How to Do a Tarot Card Reading with Playing Cards

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How to Do a Tarot Card Reading with Playing Cards

When it comes to divination and gaining insights into our lives, tarot card reading is a popular and effective method. The traditional tarot deck consists of 78 cards, divided into the Major Arcana and Minor Arcana, each with its own symbolic meanings. However, not everyone has access to a tarot deck, or they might prefer to use playing cards for various reasons.

In this guide, we’ll explore how you can do a tarot card reading using a standard deck of playing cards. While the interpretations may differ slightly from traditional tarot, the fundamental principles remain the same. So grab a deck of playing cards and let’s get started!

Understanding the Card Correspondences

Before diving into the specifics of reading playing cards, it’s important to understand the correspondence between the tarot cards and playing cards. This will help us draw reliable interpretations.

Playing Card Suit Tarot Suit
Hearts Cups (Water)
Diamonds Pentacles (Earth)
Clubs Wands (Fire)
Spades Swords (Air)

Additionally, the court cards in playing cards can be associated with the corresponding tarot court cards.

Playing Card Rank Tarot Court Card
King King
Queen Queen
Jack Page/Knight

Shuffling and Preparing the Deck

Begin by shuffling the deck thoroughly, focusing your intention on the reading you’re about to perform. You may choose to use a specific method of shuffling, like overhand or riffle shuffle, or simply use a technique that feels comfortable to you.

Once you feel the deck is well-shuffled, take a moment to clear your mind and center yourself. You may also want to consider lighting a candle or incense to create a calm and sacred space for the reading.

The Three-Card Spread

One of the simplest and most versatile spreads to start with is the three-card spread. This spread allows you to gain insights into past, present, and future situations or to explore a general situation in more depth.

  1. After shuffling, place the deck face-down on a surface.
  2. Think about your question or intention while you cut the deck into three piles.
  3. Reassemble the deck by placing the middle pile on top of the other two piles.
  4. Turn over the top three cards and place them side by side, representing past, present, and future.

Now, let’s explore the interpretations of each card position:


This card represents the past influences that may have led to the current situation. It can shed light on any unresolved issues or patterns you need to be aware of.


The present card reveals the current energies surrounding you and the situation at hand. It provides insight into your circumstances and any obstacles or opportunities that may arise.


This card offers a glimpse into potential outcomes and future developments. It helps you anticipate what lies ahead and make informed decisions based on the insights gained.

Interpreting the Cards

Interpreting playing cards in a tarot reading follows the same principles as interpreting traditional tarot cards. Begin by examining the card’s suit, number, and any symbolism present.

For example, if you draw the Ace of Hearts (Cups), it signifies new beginnings, emotional fulfillment, and creative opportunities. If you pull the Five of Diamonds (Pentacles), it may represent financial challenges or material struggles.

In addition to the card’s individual meanings, pay attention to the overall theme or story that emerges from the entire spread. The cards interact with each other, adding depth and nuance to the reading.

Enhancing Your Tarot Reading with Intuition

While understanding the traditional meanings of cards is important, don’t underestimate the power of your intuition when doing a tarot reading. Allow your instincts and feelings to guide you as you interpret the messages the cards convey.

Consider the imagery, colors, and emotions that arise when you look at each card. Sometimes, the imagery itself may trigger insights and personal associations that are unique to your situation.

Remember, tarot reading is a personal practice, and different readers may have slightly different interpretations. Trust yourself and your connection to the cards as you develop your own style and intuition over time.


Using playing cards for tarot card reading can be an accessible and meaningful way to gain insights into your life’s questions and challenges. By understanding the correspondences between the cards and the tarot, shuffling the deck with intention, and using simple spreads like the three-card spread, you can start reading the cards confidently.

Remember, practice is key to becoming more proficient in tarot reading. As you explore the meanings of each card and deepen your understanding, you’ll begin to uncover the guidance and wisdom that playing cards can offer.

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How to Do a Tarot Card Reading with Playing Cards