Tarot Cards

How to read tarot cards

how to read tarot cards - fan spread

Perhaps you’ve just been given your first tarot deck, or maybe your curiosity is piqued, and you want to know how to read tarot cards before adding a deck to your shopping cart. If you want to learn how to use tarot cards for the first time, we’ve put together a guide on why people use tarot, how to use tarot, and how to choose a tarot deck.

Why do people use tarot?

Before learning how to read tarot cards for yourself, let’s find out why people read tarot cards. Usually, people can use tarot cards for:

  • Guidance
    • In meditation
    • For decisions
    • Spiritual guidance
    • To answer questions
  • Divination
  • Spellwork
  • Connecting with ancestors

The reasons people come to tarot are as different as the people themselves. Come to tarot with an open heart and an open mind, and you’ll discover new insights into the past and guidance for the future.

What can tarot cards do for you?

Tarot cards can:

  • Shed light on the past
  • Help you gain an understanding of events that are happening now
  • Reveal possibilities for the future

Through tarot, you can learn how events from the past (and how your subconscious remembers and responds to them) can change how you view the present and move toward the future.

What are different ways to read tarot?

Most commonly, people want to know how to learn tarot reading for two reasons:

  • To get specific answers to a question
  • To do general readings

If you’re using tarot for meditation or spellwork, select a card that resonates with your intention and channel energy toward the card. For example, if you want to focus on hope and healing, you may choose The Star card to help you achieve your goal.

Understanding how to interpret tarot cards is a skill that will grow with time. Trust your intuition and use the guidebook that comes with your deck. Inside, the author identifies unique meanings for each card, explains symbolism, and describes their intent for creating the deck.

What will you find in a tarot deck?

Most decks contain 78 cards. These cards are split into two types: the major arcana and the minor arcana.

What are major arcana?

Each deck contains 22 major arcana, numbered 1 through 21, plus The Fool. Major arcana cards shed light on the big picture and help you discover a long-term direction for your life.

What are minor arcana?

The other 56 cards are minor arcana. These are separated into four suits: wands, cups, swords, and pentacles. Each suit has 14 cards (10 numbered + pages, knights, queens, and kings) related to everyday actions or situations.

Here’s a quick rundown on what each of the suits represents:
Wands – energy, action, passion
Cups – feelings, intuition, creativity, relationships
Swords – thoughts, words, actions (often associated with challenges)
Pentacles – money, work, health

How should I shuffle a Tarot deck?

There are multiple ways to shuffle your tarot deck to prepare for the perfect pull. As you learn how to read tarot cards, know there’s no right or wrong way to shuffle. Release any anxieties you may have about doing it “right.”

Before starting your shuffle, know that your energy affects the cards. Be sure you’re calm and focused before working with them. You can knock on the deck or smudge it with sage to cleanse it before use. Then, set your intention, and you’re good to go!

Here are three methods you can use to shuffle your deck:

  • Overhand shuffle – Hold the deck in your dominant hand, and move some of the cards into your non-dominant hand. Holding the non-dominant hand below the dominant hand, continue to move cards from the dominant to the non-dominant hand, dropping the cards between others to mix them.
  • Pile shuffle – place the cards facedown and use your hands to spread them into a single layer, swirling them around.
  • Dovetail shuffle – Split the deck in two and riffle the decks together until the cards are interlaced.

How to do a three-card tarot reading

Once you shuffled your deck and set your intention, it’s time to start your reading. Here’s how to get started:

  • Fan the deck out on a flat surface so you can see every card
  • Hover your hand over each card
  • Notice which cards you feel drawn to and select three
  • Place them facedown in a horizontal row, with the card you selected first on the left.
  • Flip them one by one

how to read tarot cards - 3-card pull

What do the cards mean in a three-card pull?

When you’re doing a three-card pull, the first card you pull is representative of the past. This card sets the context for the rest of your reading.

The second card is representative of the present and will shed light on your current situation.

The third card is representative of the future. This card is indicative of the outcome, whether it’s the accomplishment of a long-term goal or a near-future resolution. Is this future outcome set in stone? Absolutely not. If you don’t like the predicted outcome, take steps to create a different future.

Each card has an upright and reversed meaning, so pay attention to the direction of the cards. A reversed card isn’t necessarily bad– it just means that the outcome may be delayed or weakened. Alternatively, the card may mean the opposite if reversed.

Multiple options: how to read tarot cards

The three-card formation is the most popular, but it’s not the only formation. You can use an eight-card formation for general and specific readings or a Celtic cross formation for question readings. You can also keep it simple with a one-card pull that answers non- “yes” or “no” questions.

Which tarot deck should you use?

Now that you’ve learned how to use tarot cards, it’s time to put that knowledge to use. There are thousands of tarot decks out there, and not all are created equally. At Pure Journi, we stock high-quality decks made by well-known witches and spiritual practitioners.

The most important thing when buying tarot cards is connecting with your deck. Want to explore the depths of your mind, spirit, and soul? The Black Tarot Deck might be the best fit for you. Are you looking for something a little less scary? The Angel Tarot Deck swaps traditional imagery and renames the minor arcana for a reading that’s a little more lighthearted.

No matter which deck you choose, we hope you receive the answers you’re looking for!