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How to Design an Accurate Tarot Reading in 4 Steps

Have you ever tried to perform a Tarot reading and, instead of getting the answers you sought, you receive a jumbled and confused mess of cards? If so, this article is for you, and it will help you design an accurate reading either for yourself or for a client.


FIRST: Use your wisdom and judgment, and consider what question(s) to ask.

One of the Tarot reader's responsibilities is to formulate clear and sensible questions. A common saying among traditional Tarot readers is: "Ask the Tarot a stupid question, get a stupid answer."

If you are performing a self-reading, think logically about what it is that you truly wish to learn from your Tarot reading: then, especially while you are learning Tarot, write your question(s) down so you can decide the exact wording and phrasing. If you are reading for a client, spend time working with the client to do the same, helping the client to formulate precise questions. To do so, find out what the client wants to know and wishes to receive from the reading.

Always engage in the pre-planning and forethought that is necessary before finalizing a question.

To use an amusing metaphor: this is the classic "Aladdin Conundrum". If you had a magical Djinn, and the Djinn said you would get three wishes, how would you phrase your wishes? As a wise and intelligent person, you would be careful...especially if you remembered that Djinn in the classical Arabian folktales are unconcerned with humans at best and evil at worst.

A wish can be spun easily into a horrible situation. For example, you could ask a Djinn for "the most gold in the world"...and then a massive, forty-ton pile of gold falls and crushes you. Not good!

While the Tarot is certainly not a Djinn living inside of a magic lamp, Tarot questions, like wishes, need to be phrased accurately and specifically in order to be effective and to achieve a clear Tarot reading.

SECOND: Use logic to create or choose an appropriate Tarot card spread.

Let us consider a common topic and frequent mistake, involving one-card draws, before we further explain this step. One-card draws are appealing to amateur Tarot readers because they seem fast, easy, and simple to interpret; after all, they feature just one card! Unfortunately, one-card draws are unsuitable for most questions, because most questions (see the first step, above) are much more open-ended and complex than a single card can fully answer. If answering a question of even moderate complexity, the Tarot reader should use a spread.

What is the purpose of a card spread? A Tarot card spread serves this function: it divides an open-ended question (or questions) into a set of distinct parts, each of which combine to provide a full answer.

Here is an example. Let us say that our central question is, "Should I date this person?"

We could break that question down into the following card spread positions:

1st Position: What I want or need from my ideal partner (note: something which the person in question may or may be able to provide)

2nd Position: A unique aspect or quality the person in question brings to a relationship

3rd Position: The likely outcome of a relationship with this person

Think about the logic behind our choices of card positions within this spread.

Notice that the 1st Position tells us what kind of person we should be searching for.

The 2nd Position brings to mind a special aspect or quality of the person we are considering, and when we review this aspect or quality, we can see how much (or how little) it connects and complements what we want from an ideal partner. If it does not connect, then that tells us straightaway that the person in question probably is not the right one for us.

But, just to be sure, the 3rd Position will provide a likely future outcome, based on the messages of the previous cards: maybe the person we are considering is not our ideal partner, but still would be just fine for a relationship; or maybe he is our ideal partner; or maybe he is not our ideal partner and a future with him would be terrible!

Regardless, we now have a complete picture and a developed answer to our central question, and we can move forward with wisdom on our side.

There are two main ways of building an effective card spread.

One way is to select a pre-made spread that fits the question well. For example, if a client were to ask you a relatively straightforward question about her relationship with a certain man, then you might select a standard 3-card relationship spread.

If, however, the question is winding and complicated with many variables, then a standardized spread would do a disservice to the client.

Therefore, the second way is to create a custom-designed spread that perfectly answers the client's question(s).

When designing a spread, the reader must use both reason and common sense to pre-plan and attribute certain specific significations for each position.

A huge mistake that many amateur Tarot readers do is to lay out cards randomly and then hope to make sense of it after the fact. Failing to plan, as the old saying goes, is planning to fail!

Instead, a professional Tarot reader will decide, ahead of time, that the card (whatever it turns out to be) in the 1st Position signifies "fill in the blank" that is connected to the question itself or provides background information necessary to fully understand the topic.

Then the reader moves on to creating the 2nd Position, and so on, until the spread is fully realized and can provide a complete answer to the question.

Back to one-card draws for a moment: this is why one-card draws are simply unsuitable for complex questions, because most questions are far more intricate than a mere "yes/no" or "black and white" answer can provide. Wise, traditional Tarot readers relegate one-card draws to only answering questions such as, "What should I be mindful of today?" or "What aspect of myself can I develop today?" In other words, one-card draws are most often used for self-improvement and meditative purposes.

Another pitfall that many amateur Tarot readers encounter is to draw a "clarifying card" as a way to explain what seems to be a completely bizarre message. This is an unfortunate mistake because if the card spread had been designed properly from the beginning, a clarifying card would be completely unnecessary.

Similarly, yet another amateur mistake is to make a card spread to tell whether the client's question was clear or good enough to warrant a reading in the first place (i.e., a "Does this question make sense?" reading). Not only does this insult the client's intelligence and waste time, but a card spread cannot, and should not, be expected to tell you whether a question was clear or good enough; that is for the reader and the client to decide and settle ahead of time, before a card spread is even designed.

THIRD: Lay out the cards according to the chosen or created spread.

This is the easiest part of the reading, for it requires nothing more than an artistic eye.

Some Tarot readers enjoy laying out the cards in a particular pattern. This pattern may suit the theme of the reading (e.g., a heart shape for a love reading), or may be purely aesthetic. The choice is the reader's, and in the traditional view, a card spread's layout is purely for artistic purposes, in no way influencing the interpretation itself (that is what the position significations are for).

If you are using reversals (strongly recommended for a professional reading intended to answer serious questions), then you should turn cards over from their sides as you set them into their positions.

FOURTH: Interpret the cards, using a combination of logic, wisdom, and inspiration.

Remember, as the reader, you are the final arbiter of what these cards mean in your chosen spread.

While interpreting, remember to consider all of the following at once:

1. The significance of the card's position

2. The card's associations (elements, numerological significance, broad symbolism, etc.)

3. The card's specific meanings

4. How all of the above combines and relates to the client's question(s)

Notice what you did here by using this traditional Tarot reading process.

You utilized the triune aspects of humanity: soul (your own inner wisdom, for choosing the correct question), mind (your faculties of reasoning, for choosing the correct spread), and body (your physical movements of shuffling the deck and laying out the cards).

Then, at least according to the Judeo-Christian viewpoint of A.E. Waite and the earliest Tarot readers, you are utilizing divine inspiration, or a connection to the Holy Spirit, to read and interpret the cards. A less supernatural view based on modern science and psychology is that you are using all of your abilities and faculties together simultaneously to interpret.

If you follow these traditional steps, then it is difficult to end up with a "stupid" reading, or a reading that makes little sense. Note that being intentional and planning ahead is a significant aspect of professional Tarot reading.

If you are a client or an amateur reader, the single-best way to get an accurate reading is through a professional Tarot reader, of course; and, if you are learning Tarot for yourself, you may want to find a professional Tarot reader to teach you.

If you are looking for an accurate reading to answer serious questions and provide guaranteed advice and guidance, check out the home page of www.DruidTarot.com.

If you are looking for Tarot tutoring, keep reading these articles! Or, you can schedule a tutoring session with me.

#tarot #learntarot #tarotreading

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