How to do a tarot reading with three major arcana lying on a table

How To Do A Tarot Reading

Tarot is a popular form of divination that helps you gain insight and make decisions. It’s a fascinating topic, but learning to do a tarot reading can be complex for beginners.

Do you want to know how to do a tarot reading? This post will show you how to read the Tarot in 8 simple steps.

We’ll walk you through the basics of how to get started with tarot cards, cover everything from selecting your deck to reading the cards, and provide helpful tips for learning how to do a tarot reading for yourself.

Getting started with Tarot cards can be very easy, so don’t overthink it. Our 8-step process below outlines the basics, and there’s a deep dive on each point, so read on.

How To Do A Tarot Reading In 8 Steps

  1. Choose Your Tarot Card Deck
  2. Visualize Your Question
  3. Prepare Your Card Reading Area
  4. Shuffle And Cut The Cards
  5. Place Cards In A Tarot Spread
  6. Interpret The Cards Meanings
  7. Log Your Spreads In A Tarot Journal
  8. Reference A Good Tarot Book For More Insight
A Tarot Reader learning the cards holds one up in candlelight

Beginners Guide To Reading Tarot Cards

Have you ever wanted to know what the future holds?

If so, then learn to be a tarot reader. Tarot cards are an ancient divination tool that can reveal insights into your life and help answer your questions about love, money, career, or any other area of interest.

You get to ask questions and receive the answers in a way that makes sense to you. By understanding how to work with Tarot, you can learn the power of intuitive reading to make life changes and empower your existing goals. We have lots of great resources on our Tarot vault page.

Setting the mood for tarot reading with flowers and candles

Tarot Cards For Beginners

Tarot is an ancient tool for divination. It’s a deck of 78 cards, each with unique symbolism and meaning.

There are many different ways to use them, but one of the most popular methods is asking questions and drawing cards to get insight, clarity, or guidance on something important.

How To Get Started With Tarot

To get started with tarot, pick out a deck that appeals to you, shuffle the cards, then lay them out in a spread pattern on the table or floor. Then, interpret each card’s meaning based on where it falls in the spread.

You will use different spreads depending on what type of reading you’re doing (e.g., general readings vs. relationship). Have a reference guide handy, but use your intuition as well.

Learn Tarot Deck Basics

The tarot card deck has been around since at least the 15th century in its current form. Gypsies used the 78-card deck to predict future events and tell fortunes. Today, tarot cards are a powerful tool to gain insight into our lives and guide us towards positive change. 

Major Arcana Of The Golden Dawn

The Minor Arcana and Major Arcana Cards

The Tarot is a set of seventy-eight cards comprising 22 major arcana and 56 minor arcana. For fortune-telling, the major arcana represent important events that will happen in your life. The minor arcana represent the everyday events that happen in your life.

A tarot card deck is two unique decks in one. The terms minor and major reflect the importance of the subject matter of each group of cards.

Minor Arcana Cards

The minor arcana cards are very similar to regular playing cards. However, they have four court cards (page, knight, queen, and king) instead of three in modern decks (jack, queen, and king).

The minor arcana suits: cups, swords, wands, and pentacles

Tarot decks have four suits that correspond to Clubs, Hearts, Spades, and Diamonds:

  • Wands (Creation, BBirth, Fire — Clubs)
  • Cups (Joy, Love, Emotions, Water — Hearts)
  • Swords (Force, Conquest, Triumph, Air — Spades)
  • Pentacles (Finances, Work, Materialism, Earth — Diamonds)

The minor arcana can give numerical reference to tarot readings. For example, if you draw the 5 of pentacles, a career-related event involving the number 5 or the date of the 5th may be imminent. 

Major Arcana Cards

The 22 Major Arcana are archetypal cards that symbolize life’s biggest lessons. They are the trump cards in a tarot deck, like the two jokers in a regular deck. The archetypes can represent major events, people, and significant passages in life.

Major Arcana of the Aleister Crowley Thoth deck
Major Arcana, Aleister Crowley Thoth Deck

Each of the twenty-two Major Arcana in the Tarot deck has occult meanings that can tell you about yourself, your current situation, and what lies ahead.  By understanding the symbolism and secrets behind these cards, you can divine information about your life and receive guidance from the universe.

