Learning to Read Tarot

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"You are the secret. Let tarot explore you." ―Shweta Tarot

They all insisted a person need not be "sensitive" to read Tarot cards and benefit from their insight. And you know, they're just so beautiful! I'm here to share my lessons learned, some the hard way.

To Tarot or Not to Tarot

The past few years of researching  and investigating the paranormal with the SPIRIT Research Team and Terrell Paranormal have afforded me opportunities to work with a wide spectrum of sensitive mediums and other gifted individuals. Some of these folks used the Tarot to enhance their abilities. They all insisted a person need not be “sensitive” to read Tarot cards and benefit from their insight. And you know, they’re just so beautiful! I’m here to share my lessons learned, some the hard way. Hopefully, it will help make your experience easier!


Buy a reference book and a set of cards that work for you. I bought a few how-to books, and they were boring and dry. After hearing author Melissa Cynova interviewed on Jim Harold’s Paranormal Podcast, I bought her light hearted book, “Kitchen Table Tarot,” and my attention became more focused.


A Tarot deck consists of 78 cards, each card different! Which Tarot deck would I use? Artist designed cards reflecting zombies, cats, mythical goddesses, fairies, aliens, they’re all there! Your chosen deck must fit comfortably in your hand, appeal to your sense of touch, and allow you to identify with the characters depicted on the cards.  If you can find a storefront book store, they will likely have decks for sale. Etsy, Amazon, Barnes & Noble online, browse them all to view samples. That said, I chose the longtime standard, Rider-Waite-Smith, which would give me a good beginner’s foundation from which I could expand to other, more abstractly illustrated decks.  Don’t use a pre-owned deck, these cards need to know only YOU.  Experienced readers give meaning to any card that falls or jumps out of your hand during a reading.  The poker game shuffle is not required, just mix up those cards, and cut the deck many times.
When shopping for your deck be aware that Tarot cards are not the same as Oracle cards. Oracle decks can have any number of cards, and mean any number of things as applied by the creator of each particular deck.
Okay, so far, so good….


Determine how you want to use the cards. Is it for self discovery, a search for creativity, spiritual practice, or eventually to read others’ paths? My initial ambition was to read my own path, see into the day ahead, or seek advice. To this day I have resisted throwing the cards to peek into family and friend’s lives, fearing I won’t like what I find. I often pull one card in the morning to get an impression of how my day may unfold, or three cards to represent my own recent past, the present, and the near future. This has kept my practice personal.


Have you ever turned to YouTube to learn how to replace the auger in your refrigerator’s ice maker? I have. So, I turned to YouTube, but not to the instructional videos.  I became acquainted with a handful of psychics who use, and show, the cards they’ve thrown. Each had a personal interpretation of some cards beyond what the “charts” provided. Also,each reader had their preferred shuffle and method to select cards. Some cards, such as the Tower and Death cards, have a pretty standardized meaning across readers (the Death card is not literal). It was hard not to get caught up in the actual reading being given and the different personalities, but even that helped me understand the process of learning to read Tarot. The suits, Cups, Wands, Swords, Pentacles, each have an overall sentiment, but after that, you may interpret as you wish. Just be consistent.

Location, Location, Location

Have a consistent and comfortable spot to read the cards. It’s important to have a flat surface, a pretty scarf or cloth to cover the table because, well, pretty is nice! Okay, so the original box and a cloth on the table will protect the cards. Light a small candle, have some fragrant oil nearby, or a stone that brings you comfort. Get comfortable and clear your mind, take a few deep breaths. Some instructors recommend cleansing your new deck by setting it overnight in the moonlight, or sleeping with it under your pillow to absorb your aura. So far, I’ve chosen to store my deck in the desk drawer, cuddled inside a soft velvet pouch along with a folded silk scarf. I took as much time selecting the right pouch and scarf as I did my deck. Did I say I’m visual?


So there you have my tidbits of advice for anyone considering taking that plunge into learning the Tarot. I’m still learning, and I’m still keeping my readings personal. But I’ve gained a great bit of self pride and accomplishment, and I enjoy taking some time with just myself, a cup of coffee or glass of wine, and my cards. I hope they speak to you as well!

Of course, I must share one of my favorite Tarot Divas: Melissa Cynova from Tarot Off the Cuff. 

Mary Jo

Mary Jo

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