How Accurate Are Tarot Card Readings?

Updated on November 18, 2018
theraggededge profile image

I'm a professional tarot reader with 18 years of experience. I have a resource-rich website and tarot-reading service.

The Mystical Tarot
The Mystical Tarot

I’m just going to say it straight: tarot cards are never wrong. You may disagree with me, but it’s a fact. The cards are always spot on. Accuracy depends on how the reader interprets the cards and delivers the message. But even before that, before the cards are even laid out, there is much to consider.

8 Factors That Influence Tarot Card Readings

  1. The question being asked
  2. The unknowable future
  3. The present situation
  4. The cards will tell you what you need to know
  5. Whether or not your reader is psychic
  6. The reader’s personal bias
  7. The deck creator’s personal bias
  8. Sheer chance

1. Ask Accurate Questions

To get an accurate tarot reading, you have to ask an accurate question. Many people will ask a question based on what they wish was happening, rather than what is actually happening. For example, a client met a man on a business trip. They got along really well, and they arranged to meet up for dinner after the meeting. They had a pleasant evening, shared some ideas about their work, passed a couple of fun hours, said goodbye and went their separate ways. That was it.

The client, however, read a lot more into it. She said their eyes met and she knew he was going to ask her to meet him later. Then over dinner, the client said that he kept smiling at her, and she felt there was a certain chemistry between them. He made her laugh. As a result, the client wants to know if he thinks about her, and if there might be a future relationship in the offing.

The client's question is based on a wildly inaccurate or over-imagined scenario. She is asking from a false, emotional perspective. So, when faced with a question like that, the reader is going to struggle with whatever cards show up because the question is based on inaccurate assumptions.


The question must be accurate and honest in order to elicit an accurate and honest answer.

I Tarocchi Dario Fo
I Tarocchi Dario Fo

2. The Future Is Unknowable

A tarot reading is a snapshot of energies, influences, emotions, circumstances, and events as they are at a particular moment. Those influences are never set in stone. Add the synergy between the reader, the client, and the cards into the mix and you'll have a potent soup of influences from which the reader must pull out useful and valid information. That’s why no two readers will ever interpret the same cards in the same way. But that’s not to say both are wrong.

People can make new decisions, and change their minds or their habits. So what was accurate six weeks ago won’t be accurate today. The cards are never wrong, so there may be a thread that perhaps the reader missed, or a predicted event may happen in an unexpected way.


The reader must emphasize the temporary nature of each reading, and remind the client that they have the free will to change outcomes.

3. The Value of a Reading Is in the Present

Clients often overlook the most important part of the reading, and that is what the cards are telling them in the present. Never mind what’s going to happen, it’s only in the present that they can make changes happen that will affect the future.


Remind the client that the present is far more precious than some hoped-for (or feared) future possibility.

4. The Cards Will Tell You What You Need to Know

Many times, I’ve been asked a question, yet the cards seem to want to answer a different one. Try as I might, occasionally I cannot connect the card with what the client wants to know. In those cases, I explain that the tarot tells them what they need to understand, rather than what they want to know.

One client wanted to know about her love-life, but I was flummoxed because I could not "see" anything in the cards about romance. Since she was a good friend, I felt comfortable explaining this, and I simply told her what each card meant. After I’d worked through a few, something clicked and she realized that the reading was all about her adult son. Although she felt she ought to be asking about her love life, in reality, she had been worried about her boy and his situation.

The reading was a bit negative, and the most significant card that appeared was the Tower. I pointed out that there was most likely a traumatic event (another one) up ahead for him, but that life would take a better turn in due course. The next day my friend emailed to say her son’s girlfriend had taken their child, every piece of furniture, and left him. However, within a few months they had settled their differences and remained amicably separated.

Oh and my friend’s love-life? It was on hold and nothing much changed over the next six months. Clever tarot.


Be open to every possibility. Trust the cards to tell you what you really need to know. It may be fun to ask the cards about what you want to know, but try to honestly consider what you need to know.

