the Empress tarot card

Tarot cards are a type of deck used for tarot readings that can help you understand different parts of your life, like love, career, or relationships. When you do a reading, each card you pull from the deck has a specific image, symbol, and story that show different parts of your experiences and thoughts.

There are two ways the cards can appear when laid out: upright or reversed. The upright cards are the that are facing up, showing their pictures right-side up just as you would see them when looking at them straight on. Learning to read tarot cards upright is the easiest way to learn tarot.

Tarot cards are laid out in a neat row, all facing upwards, ready to be read

The meaning of the cards when they’re upright is considered the “standard” or “traditional” meaning. So let’s say you draw The Sun card upright, it typically suggests happiness, success, and vitality.

Reading tarot cards upright is usually how beginners start to learn. You get to know the meanings before you add reversed cards. Reversed cards are a little trickier to understand. The meaning isn’t always the opposite of the upright card. Sometimes it is something different.

If we look at the Five of Cups, Melissa Cynova, who wrote the book Kitchen Table Tarot, says that it means regret, sorrow, loss, and pain, which are feelings. However, the reverse meaning is more about the process of moving on.

Understanding tarot reversals will be helpful later, but when you’re just starting out, focusing on the upright meanings gives you more than enough to work with. It will take you a while to be able to read the card intuitively, so please don’t rush that process. Reading reversals will be around later. If you want the journal I used to learn what each card means, I have published it on Amazon. It is not an affiliate link.

Simplicity and Clarity

Simplicity and Clarity read tarot cards on a wooden table

When you read tarot cards upright, you are focusing on the messages that the cards offer. Each card has meanings that are easy to understand when it’s in the upright position.

  1. Recognizing Cards Upright:

    • Look at the image: See what stands out to you.
    • Name: Say the card’s name as this can give hints about its meaning.
  2. Upright Meaning:

    Every tarot card has different meanings. For example, The Fool card suggests new beginnings and adventures when upright.

  3. Benefits of Upright Cards:

    • Clearer messages: Less confusion compared to reversed tarot cards.
    • Simpler understanding: Easier to connect with the straightforward meanings.

When you draw a tarot card, notice if it’s upright or not. If a card is not upside-down, it’s in the upright position. This usually means that the card’s energies are expressed openly and plainly.

Positive Focus

Positive Focus flips tarot cards upright for reading

When you’re reading tarot cards in an upright position, focus on what each card is saying to you clearly and positively. Think about how the upright meanings can guide you to understand your situation better.

Avoiding Negativity

Upright Tarot Cards: These cards are placed facing up, just as you would normally see them. The images are right-side up and ready to tell you something important. Be careful of the Hanged Man though. When that card is upright, the man in the card is actually hanging upside down.

  • Meanings: Upright tarot cards generally have a positive or neutral tone. They usually mean good outcomes, problem solving, or personal growth. Here are a couple of examples of Major Arcana cards and their meanings.
    Upright Card Example Typical Positive Meaning
    The Sun Success, vitality, joy
    The World Completion, achievement, unity
  • What to Do: While you are reading these cards, think about the good things they could mean for you. What positive message could they be bringing into your life?

Reverse Tarot Cards: When you come across a reversed card (one that’s upside down), remember that its meaning isn’t just the opposite of the upright version.

  • Reversed Card: A reversed card can indicate challenges, delays, or internal struggles.
    Reversed Card Example Typical Challenge Meaning
    The Tower (reversed) Disruption, fear of change
    Five of Cups (reversed) Moving on, personal setbacks
  • What to Do: If you see a reversed card, try not to think of it as bad news. It is just a card with a message. Focus on what you can learn from that card and how having the information help you.

Remember, your tarot reading is individual to you. Positive outcomes can be found in both upright and reversed cards—it’s all in how you interpret the message they are offering you.

Learning Phase

Learning Phase: Tarot cards laid out upright on a table, surrounded by candles and mystical objects

When you start reading tarot cards upright, it’s essential to first understand their basic meanings and use resources like a tarot book or guidebook. Getting comfortable with the interpretations will help you trust your intuition during tarot practice.

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

Ease of Interpretation

Reading tarot cards in their upright position tends to be easier because each card has a general set of meanings that are common amongst different decks and easier to learn. As you start learning:

  • Consult a tarot guidebook: This will be your go-to resource for each card’s basic meaning. Most decks come with a guidebook included.

