that have led to the present circumstances. The second card represents the present, unveiling the current influences and energies involved. The third card represents the future or potential outcomes, shedding light on the possible trajectory and implications of the situation.

Celtic Cross Spread

The Celtic Cross spread is one of the most commonly used spreads, providing a comprehensive analysis of a particular question or situation. It consists of ten cards laid out in a cross-like pattern, with each position representing different aspects of the individual’s life and the influences at play. The layout includes elements such as the present situation, obstacles, subconscious influences, hopes and fears, and potential outcomes. The Celtic Cross spread offers a detailed and well-rounded exploration of the topic, allowing for a deeper understanding and guidance.

Relationship Spread

The relationship spread is specifically designed to delve into matters of the heart and explore the dynamics within a relationship. It consists of multiple cards placed in a pattern that reflects the relationship’s nuances, allowing for a comprehensive analysis of the situation. The spread may include positions such as the current state of the relationship, personal feelings and desires, external influences, challenges, and potential outcomes. Whether you are seeking clarity in an existing relationship or insights into a potential partnership, this spread can provide valuable guidance and understanding.

Tarot Card Reading Techniques

Tarot card reading techniques refer to the different approaches and methods that tarot readers employ to conduct readings and interpret the cards.

Traditional Tarot Reading

Traditional tarot reading involves adhering closely to the established meanings and interpretations of the cards. The reader relies on established symbolism, numerology, and astrology to derive insights and guidance. This approach is based on the premise that the tarot cards hold universal meanings applicable to all individuals. Traditional tarot reading focuses more on objective interpretations and less on the reader’s intuition or personal insights.

Intuitive Tarot Reading

Intuitive tarot reading, as the name suggests, places a greater emphasis on the reader’s intuitive abilities and personal insights. This approach allows the tarot reader to tap into their intuition and connect with the energies surrounding the cards, thus offering a more personalized and subjective interpretation. Intuitive tarot reading relies on the reader’s ability to trust their inner guidance and follow their intuition during the reading process.

Psychological Tarot Reading

Psychological tarot reading focuses on using the tarot cards as a tool for self-reflection and personal growth. This approach blends traditional tarot interpretations with psychological principles and concepts. It recognizes that the cards can act as a mirror, reflecting the subconscious mind and highlighting patterns, emotions, and belief systems that may be influencing the individual’s life. By exploring these psychological aspects, the reader can provide insights into personal development and facilitate healing and self-awareness.

Types of Tarot Card Readings

Tarot card readings can be tailored to different areas of life, addressing specific concerns, questions, or aspects that an individual may seek guidance on.

General Life Reading

A general life reading offers insights and guidance on various aspects of an individual’s life. It can provide an overview of the current energies at play and shed light on potential opportunities, challenges, and areas for growth. A general life reading is a versatile option for those seeking a broad understanding of their life and guidance on how to navigate different situations.

Love and Relationship Reading

Love and relationship readings focus specifically on matters of the heart, offering insights into romantic relationships, friendships, and family dynamics. These readings can address concerns related to current relationships, potential partnerships, or even issues surrounding self-love and personal relationships. Love and relationship readings can provide guidance on communication, emotional dynamics, and potential outcomes, helping individuals navigate the complex and often challenging realm of relationships.

Career and Financial Reading

Career and financial readings offer guidance and insights into work-related matters and financial decisions. These readings can help individuals gain clarity on career paths, job opportunities, and professional development. Additionally, career and financial readings can provide insights into financial planning, investments, and financial decision-making. This type of reading can assist individuals in making informed choices and aligning their actions with their desired financial and professional goals.

Ethical Considerations in Tarot Card Readings

Tarot card readings, like any other form of divination or guidance, come with ethical considerations that both the tarot reader and the recipient should be mindful of.

Confidentiality and Consent

Confidentiality is a fundamental ethical principle in tarot card readings. A tarot reader should prioritize the privacy and confidentiality of the recipient, ensuring that the information shared during the reading remains confidential. Additionally, obtaining informed consent before conducting a reading is crucial. The recipient should be fully aware of the nature of the reading and the potential outcomes, allowing them to make an informed decision about participating.

Providing Empowerment

An ethical tarot reader seeks to empower the recipient rather than create dependency. The reader should focus on providing guidance, insights, and tools for self-reflection and decision-making. A good tarot reader encourages the individual to take responsibility for their actions and choices, facilitating personal growth and self-empowerment.

Avoiding Manipulation

Maintaining ethical boundaries includes avoiding any form of manipulation or coercion during a tarot card reading. The reader should not use fear tactics, exploit vulnerabilities, or pressure the recipient into making certain decisions. Tarot card readings should always be conducted in an atmosphere of respect, openness, and non-judgment, allowing the recipient to feel safe and trusted throughout the process.

Misconceptions about Tarot Card Readings

With their mystical nature, tarot card readings are often susceptible to misconceptions and misconstrued beliefs. It is important to debunk these myths and clarify the true essence of tarot card readings.

Fortune-telling and Predetermination

One common misconception is that tarot card readings are solely about fortune-telling and predicting the future. While tarot can offer insights into potential outcomes based on current energies and choices, it does not determine or predict a fixed future. Tarot readings emphasize personal agency, free will, and the power to make conscious choices that shape one’s path. The focus is on guidance, clarity, and self-reflection rather than fixed predictions.

Religious and Superstitious Beliefs

Tarot card readings are often associated with religious and superstitious beliefs. However, tarot is not affiliated with any specific religion and does not require adherence to particular belief systems. Tarot readings can be approached from a spiritual or secular perspective, depending on the individual’s beliefs and preferences. Tarot cards are simply a tool for self-reflection and guidance, open to interpretation and personal understanding.

Tarot Cards and Evil Spirits

Another misconception is that tarot cards are associated with evil spirits or are somehow connected to dark forces. Tarot cards, like any other tool or object, hold no intrinsic negative or positive energy. It is the intent and practice of the reader that determines the energy channeled during a reading. Ethical tarot readers approach the practice with a focus on love, light, and the recipient’s highest good, ensuring a safe and positive experience.

In conclusion, tarot card readings provide a powerful avenue for gaining insights, guidance, and self-reflection. By understanding the history and symbols of tarot cards, as well as the role of the tarot reader, preparing for a reading, and embracing different interpretation techniques, individuals can benefit from the wisdom and transformative potential of the tarot. It is important to approach tarot card readings with an open mind, trust in the process, and take the insights gained as an opportunity for personal growth and empowerment.