How to prepare & use your Tarot cards including Spreads
The Tarot is a valuable tool that enhances our creativity and problem-solving capabilities. Too often we are not able to see viable alternatives or solutions to problems because we are so enmeshed in the situation we are inquiring about. The simple act of laying a spread forces us to separate ourselves from distractions and concentrate solely on the object of our inquiry. The Tarot allows us to explore alternatives we may not have originally thought of and shows the circumstance in a way that can reveal aspects of the problem previously overlooked. The Tarot can show hidden agendas and solutions we may not have considered, particularly if we are deeply involved in the problem.
Preparing to Use the Tarot
Before using the Tarot you should prepare to give an insightful reading by first centering yourself, using meditation techniques that will help to intensify the mood of the reading and focus your mind. Find a quiet, serene place where you can perform the reading undisturbed. Some people have a special table set aside for such readings, but an accurate reading is possible anywhere.
After centering, hold the Tarot deck in your hands for a few moments to transfer the energy of the question into the deck, and envision yourself enveloped in a protective white light. This white light will protect you from any negative or mischievous energy forms that may try to interfere with the card layout or interpretation. While you are imagining yourself and the Tarot inside the cocoon of white light, say a short prayer to your God, spirit guide, or higher self to help gain insight into the circumstances that prompted the reading, thus helping you to fully interpret the spread.
Feel free to use any system of preparation you feel comfortable with, there are no hard and fast rules for conducting a reading. The main point to remember is that you, the reader, should he centered and removed from the activities of the outside world so that you can give an accurate reading.
If, after attempting to center yourself, you are still unsettled or preoccupied with outside events, you should put the Tarot away and try later when you feel more at ease. Additionally, if you are depressed or feel a lot of negativity around yourself the reading will likely reflect these ambivalent emotions. It is therefore best to try to maintain a positive attitude during the reading, as well as about life in general, to ensure a productive interpretation of the cards.
If you are emotionally involved in the situation that prompted the reading it may be a good idea to ask someone to perform it for you, when we desire a situation to be resolved in a certain way, we may read into the cards what we want them to say instead of what they are really trying to tell us.
When embarking upon any activities that help us to tap into our higher consciousness to gain enlightenment, it is essential that our bodies are as clean as our minds. It is all the more difficult to gain enlightenment when our bodies are polluted with chemicals in the form of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and even food. Alcohol is a depressant that dulls our senses and loosens our inhibitions. When we smoke cigarettes, our etheric vision is dulled, causing us to perceive situations and events incorrectly. Even food can be harmful when it is abused.
Laying Out the Tarot Spread
After you have prepared yourself for the reading you can begin laying the cards out into the spread that you and the querent have decided upon. Start by shuffling the deck to mingle the energy of the question into the cards. After shuffling, cut the deck into three even piles, using your left hand. The left side of the body is considered the subconscious or intuitive side, so your subconscious will be helping you as you cut the deck. After three equal piles have been formed, select the one that you (or the querent) feel has the answer to the question. Using the left hand, you can begin laying the cards.
An alternate method of laying the cards is to shuffle the deck in the manner described above and spread the entire deck face down across a table or flat surface in a fashion where each individual card can be seen and selected. With the left hand, intuitively pull each card that will he used in the reading.
When a Card Falls Out While Shuffling
When a card falls our while shuffling, it often carries information relevant to the question being asked. The card may either answer the question or provide relevance to the reading. It can add flavour to the question being asked or refer to a different situation entirely.
When a card falls our during the shuffling process you have two options. II you feel that the card is the answer lo your question, you can study and interpret it, and then discontinue1 the reading. If you feel the card simply adds extra insight into the situation you can lay the card to the .side and proceed with the reading. When you have finished with the reading you should interpret the card that fell out, as it will give clues to the overall theme of the reading or add extra information that was not included in the spread.
Upright or Reversed Card Laying Methods
Some readers place all of the cards upright while laying a spread while others lay the cards out in the format they were in as they were pulled from the deck. Some Taro Masters only give card interpretations for the upright position, while others interpret both upright and reversed placements.
