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What to Expect From a Tarot Card Reading

Author:

Sylvia Sky, astrologer, Tarot reader, and gemstone enthusiast, is a widely published author of books and articles about spiritual matters.

Why is the Sun crying? Is this a good card? Your in-person Tarot reader can answer all the questions a computerized reading will not.

Why is the Sun crying? Is this a good card? Your in-person Tarot reader can answer all the questions a computerized reading will not.

Tarot Exists to Serve and Guide You

A skilled Tarot reader can give quick and detailed answers to your questions. No magic is involved, and no name or birth date is required. Ask, and the cards will show how your life is trending and how to change direction if you’re willing. The tone should be positive. At your first reading, expect surprise and fun.

Ideally, Tarot readings are face-to-face and one-on-one, in a quiet setting. Some readers work via email, phone, or Skype; others won’t. A human Tarot reader knows several different card spreads and which might best answer your inquiry.

No two readings are alike, and all are confidential. The focus is on you—known to the reader as the Seeker. The reading might show the people involved in your life, but readings about other people’s issues should be done separately.

Much of Tarot’s fun and intrigue is the colorful card images packed with symbolism both ancient and modern. Symbols appeal to hearts and minds. The most popular deck is the British 78-card “Rider-Waite,” designed in 1909. It’s very forthright. The Marseilles deck (its Sun card heads this article) is also popular. Novelty decks include “Hello Kitty” Tarot cards and the “Motherpeace” deck with circular rather than rectangular cards. All will work; your reader simply knows and prefers the deck he or she is using.

Some readers have clients shuffle the cards. Others ask clients to cut the cards. Or not. The most important and valuable factor in the reading is your reader’s skill at card interpretation.

This Star card means material and spiritual success; the "balanced life" ideal. Does it come on a silver platter? No. Note that both images (15th and 20th century versions) have mountains in the background, representing challenges overcome.

This Star card means material and spiritual success; the "balanced life" ideal. Does it come on a silver platter? No. Note that both images (15th and 20th century versions) have mountains in the background, representing challenges overcome.

How Long Should a Tarot Reading Be, and What Does It Cost?

At parties or New Age/psychic fairs, so many people might be lined up for Tarot that readings must be short: maybe five minutes. A truly satisfying 10-card (also called “Celtic”) reading, the most popular kind, should allow time for clarifications or any questions you have: 15 to 20 minutes is ideal.

Ask what you need to ask, and be honest. An ethical Tarot reader will never tell anyone what you said. Becoming emotional during a reading is not unusual.

What is the cost of a one-on-one reading, in person or over Skype? Typically it works out to a dollar or two per minute, not much compared to phone psychic hotlines asking $6.99 per minute. And if you’ve phoned psychic hotlines, often you can tell they’re reading from a script. Online electronic Tarot answers are programmed. That’s never true of genuine one-on-one Tarot.

As Tarot readers study, they learn that the four main categories Seekers ask about are love, health, family, and money. The reader might ask you what your question is, or if you don't have one, suggest ways to formulate a question. Or the reader might not ask anything, trusting the cards to bring your issues to the surface. Both types of readers are legitimate. They don’t read minds. They read cards.

Images from the Rider-Waite Tarot deck, the world's most popular, feature primary colors and relatable symbols.

Images from the Rider-Waite Tarot deck, the world's most popular, feature primary colors and relatable symbols.

Clear Questions Get Clear Answers

Clear and thoughtful questions such as “What will happen if I quit my job and start a business?” or “How will my love life go in the next six months?” get clear and thoughtful answers. If you don't have a specific issue you can simply ask, “What does my coming year look like?” The shorter the time frame (for predictions, I recommend two years maximum), the more specific the answer.

Dealt from the Tarot deck and laid out in a pattern of three, six, or 10, the cards with their symbolism unfold a story about your past, the present, the near future, and the likely outcome, revealed by the final card in the sequence.

Do not ask the cards to predict “your fate”; Tarot and “fate”—the belief that our destinies are pre-ordained—are incompatible. Tarot exists to help you navigate and shape your own future, and Tarot truly believes you can.

Asking “Will I win the lottery?” or “Tell me my grandfather’s name” is treating Tarot like a game, which it is not. The answer to the lottery question is always "No." However, asking the cards how you might improve your finances might result in valuable suggestions. The Tarot reader reads cards, not minds, so won't play a guessing game about your grandfather's name. Besides, you already know his name.

what-to-expect-from-a-tarot-card-reading

Is It Scary?

Tradition requires readers to be truthful—you came for the truth, right?—so you might not like everything the cards reveal: Maybe your cash cow is drying up, or the past still controls you, or you won’t win the contest. Or the cards might show triumph or fulfillment is nearer than you think.

Some first-time Seekers are anxious, but Tarot readers are only humans who have learned to read Tarot cards to help people. It's a service profession. Want to find a genuine Tarot reader? Ask around. The best recommendations will come from people you know.

The cards show where your current situation is leading and how to navigate it. A full Tarot reading gives guidance about managing any obstacles. Their advice might be as simple as adjusting your attitude or releasing an unreasonable fear—if you’re willing.

Your future is always yours to decide. The reading should inform and empower you. If the cards have said, "It's not the right time to act," that's not an order. It's food for thought.

A Tarot reading invites you to contemplate your life. You'll feel as if you've just had a therapy session. If you’ve come for a reading because you are severely depressed or abused, a reading cannot fix it. The experienced Tarot reader will refer you to social services or law enforcement.

Occasionally the cards will override the Seeker's question and focus on another life issue. A Seeker desperate to know when she will get married might be presented with cards indicating financial troubles. That's their way of saying financial issues should be the Seeker's current priority. That's not the reader's opinion; it's what the cards say. Tarot wants to help everyone live their best life.

Good Tarot readers always in demand, so please let your reader go when your spread has been interpreted and time is up. Did you enjoy your reading? Most professional Tarot readers have business cards; simply ask for one.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2015 Sylvia Sky

Comments

CGS on January 14, 2016:

Great review as I have to agree with Larry Rankin.

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on August 14, 2015:

Great overview.

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