The Basics of Tarot Readings: Step-by-Step Guide

Tarot readings have fascinated people for centuries, offering profound insights, guidance, and self-discovery. Whether you’re new to tarot or looking to deepen your understanding of this ancient divination tool, conducting a tarot reading can be a rewarding and empowering experience. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you through the step-by-step process of conducting a tarot reading. From shuffling the cards to interpreting the spreads, we’ll unravel the mysteries of tarot and empower you to embark on a journey of spiritual exploration and enlightenment.

1. Understanding Tarot: An Introduction

Before diving into the world of tarot readings, let’s start with a brief introduction to tarot itself. Tarot is a deck of 78 cards, each carrying unique symbolism, archetypes, and messages. The cards are divided into the Major Arcana (22 cards) and the Minor Arcana (56 cards). Tarot readings provide valuable insights into various aspects of life, including relationships, careers, spirituality, and personal growth.

2. Choosing Your Tarot Deck

The first step in conducting a tarot reading is choosing the right tarot deck. With a myriad of decks available, each featuring distinct art styles and themes, it’s essential to select a deck that resonates with your intuition and aesthetic preferences. Whether you’re drawn to classic Rider-Waite-Smith symbolism or modern, abstract designs, trust your instincts and choose a deck that speaks to your soul.

3. Cleansing and Energizing Your Tarot Deck

Before using a new or recently acquired tarot deck, it’s essential to cleanse and energize it. Cleansing removes any lingering energies from previous readings or handling, ensuring a fresh start for your readings. Energizing infuses the deck with your intention and positive energy, establishing a strong connection between you and the cards. Common cleansing methods include smudging with sage, placing the deck under the moonlight, or using visualization techniques.

4. Shuffling the Cards

Shuffling tarot cards is a crucial step in preparing for a reading. There are various shuffling techniques, from the traditional overhand shuffle to the more elaborate riffle shuffle. Choose a method that feels comfortable and natural to you. As you shuffle, focus on your question or intention for the reading, allowing your energy to flow into the cards.

5. Formulating Your Question or Intention

Before drawing the cards, take a moment to formulate your question or intention for the reading. Be clear and specific about what you seek guidance on. Whether you’re seeking insights on a particular situation, a decision, or simply looking for general guidance, a well-defined question or intention will enhance the accuracy and relevance of the reading.

6. Selecting the Tarot Spread

Tarot spreads are specific patterns in which the cards are laid out during a reading. Different spreads serve different purposes, from offering a simple overview of a situation to providing in-depth insights into past, present, and future aspects of a particular issue. Common spreads include the Three-Card Spread, Celtic Cross Spread, and Relationship Spread. Choose a spread that aligns with your question and suits your comfort level.

7. Drawing the Cards

With your question and tarot spread in mind, draw the cards from the deck. Some readers prefer to fan the cards and intuitively select the ones that resonate, while others may choose to spread the cards face down and pick them randomly. Trust your intuition as you draw the cards, as your inner guidance will lead you to the ones most relevant to your query.

8. Interpreting the Cards

Interpreting the tarot cards is the heart of the reading. Each card carries its own meaning and symbolism, and their placement in the spread adds layers of depth and context to their interpretation. Pay attention to the card’s imagery, the elements depicted, and the feelings or thoughts they evoke in you. Combine your knowledge of tarot symbolism with your intuition to form a holistic and insightful interpretation.

9. Listening to Your Inner Voice

As you interpret the cards, listen to your inner voice and trust the messages that come through. Your intuition plays a crucial role in understanding the cards’ meanings and how they relate to your question or intention. Tarot readings are a collaborative process between you, the cards, and your intuition, providing a unique and personalized experience.

10. Reflecting on the Reading

After concluding the tarot reading, take time to reflect on the insights and messages received. Consider how the reading aligns with your current situation or emotions. Tarot readings can offer valuable guidance, but they are also tools for self-reflection and introspection. Embrace the wisdom of the cards and use them as a catalyst for personal growth and decision-making.

11. Journaling Your Tarot Experiences

Keeping a tarot journal is an excellent way to track your readings, insights, and progress on your tarot journey. Documenting your tarot experiences allows you to look back on past readings, track patterns, and observe your evolving intuition. Journaling can also serve as a therapeutic and creative outlet for self-expression.

12. Continuing Your Tarot Learning

Tarot is a lifelong journey of learning and exploration. As you become more comfortable with tarot readings, consider delving deeper into tarot symbolism, numerology, astrology, and other esoteric disciplines. Attend workshops, join tarot study groups, or explore online resources to expand your knowledge and enrich your tarot practice.

13. Ethics of Tarot Readings

As a tarot reader, it’s essential to approach readings with respect, sensitivity, and ethical considerations. Always seek the consent of the querent before conducting a reading and honor their boundaries and confidentiality. Avoid making definitive predictions or providing medical, legal, or financial advice. Tarot readings are tools for empowerment and guidance, not a replacement for professional advice.

14. Embracing the Journey

Remember that tarot readings are not about foreseeing a fixed future, but about tapping into your intuition, understanding current energies, and making informed choices. Embrace the journey of tarot, trust your inner wisdom, and find joy in the profound connections you forge with the cards.


Conducting a tarot reading is a transformative and enlightening experience that offers a gateway to self-discovery and spiritual connection. By selecting the right tarot deck, cleansing and energizing the cards, and trusting your intuition during the reading process, you’ll embark on a meaningful journey of tarot exploration. Embrace the wisdom of the cards, seek guidance with intention and an open heart, and let the magic of tarot illuminate your path.


Can I do a tarot reading for myself, or is it better to have someone else read for me?

Tarot readings can be done both for oneself and by seeking guidance from a professional reader. Some readers prefer reading for themselves to maintain a personal connection with the cards, while others may seek an outside perspective for more objective insights. Trust your intuition and choose the approach that feels most aligned with your needs.

How often should I do tarot readings?

The frequency of tarot readings is entirely up to you. Some readers do daily readings for self-reflection and guidance, while others may do weekly or occasional readings when seeking clarity on specific situations. Avoid over-relying on tarot readings and use them as a tool for self-discovery and inspiration rather than a constant need for answers.

Can tarot readings predict the future?

Tarot readings provide insights into current energies, patterns, and possibilities, but they do not predict a fixed future. The future is influenced by numerous factors, including personal choices and free will. Tarot readings offer guidance for navigating life’s complexities and making informed decisions, empowering you to create your path.

How can I enhance my intuition for tarot readings?

Developing your intuition takes time and practice. Engage in regular meditation, mindfulness exercises, and self-reflection to cultivate your inner knowing. Allow yourself to connect with the cards on a deeper level, and trust the intuitive flashes that arise during readings. With patience and openness, your intuition will naturally strengthen.

Can I do tarot readings for others, or should I only read for myself?

Reading tarot for others is a rewarding experience that can provide guidance and support to querents. If you feel comfortable and confident in your tarot reading skills, you can offer readings to friends, and family, or even as a professional service. Remember to approach these readings with sensitivity, respect, and ethical considerations.