    Don’t rely on the guide book too much.
  • Focus on the imagery: Look closely at the pictures on the cards. The symbols can give you clues about the card’s message.

  • Start with key words: For each card, learn a few key words that go with the card. For example, The Fool might be associated with “beginnings” and “adventure”.

  • Practice regularly: The more you use your cards, the more familiar you’ll become with them. Doing a daily tarot reading will help you improve quickly!


Belief reads tarot cards, arranged in a spread on a table

Tarot Spreads

A tarot spread is how you lay out the cards to read them. A simple spread might have just a few cards, each with a specific meaning for your life. The way these cards fall – upright or reversed – affects their message to you. Here is a common, easy spread that a lot of people are successful with: past, present, future

  • Past: Sometimes an upright card here talks about good memories.
  • Present: An upright card might mean things are going well for you now.
  • Future: This could show the potential for happiness or success ahead.

What you believe about reading tarot cards will influence your reading. If you think it is a game, you will probably just move on with your day after the reading. If you are using tarot for insight, you will spend more time thinking about how the cards apply to your life.

Always remember, tarot cards are like a mirror, they are reflecting on what your energy is right now. You always have free will. You have the ability to shape your future! Y

Intuitive Reading

Tarot cards laid out in a fan shape, all upright, with a hand hovering over them in a contemplative manner

When you read tarot cards upright, trust what you feel about each card’s energy. Only you are able to understand what is going on in your life. If something jumps out at you, like seeing several swords in a reading, it could mean you are in your head a lot and you have a lot to think about.

Look at each card in your reading and ask yourself if the card makes you feel good, or is it making you feel a bit yucky inside. Trust that feeling for that reading. It’s your intuition talking to you. It’s a clue about the cards meaning for you.

Remember, context matters. The question you ask before a reading sets up the reading. If you ask about love and you draw The Lovers upright, it likely signals romance. But it could also be talking about a choice you must make, since that’s what the card can mean. Always think about why you’re doing the reading as you read the card.

The surrounding cards in the spread will give you more context about your question. Each card influences the cards around it. The best way to figure out what the cards are saying is to ask yourself how the card combinations are affecting the energy of the reading. If you pull an upright Strength card, it usually means courage and control. But if it’s next to cards that are about conflict, it could be a sign to hold back and not to force things. Take in the whole spread, and let the cards talk to you.

Quick Tips:

  • Feel the card’s energy: Happy, sad, worried? It’s a clue!
  • Consider the reading’s context: Why did you draw the card?
  • Look at nearby cards: They help explain the main one.

You don’t need a book of meanings to read tarot cards. Trust your intuition, and let the cards speak to your personal experience.

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

Client Preferences

A table with tarot cards laid out in an upright position

When you are doing a tarot card reading for someone else, you are going to find out that different people like different things. It’s important to think about what makes your clients feel comfortable.

Personal Experience

You might have your own personal reasons for wanting the cards read in a certain way. Maybe you’re looking for help on a one specific issue. Maybe you just want a general reading on life. Your background and experiences play a big role in what you expect from a tarot reading. For a specific issue, you might want a specific card spread, but if you are looking for a general outlook, maybe the Celtic Cross is a good spread for you.

Tarot Community

Each person you read for in the tarot community will want something different. Some people want a quick check in, and others might want an in depth analysis. It is always helpful to ask the person you are reading for what they want out of the reading. It’s common to see people want different things.

  • Detailed explanation: Every symbol on the card is explained.
  • Summary: A brief interpretation is given without too much detail.

Different Angles

Interest in different parts of life, like love or career, can affect what you or your client want from a reading. You should ask yourself or your client what theme they want the reading to be about. :

  • Love life
  • Career path
  • Personal growth

Tarot Practice

How your reading is done can also be different depending on your preference. Do you like a hands-on approach where you get to shuffle the cards? Or do you prefer the reader handle everything? Some aspects include:

  • Shuffling: Decide whether you or the reader shuffles the deck.
  • Questioning: You might ask a specific question or let the cards reveal messages without guidance. This can be tricky because if you ask a specific question, you might miss out on what you would learn from a general reading. However, if you have a specific question and get a general reading, you might feel like you didn’t get the guidance you were wanting.

Remember, your comfort is key during a tarot reading. Make sure to find a reader who respects and understands your preferences.

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