When people ask me how long it took for me to start reading tarot professionally (seven years), I always preface my answer with this:
There is no one timeline or linear path with tarot. It is an ongoing journey where you can always be learning.
Some people take less time than I did. Some take more. There is no right or wrong, and no perfect amount of time to measure your own progress against.
But there are things that held me back along the way that I do believe slowed me down. Not that I was in a rush, but if I could have gotten better a little bit faster, I would have taken that option in a heartbeat.
Some of the things that I got stuck on were:
Mistake #1: Confusing complexity for potency in a tarot reading.
You don’t need to layer your readings with a bunch of techniques – reversals, astrology, numerology, significators, etc.
Solution: Don’t second-guess yourself if a reading feels clear and direct. All you need to do when you read tarot is read the cards in...
Years ago, before I was reading tarot professionally, I used to do a lot of tarot parties for friends to get practice.
I was at a café one night where a friend was having a trunk sale for a jewelry line she was selling. The room was full of my pal’s friends and family, and I didn’t know many people there.
A woman sat down for a reading with me. I laid down my cards. I saw something in them that was so specific: A story about a family inheritance.
Except that’s not what I told her.
Because what I thought I was seeing did not match the meanings of the cards that were in front of me.
I wasn’t experienced enough yet to know how to trust myself as a tarot reader.
So I played it safe.
I gave a by-the-book reading – literally – rather than talking about what I’d initially seen.
And it wasn’t exactly wrong. But it wasn’t exactly right, either.
It was generic, safe, and middle-of-the-road enough for this woman to find something...
I remember how disappointed I was when I got my first tarot deck.
I went in with big expectations. I’d always thought of myself an intuitive, perceptive person. I felt spiritual.
And I wanted that connection to something greater – be it the universe, deity, or my higher self.
I was so excited, and a little bit nervous, when I shuffled my cards and started turning them over. I wondered: What would I learn? What would I see in my reading?
I went from excited to crushed pretty quickly. As soon as my cards were laid out, I felt…nothing. Well, that’s not entirely true: I didn’t get any visions or insights because I had no idea what to make of the cards in front of me.
But I did feel a mix of disappointment, confusion, and insecurity. That insecurity was directed towards myself: What if I’m not the spiritually connected, intuitive person I thought I was?
What if I’m just not cut out for tarot?
I know that sounds dramatic, and it is. I had gone...
When I read tarot for my clients, I rarely use tarot spreads anymore.
Moving away from tarot spreads has been one of the biggest transformations in my tarot practice since I started reading full-time.
When I first started out as a professional reader, I used to put so much time and energy into my tarot spreads: I would create custom spreads for each client, based on questions and topics they sent me in advance.
I thought they were absolutely amazing.
But once those spreads were put to use, I soon realized they weren’t always as helpful as I thought they would be.
Why? Because tarot readings are conversations, and like any other dialogue, they flow in new and unexpected directions.
Which meant that once my readings started, sometimes my querents would say, “I think I have some different questions I need to explore instead.”
Inevitably, many of my big, beautiful, customized tarot spreads would go out the window in order to accommodate a more organic tarot...
I’ve shared this story a lot before, so if you’ve heard it already, I hope you’ll humour me for a moment.
When I got my first tarot deck, I had very skewed expectations about what would happen when I opened up that card pack.
I had (wrongly) assumed that as soon as I flipped over a few cards, I’d somehow know exactly what they were telling me.
Even though I had no idea what exactly I was hoping to find out. Nor did I consider what kind of messages tarot might even give me.
I had a vague idea that I’d get a glimpse of the future. But I was also in high school at the time, keeping a relatively routine schedule between going to a co-op in the morning, classes in the afternoon, and a part-time job after school.
What kind of big reveal was I hoping for? I had no idea. My life was pretty predictable at the time.
But I wasn’t questioning myself at the time, or thinking much about the how or why of tarot.
And unfortunately, the pressure I’d put on...
A few years ago, I was hired to teach a few private classes to someone who had just started reading tarot. She had bought her first deck a few months before she booked on for some lessons.
After our fourth lesson together, I got an email from her: “I forgot to ask you something in our class today,” she wrote. “How much do you think I should charge for my readings?”
I was surprised.
Our lessons at that point only totaled up to about four hours of study. This student had also only ever read tarot for herself.
Given what we’d covered in our classes so far, I knew she still had a lot to learn.
I wrote back an honest response, telling her it was way too soon to worry about charging for readings. “Focus on learning how to read tarot first,” I said.
Practice, practice, practice is always my mantra with new students.
This wasn’t the first instance I’ve had this question, and it wasn’t the last.
There are a lot of reasons why I...
When you’re scheduled to do a tarot reading for someone, what should you do in advance to get ready for it?
Do you have to spend hours in deep meditation?
Should you be clearing your workspace, or clearing your deck?
Setting out crystals or other tools?
You can do all of the above, if you feel it’s necessary.
You can also do none of the above – especially if you don’t feel it adds anything to your process. (That’s right: You can read tarot without any big, fancy rituals involved.)
So what do I do to prepare for a tarot reading?
I like to take advice I received from one of my teachers, Rebecca Gordon: Go out and live your life.
What does that mean?
Go outside. Go about your day.
Watch for any signs, patterns, or themes that might speak to the flavour of the moment.
Tune into the energy of the day: What kind of mood are people in? What’s the pace of the world around you?
This may or may not have anything to do with your reading, or with your...
Reading tarot, whether for yourself or others, can stir up a lot of insecurities.
It’s normal to feel nervous when you’re reading for someone, especially if you’re still learning. But even experienced readers aren’t immune to a case of the nerves every now and then.
We’re all human, after all. And while reading tarot does get easier with time and experience, it’s still a skill that requires a lot of effort, concentration, and focus.
It also requires readers go out on a limb to offer messages, insights, and interpretations that might feel disparate, unexpected, or unclear at times. Even when a reader feels in flow with their cards, you don’t necessarily know why certain messages are important, or how they connect to a querent’s life.
But your job is to deliver what you’re seeing in the cards, no matter how little you know about the context of someone else’s situation.
That alone can be uncomfortable at times, especially when...
Are you taking a lot of cues and tarot lessons from social media?
If so, you’re not alone: Tarot’s popularity continues to explode online.
It used to be very hard to find like-minded fans of all things esoteric. Now, all you have to do is hop online and gain instant access to tarot readers from all around the world.
There are so many tarot accounts to check out. And a lot of them post similar content:
These can all be fun ways to engage with tarot online.
And they have certainly helped some tarot readers build their social media followings.
But throughout the last year, I noticed some questions coming up in my tarot classes that I hadn’t heard before:
"How do I read tarot for each zodiac sign?"
"Does it matter if I don’t know a lot about...
Recently, I’ve been trying to think about how my tarot practice evolved into what it is today in terms of the habits and beliefs I’ve built around my processes.
There are so many things that we learn about practices like tarot on our own, through trial and error, experience and reflection.
It’s not possible to learn everything from a teacher, mentor, class, or book. Our knowledge builds from so many different sources, influences, and experiences.
Here are a few things no one ever taught me about tarot, but that I learned to do along the way all the same:
1. It’s okay to take a moment to study the cards you’ve pulled before delivering any messages.
When I’m reading tarot for someone, I don’t launch into the reading the moment the cards are pulled. I always take my time to see what’s shown up, look for patterns or other interesting details, and consider the elements that are present.
Sometimes this long pause makes querents nervous,...