The Rohrig Tarot
The Rohrig Tarot

5. Some Readers Are Psychic, Others Are Not

There are three types of tarot reader. The first kind is one that we’re all a little envious of. They usually have well-developed psychic abilities, and they use the cards as a jumping off point for their readings. My father went to see this kind of reader a few years back and she told him many personal details about himself. She informed him that his current car would be the last car he’d ever own. And that was true. He gave up driving shortly afterwards.

The second group are the readers who study the cards and learn their traditional meanings. Their readings are not necessarily inaccurate, but they can be wooden. They recite their interpretations as if they have learned them by rote. Which is exactly what they have done. They find it hard to tell the story in the reading. Each card is interpreted separately instead of in combination. These readers often give up tarot because it doesn’t "speak" to them.

The third group are those, like me, who mash up the standard meanings with their own intuition. I include my own experiences and memories in my readings. Sometimes I get random thoughts that are usually accurate, except I don’t get enough of them. I like to look at card combinations and pick out odd details. For example, I pay attention to the card numbers and check for patterns. I do my best to find an unfolding story or something that links the cards together. I’m not right all the time, but the tarot cards invariably are.


Explain what kind of reader you are to your client, and let them know what they can expect from their reading. I always tell my clients that I cannot get in touch with their dead relatives, nor do I have a spirit guide whispering pertinent information in my ear.

6. Tarot Readers’ Personal Bias

Some readers are able to deliver a reading in a neutral fashion, whereas others prefer a counseling approach. It is unlikely that any reader is able to keep their own worldview out of the reading. It’s impossible to do otherwise. One’s experiences, viewpoints and memories will creep into the reading. While, most of the time, it’s helpful, it can make a reading more attuned to the reader than to the client.


As previously outlined, tell the client your methodology and what to expect from working with you.

The William Blake Tarot
The William Blake Tarot

7. The Tarot Deck Creators' Personal Bias

All tarot decks are created by human beings. Often two or more people are involved in the process. Then there are the publishers, the printers, and the investors. All of whom will have an influence to some extent. There is usually a writer and an artist. The idea for the deck generally originates from one or the other, though some decks are commissioned by a third party.

The traditional system of tarot has been reinterpreted so many times. And then those derivative interpretations have been reinterpreted repeatedly. What could be lost or gained in the process? Mostly an individual (or team) bias, a particular worldview, or an assumption of how it’s meant to be can affect matters.

You can choose to use a deck that is as close to the source as possible, such as a reproduction of one of the 15th century decks. Keep in mind that those decks were designed to play parlour games, and not to tell fortunes or counsel a client on their major questions.

Also bear in mind that tarot came from traditional playing cards that may have been invented by the Chinese. Even today, many tarotists will tell you it was the other way around. Some say that playing cards reached Europe, via Egypt, around 1350. The details are lost in the mists of time. Anyway, someone thought it would be a great idea to take those playing cards and add some interesting charcters to it (the Major Arcana) to create an amusing game. Tarot is not some mystical system channeled by some long-dead psychic from the gods themselves. It’s a human invention through and through.

Most decks in use today are very modern. The Rider-Waite was first published in 1907 and was based on Edward Waite’s interpretation of the principles of many branches of esoteric schools of thought, and the various societies he joined and left. This deck, and to a lesser extent, its cousin, the Thoth Tarot, created by fellow occultist, Aleister Crowley, have influenced almost every tarot creator since. So remember—the aforementioned decks are just two ideas of how the human condition plays out, and they didn't even know about social media back then.


Choose your preferred system and know your deck thoroughly. It also helps to have a basic deck—like the one you initially learned from—in your head so you can refer to it if you are struggling to read a card.

Three cards from an original Visconti-Sforza deck created mid 15th century
Three cards from an original Visconti-Sforza deck created mid 15th century | Source

8. What If Any and Every Card Has the Right Answer?

This is something I’ve thought about a lot. After all, the cards are simply printed images. What if every card is relevant to the client? It helps to understand the basic structure of the tarot and how it applies to human life. Any, and all, aspects are included in one form or another. Disaster, triumph, love lost and found. Children, art, work, and illness. Death, destruction, and addiction—it’s all there, thanks to Uncles Edward and Aleister. Anything you can name is reflected in the tarot.

