How To Be a Good Tarot Reader

So you want to learn how to read tarot? You’ve got a tarot deck and a good book and worked your way through it. You can already remember most of the card meanings. You can already imagine yourself dispensing wisdom and helping people through their problems. Wait though, your friend told you that she had heard somewhere that only psychics can read tarot. Then you read somewhere on the web that you have to have years and years and years of experience before you can call yourself a ‘tarot reader’. Worst of all, sometimes you still have to refer to your book when a card looks at you blankly. How do you become a good tarot reader?

How to be a good tarot reader 3

There is a lot of nonsense said and written about tarot reading. So much so, that aspiring readers are often daunted by the sheer amount of ‘rules’. A good tarot reader shuns these directives as s/he learns that following their own path is the way to go.

Let’s get rid of some of these myths and replace them with some sensible advice.

Do You Have To Be Psychic To Read Tarot?

No. Definitely not. Most psychics who read tarot are using the cards to kick-start their unique gift. They could give you a reading based on the freckles on your nose if they wanted to. The cards merely give them focus.

The rest of us rely on a combination of intuition, knowledge of the cards, life experience and feedback from the person we’re reading for – the seeker, for want of a better term. More on this later in the article.

Do You have To Study Tarot for Years?

Nooo… and yes, to this one. Some people take to tarot like ducks to water and read completely intuitively. To these, I would say ignore most of what I’ve written here, do it your own way; your readings will be brilliant.

Learning from one source, such as a book, will not make you a good reader. Reading only for yourself will not make you a good reader. It does take time and lots of practice. It depends how much of both you are willing to undertake. If you are serious about tarot, and if tarot has got hold of you, hook, line and sinker, then you will happily study tarot for years and years. A good reader keeps an open mind and is always open to a new insight for a card.

Spend time writing down your readings. Draw a card a day. Read for friends. Keep a tarot journal. If you get good feedback and generally feel you are doing well, then there is nothing preventing you branching out and advertising your services a little further afield. You know when the time is right. You also know if you aren’t quite ready.

How to be a good tarot reader

Sometimes the Meaning Eludes Me and I Need to Refer To a Book – Is This Acceptable?

I had a reading done for me once… the guy offered to send me one, so I asked my question and got back a long ‘reading’, copy-typed straight out of one of my favourite books. Not good and he’ll never become a good reader using such obvious and silly tactics.

But guess what? I have to look at a book too, now and then… and I have been reading since 2000. Of course, it’s not good to do this in front of a client, unless they know you are learning. If they are paying for a reading, then No Books Allowed. However, if you are doing a written reading, say by email, then you have all the time in the world to check your references. Often when I am doing a long written reading, I will remember that Mary Greer wrote something pertinent about a particular card and I will go look it up. That’s fine, and as long as you don’t go plagiarising long swathes of text direct from the book like my friend above, you’ll be fine. It’s a way of learning-on-the-job.

So What Do I Need To Become a Good Tarot Reader?

Here’s a brief list of attributes and skills you need to focus on to become a really good reader. These are guidelines, rather than rules. Develop and hone your readings with these suggestions in mind.

  • Be a good listener. You are not there to demonstrate your awesome skill, you are there to give your client some much-needed support. Hear what they are saying, repeat it back to them in your own words, if necessary. Really try to understand their point-of-view. Just as importantly, you must also be able to be objective and see the situation neutrally.
  • Know your cards as well as you possibly can. Improve your knowledge on a daily basis by drawing a card a day, keeping a tarot journal, reading many books and talking to other tarot readers. Practice, practice, practice. These things are not chores, they are part of the delicious process of learning the tarot.
  • You need some measure of counselling skills. You might be instinctively good at dealing with people, especially if you have a lot of life experience. You should know if you can be direct with a client, or whether you need to be more circumspect. Some people like their readings ‘straight’, some are terrified of hearing bad news. Senses are heightened during a reading; that person is completely focused on your words so remember that something you say might fix itself in the seeker’s mind for the rest of their life. I like to say that a reader must feel their way through a reading. Look into acquiring a basic counselling qualification.
  • Be a good communicator. You must enjoy interacting with people, and you must be able to get your message across in such a manner that you are not misunderstood. Don’t overpower the seeker with tarot jargon. They don’t care much about the tarot itself, they are only interested in the situation that they are consulting you about. If you can get them to really look at the card and express how it makes them feel, then you are doing really well.
  • Work on developing your intuition. This will come the more you practice. Try doing tarot readings for unfolding news stories. See how the cards reflect real life situations. Play tarot games. There are many books, websites and courses available that provide exercises for the budding reader. Learning to trust your intuition is not just good for readings; it is also really useful for every aspect of your life.
  • Combine your intuition with your own life experience. I have found time and time again, that if a group of cards, coupled with the seeker’s question reminds me of a situation that I have experienced in my life, then there is good reason for it. I don’t tell the client that I went through what they are going through and offer advice based thereon. Instead I allow this almost subconscious information to percolate through my reading. Difficult to explain, but when it happens, you will recognize it.