Major Arcana Cards have imagery designed to help you interpret their meaning without relying on anyone else’s interpretation. They make learning the Tarot easy, fun, and accessible so that you can enjoy using them as an effective tool for self-discovery. I recommend focusing on these 22 cards as you begin your Tarot journey.

The 22 Major Arcana

  1. The Fool: A new beginning or starting over.
  2. The Magician: A magical, psychic person. Great news.
  3. The High Priestess: Spiritual development, non-materialism.
  4. The Empress: Children, marriage, motherhood, and changes.
  5. The Emperor: A dominant male, dependability, a father figure.
  6. The Hierophant: Religion, spiritual enlightenment, and writings.
  7. The Lovers: Passion, love, relationships, emotions, feelings.
  8. The Chariot: A journey, a new start, travel, and refreshed home.
  9. Strength: Power, force, strength, boldness, and good fortune.
  10. The Hermit: The recluse, an inward journey, peace, meditation, reflection.
  11. Wheel of Fortune: Instability, good and bad, polarity, up and down.
  12. Justice: Forgiveness, take action, conclusion, law & order, and a just result.
  13. The Hanged Man: Letting go, enlightenment, perplexities, suspension.
  14. Death: Change, beginning and ending, obstacles, release.
  15. Temperance: Balancing emotions, savings, harmony, healing, discipline.
  16. The Devil: Bondage, restriction, troubles, and uncertainty.
  17. The Tower: The collapse of a stable situation, changes, and delays.
  18. The Star: Hope, spirituality, good luck, love.
  19. The Moon: Dark forces, dreams, mystery, illusion.
  20. The Sun: Inner contentment, success, vitality, good fortune.
  21. Judgment: Life’s purpose, accountability, journey, and good karma.
  22. The World: The finale, accomplishment, crescendo, a positive conclusion.
Feminine Major Arcana from the Thoth deck: The universe, Lust, and the star

The Major Arcana have been used in the Western Mystery Tradition to explore the archetypes of human experience. The deck of twenty-two cards reveals a spiritual discipline that has endured for centuries.

The most significant advice for tarot beginners is to learn the individual card meanings of the major arcana first. Use them for daily draw divination, and you’ll be able to find solutions to your problems more quickly and intuitively.

For in-depth guidance, read some of the best Tarot books for beginners.

Choose Your Tarot Deck

To ensure that you get the proper guidance and answers in your tarot readings, choose a tarot deck that you feel connected to. Find one that attracts you based on its artwork, theme, or design. Pick the one that resonates with your life.


Best Tarot Decks For Beginners

Two of the most popular decks used for readings are the Rider-Waite Tarot deck and the artful Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot deck painted by Lady Frieda Harris. The Rider-Waite deck is the most widely used traditional deck, and Crowley’s beautiful deck is my favorite. 

Besides Crowley’s Thoth deck, I also own the Golden Dawn Tarot, designed by Robert Wang, a master writer about the Tarot. Other decks I’ve collected for their beauty and symbolism are the Grand Luxe, Dreaming Way, and the Tarot of Dreams.

Two of my tarot decks in front of my AMORC Rosicrucian manual and Hermetica

You can find my list of the best Tarot Decks for beginners here. They all have slightly different symbols, but there are some commonalities. Pick one that connects with you instinctively. Clear your new Tarot deck before using it for readings.

My favorite easy way to get new decks is by subscribing to unique Tarot and spirituality boxes. You’ll love the quality and selection… I get so excited when one is delivered!


Best Questions To Ask The Tarot

The best questions to ask the Tarot are the ones you want to be answered! You get great insights into your life and it helps you to connect with your intuition when making decisions.

Questions to ask the tarot cards with question marks and a deck of the major arcana with the magician on top

What to Ask the Cards In Your Tarot Reading

The cards can answer all kinds of interesting questions about your love life, career, and more. But for Tarot beginners, it’s hard to know what questions you should be asking.

You might not know where to start or how to get clear answers on your goal for the reading.

How To Choose The Best Tarot Question

Even if you’re a seasoned tarot reader, it can be hard to develop relevant, insightful, and interesting questions. To help, we created a list of 11 good questions for any situation so that you can get inspired and then narrow it down to one that feels right.

