What I wish my clients knew about tarot

I can tell a lot about a person’s understanding of tarot by the questions and comments they make about it.

Take, for example, a cousin of mine. A couple of years ago we were chatting at a family gathering. We hadn’t seen each other in years and when I told him about my tarot business, he said:

“So, when you do readings, how does it work? Do you just make things up as you go along?”

Ouch, right?

But before I let myself wallow in insult over this comment, I had to think about what he was really saying:

His question reflected his own assumptions (and limited understanding) of tarot, which he saw as something purely psychic – an experience where someone might lay down a set of cards and then channel a vision or prophecy on the spot.

And my cousin – being not at all interested in spiritual, esoteric, or intuitive pursuits – assumed that tarot has to be total BS because, in his view, psychic visions are not real.

Whether you believe in psychic ability and predictions, this assumption that tarot inspires a second sight also runs rampant in those who actively seek out readings.

No matter what side of the coin you’re on – believer or not – there’s a myth that’s been fed here that’s led to so much confusion about how tarot actually works.

So when people believe tarot is all made up, they rob themselves of the open mind required to try it and see how it goes.

When people seek out tarot readings assuming their tarot reader is channeling visions, they can end up disappointed.

And when aspiring tarot readers excitedly open their first tarot deck and then can’t figure out how to know what the cards are supposed to be telling them, they are left fumbling in the dark, feeling like they aren’t “intuitive” enough to read tarot. 

No matter which of these paths you’re coming from, the assumption hurts either way.

Why?

Because tarot relies on the act of reading – it is, after all, a tarot card reading, not a psychic download.

What I wish for my clients (and my cousin) to know about tarot is that I don’t turn into an on-demand oracle that dispenses information out of nowhere the moment they sit down with me.

Tarot operates under certain functions and mechanics that help it make sense, and that provides the information a reader relays to the querent. These functions are what I teach my tarot students in the hopes of dispelling some of the pervasive myths that stubbornly exist about tarot.

What are some of those mechanics?

One: Tarot is contextual. Whatever question or concern a querent is bringing to the session can play a huge role how the cards are interpreted – it’s not just about “seeing what comes up.”

Two: If you do just want to see what comes up, there are certain steps to take to support that kind of reading – including choosing an appropriate tarot spread. Every tarot spread covers specific topics and serves a certain purpose – but it won’t necessarily give you deep predictions about names, dates, or numbers. 

Three: Not every question is appropriate for tarot. Not every tarot spread is right for every reading, and not every question needs a spread. A tarot reader has to be able to determine how to best focus a question and how to approach the reading.

Four: The images on tarot cards are where I take my information from. I don’t let my own passing thoughts come into a reading. I look at the cards and whatever messages I deliver come straight from what’s on the table.

Five: I don’t read tarot because I’m “psychic.” I read tarot because I know how to use it – and I do it well. But it’s not uncommon for people to assume that the title “tarot reader” is synonymous with “psychic.” What you assume a psychic reading might be like can end up feeling very different from a tarot reading, depending on the reader and the way they work.

Like any skill, there are certain applications, limitations, and talents that come through when that work is applied properly.

Six: Tarot is not always about predictions. It doesn’t only serve to answer questions like, “What’s coming up for me?” Or, “When will I find love?” When we only assume that tarot has such a narrow, limited purpose, we close ourselves off to the potential that tarot holds.

And what potential is that, exactly? Tarot can help you dive deep into the surface of the present moment, explore unanswered questions about the past, or show you where you can build confidence in your own decision-making so that you’re not searching for certainty via tenuous predictions.

If you’re ready to learn how to become a multi-faceted tarot reader who understands the mechanics of how tarot works, which tarot spreads to use and when, and how to tackle a range of questions and assumptions in your readings, I hope you will join me in Taking Tarot to the Next Level.

I created this course to help other tarot readers go beyond the basics with their tarot readings and build the confidence required to read for other people – no matter what kinds of questions (and assumptions) get thrown at you. Join me here.

Until next time,

Liz xo

Sign up for weekly insights and simple spiritual practices that will help you live with intention, purpose and alignment.