15 things every new tarot reader needs to know

Are you just starting out with tarot cards? It can be a lot to take in all at once, but I know how excited you are to be learning how to read the cards. I’m about to share 15 things every new tarot reader needs to know.

If you are not a new tarot reader, I think this will help you anyways so keep reading.

You are going to learn all about the tarot deck, tips for how to read the cards, how to develop your skills, best practices for reading cards, and how to trust yourself when reading the cards!

Understanding the Tarot Deck

There are a few things you need to know about a tarot deck. In some ways it is like a regular deck of cards, but there are a lot of differences, too.

1. Learn the Major and Minor Arcana

A tarot deck is broken up into 2 parts, the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana.

Major Arcana:

  • The Major Arcana is made of twenty-two cards. It starts with The Fool (0) and ends with The World (21)
  • Each card is about a theme or lesson. Each card is about a specific life lesson we are here to learn
  • Each card also represents a specific archetype, for example, the Magician represents manifestation and resources, while the Hermit represents the need to go inside yourself and reflect on what is going on in your life
  • When a Major Arcana card shows up in a reading, pay attention. It is the universes way of telling you to pay attention and give some TLC to that part of your life

Minor Arcana:

  • Made of 56 cards with 4 suits. The suits typically are wands, sword, pentacles, and cups. Each suit goes from Ace to King.
  • These cards are about our day to day life that might include people, events, or situations that are short term in nature
  • The court cards within each suit represent different personalities or situations in life. They can mean actual people in your life or parts of the your personality.

2. Familiarize Yourself with the Card Meanings

There are different ways to learn the meanings of the cards. Each way gives more information to help you understand your reading better

Upright and Reversed Meanings

Picture of Upright card and Reversed tarot card

As you can see, upright cards look like we would expect them to. The reversed card looks like it is upside down. It is commonly thought that the reversed card meaning is the opposite of the upright meaning. Sometimes that is true, but often it is not.

I only read my cards upright. Want to learn why? I wrote a blog post all about it.

Let’s take a look at the Fool card. The upright meaning can mean starting a new journey or a new beginning. The reversed meaning could mean that the person is might be acting reckless or impulsive.

Symbolism and Imagery

Each card has a ton of symbols on it. Knowing the meaning of the symbols can help give more clues to the cards meaning.

If we look at the Fool card again you will notice the following symbols and I will share with you the common interpretation of the symbol.

  • The white rose represents purity and innocence. He is going to start his journey without negativity.
  • The small dog represents loyalty and protection, but it can also represent being aware of his surroundings
  • The cliff shows the unknown and taking a leap of faith
  • The knapsack can mean the experiences and what the person knows going into this new journey
  • The mountains in the background suggest there may be challenges the Fool will find as he works his way through the new journey

3. Develop Your Intuition

Your intuition is your gut instincts. It’s the message the universe is trying to give you. You need to trust these feelings as the message is meant for you.

Using your intuition helps you connect with the cards on a deeper level. Sometimes you might feel like a card means something different that the common meaning. That’s okay. Only you know the situation you are reading about. Go with that feeling.

Mastering the Art of Reading

Now that you understand your deck a bit better, it’s time to get to the good stuff: Reading the Cards.

4. Create a Sacred Space

When you are reading tarot cards, you would like to do it in an area of. your place that is quiet and comfortable. It should be warm and inviting so that you feel comfortable when you start your reading.

Something you can do to make your space YOUR space is to add candles, crystals, and pictures to make it unique to you. I cover this topic in depth in a blog post should you want to create a space for your spiritual growth.

sacred space for tarot reading.

It’s okay if you can’t have a dedicated space just for tarot reading, I don’t either. I set everything up at my kitchen table and do my readings there. I like it because I can take up the whole table if needed. I’m one of those types of people who take up as much space as allowed.

5. Shuffle and Cut the cards

It might sound silly, but you want to think about how you shuffle and cut the cards. I think of it as part of my ritual when I am getting ready for a reading. I also do this differently depending on whether I am reading for myself or for someone else.