Before we dive into our list of suggested questions, it’s important to remember that there is no “right” question or answer. Every person has different needs and will receive different messages from their deck depending on what they need at that moment.

Woman ponders questions to ask the cards about her future

List of 11 Tarot Questions

Choose questions to ask the tarot cards from our list below. Pick one that connects with your situation. Asking the right question at the right time gets accurate answers.

Ask The Tarot:

  1. What do I need to know about my life (past, present, or future)?
  2. Should I be worried about something in particular?
  3. How can I improve my situation?
  4. What event do I need to prepare for?
  5. Who will be entering or leaving my life?
  6. Am I on the right path (to find love, at work, with my family, etc)?
  7. What does the future hold for my career?
  8. Does (person) have feelings for me? If so, what?
  9. Who or what should I let go of? Who or what will help me?
  10. What should I focus on for the best outcome?
  11. How can I find happiness?

If you don’t feel satisfied with your reading after asking these questions, try coming up with some of your own based on what resonates with your life. You must be comfortable getting an answer you may not want to hear.


How To Do Open Tarot Readings 

Open readings don’t try to answer a question. Instead, the drawn cards reveal guidance and can give insight into future events. I have learned that the Tarot finds a way to convey important knowledge and information to you no matter what you ask. This is why keeping a Tarot journal is crucial! I guarantee you’ll be stunned at the accuracy when you look back at past readings.

Prepare Your Area

It is vital to have a designated space for your tarot readings. This will help you to focus and connect with the cards. Your area can be as simple or as elaborate as you like. Just make sure that it feels comfortable and inspiring to you. Here are a few tips on setting up your tarot reading area.

Prepare your area for tarot reading

As you begin your tarot reading practice, create an area in your home specifically for readings if possible. A simple setup like a small table and chair in a quiet corner is fine, or create an entire space dedicated to readings. This will help you focus and connect with the cards.

A designated area helps to create a calm and positive environment that is conducive to readings. Candles, crystals, and other special touches will set the mood beautifully and inspire you. Have your cards, reference guides or books, and journal ready.

Where Should I Do My Reading?

Many think you need a special room or area for your tarot readings. This isn’t true! All you need is a quiet place where you can focus on the cards and nothing else.

You can use any table in your house if it has good lighting and feels comfortable. If possible, make sure that there are no distractions like TVs, phones, or pets nearby to not distract from your reading session.

I have done readings on the floor of my walk-in closet to have the quiet privacy I needed. Here are a few ideas for setting up your sacred space for tarot readings. (photos)

Shuffling the tarot cards

Ritual For Cleansing And Protection

Create a ritual for cleansing and protection during your reading. It’s as simple as clearing your mind using deep breathing and setting an intention.

  • Start by setting an intention for your reading
  • Create mood and ambience: light candles, burn incense, or turn on calming music
  • Make yourself comfortable
  • Breathe deeply and relax,
  • Clear your mind by meditating on the cards or a candle flame
  • Visualize questions and outcomes before starting
  • Say a prayer to your spirit guide, deity, or guardian angel
  • Do your Tarot Card Reading
  • When finished, spend time journaling your feelings about each question
  • Maintain gratitude throughout the session
  • Cleanse afterward (deep breathing, prayer of thanks, clearing your mind, set an intention based on the reading)
  • Put your cards in a protective place

How To Shuffle A Deck Of Tarot Cards

Shuffling tarot cards thoroughly is an essential skill for reading tarot cards. However, it’s not much different than shuffling regular cards in that it helps to mix up the cards and create new card combinations.

Woman shuffles the tarot cards while a candle burns

There are many different ways to shuffle tarot cards but start by taking a very deep breath. Most people shuffle them using a specific pattern, while some simply shuffle them back and forth. Some spread them on a table and mix them up like a child at play.

No hard and fast rule says how to shuffle tarot cards. Do what feels right, and repeat a positive affirmation in your mind as you shuffle the tarot deck.

How To Draw The Tarot Cards

Once you’ve shuffled the cards, cut them into three to four smaller groups. Then, combine the piles back into one deck. Now get ready to draw the cards while focusing on your question. 