So therefore, it follows that any random card should have a relevant message, shouldn’t it? It’s then the reader’s job to apply that message and meaning to the client’s situation. A reader must tease out the thread of the story that can help the client the most.

Does the tarot "know" how to deliver the right card at the right time? What part does chance play in a reading? After all, we shuffle and shuffle, cut, shuffle some more, cut again and turn the cards. It’s supposed to be random. Yet we readers and our clients trust that chance will give us the message we need to know. It has been this way for eons.


There isn't one. All you can do is know your cards and trust that they will deliver the goods.

Are Tarot Cards Accurate or Not?

Yes, they are. No-one can tell you why exactly, given the influences I’ve outlined above (and I’m pretty sure I haven’t thought of everything), yet somehow, the cards are able to hit the nail on the head every time. How do I know this? Because I’ve gone back to my clients and asked them how situations worked out. I’ve read for myself and returned to the readings after a few months. In each case, I am able to see the link between the card/s and life’s meandering path. Hindsight is a wonderful and useful tool in the weird and woolly practice of tarot reading.

What do you think? Have you had really accurate tarot readings? Or have you been on the receiving end of the worst readings on the planet?

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Learn to Read Tarot Cards By Myself?

You can learn how to read and interpret cards for yourself. Find a reliable source of information to learn about the reading process, tarot spreads, the cards' histories, and their meanings. When reading for yourself, keep in mind that your emotions, desires, and biases may affect the way you interpret the cards. Strive to be honest with yourself when reading for yourself, or else you won't gain much from your interpretations.

Do I Need to Receive a Deck as a Gift or Can I Purchase My Own Deck?

Some people believe that you must be given a deck of tarot cards as a gift, and some people believe that you can purchase your own deck without complications. If you don't have someone to buy a deck for you, then you can purchase your own deck. Try to purchase a deck that you feel drawn to. If you have a strong connection or camaraderie with a deck then that is a good indication that the deck is right for you.

Does it Help to Ask the Cards Yes or No Questions?

Asking a clear question with a yes or no answer can be helpful. If you decide to do this, only ever use one card. Drawing more cards 'for clarification' only serves to cause confusion.

What Does it Mean When a Card Keeps Appearing?

When a card appears repeatedly that card typically has an important message for you. Focus on that card and its meaning because it may provide the advice or guidance that you need.

What Does it Mean When a Card Falls Out of the Deck?

A jumping card or a card that falls out of the deck as you shuffle is a card with a message that you should heed. The card jumped out because you are meant to see it and learn from it. Don't ignore jumping cards. If you pick up a jumping card, place it back in the deck and reshuffle, there is a good chance that it will appear again during your reading. If it reappears then it is an important card to learn from.

Questions & Answers

© 2018 Bev G


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    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      5 months ago from Wales, UK

      Hi Chad, only you (& time) can tell how accurate the reading was. You must move toward your future in the way that feels best. Follow your own intuition.

    • profile image


      5 months ago

      So last night I was at the beach and there was a card reader I said why not I've been looking for answers anyways with what was going on currently in my life and she told me just about the same things that the medium told me 4 months ago except that my ex of 6 years and I were going to get back together and we were supposed to have another baby and we are soul mates but she said I have a lot of work ahead of me both medium and card reading told me I was going to have a son how accurate is this because I was nervous about getting this done but there was very little bad with what she said so should I keep working on everything to see if it all comes true ?

    • profile image


      5 months ago

      I see. And yes I’m definitely confused about this lol. I call them visions because that’s what the psychic saw in her cards and so I just considered them visions and predictions so perhaps I’m wrong or misunderstood about that, too. But yes, my readings were done by the cards. Now, I understand. And I am planning to go again maybe in a week or two.

    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      5 months ago from Wales, UK

      There are some psychics who use the cards as a jumping off point. When you mentioned visions, I didn't think you were referring to a tarot reading.

      Most tarot readers don't work like that. They use a combination of study of the traditional meanings and their intuition to help pull out the most appropriate meaning and apply it to their client and the situation. We might get flashes of memory or ideas, but full on visions are generally restricted to the realm of genuine clairvoyants.