When I read for myself, I like to shuffle the card and then spread the whole deck on the table facedown. Then I hover my hands over the deck and try to pick up the energy of the cards. I usually feel the energy in my fingers, When I pick up the energy, then I chose that card.

tarot cards laid out to be chosen.

I am on a limited time when I read for others so instead, I shuffle the cards and ask the person I am reading for to cut the deck and take the cards from the top of that stack.

The important thing is to make sure you are adding your energy when you are shuffling. Make sure you are thinking about the question you are asking as you shuffle and ask the universe to guide you.

6. Creating Questions for your Tarot Reading

Asking the right questions is critical to having a great reading. I find that yes and no questions are dead end questions. They don’t lead to any insights for the question you are asking about.

Instead, you want to ask open-ended questions that are specific. My best tip for asking a question is to start with the words What, Why, and How.

You could ask “Will I meet my soul mate”? It’s a yes or no question that doesn’t lead to conversation.

On the other hand, you could ask “What can I do to get ready to meet my soulmate?” This question is much richer, and there is a lot to dig into with that question. Do you see the difference?

7. Practice Different Spreads

It doesn’t take a long time to find a tarot spread online. All you have to do is Google it. I myself own several books that have nothing but tarot spreads in it. Sometimes it ishard to find a spread for the situation you are reading about.

I prefer to use more general tarot spreads that you can use any question with. A quick and easy spread is a 3 card spread. These get to the heart of the matter and are a fast reading for when you don’t have a lot of time.

A couple of examples are:

  • past/present/future
  • problem/solution/outcome

Another classic spread that you can use is the Celtic Cross spread. This spread consists of 10 cards and it takes a while to read. If you choose to do this one, you should plan on spending an hour with your cards. It might not take that long, And that’s ok, but it takes a while to read all the cards and interpret them.

Recently, I have been loving the Heart of the Matter Spread. It takes part of the Celtic Cross spread out to read on its own. There are a lot of variations to this spread, but this is my favorite.

If you use this spread, tell me how it turns out! I would love to hear all about it.

Developing Your Tarot Reading Skills

We have learned about the cards and began reading tarot cards in tips 1-7. Now it’s time to think about how to improve your readings. I have 3 tips to share about that.

8. Learn about Tarot history and symbolism

Since tarot cards have been around since the 1400’s, there is a lot of history behind the cards. Did you know that tarot cards actually started as a card game for the nobility and royals? I find learning a little bit about the background of the cards helps me understand the cards better.

Also, I learning, especially about history. I have a deep fascination with the Tudor period In England. I digress…

Learning about the symbols on the cards will help you deepen your understanding on the cards.

9. Keep a Tarot Journal

One of my favorite things to write about. Keeping a tarot journal has so many benefits. Writing about each card is a great way to learn and understand the meaning of each card.

Not only that, but a tarot journal is a place where you can record your readings, what you think the cards mean in relation to each other, and how you interpret each card. The more you write about your readings, the more you will learn about yourself.

Keeping a journal also allows you to see how you have grown as a reader. When you are first starting out, you might not have a lot to write about. You might feel like it isn’t helping. I suggest that by the time you get to the end of the journal, your readings are a lot more in depth and you will have learned a lot!

If you are looking to journal more about the Major Arcana and create your own meanings of the cards, pop your email address right into the form above. I have something special for you, and it’s free!

person writing on brown wooden table near white ceramic mug
Photo by Unseen Studio on Unsplash

10. Join a Tarot Community

There are a lot of benefits to joining a tarot community. For one, you get to connect with like minded people. I love talking about tarot cards, but most of my friends and family don’t. Communities are where I can “talk shop” and know that I am amongst my people.

When you join a community, you are able to ask questions in a safe place and learn new things about the cards.

Sometimes the community you are part of will offer learning opportunities like workshops or challenges. Right now I am in a community where I am getting to learn more in depth about the Court Cards. They are tricky to read, but have already learned some great information that I am gong to share in the future.

Joining my Facebook group is another resource to learn more about tarot and manifesting.

Tarot Best Practices

As someone who has been reading cards for others, there are a few things that I have learned along the way that I would like to share with you.

