Do you need to have a “gift” to read tarot cards?

One of my earliest entries into the world of tarot and divination was when my mom bought me a palm reading at a fair.

The guy was good – really good. Or at least my 12-year-old self was impressed. And intrigued.

My mom had always been drawn to that world. She used to have clairvoyants come over to the house to read at parties. She let me play with Ouija boards when I was a kid.

But despite being encouraged to explore these intuitive realms, they often felt removed to me when I was younger. At psychic fairs, I would be handed brochures from “4th generation” tarot readers.

The neon sign fortune-tellers in town all seem to claim that their own “gifts” were handed down by a family member.

It always gave me the impression that you need an innate talent, something that you’re born with, to be able to read tarot.

But do you?

The short answer is no.

Which is why I don’t like to use the word “gift” myself when talking about tarot.

Don’t get me wrong. Hearing a client say, “You really have a gift for this,” is high praise in this industry.

But to talk about the ability to read tarot like it’s a gift makes it sound like it’s something you have to receive, or that you have to be chosen for.

Hearing it gives me the same feeling I had when people would talk about their own intuitive abilities being handed down through their family lineage.

If I didn’t have anyone in my family bestowing these types of “gifts” on me, where might I find them? I used to wonder.

Maybe you have wondered the same thing: “Can I learn to tarot even if no one in my family does? Can I become good at this even if I don’t feel a natural or organic predisposition for it?”

The short answer is yes – you absolutely can learn to read tarot, and get good at it.

Tarot is something that anyone can do – if you put your mind to it and put in the work.

There are several problems with thinking that the ability to read tarot comes purely through a gift – something you either have, or you don’t.

First, the whole idea can become a block between you and tarot: “If I don’t have ‘the gift’, why bother trying?”  

Second, it invalidates the true commitment that tarot requires of you. It takes time, practice, and experience to learn tarot. It’s not something that you just “do.”

It’s a skill that can be learned, like anything else. To suggest or assume that it comes as naturally as breathing gives the impression that it’s easy and there’s no need to work at it.

Which is not true. Just as someone can be a talented musician who may show natural gifts or take to an instrument with more ease than someone else doesn’t mean that they still won’t practice, learn songs, or be challenged by complex techniques.

Tarot is exactly like learning an instrument, or a language: Some people will take to it easy than others, but it’s something that everyone can learn.

Personally, I don’t know any professional tarot readers who didn’t spend years studying and practicing their craft before launching their tarot careers.

Yet the idea of needing a psychic “gift” to read tarot doesn’t seem quite ready to die yet.

I’ve taught many tarot classes where I’ve heard someone say, “I’m really interested in tarot, but I’m not very intuitive. I don’t know if I’ll be good at this.”

“So why are you here?” I always want to know.

“Because I love looking at tarot cards.”

And that’s all you need to do to begin reading them.

See them. Feel them. Touch them.

Just start there.

Because the true “gift” to be found in the process is what you are able to accomplish once you start learning tarot.

Next week, I’ll talk about why tarot even matters, and why it’s such an important skill to learn.

Until then,

Liz xo

p.s. If you’re interested in learning how to read tarot cards, registration for Tarot Foundations, my beginner tarot course, opens February 9.