Don’t skip this step when you’re learning tarot

If there’s one thing that gets overlooked most when it comes to learning tarot, it’s this:

Your why.

Why do you want to learn tarot?

What do you believe it will do for you?

What do you want to use it for?

What do you hope to be able to gain from the experience?

There can be any number of reasons to learn tarot. You may have several answers to each of these questions, or just one or two.

There is no right or wrong. There is no ideal reason, no purpose that is better than any other.

But to have a purpose behind learning tarot can really help you to figure out what to focus on, which classes to take, books to read, or techniques to understand.

For example: If you want to read tarot for other people, then it will for you to focus on being able to answer a wide range of questions. I always say that if you read for others, you need to be ready for anything that might come up.

Developing tarot skills that help you be flexible, adaptable, and fluid in your tarot readings is key...

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3 Common Mistakes That Can Keep You Stuck as a Tarot Reader

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...

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That time I blew it as a tarot reader

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...

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Why I struggled to connect to tarot early on

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...

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Are tarot spreads too confining?

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...

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Things that made me a better tarot reader (and a better person)

A lot of people talk about tarot through the filter of it being a "gift." Which implies there is some kind of raw, natural talent or ability inherent within a tarot reader from birth.

While raw talent is real, I see the same way I do music, writing, art, carpentry... any kind of skill, really.

Which is that it is a skill, and even raw talent benefits from some practice, polish, and knowledge of the canon in which it resides.

When I reflect of my own path as a tarot reader, I also have to acknowledge that a lot of what it took for me to get this far with it happened through a willingness to work on myself.

People skills are a big part of tarot reading.

I've met a lot of people in this world who claim psychic ability and strong intuition, but when you sit down to talk to them they have terrible listening skills, or say things that rub the wrong way.

Being honest with yourself, keeping your ego in check, and reflecting on beliefs or behaviours that aren't serving you - or others -...

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What to Say When You Need to Go Out on a Limb in a Tarot Reading

Have you ever been in the middle of a tarot reading when, suddenly, an unexpected message pops into your head?

Or maybe you’ve been trying to answer a question, but the reply the cards are offering feels like a slight detour. It is an answer – even an acceptable one – but you’re not quite sure how it fits with the querent’s situation.

It's not uncommon to feel compelled to deliver a certain message that, to you as the reader, might feel a bit odd or unusual. Not because it’s irrelevant to the sitter (ideally, it should still relate to the context of the reading), but because you’re not sure how fits into the context of your querent’s life.

Tarot readers often have a limited view and understanding of their querents’ situations. Unless you’re reading for someone you know very well, you don’t have much to go on when it comes to the background of a question that’s been posed.

You also won’t necessarily...

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What I Want to Tell You About 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...

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Connecting to the right energy in a reading

One of the most common questions people have about reading tarot is, “How do I connect to the energy of the person I’m reading for?”

From my experience, there’s nothing special you need to do when you’re reading cards for someone else. Your tarot deck contains all kinds of answers and information.

Knowing how to read your cards is what’s important. You don’t need to psychically reach into your sitter for answers that are already present in a reading.

If you were doing a purely psychic reading, however, without any divinatory tools involved, the answer might be different.

But if your aim is to read cards, then that’s where your focus should be whenever you are interpreting a message.

When you are giving a reading, you don’t need to “connect” to someone else’s energy as though you’re hooking into them – all you need to is a listening ear and a willingness to communicate. Just like any other...

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Is this getting in the way of your tarot readings?

Do you ever feel like you look down at certain tarot cards and feel stuck for new things to say about them?

It used to happen me to all the time. I’d spent so much time carefully memorizing card meanings and keywords that it started to get in the way of my growth as a tarot reader.

Why?

When it came time to sit down and do a reading, I realized I was blocked from coming up with my own interpretations because my head was so full of other people’s tarot meanings.

On one hand, I had to give myself credit: I’d set out to learn the card meanings, and I’d succeeded. But I didn’t realize that it would end up getting in the way of putting tarot into my own words.

I also didn’t realize that card meanings are just jumping off points with the cards. There are so many layers and aspects to tarot that meanings alone can’t fully capture.

Yet there’s so much emphasis on learning those meanings, as though they are a means to an end.

In reality, they...

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