In the reversed method each of the seventy-eight cards has two distinct meanings, depending on whether it is laid out in an upright or reversed position, giving you156 different meanings for the Tarot. The upright method of reading the cards incorporates both the positive and negative meanings and only provides seventy-eight meanings for the entire deck. The Tarot reader must therefore exercise extreme caution not to misinterpret the meaning of a card when performing a reading using this upright method, and should stress both the positive and negative issues surrounding each card.
Some people feel that when reading cards in the reversed position, the routine, day-to-day events of the here and now are being looked at. When reading the cards only in the upright position, however, a more spiritual level of awareness is sought, therefore uncovering elements of a more esoteric nature. When reading the cards, the important thing to remember is that the answer to the question will be revealed by looking at the graphical representation of the archetype portrayed in the card. With this in mind, some people may find attempting to interpret a card distracting when it is upside down.
When to Perform Another Reading
Sometimes it may be necessary to perform an additional reading, which will become evident to the reader during the session. When the card placed in the outcome or result position of the spread is a court card, this indicates that the answer to the question lies with a person associated with that card. After the querent has identified who the person indicated in the reading could be, the reader should perform a second reading, concentrating on how the person in question will influence the situation.
We may perform a Tarot reading where the card in the outcome or result position is ambiguous, and we cannot make out the meaning of the reading. This can be especially so when we are first learning to use the Tarot and have not yet developed the art of visualising or picture-thinking, which is necessary in order to accurately interpret the meanings of the cards. The most direct method of obtaining information for the card is to perform the four-card “What Does This Card Mean?” spread, which gives additional insight into the card’s meaning.
Some readers use the same tarot layout as the original reading to obtain information on the meaning of the card of which they are not sure. For example, if the card in the outcome position of a Celtic Cross reading was vague or inconclusive, the reader would then commence another Celtic Cross leading to gain further insight on the meaning of that particular card. To gain further illumination many readers place the final card in the previous reading in the first position of the second reading to focus energy into how that particular card will affect the outcome.
There are other times when the reader will find it necessary to perform an additional reading. If a spread of ten cards or less contains more than four cards from the Major Arcana, the reading should be discontinued and a new one begun, using only the cards from the Major Arcana. In drawing more than four cards from the Major Arcana, our higher consciousness is telling us that a higher level of understanding of the Tarot is needed for that particular reading. The Major Arcana alone provides information that is much more spiritual than would normally be gleaned from a spread using the full seventy-eight-card deck. The cards associated with the four suits pertain primarily to normal, day-to-day activities, while the cards from the Major Arcana refer to how our soul is evolving and growing in its present incarnation. A reading using only the twenty-two major arcana indicates that the querent is encountering major life issues, and his or her soul is ready for growth and transformation.
When to Use Only the Major Arcana in a Reading
There may be times when we will want to use only the Major Arcana when giving a reading. These are times when we are going through a period of spiritually significant growth, and a reading using only the Major Arcana will enable us to understand the esoteric influences surrounding us that had prompted us to seek guidance in resolving our problems. These readings will give much insight and clarity into the situation and show the influences that are surreptitiously around us, and which we have overlooked in our attempts to deal with reality.
There will also be times when our higher self is prompting a more meaningful reading that will be readily apparent after the cards have been laid out, such as when four or more major trumps appear. When this occurs, the cards should be picked up and relaid, using only the Major Arcana. A spread of four or more cards from the Major Arcana indicates the reading needs to take place on a more evolved level of understanding. The message derived from such a reading will tend to be much more profound and reveal significant information that is essential to our spiritual growth and evolvement.
Free Will Versus Destiny
Many believe the prediction of an oracle to be permanently engraved in stone, which is simply not the case. Any reading merely gives advice or indicates what is likely to happen if we continue on our current path, but we can change the reading any time we make a conscious decision to do so. The decisions we make daily alter and change our destiny; thus our life paths are fluid and constantly changing with our soul development. If we receive a reading we don’t like, we have the ability to use our free will to change its outcome. Conversely, if we receive a reading with a positive outcome, we may need to take certain steps to assure the result that we would like. We have free will over our own destiny and can create any environment or life circumstance that we so choose.