Single Card daily draw with wheel of fortune drawn

Basic, Simple Spreads For Tarot Reading

A Tarot spread is the card layout used for reading. The Tarot cards are drawn and arranged in positions that make up the spread. Each position holds a specific meaning about the question. There’s also a dynamic between adjoining and related card positions. The more complex the spread, the more specific reading will be.

Beginners can learn Tarot spreads by starting with basic, small spreads and working their way up. While the single-card spread is the simplest, two, three, four, and five-card spreads are very popular when learning Tarot reading.

The simplest Tarot reading is Yes or No Tarot. This is a great way to learn and connect with the cards.

A woman creates a Simple tarot spread

The ten-card Celtic spread is a bit more complex but presents a more profound reading opportunity. As you practice Tarot more, you’ll love the more detailed and in-depth readings you get using the 10-card Celtic spread.

Daily Tarot Reading: Single Daily Card Draw

Every day, draw one card to get an idea of what the day has in store for you. A single card draw is a snapshot of your current situation and what you might need to focus on. It’s also an entry point for Tarot beginners.

A daily tarot reading is all about growth and learning from past experiences. Start your day by seeing what the tarot has in store for you. Check the meaning in your Tarot reference guide or book of choice.

Single card daily draw with the high priestess

There’s something about tarot readings that feels special and spiritual. Maybe it’s the ritual of drawing a single card from the deck or how each reading seems so personal. No matter what, though, I always find myself eagerly anticipating my daily tarot reading. 

Several years ago, I had a hairdresser who shared my passion for card reading. She collected beautiful decks and always had a new deck at each visit. We started each session with a card pull, which was always inspiring! Embrace fortune-telling as a fun way to tap your intuition.

A four-card spread with candles

Multi-Card Tarot Spreads

Multi-card tarot spreads use a method of laying out the tarot cards to shed light on a given topic. This process involves arranging the cards in a specific layout that reveals their meanings. It’s like a blueprint or a guidebook for the use of the cards. Within this blueprint, the cards’ meanings come together so beautifully.

Practice several different tarot spreads. Log the cards you draw in your Tarot Journal, and write your interpretation of the reading. Did it answer your question, or did it take you down a different path?

Develop a repertoire of several spreads. Be sure to learn the Celtic cross, as it’s a popular spread that every Tarot reader should know.

There are many spreads to explore, and you can create your own once you learn the basic spreads. Below we outline the three-card spread and the ten-card Celtic Cross spread. Read about other tarot spreads here.

Three Card Spread Tarot Reading shows the hermit was pulled

How To Do A Three-Card Reading

When I first learned about the Tarot, one of the first spreads I learned was the Three Card Spread. This is an excellent beginner spread because it is simple yet informative and can be used to get a quick overview of your current situation and life events. 

The basic three-card spread covers the past, present, and future. Place three cards in a row. The left card represents the past, the middle represents the present, and the one on the right represents the future.

My favorite deck for a three-card reading is the Celestial Tarot, as it incorporates astrology and seasons into the reading.

3 card tarot spread: Past, present, and future

Common variations on the three-card spread are:

  1. Current Situation
  2. Solution or Obstacle
  3. Outcome
  1. Yourself
  2. Romantic Interest
  3. Relationship Potential
  1. Desire
  2. Obstacle
  3. Solution

You can create your three-card spread using these basic guidelines after you practice it a few times and start to feel how the tarot guides you.

How To Do A 10-Card Celtic Cross Reading

The Celtic Cross is the oldest and most popular tarot spread for a reason. The layout of the cards creates a reading with powerful meaning.

celtic cross spread with tarot cards

The Celtic cross tarot spread is very versatile. The spread can be used for general readings or more specific purposes, like predicting the outcome of a situation or exploring someone’s character. 

The Celtic Cross layout is divided into two sections: the Cross of six cards on the left and the Staff of four cards on the right. The card positions are always the same, but different practitioners of Tarot place the card number in the layout position slightly differently. I use the Crowley layout, detailed below.

