Friday, March 25, 2011

Advice for New Readers

Earlier this week, I read for a friend in exchange for a sushi dinner. Once we had glasses of plum wine in front of us, she shuffled and I laid out the cards on the table and proceeded to read, hoping that I would finish her reading before the food came out. I did not. What followed was our waitress seeing the cards laid out and getting so excited about the cards and me reading them. She wanted to know how I did it, and I felt it was almost like asking a magician how he does his tricks. Not because reading tarot is in any way a magic trick, but because I was being asked to explain the process of how I read the cards. Much like, "How do you solve a problem like Maria? How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?"

I think it was a very needed question to ask. If we start to do something by rote, the thought starts to go out of the process. So I broke it down for our waitress to the following (simplified) process: I learned and memorized the meanings of the cards first. Once I was done with memorization, I felt comfortable using the pictures to form my own interpretations of the cards. The memorization was the foundation on which I built upon.

What follows is a few tips I'd like to share with new tarot readers, gleaned from my own practice with the cards and combined with some advice that was given to me.
  • Do not be afraid to say what you see, no matter how odd, obscure, or seemingly unrelated. YOU don't know how related or unrelated a seemingly random song popping into your head as you are in the middle of spread is to the person you're reading for. So say it. What's the harm?
  • When I read, I relate situations I'm seeing in the cards to my life as a way to explain what I'm seeing to the client. For example, I once saw the Five of Cups in a reading I did for a kid (no pressure or anything!). I was using the Llewellyn Tarot at the time, and the card portrays a cloaked figure standing on the shore of a river, with his head down, a castle in the distance, and three of the five cups at his feet are spilled over. When I looked at this card, I remembered my best friend that moved away and I lost contact with from my childhood. So that's when I said, "Has a really good friend of yours just moved away?" Sure enough, that's what happened.
We see life through the lens of our own perspective. So do tarot readers as they're reading (at least THIS tarot reader does). Don't be afraid to make mistakes. You're going to make them; you're human. Start slowly, be gentle with yourself, and find some supportive guinea pigs who are willing to be read for. Grow from there. Not all tarot readers want to become professional readers who do this for a living. Some just read for themselves exclusively. Some just read for family and friends. Some take the leap of going pro. But however you come to the cards, come with humility and respect.


  1. One of the best explanations I've read about "reading" the "meanings" of the cards. :)

  2. Exactly! Good advice on say anything that pops in, I'll try to remember that for the next time I read!

  3. Thanks for the comments! Of course, it's always a struggle taking my own advice, and my own predilection for appearing smart and accurate gets in the way of the whole "saying what you're seeing, even if it's random" idea. :)