Tarot Card Reading – How Does It Work?

Tarot is one of the most enduring artifacts of the Renaissance period. The cards were once used only as playing decks. During the 18th century, they became associated with magic and mysticism. It was then that Tarot was used for divination.

Basic Tarot Reading

The idea behind Tarot reading is simple – the cards are shuffled, laid out in a spread and the reader interprets what the cards are saying. A deck of Tarot consists of 78 cards each with a specific meaning relating to life.

The art of divination through the use of Tarot is called Taromancy. Contrary to public opinion, Tarot cards don’t really predict fortune or future events but they measure potential outcomes and examine influences surrounding a person.

The Tarot Spread

Spread is the term used for the arrangement of the cards in a reading. First, the cards are shuffled by the person asking for guidance then the reader lays them out in a pattern. Each position in the spread holds a meaning.

There are numerous types of spread – Five Card, Celtic Cross and Mirror are some of the most commonly used. The type of spread in a reading depends on what question is asked and is sometimes up to the reader.

Type of Readings

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1. Question Reading is done to address a specific question. Although, it’s not intended to answer a yes or no question, it can guide you to make the decision yourself. That is why, the way the question is stated is essential.

Be positive. State your question in a positive manner rather than in a negative way. Instead of asking why your promotion hasn’t happened, ask what you can do to make it happen. This way, the cards can give you better guidance.

Focus on yourself. If the reading is for yourself, make the questions about yourself and not about the people around you. For instance, asking why your partner is cheating is focusing on him. Always bring the focus back to you.

Be open. If you already have the answer to your questions, you’re not letting the cards do their job. Keep your options open and don’t narrow the scope of the true question. Be neutral and open to other points of view.

2. Open Reading is used to address a larger aspect of a person’s life rather than a specific problem. It gives guidance to people who are entering a new phase of life such as getting married, motherhood or graduating from college.

Popular Tarot Cards

Tarot decks have two types of cards – Minor and Major Arcana. Minor cards are similar to the standard deck of playing cards divided into four suits. Major Arcana are stand-alone cards that hold a unique and particular meaning.

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1. The Devil. The card shows Satyr, a half-man half-goat creature. If the devil card appears in a love question, it may mean that the relationship is close to an end. Both parties may feel trapped and the magic of love is gone.

2. Hanged Man. The card shows a man suspended upside-down from a tree. In general, Hanged Man conveys that you’re torn between two options – up or down, in or out, yes or no. There is something you need to let go of.

3. The Fool. The card shows a man looking towards the sky about to step off a cliff. The Fool is generally dubbed a positive card with a reminder that it’s important to take your time and look where you’re going. It also indicates a new beginning.

4. Death. The card shows Death himself riding on a white horse. It doesn’t necessarily mean physical death rather it represents transformation. Death reminds you to be more accepting of a change and move on.


by Steph Shurtlef