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Five Tips to Improve Your Tarot Readings

Sometimes reading tarot can seem like navigating a foreign language. Symbols, subjects, numbers, astrology signs, ancient mythology and even colours carry meanings and messages.

It can feel like there are so many ways to go wrong when giving a reading, so it’s easy to get caught up on minor details and lose track of the broader message and spiritual experience.

When I started reading tarot, I was fixed on memorizing card descriptions. With each card pulled, I would eagerly flip through my trusty beginner's guide to ensure I got an accurate reading.

You may have heard that tapping into your intuition is the key to a smooth and effective reading. In my experience, this is easier said than done.

While I learned how to weave together my tarot narratives, slowly release my grip on the manual and tap into my inner resources, there were a few handy tips that helped me a LOT:

1. Take a moment to note recurring symbols and imagery among the cards in your spread.

Are there a lot of swords in your reading? Do you notice landscape details repeating, or subjects in similar positions?

In the above three-card spread, there is a recurring theme of faces that are covered, emphasizing self-denial and perceived despair or feeling trapped in one's obsessive and negative thoughts. You have trapped yourself in an effort to protect your heart. The grey skies and watery landscapes indicate difficult emotions, and the guidance is to focus on the wisdom of the moon (one's own intuition and emotional self-awareness) to recognize the impact your thought patterns have on your attitudes and feeling states. Facing the truth of how you feel and being honest with yourself is to embrace a vulnerability that will set you free.

2. Stop memorizing meanings! Think of tarot as a language.

The meaning of each card depends on the cards surrounding it, the position in a spread and the querent’s intention.

Think of tarot as a language – a system of meanings dependent on context. An ‘a’ is pronounced differently when placed in different words, and tarot symbols are no different. As a complex system of meanings, there are general rules we can follow to determine what each card means.

This formula always helps when drawing a blank:

numerology + suit symbolism + surrounding cards

Example: Five of Swords + Sun

= Five{conflict/tension} + Swords{thoughts/communication} + Sun{vitality/higher self}

= there is a situation involving conflict of beliefs or perspectives, miscommunication or a battle of wits which presents a barrier to your overall wellbeing, and this may be distracting you from your higher purpose/ feeling of connection to yourself and the world.

3. The 23 Major Arcana cards detail the Fool’s Journey.

Major cards carry so much symbolism, mythological and astrological references, they are typically the most challenging to remember.

Each card is a stage in the Fool’s Journey representing common psychological themes in the human life experience. The cards are in sequence (0-22), charting the ups and downs of life on Earth. With this sequence in mind, it is easier to ascertain the overarching energy and spiritual space your querent may be experiencing in their area of focus.

Example: Temperance (14) – Devil (15)– Tower (16)

Temperance is often considered a cautionary card, giving a kind of warning to pay attention to your emotional regulation, behaviours you draw upon to manage your feelings and feel balance. It tells us to mind our drinking habits, and to not go overboard.