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Working with Tarot Cards: 10 Tips for Beginners

Updated: Mar 15

The Star tarot card on the top of a deck.
Tarot is a whole new journey.

  1. Tarot is not out to get you or warn you of calamities about to come. Tarot is benevolent guidance, meant to help you understand and find your power in any given situation. There are other tarot readers that would fight me on this, and that’s fine. I speak only from my own training, and belief system. Telling someone that everything is going to fall apart is NOT HELPFUL. Where’s the power in that? So why would your guides want you to know that? But this gets into #2.

  2. There is no good or bad card. Any card can be experienced as awesome or unbelievably crappy. I have a very uncomfortable relationship with the Sun card, which is generally known as a lovely energy. I’m usually happy to see the Death card, because I know how quickly it works, and that it means I’m moving forward. But any card can be painful or delightful. 

  3. Start with one question. Don’t mix all your questions together in one go. Eventually when you know the cards better, you may do an overall spread, but I still like to do different spreads for each question. If your question is convoluted, your answer will be just as convoluted.

  4. Don’t feel the need to get into elaborate spreads. When I read, I rarely go beyond 4 cards. I find more than that confuses and dilutes the message. I actually advocate for doing 1 card at a time, and maybe pulling one qualifier. 

  5. I learned this from Lindsay Mack (Tarot for the Wild Soul) but it is a cornerstone of my practice: Tarot is for the present moment.  There is no power in knowing about the future, and also, the future is unwritten anyway. Your power is in the present moment. And Tarot is for you. You can’t pull a card for someone else. A question like “does he love me” will give you present moment advice for you. It won’t report on him. Again: this is where the power is: with you. 

  6. Since I’m Astro-Anarchist, I advocate for genderless and decolonized reading. There is a white/ hetero/ cis flavor to a lot of the literature out there on cards, but there is rapid change happening thankfully. This is part of the reason I suggest getting into your inner knowing, even if you are white/ hetero/ cis. I am also white/ bi/ cis and so I do have that lens, but I really try to take that out of my work, and it resonates more deeply when I do.

  7. Try to feel your card picks in your body. Make a connection with your body and soul so you can start feeling your intuition– physically. This is one of the most powerful practices you can do.

  8. Try to read from your own experience before looking up the meaning. When you don’t know what a card means, you’re likely going to start looking it up online or in a book. And that is great. You’ll probably find someone’s work that resonates. But remember, that part of this exercise is learning to trust yourself, and your own knowing. So I advocate for a one card pull in the morning to start your day, so you can sit with the card and its message all day, and then come back to it at night– maybe making some notes about it. Again, make notes about how you feel it in your body, this will help you even if it’s hard to describe at first. Maybe you make the notes in your head, without writing it down. 

  9. Make it sacred, but not too sacred. I’m not really into the spiritualism that says there is an elaborate set of rules you must follow in order to be open to guidance. You don’t need special crystals, or to face a certain direction, or make sure that your cards are pristine, or do a long ritual for entry into this work. I think of someone who is in imminent danger, and needs to touch in with themselves, and only has a few minutes hiding in a broom closet at their crappy job. If you have a deck and a moment, this guidance will be there for you. Anyone who says you need special gear, or a full hour, or a set of elaborate rules is speaking from a place of privilege that not everyone has.  That said, still make it sacred, somehow. Take a moment to call in your guides. Take a deep breath and tell yourself you trust yourself and your guidance. Find a clean spot for your cards to be drawn, give them a reverence, even in the broom closet. Take an extra 10 seconds to touch in. If you have a candle to light (probably not in that broom closet) then yes, develop your own ritual, but don’t get caught up in doing it properly. Your guidance is yours, and part of this exercise is trusting yourself.

  10. So you pulled a card and you don’t like the answer? Welcome to tarot. Your first inclination might be to do a new spread and try to pull again on that same question, hoping to get a more favorable answer. I have done this to the point of madness. So no shame from me. But what I have learned is that I have triggers and fears around certain cards and what I think they mean. My advice to you, is to try and deepen your understanding of this undesired card. Ask how it can help you, or what card can help you with this discomfort. Ask for more guidance if you don’t understand, and pull another card. Remember, the exercise is learning your own guidance. So the cards are like road signs on a highway. They don’t tell you where you are going, that is up to you. But they do tell you where you are, and invite you into some medicine.

*I am heavily influenced by Lindsey Mack’s Soul Tarot teachings and recommend her podcast Tarot for the Wild Soul.

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