Many querents make the mistake of hanging on to every word a reader says instead of relying on the inherent knowledge each of us possesses. Any reputable reader will advise the client of their free will, and will mention trends he or she is likely to encounter based upon their stage of development during the time of the consultation.
A Word about Ethics
Any person using intuitive abilities in doing a reading must be careful not to predict dire events which could cause the querent serious concern. The Tarot is a very subtle tool and many negative events manifesting in the reading may not be quite so devastating when put into proper perspective. An example of this is the Death card in the Major Arcana, which represents transformations and major change. Although the card can in some cases represent an actual death, it often manifests itself as the death of an outmoded concept or idea, allowing for regeneration and rebirth. In such instances, Death may not necessarily predict dire events, but the refinement and attunement of the situation that prompted the reading in the first place. Another card that can be wrongly interpreted is The Tower, which usually means shedding old layers and removing debris to clear the way for positive change. Of course, for positive events to occur some unpleasantness may transpire in the process, but the ultimate result should affirm an improved state of being after the necessary actions have taken place. Additionally, The Lovers, often perceived to represent those soul mate unions we encounter in our lives, could actually indicate a marriage of necessity or a love triangle of some sort. Therefore, we must exercise discretion to properly interpret the cards ss they fall, in order to give the querent all possible alternatives.
Readers must be careful not to let their own prejudices interfere, such as when a well-meaning person tries to read for a friend who is going through difficulties and ends up spicing the situation up with his or her own opinions, which is actually a form of manipulation. Many people can be susceptible to suggestions; for this reason the Tarot reader has a great deal of power over the querent when giving a reading. This influence should be used responsibly, and with a great deal of discretion. Most forms of divination, no matter how expertly done, are never totally accurate because we all have free will and are constantly altering the future. Therefore, we should always try to be positive when giving readings, because a negative or pessimistic comment could end up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It is important to note that a reading should never be performed without a person’s permission. When giving an unrequested reading, the reader is invading another’s privacy, as well as behaving in a grossly unprofessional manner. It is highly unlikely that an accurate reading could be obtained through such activities, because the energy of the person in question, a vital component for any divination, would be missing and therefore invalidate any interpretations.
Choosing a Significator
The significator is a card in the spread that represents the querent. One of the court cards within the Minor Arcana is normally selected as the significator, but the readings here have been intentionally modified to make this card unnecessary. The significators have been replaced with a theme card because more insight can be gained from the reading if the card is randomly dealt from the deck instead of intentionally selected. The theme card will generally reflect the tone of the situation, and further illuminates the reading as a whole.
If the reader would rather use a significator he/she only needs to replace the theme card, which is selected at random, with the significator, which is pulled from the deck before shuffling and dealing.
While the significator is normally one of the court cards some readers prefer using cards from the Major Arcana because they are considered to represent more highly evolved archetypal entities and therefore bring us to a more spiritual level of being.
To fully understand how the Tarot applies to our lives, it is useful to keep a Tarot Journal, recording the date, question asked, the spread, interpretation of the cards, and any notes for future reference. When we ask the Tarot a specific question and record it in our journal, we can later review the answer to see how the readings have unfolded and ultimately revealed the truth that we needed to know.
A Tarot journal helps us to remember the meanings of the cards, as the very act of recording the reading is an invaluable tool for memory improvement, and will help us learn the more intricate meanings of the cards. When we can remember the meanings of the cards without the aid of reference material then we are on our way to giving competent readings for others.
Your first Spread
When Tarot students are just beginning their journey, they may not understand the full meaning of a card that has been drawn. The “What Does This Card Mean?” spread is a very simple four-card spread that is useful for gaining insight into the card’s relevance.
What Does This Card Mean? Spread
Card 1: The card does not mean this.
Card 2: The card means this.
Card 3: The card is good for this.
Card 4: The best course of action.
Card layout –