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Tarot Talk: Reading for Yourself

Tarot Talk: Reading for Yourself

So you’ve got your first deck(s). You’ve flipped through them a few times, perhaps even flipped through a book or two. Does it seem overwhelming? So many cards, so many interpretations, so many symbols. How on earth are you going to learn this.

Stop, take a break, and start by reading for yourself. There’s no pressure, no one looking at you expectantly while you try to remember if the Two of Swords is about anxiety or…? You can take your time, make notes, and have your space set up exactly as you want. 

Setting up your space

Setting up your space is important because it’s almost like a ritual to help you sink into the right frame of mind to read. As you set up the area, set down any stresses from the day. Invite your guides in, if you use them, and finish by grounding and centering. As an example, here is how I like to do my readings when reading for myself (or when you’re ready, reading for others IN your space). 

  • Set the mood with low (but not too low, you have to see the cards!) lighting. Think candles, lamps, lanterns. However, keep safety in mind, especially if you have kids, fur or human, running around.
  • Get a tarot mat. This is to protect your cards and to help set the intention that something special is going on here. There are so many things you can use for a tarot mat (some you might have in your house already if you're an antiquer like me). Right now I’m using an embroidered piece of velvet I picked up at a local festival. In the past, though, I’ve used vintage scarves, fabric I liked the look of, and tablecloths picked up at Spirit Halloween. If you can sew and you have the energy to spend, making your own and embroidering symbols/motifs special to you on it is a fantastic way to really make a unique and powerful mat. 
  • Crystals - I have specific crystals I always have with me, and on my mat, when I read. An amethyst for intuition, smoky quartz to help absorb negative energy and also to place on the cards between reads, and moonstone because I like the feminine energy it gives. I sometimes also add in a clear quartz if I feel like my energy is a little low. 
  • Pull out your journal and pen, if you’re using it, so you can take notes on card meanings, connections you make with symbolism, emotions, etc. Writing things down re-enforces things in our brain. If writing doesn’t work for you, maybe voice memos would. 


If you haven’t already, it’s time to set the deck and get your energy all over it. Shuffling in whatever way you feel comfortable in is the best way to do it. As you shuffle, visualize a white light surrounding the deck and your hands, talk to it, introduce yourself and your guides to it, and if you’d like, when you feel you’ve shuffled enough, do an interview spread with it. 

Three card spreads

The easiest way to learn how to read is to pull a card every day and spend sometime with it, but if you’d like to move a little further into reading, try your hand at three card spreads. There is a wealth of ideas here on Biddy Tarot regarding different spreads. 

Placing the cards

Depending on how you shuffled, you may have reversed cards in your deck. It’s preference (and weirdly enough, passionate debate in some circles) on if you want to read reversals. Most guidebooks give the reversed meaning, some people read them simply as the negative version of the upright meaning (If the Queen of Swords means unbiased judgment, then the reversed would be close-mindedness), or read them, as I do, as internal energy as opposed to external. 

When you lay the cards down, spend a few minutes looking at them from a high-level. How many Major (life changing events) vs Minor (everyday minutiae) Arcana are there? Are there patterns within the symbolism, or the way the images are portrayed, such as people facing the same way, apples on multiple cards, or the direction in which things/people point? How can you build a story or narrative about those things? Make notes about your observations before moving into each individual card. 

Learning tarot isn’t a race nor a rigid framework

Don’t speed through this process. Also, don’t get too hung up on what the guidebooks say. Tarot should be an exploration of your relationship with the cards and what they mean to you. So yes, learn the meanings the creators/artists have set for the cards, but don’t be afraid to add in your own as well (where your awesome journal comes in!). 

If you want to any tarot from me, you can follow me on Instagram and TikTok where I do Tarot of the Week and Deck walkthroughs, and you can get a reading from my via email through my Etsy shop!

Image reads "Tarot Talk: Reading for Yourself" and shows tarot cards and a bundle of sage.

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