Tarot readings 101: What is it and how can you do it?

Going about our daily lives, sometimes we all need guidance from the universe, when we cannot seem to make sense of things. That’s exactly what tarot cards do. But the world of tarot readings is vast, and there has to be an entry point to it, right? You are at the right place if you want to dive into the world of tarot.

What is tarot reading? What are tarot cards? Can you do tarot readings on your own? There are so many questions and with unending content and hashtags on Instagram about tarot readings, it is easy to get lost. Which is why it is important to have a guided introduction to it. This is your guide to hand-hold you through Tarot 101.

What is tarot card reading?

First developed in the 14th century, tarot cards were originally used to play games. In the 18th century, they began to be used for divination purposes and in the early 20th century, they became popular in the United States.

tarot readings

Tarot is a form of cartomancy or divination, which taps you into your energy and works with the wisdom of the Universe to provide you the guidance that you are seeking. With tarot cards, you can seek answers for all spheres of life – love and relationships, marriage, business, education, career, home et al.

Practitioners, also known as tarot card readers, draw cards from a deck of 78 cards to answer whatever question you ask about your life. Each of these 78 cards have different images drawn on them that represent different energies. Through these images, your reader taps into your hidden thoughts, emotions and truths about different aspects of your life. They then interpret the images and the cards according to your questions, and give you the answers you have been seeking. These images, when interpreted correctly, tell a detailed story about your life.

How does tarot work?

Let’s not confuse tarot with magic. It has got everything to do with your spirit, your belief and the Universe. It is all about your intuition and your energy that cards tap into.

tarot readings

When you spread out a tarot deck, you are laying out all the aspects of life in front of you. The combination of all these cards tell a thousand different stories about your life. When you ask a question, your tarot card reader connects with your mind and spirit and picks the cards accordingly. So, the cards that come up are a manifestation of your energy and your mind.

Tarot cards are also all about perception and interpretation. Tarot reading requires you to keep an open mind and communicate with your heart, and not your head.

What are the different kinds of tarot cards?

The traditional tarot deck of 78 cards is categorised into two groups – 22 Major Arcana cards and 56 Minor Arcana cards.

The Major Arcana section deals with the karma of your life and the spiritual lessons that you will need in your life to reflect upon yourself and grow. These cards carry an important message, so you need to pay attention to them.

On the other hand, the Minor Arcana deals with the daily trials and tribulations of life that we all go through. These cards show you how to navigate through daily life problems with grace and ease. The Minor Arcana further contains four kinds or suits of cards – the pentacles, wands, swords, and cups. Each of these cards have their own connotations and meanings, with which you can paint a picture and build a narrative about your life.

Each of these four suits are numbered, from 1 to 10. Additionally, there are four Court cards as well, namely Page, Knight, Queen and King. Now let’s understand these cards.


pentacles card

These cards are referred to as Coins or Disks. Pentacles card represent things in the material and physical world, like money, career and success, but these cards can also indicate emotional and spiritual prosperity.


wands card

This is a spiritual suit that indicates the energy of movement, growth and new beginnings. These wands in cards represent new ideas and innovations. While these are mostly career cards, they can serve as love cards too.


cups card

This is a group of cards that pertain to matters of the soul, so it represents our emotions and relationships.


swords cards

Sword cards are associated with conflict and strife, as it is self-explanatory. These cards sometimes tell us of our greatest challenges. They also reveal heartbreak, sickness, war, loss or death. Sometimes they can also reveal the hard truths we might need to hear to move forward in life.

How to learn tarot card reading?

Tarot reading for beginners is not rocket science. If you have any doubts, myths or fears about tarot, let go of all of those before you start. Remember that it is one of the most safe aspects of occult sciences. So, tarot is not going to cause you any harm.

The first thing you have to do is get a good deck of cards. The Rider-Waite-Smith is the most popular deck of cards, but there’s no limit to how many sets of cards you can have. But if you are a beginner who is just starting out, it’s best to have the traditional deck with 78 cards, with full illustrations, just so that you get the hang of it.

Here’s how you can read tarot cards on your own:

  • Before you spread out the deck, start by meditating and connecting with your subconscious, to establish a connection with the cards.
  • Keep your questions simple and frame it in a way that it is easy to understand.
  • Now ask your question and shuffle your deck, while also meditating for the best suited card to come up.
  • You can stop anytime when you feel you are ready and pull out a card. Sometimes when you are shuffling, cards fall out on their own too.
  • The card might either come upright, or reversed, and they both have different meanings and interpretations.
  • Now that you have pulled a card, here comes the most important part – interpreting it. Look at the image carefully and see what it speaks to you. If you need further clarification, you can always refer to the guidebook as to what the card means, or pull out another card to get more clarity.

Where to buy a tarot deck?

Thankfully, we live in the era of internet. You can search for a deck online, or refer to the several small businesses and show them some love by purchasing your tarot deck from them.

tarot readings

The key takeaway from tarot readings remains the fact that it’s all about connecting with your intuition and your inner self. You can guide yourself with a little help from the universe, and tarot cards do exactly that.

What are the different types of tarot deck?

There are hundreds of different types of tarot card decks. The Tarot de Marseille deck, which is inspired by the classic French deck. There’s also the Black Power deck, whic spotlights famous Black luminaries. The Motherpeace, Rider Tarot, Elemental Tarot, Druid Craft are some of the other popular forms of tarot decks.

All Images: Courtesy Shutterstock

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