Learning the Tarot can be a healing and enriching journey.
As far as divination methods go, it’s one of the most easy ones to muster. But learning to read the Tarot for yourself can feel very different than learning how to read for others. In this article, we’ll explain both approaches, what’s different, and what you need to consider.
How to do tarot readings for yourself
Doing tarot readings for yourself is in some ways easier than doing tarot readings for others — although as with every solitary practice, there are certain caveats you should keep in mind.
Find your why
There are several reasons to embark on your Tarot journey, from wanting clarity on a specific issue to simply wishing to hone your witchy skills. But before you do any tarot reading for yourself, you need to understand your motivation.
Pulling a tarot card each day to see what to expect in general, is a great habit: it will help you bond with your deck and hone your intuition. But when you’re doing a specific reading about a situation or a person in your life, it can be easy to “overdo” it and end up doing multiple readings until you’re “satisfied” with the answers. Repeat readings are rarely a good idea. What the cards are showing you is the most probable outcome based on where the energies sit right now. It is very likely you will get a different result if you ask again in two weeks or a month, but asking the same question on a daily basis will do nothing but transfer your own anxiety to the cards and muddle your results. So only ask the cards a question when you need clarity and guidance — but then take that advice and let it go. It’s okay to revisit your question after a month, or after a new lunar circle, but not before.
Find your when
Generally speaking, all Wiccan Sabbats are a great time for Tarot readings, as the Veil between the Worlds is thinner. Other great times are the Full Moons and the New Moons. As far as days of the week go, Mondays and Wednesdays are great for general readings, whereas Fridays are better for love related readings.
That being said, you shouldn’t feel obliged to do tarot readings on particular dates if you don’t feel like it. Nor should you have to wait for a specific date when you need to ask the cards a question. Your tarot deck should be a helpful, cherished companion you can reach out to whenever you need to.
Find your how
Each Witch reads the tarot differently, so you should follow your intuition and do what feels right for you. However, there are some things that are generally considered helpful during a tarot reading. Below we’ve compiled a list, so that you can feel free to pick and choose:
- Spread a tarot reading cloth (recommended when you do tarot readings on a table or surface that’s frequently used for other things like working or eating).
- Light a candle (white or in a color that expresses the type of your reading).
- Meditate for a minute, or just try to empty your mind for a few breaths.
- If you have multiple tarot decks, pick the one that feels right for the occasion (it’s recommended to start with the classic Rider-Waite).
- Invoke your matron deities to help you with your reading.
- Shuffle the cards as you’re thinking about your question.
- Knock on the deck 1-2 times while you’re asking your question.
- When you finish your reading, fan the cards and shake them a few times away from your face/body, to send away any lingering energy before putting the deck back in its place.
- Place a crystal (clear quartz or selenite) on top of your deck to charge it between uses.
How to do tarot readings for others
All the things we talked about in the “reading for others” section can and should be applied to when you’re reading for others. But there’s also a few more things to consider:
Find your energetic anchor
When you read for yourself, you know exactly what you feel about the situation or the person you’re doing the reading about. But when you read for others, it can be difficult to tune into their energy. If the person is a close friend or a relative, then you should bring their face into your mind and ask for your matron deities for help getting them the answers they seek. However, when you’re reading for people you don’t know that well, it may be a good idea to ask for a picture of them, their full name and date of birth, so that you can concentrate on those things and make them your energetic anchor.
If both you and the person you’re reading for are in the same physical space, you can ask them to cut the cards after you shuffle, so that they imbue some of their own energy into the reading.
Choose the right deck
When reading for yourself, choosing a tarot deck becomes a matter of personal preference. However, when you’re reading for others, you should consider carefully which deck to use for your reading. Some modern tarot decks may have intense imagery that can scare your clients/the people you’re doing the reading for.
It’s a good idea to use the classic, Rider-Waite deck or a deck with more calm/abstract imagery.
One very important thing to keep in mind when doing tarot readings for others, is that you need to make sure both parties understand the nature of Tarot. Tarot reading is an art, not an exact science. What you’re showing them is the most possible outcome right now — it’s not a binding contract that assures things will definitely turn out exactly like the cards said.
You should also avoid doing tarot readings for health matters and tarot readings that involve other people besides the person you’re doing the reading for.
Tarot Reading for the Other
The first time reading tarot for someone else can be daunting. Reading the tarot is both a gift and a responsibility, so it’s normal to feel anxious and like “you need to get it right.” Just know that like with every Witchy practice, you’ll get better at it the more you do it.
For this first time, the key is to choose a person you know well. Someone who understands tarot cards and won’t judge you if you struggle with the interpretation.
What you’ll need:
- The Rider-Waite tarot deck
- A white candle
- A tarot reading cloth (white or purple)
- A herbal tea that aids divination (such as jasmine, mugwort, bay, peppermint, cherry, orange, fig, hibiscus, dandelion, pomegranate or any mix of the above.)
- Palo santo
What you’ll do:
- Brew your tea. When it’s ready, pour a cup for you and for the person you’re doing the reading. Make sure you both take a few sips before you get started, to calm and focus your energies.
- Spread the tarot reading cloth.
- Position your candle at the center of your working surface. Light it.
- Place the palo santo on the flame and smudge the reading space, the querent and you. Palo santo removes negative energies so this will help cleanse you both and prepare you for the divination process.
- Place the tarot deck at the foot of your candle. Place your hands over your deck.
- Invoke your matron deities to help you with your reading. If the person you read for has their own matron or patron deities, call on Them as well for help.
- Take another sip of your tea and ask your querent what they wish to know. Try to really listen to them and connect to their feelings about the question, not just the question. Fill your heart with light, love and the need to help them.
- Shuffle the cards as you think about their question. Ask your querent to cut the cards once or twice.
- When you’re ready, ask the question out loud, while knocking at the deck once or twice.
- If your reading comprises multiple tarot cards, wait until you’ve placed all of them before you start interpreting.
- If at any point you feel unclear, or don’t understand how a specific card could be interpreted in this context, feel free to ask the querent questions/clarifications. For example: if they’re asking about whether a relationship with someone is possible, and you pull the Three of Swords, you can ask them if they think there is a third person involved in the situation. Or, if they’re asking about a specific situation at work, and you pull the Five of Wands, you can ask if there has been a lot of competition and inter-office squabbles lately.
- If you pull a card that seems “negative” don’t be overly dramatic — but also don’t lie. Even the most negative cards can have a positive aspect but you need to approach the matter as objectively as you can, to help the querent.
This article is from our most recent issue of Wicca Magazine.
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