Tarot cards are shuffled and laid out in any number of Tarot spreads. The best known spread is the 11-card Celtic Cross, but there are countless other Tarot spreads you can choose depending on what type of question you want to ask and how many cards you wish to draw. Click read more to learn the basics of tarot spreads.
If you want to start out very simply, you can draw just one card about a specific person or situation. In fact, your question doesn't even need to be a question! It's called an "open reading" when you simply think about a person or situation instead of asking a direct question -- the cards will still provide insight.
Each position in a Tarot spread has its own significant meaning, just as every card has its own meaning. For example, your spread may feature positions for "past," "present" and "future," or for "possible outcome," so it's important to pay attention to the position in which each card turns up. A card speaking of heartbreak would surely mean something different if it turned up in the past instead of the future, right? If you struggle with creating a spread to use you can google and turn up tons of options, or you can use something like the Deck of 1000 Spreads (UPDATE: now out of print!)
Laying out your Tarot cards
Once you've determined your Tarot spread, it's customary to shuffle all 78 cards in the Tarot deck and cut the cards as many times as you like while thinking about your question. This allows your energy to interact with the energy of the cards to achieve the best results. It also helps if you do your reading in a peaceful and relaxed environment.
When you are done shuffling and feel the moment is right, speak your question out loud, then pull your first card from anywhere in the deck and lay it on the first position of your spread in the upright position. Do the same for the remaining cards until every card is in place. Now comes the hardest (and most fun!) part -- figuring out how to interpret your Tarot reading.
How to read Tarot cards
Tarot beginners will likely need to refer to the internet or to a Tarot reference book to find the meaning of each card in their spread. The illustrations on each card depict archetypes of the human experience, but they can also take on personal meaning for you.
Let's take The Fool card, for example. This card features a happy young man gazing into the distance. He's about to step off a cliff into the unknown as the Sun rises behind him, and he has a small knapsack of supplies. Now think about how this literal description of The Fool might be translated into an insightful message. The classic interpretation is that of a person at the beginning of something new -- perhaps a new relationship or a life-changing adventure -- and they should be feeling positive about it because they have everything they need to succeed.
See, doesn't that make sense? Now you try. Begin by studying each card and the position it is in, write down notes about how the card makes you think and feel based on its imagery and symbolism, then look up the classic meaning and make a note about that, too. Once you have done this for all the cards in your spread, you'll start to see a story developing -- a story that's all about you!
24 years of tarot experience, 20 years experience as a mom, and a lifetime of knowledge is just rattling around in here!