      So you asked, 'Do these visions or predictions ever remain the same?' I tend not to make predictions like the one you describe because there are so many other factors at work. You might meet someone else. So might your ex. Your feelings might change.

      Having said that, I have read for several clients where the overall feeling and energy of the reading never changed over months of readings. They wanted change but they weren't prepared to take action to make it happen.

      Going by your description, your psychic's information seemed to be mainly based on what your girlfriend feels about you. To be frank, there's no way of checking that information. In other words, only time will give you your answer. Are you going to ask your girlfriend to get back with you? Or are you going to wait for fate to deliver her to you? :)

    • profile image


      5 months ago

      Maybe I’m confused about tarot readings and psychic readings because she used the cards and through the cards, she told me everything...

    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      5 months ago from Wales, UK

      Sorry, Omar, I don't do psychic readings. I guess they vary from person to person.

    • profile image


      5 months ago

      I ask this because 90-95% of the psychic’s visions came true including ones about my ex-girlfriend.

    • profile image


      5 months ago

      Hello, there! I read your article and I found it amazing as to the dissection of tarot reading. Having said that, I have a question. I recently have been getting readings from the same psychic so far the last two months and here’s what I thought about so far. It’s almost like blurry vision. The psychic was able to see something but barely regarding my ex-girlfriend. I wanted to see out of curiosity if we would get back together or if she misses me or whatever the case and so she was able to see something but barely. At the end of the first session back in April, she said that we’ll get back together. The second go around, she saw the same thing but was a little more into detail such as she sees her thinking about me, missing me, and she tells me that she’ll reach out to me. Again, us reuniting. So my question is these visions or predictions ever remain the same?

    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      5 months ago from Wales, UK

      That's why it's never a good idea to get multiple readings in a short space of time. Each reading is a snapshot and, of course, they are going to be different. If your readings were by the same reader he or she would have the skill to weave them together, to see the similarities and differences.

      Each reader has his or own perspective and world view, so will see your situation in a completely different way. Their own life experience will affect their interpretation of the cards/energies.

      As far as accuracy goes, well, you should know what is true and what is not. Which reader gave you the closest version of where you are, your recent past? That'll be the one which is most accurate.

    • profile image


      5 months ago

      I had a tarot card reading and a medium reading from someone else i also has a california pyscic reading. i keep hearing different things. what is accurate and what isn't. I'm confused

    • profile image


      6 months ago

      I had a reading which was uncannily accurate, and my girlfriend at the time was told (by her psychic mum, our tarot reader) something bad will happen in the next few days, an injury of some type. 3 days later she broke her toe and we couldn't attend her friend's wedding...

    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      9 months ago from Wales, UK

      Many thanks, Charmaine. Your words are very much appreciated. I agree, tarot can become a friend to turn to :)

    • profile image


      9 months ago

      You explained the nature of Tarot clearly and informatively. I wish I had your ability to write in that way.

      I like how you mentioned tarot is about the present surrounding energy and that it is subject to a number of dynamics (therefore freewill).

      All in all I personally have found tarot a insightful and supportive friend for myself and others.

      Wonderful article raggededge.

    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      9 months ago from Wales, UK

      Thank you too, Karen. Keep learning, keep reading. Tarot is so rewarding and repays all the effort you have to put in to it.

    • Seafarer Mama profile image

      Karen A Szklany 

      9 months ago from New England

      Thank you for this perspective on tarot card readings. I found it very useful and will keep it in mind when I lay out my next spread and work at interpreting it. I have a reference book that I refer to for this, which has the meanings of all the cards in a deck, with examples and "case studies." I find it very useful.

      I have also had hopeful tarot readings done by others. When I've gone for a psychic readings. pulling a tarot card has been part of the experience. Those have been positive experiences, too.

    • theraggededge profile imageAUTHOR

      Bev G 

      9 months ago from Wales, UK

      Thank you, Jana Louise and Louise :)

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 

      9 months ago from Norfolk, England

      That was very informative to read. Thankyou.

    • Jana Louise Smit profile image

      Jana Louise Smit 

      9 months ago from South Africa

      Very well written. I enjoyed this a lot. Thanks for bringing your experience to HP!


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