How Does a Tarot Reading Work?

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How Does a Tarot Reading Work?

Once considered a mystical practice limited to fortune-tellers and mystics, tarot reading has gained popularity in recent years as a tool for personal introspection and guidance. The centuries-old practice uses a deck of 78 cards, each carrying symbolic imagery and meanings. But how does a tarot reading actually work? Let’s dive into the fascinating world of tarot and explore the mechanisms behind this ancient divination practice.

The Tarot Deck: A Symbolic Language

The foundation of any tarot reading lies in the tarot deck itself. Consisting of two main sets of cards – the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana – each card is rich in symbolism, which helps convey messages and insights during a reading.

The Major Arcana consists of 22 cards, numbered from 0 to 21. These cards represent significant life events, archetypal figures, and universal themes. Examples include “The Fool,” “The Tower,” and “The Empress.” Each card in the Major Arcana embodies a particular energy or life lesson.

The Minor Arcana, on the other hand, consists of 56 cards divided into four suits – Cups, Pentacles, Swords, and Wands – each associated with different elements, such as emotions, material possessions, thoughts, and actions, respectively. Each suit contains ten numbered cards and four court cards – Page, Knight, Queen, and King.

The Reader’s Intuition and Connection

During a tarot reading, the reader taps into their intuition and establishes a connection with the higher consciousness or the divine. This connection allows them to access the collective energy field or the client’s energy specifically, enabling them to provide insights and guidance.

The reader’s intuition plays a crucial role in interpreting the cards’ symbolism. While there are traditional interpretations for each card, the reader’s personal relationship with the deck influences their understanding and the messages they receive. Experienced readers rely on their intuition to bring unique insights and meanings to each reading.

The Layout: Spreads and Card Positions

Once the reader has connected to the divine energy, they proceed to lay out the cards in a specific pattern called a spread. The spread determines the overall structure of the reading and provides a framework for interpreting the cards.

There are numerous spreads, each suited for different questions or scenarios. Some popular spreads include the Celtic Cross, the Three-Card Spread, and the Past-Present-Future Spread. Each spread has a different number of card positions, and each position represents a specific aspect of the question or situation.

For instance, the Celtic Cross spread consists of ten cards, with each card position representing an aspect of the querent’s life or circumstances. The cards are placed in a specific order and interpreted accordingly, providing a comprehensive analysis.

The Reading and Interpretation

Once the cards are laid out in the chosen spread, the reader begins to interpret their meanings in relation to the question or situation at hand. They consider the individual symbolism of each card, the position it occupies, and the surrounding cards. The interaction between cards and their relative positions adds depth and context to the reading.

Additionally, the tarot reader may consider various divinatory systems, such as numerology and astrology, to enhance their interpretations. These systems provide additional layers of meaning by combining the symbolic language of the tarot with other esoteric practices.

However, it’s important to note that tarot readings are subjective and can vary depending on the reader’s style and approach. One reader may interpret a card differently from another, but this diversity adds richness to the overall practice.

Empowerment and Guidance

Contrary to popular belief, a tarot reading is not about predicting the future with absolute certainty. Instead, it offers insights, guidance, and potential outcomes based on the present circumstances and energies surrounding the question.

Tarot readings provide individuals with a fresh perspective on their situation, helping them gain clarity, identify patterns, and explore possible paths forward. The cards act as a mirror, reflecting the querent’s thoughts, feelings, and challenges, ultimately empowering them to make informed decisions and take charge of their lives.


The mechanics behind a tarot reading involve the use of a symbolic deck of cards, the reader’s connection to intuition and higher consciousness, and the interpretation of the cards’ meanings within a specific spread. It is a dynamic and personal practice that provides guidance and empowerment to those seeking answers and insights.

Whether you choose to explore tarot for personal growth or seek guidance from a professional reader, remember that tarot is a tool to assist you in understanding yourself and your circumstances better. Embrace the wisdom of the cards and let them inspire you on your journey of self-discovery.

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How Does a Tarot Reading Work?