11. Respect the Boundaries of Tarot

Tarot is not a substitute for professional advice. If you or the person you are reading for needs legal, financial or health help, please let them know that you are not a doctor or lawyer or financial advisor.

Tarot is a great way to get to know yourself, but if you need help please ask a professional.

Also avoid making promises or predictions. Promising someone that something is going to happen is opening yourself up to problems. For example, in the example above, we talked about someone meeting their soul mate. If you promise someone it is going to happen FOR SURE, the person you are reading for might be pretty pissed at you.

Your reputation is on the line. Make sure it is squeaky clean.

12. Maintain Confidentiality

This is another way to make sure your reputation is stellar. Don’t share confidential information with others. The people you read for are in a vulnerable position. They may not feel comfortable doing a reading, but decided to take a risk. Treat them with respect and respect their privacy.

woman in black tank top with white face mask
Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

13. Practice Self Care

While reading tarot cards is fun, it can be emotionally draining as well. I did a reading for myself last week and the cards weren’t positive. I felt drained afterwards because the cards were heavy and unexpected. After I did that reading I just wanted to go to bed.

Instead, I wrote in my journal about it and meditated. By doing this I created space for myself to process the reading and get perspective.

Other self care ideas are take a walk, if you enjoy cooking, then make a meal, or read some positive affirmation cards.

Embracing the Tarot Journey

The last couple of tips are about mindset. I always say that the tarot cards are a mirror to what is going on inside. Keep these tips in mind if you are getting frustrated or aren’t moving as fast as you want. they’re great tips to keep in mind all the time, actually.

14. Cultivate an open mind

As someone who reads tarot, I am assuming that we all have an open mind anyways. While reading tarot is becoming more mainstream, there are parts of our culture who don’t accept tarot reading. These aren’t your people.

Each time I do a reading, I am excited to do it. I know I have an opportunity to learn more about myself. I keep an open mind to what the cards have to offer. After all, I am using them for self development. The only way to grow is to be willing to look at things from many angles and perspectives.

woman doing yoga meditation on brown parquet flooring
Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

Fun fact, just throwing it out there because I just thought about it. There are 76,076 different combinations of cards from the tarot deck if you are doing just a 3 card spread. It’s kind of mind boggling when I think about it.

This means that there is a 1 in 692 chance that you will get the same card in 2 different 3 card readings. That’s less than a 1% chance. So if you get the same card in 2 different readings back to back, the universe is trying to tell you something.

15. Trust the Process

Remember that learning to read tarot cards never ends. Every time you do a reading, you understand more. If you take a tarot reading course, you learn more. Reading a new tarot book? Guess what? You are learning more.

This excites me so much!

And finally, remember to celebrate your progress. Like we talked about in the section on tarot journaling. As you notice that your interpretations and insights become stronger, it is time to celebrate! You are making progress!!


    How long does it take to become a proficient tarot reader?

    It depends. Just like everything else we learn, it takes time. The more time you spend doing readings and learning about the cards the quicker you will feel more proficient

    Is it necessary to memorize all the card meanings?

    NO! Once you have a basic grasp of the deck, use your intuition. Learning to rely on yourself and your interpretations leads to more intuitive readings. It allows you to access your subconscious more.

    Can I use tarot for self-readings or is it better to have someone else read for me?

    Absolutely you can use tarot to do readings for yourself. That’s how most tarot readers start. I don’t think it’s bette to get a reading from someone els. I do like to have others read my cards for me, as I look for different perspectives about a situation. Plus, it’s fun!

    How do I choose the right tarot deck for me?

    The easy answer is to find out if you have a connection with the deck. Does it feel good in your hands? How does it make you feel emotionally. Do the scenes in the cards resonate with you? These are just some of the ways to choose. I have a full blog post on this for you to read.

    Next steps

    I would encourage you to keep exploring the cards. If you can, purchase a second deck and compare and contrast the cards. Noticing the similarities and differences will help you grow as a reader.

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    If you like free things, check out this Freebie Marketplace. I have a free gift for you there. It is 66 Major Arcana affirmations and I think you will love them!

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