One of the most common questions I get asked is how I learned to read tarot, and the answer is always practice. But before you start digging into the meanings of the cards, make sure you have these tarot reading essentials to help you.
Before we get too far into this post, I’m not the sort of person who believes in objective answers to anything but math problems. I just don’t think the world works that way, no matter how many standardized tests we’re forced to take in school.
So, for me, there’s no hard and fast rules when it comes to tarot. And I advise anyone to stay away from any tarot resources that claim there’s only one way to do things.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about tarot reading essentials and how you can become a better tarot reader.
Before You Start Reading Tarot
Before you jump into reading the cards, there are a few things I think you should do.
First, find some resources that you like. You don’t have to follow the guidance of any one guidebook, and you definitely don’t have to use the deck that all the cool kids are using.
If you’re interested in some books, you can check out this post on the best tarot books for beginners. I also have a post on how you can learn tarot reading fast.
And if you want a place to track what you’re learning, you can snag a copy of the Tarot Card Meanings Journal, or the Daily Tarot Pull Pocket Journal.
If you’re the type to look at tarot as a story, you may like this post about how you can outline a novel with tarot cards.
Learning tarot is just like learning everything else. You have to practice, but you also have to figure out how your brain works. So, if you know listening to something is best for you, find a podcast like Tarot for the Wild Soul, or Moonbeaming.
And of course, take tons of notes.
Tarot Reading Essentials
Now, like I said. I don’t much care for hard and fast rules when it comes to tarot. Or anything else in life. So, what I’m going to recommend isn’t anything you have to do, and it’s not anything overly specific.
Here’s what you need to conduct a tarot reading.
001: A clear head.
I’m a naturally anxious person, and my brain is mostly like one of those fishbowl drinks at a tiki bar, which is to say full of nonsense.
I have to clear my head to read. And it’s not because I can’t do it when my head is swimming. It’s because I can’t communicate stuff when my head is full.
So, take a deep breath. Put away whatever nonsense noise is in your mind for the time being. And just think about the cards in front of you.
You can do this by meditating a little right before, or maybe lighting a candle works for you.
Find what you like, and use that as a way to focus on what you’ve got.
002: A clear space.
I mean this mostly in the literal sense.
I do a lot of tarot readings on my desk, and that area of my office is a mess under the best circumstances.
Having a clear space to pull cards is important though. Because even if you set out to do a 3-card spread, there’s a non-zero chance that you may pull a ton more cards to clarify the original 3 cards you pulled.
And if you’re reading for someone else, it makes it easier on them too.
And of course, it never hurts to clear your space more in the energy sense.
Find a method that resonates with you and makes sense culturally for you to clear your space that way. Remember, not all herb bundles are sustainably forested, and a lot of them come from rituals stolen from other cultures.
As a working class Oklahoma kid, I’m totally cool with using some gas station incense to clear the energy in my office.
003: A deck you like.
I talk about this a lot, but not all decks are created equal.
So, take some time to think about what you need in a deck. I like decks that have characters from stories I enjoy, and the Smith Rider Waite deck works really well for me.
I really like decks like the Modern Witch deck or the Everyday Witch deck. They’re based on the Smith Rider Waite imagery, but modified for a contemporary audience.
The reason you need a deck you like is because you’re going to be working with it a lot. And if the images don’t resonate with you, or don’t make sense to you, you’re going to spend a lot of time looking stuff up instead of being able to know what the card says when you pull it.
004: A reference that makes sense to you.
Not all tarot books are created equal, and not all of them were written for you as part of their audience. Keep that in mind.
I think there are a lot of really weird interpretations of tarot cards, and there are a lot of spiritual people who want to double down on some bullshit.
So, if you find a reference that has some stuff in it that doesn’t make sense with your understanding of gender or the notion of what is sacred, you don’t have to read it.
I think there is a lot to be said for reading all the information that’s out there. I think there’s more to be said for finding the information that makes the most sense to you, and seeking out more like it.
005: A supportive environment.
Not everyone is into tarot. And depending on where you are, there’s a chance that someone might take it upon themselves to save you from yourself.
That’s bullshit, by the way.
So, you don’t have to share that you’re learning tarot with people who aren’t going to appreciate it. And if it’s not safe to tell someone what you’re into, I get it.
I’m a witchy kid in the Bible Belt. I feel you.
Try to find people you can trust if you’re looking for a group to hang with and talk tarot. And you can always frequent your local metaphysical shop to chat about all things tarot.
What Are Your Tarot Reading Essentials?
What tarot reading essentials do you need to give a reading? What kind of things do you look for when it comes to tarot resources? What’s your favorite tarot deck?