Basic outline for a Tarot Reading

Ready to start reading Tarot for someone else, or wanting further direction on just how a Tarot reading works from start to finish? Here is an outline you can follow.

1. SEAT YOURSELVES IN A WAY THAT IS CONDUCIVE TO READING. I personally prefer to read for people side-by-side, so that we see the reading in the same orientation. When someone sits across from you the cards are oriented differently towards each person, making it harder to see the reading together.

2. DISCUSS WHAT THE TAROT IS. Bypass this step if you are reading for yourself!

When you read for other people, talking about what the Tarot is and what it can and can’t do ensures that people know what to expect during the reading. There’s more about this in #3.

3. SET THE INTENTION FOR THE READING. The client shares what they hope to know as a result of their reading, and you tell them what spread/process you are using, and/or how you hope to help them through the Tarot.

  • What intentions are you okay with? When you start reading for people (even if it’s just friends), you will want to have an understanding of what you will and will not read about. For example, I avoid the intention to predict the clients’ future. You may find it helpful to write out what you want to use the Tarot for. Avoiding reading on a subject you are unsure of. You can also help the client rephrase the question if needed. For example, you might say, “I can’t predict when you will meet someone and get married, but I can look at advice cards to help you improve your love life.”

4. SHUFFLE. The reader shuffles the cards while focusing on the question at hand. You can also have the client shuffle the cards. I personally prefer to shuffle because I’ve seen people man-handle my cards over the years and I feel physical pain when this happens.

5. CUT THE DECK. The client cuts the deck into three piles and then restacks the cards back into one pile.

  • Fan spread. You can also opt for the fan spread, which means that after shuffling you place the cards face down in a fan shape (theThe Fanre’s no cutting involved). The client then pulls three cards straight out from the fan and places the cards face down.




6. PLACE THE CARDS INTO A SPREAD. If the client cut the cards (you did not use the fan method), pull from the top of the stack of cards, placing one card at a time face down into your Tarot Spread. Cards should be placed numerically in order to correspond with the spread you are using.

7. FLIP THE CARDS OVER. Turn the cards over horizontally, backside to frontside, right to left. Do not flip the cards with a vertical flip – this changes the orientation of the cards against their original position.

8. INHALE THE READING. Take a moment to look at the cards and take note of patterns. You are looking for card reversals (if the card is upside down), suits that seem prominent, colors, and whatever else strikes your eye. The patterns you see may lend clues about the situation at hand. Dark colors can indicate dark times. Bright colors can indicate happy times. Sounds basic? It can be. You may also take a moment to jot down some notes before you start talking.

  • A note about card reversals
    Card reversals may correspond to the question asked (for example, in a yes or no question, a reversed card is no and shows why “no”). Otherwise, there are many reasons cards may be reversed. They may be showing:

    1. What’s working against the client
    2. What needs attention
    3. What’s in the past
    4. What the client is avoiding
    5. What the client needs to stop doing
    6. Energy that’s blocked and needs adjusting

9. DISCUSS THE OVERARCHING THEME. What do you see? Discuss what strikes you most about the cards as a group.


      • Describe out loud what is depicted visually on each card.
      • Tell the client what the card means (you should have 2-3 key phrases memorized for each card). If you are still learning and don’t have meanings memorized, share what you know and what you think the meaning is.
      • Explain what your interpretation of the meaning of the card is as it relates to their question.
      • Ask the client what their interpretation of the card is.

Discuss how the individual cards are connected.


11. THE MESSAGE. Summarize what you feel the Tarot reading is saying overall – What advice is given?

12. THE LEARNING. Ask the client what they have learned as a result of the reading and how they plan to use the information.

13. DOCUMENT THE READING (optional).

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