Celtic Cross Meanings

Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot Deck’s Little White Book gives the card number in the layout and its position meaning is as follows:

  1. Heart of the matter
  2. Challenges and obstacles
  3. Destiny, higher purpose of seeker
  4. The immediate future
  5. Foundation and roots of the issue
  6. Past Influences
  7. Self image, seeker’s perspective
  8. Environmental factors
  9. Hopes and fears
  10. Probable Outcome
celtic cross spread

After you shuffle the deck, lay out the cards in the Celtic Cross. Read them in order from 1-10, using both the meaning of the card and the position meaning to interpret each card.

Put all the spreads in your journal with the date. You will be surprised at how accurate the readings are when you review them in hindsight and gain a deeper understanding of the cards and spreads.

Even though it seems complex at first, it’s an excellent spread for unlocking the wisdom and insight of the cards. It opens the door to the story-telling form of divination.

How To Get Tarot Card Meanings

Most decks come with a little white book filled with the basic Tarot meanings that give you the interpretations. For in-depth guidance, choose one of the excellent Tarot books we recommend and love.

Find your card in the guidebook, which will give you the meaning. Some will give you the “reverse” meaning, which applies if the card is positioned upside-down.

After you look up the cards in your guidebook, use your intuition to determine the full meaning. Tarot is all about developing your intuitive senses.

Study card interpretations, create flashcards, and practice the card spreads. Keeping a Tarot journal also helps to learn the meanings faster. Don’t skip using your intuition; It will get stronger with each reading. This is the ultimate goal of the Tarot.

Track Your Readings With A Tarot Journal

I enter each question, the spread used, and the cards pulled into my Tarot Journal. I write my interpretation of the reading and add actionable steps or important notes to reference.

A Tarot journal keeps a running record of your readings and helps you check how accurate your readings are. It will also help you to learn the craft of Tarot faster. Download our free Tarot Journal now!

You can look back at readings to see how accurate they were and even reinterpret them when you gain more knowledge.

Magic book, a tarot journal with cards

Choose A Card That Represents You

When learning the cards, you’re bound to find one that symbolizes your spirit and sacred self better than the rest. This is your Avatar, and you can pull it out of the deck and lay it on the table before reading or shuffle it in the deck and see if it’s drawn.

Woman in gypsy scarf identifies with female based major arcana cards

You can also do a numerological reading of your name and birthdate to tell you which cards symbolize your life and spirit. This book is amazing for revealing your Tarot key cards. However you determine your Tarot Avatar, it will be instrumental in readings, meditations, and spreads as you become more advanced.

Get A Good Book To Learn Tarot Reading

The tarot has been around for over 500 years, yet it is still mysterious. Tarot has a rich history, and many writers and scholars have shed light on the subject in profound ways.

People have tried to understand the mysteries of the tarot by reading books on its esoteric knowledge. This can be frustrating because many are challenging to comprehend. Our guide on Tarot Card meanings is a great starting point.

An open tarot book with guidance about reading cards and spreads like the Celtic cross

There are wonderful guide books available for all levels of Tarot readers. Picking an excellent book for your level of practice is critical to progress your Tarot reading skill.

I strongly suggest that you read these Tarot books. Tarot is a means of self-discovery, and you also learn about life and spirituality.

Tarot Readings Can Guide Your Decisions

If you are looking for a tool to help gain clarity in your life, tarot cards are the perfect way to start. Tarot is an ancient practice that can offer advice about all aspects of your life–from love and relationships to career decisions. 

We hope that by following the basic steps we outlined, you could learn more about this ancient divination tool and gain insight into your future.

A woman studies the tarot cards as she learns how to do a tarot reading

Conclusion: How To Do A Tarot Reading

Tarot is an excellent tool for self-discovery and gaining insight into your future. It gives you clarity on the path ahead and provides guidance when making decisions and following your intuition.

You may be skeptical about whether tarot cards are real, but they’ve been around for centuries for good reason—they work!

Try out our steps in this guide to do a tarot reading and see how accurate the tarot cards can be. Once you get comfortable with the process, you may find that tarot reading can give you some valuable insight into your life.

With time and patience, you will develop your own intuition and become a master of tarot readings!

Be sure to browse my recommended books, and check out these beautiful Tarot Decks. To receive a bounty of monthly Tarot goodies, check out my favorite Tarot Boxes, download your free Tarot Journal and get the Tarot Card Stickers!

Celestial Fortunes Yin Yang Symbol

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