This is how readings become ‘accurate’. For example, the recollection of an experience I had when pregnant with my first child, combined with the appearance of the Five of Cups, enabled me to gently tell someone that her current pregnancy wasn’t viable. It wasn’t completely out of the blue to her – don’t worry, I wouldn’t ever say anything like that if the client was happily enceinte, and neither should you! With the remaining cards being positive (the Empress was in there somewhere) I was able to tell her that her child was waiting for the right opportunity. She miscarried a few days later, but gave birth to a healthy little girl within the year. When I saw her she told me my words had made her miscarriage bearable, and now it barely registers as a negative experience because she knows it was simply her daughter delaying her appearance.

I hope some of this advice has been helpful. Good luck on your tarot journey. Please feel free to ask any questions. I’d love to hear of your experiences and what works for you.

Images from the Gilded Tarot by Ciro Marchetti

How to be a good tarot reader


12 thoughts on “How To Be a Good Tarot Reader

  1. Philemon

    Your reading style is so similar to how I’ve come to read the cards! This is a great blog. I love how you present your knowledge. Smashing, dahling! Thank you 😀

  2. Rebecka


    Thanks so much for your article, it was really interesting. I do have a couple of questions. I’ve done a lot of study and have been doing free readings via a website (not mine) in exchange for feedback for practice. And I got a few paid readings out of that so that was pretty cool. I feel that right now I’m actually a better reader via email than in person. I get much more in depth information and the feedback has been incredible. Do you think some people are just better at reading cards in different ways, or is reading in person something you have to work really hard on? Or is reading in person just different in that it’s more a two way street and less information gets passed on?

    Also just one more quick question, if it were to be so that my talents lie within email tarot readings and the written word, and starting my own website has been an option on my mind, how did you get started? and do you have any advice?

    Yours sincerely,

    1. theraggededge Post author

      Hi Rebecka,

      Congratulations on getting started on your professional path. It’s lovely when you attract clients in that way,

      Absolutely, some people (me included) are better at written readings than in person. I love having the time to mull over the reading. Even editing for typos gives me a chance to add another small insight. You may have found already that your clients will contact you afterwards with their input and perhaps some further questions. You can make some really good friends over time.

      I think that face-to-face readings are brilliant too – they are different. When you are with someone you have an energetic dynamic going on – the reading is a very two-way, interactive thing. They are scary at first but if you start out in an informal way, say one-card readings at a girlfriend’s party or something. Stress that it’s just for fun and you’ll find you’ll enjoy it enormously.

      When you are doing written readings, then it’s just you, your cards and the question. The scary part comes at the end! You send the reading ‘out there’ hoping that you have got it right.

      I set up my first website in 2001, I think. Like you I’d done the Free Readings for a while. I had no idea what I was doing and used Microsoft Front Page. It was all very clunky but I got my first client within two days of going live. This site is a self-hosted WordPress blog – there are a huge amount of options to play around with. You’ll need a domain and a host. I use GoDaddy and HostGator.

      If you prefer to do email readings then do that. All you need is a self-hosted WordPress site. I can’t tell you how to go about it a. because I’ve forgotten most of it and b. it would take too long, but there are loads of tutorials out there if you want to set it up yourself. There’s a definite learning curve involved but you’ll soon get the hang of it. If you want something a bit easier to start with then have a look at Blogger.

      Good luck and don’t forget to send me a link when it’s done.

      1. Rebecka

        Wow, thank you so much for such a comprehensive answer and thank you for sharing of all of your advice. I really appreciate your time in doing so.

        It was also quite comforting to to know that you didn’t know what you were doing either when setting up a website, as I absolutely do not, but that you’ve somehow made it and I will be sure to send you the link when I figure all of this out!

        It’s also quite comforting to know that other people prefer doing email readings too : ) It’s not something I had ever thought about doing too but I really relate to what you were saying that it’s just you and the cards and I found I love it more than I thought I would. I get quite lost in the process and really love it so it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who prefers it this way.

        Again, thank you so much for the advice and even more kudos to you for the practical advice regarding different hosts and options for setting up a website. That’s awesome you got your first client so quickly so good on you!

        I’ll definitely send you a link when I get everything sorted!

        Much love,

        1. theraggededge Post author

          My pleasure, Rebecka. The main thing to remember is to break the process down into tiny steps. You don’t have to produce a fully formed website in one day. Have fun!

  3. Richard

    Hi, I am really just beginning this journey. I have been long curious about Tarot. I have dabbled in Runes, animal cards, native American cards. I do believe there is a certain energy /power around divination. I’d like to keep monitoring your posts/blog. Any information would be appreciated. My question is, do I need to have a specific question if I draw a card a day for myself?

    1. Troi Post author

      Hi Richard,

      I agree, there is a lot of energy around divination… and most of it comes from you. I read a lot about particle physics and all that, even though I can barely understand it, but there’s a definite correlation between the theory that a particle in one place can affect the behaviour of one in another, or that it’s possible for one particle to be in two places at once. This means that we can tune in and make a connection to whomever we hold as a point of attraction. Magical.

      No, you don’t need a specific daily question. Though, of course, it’s fine if you do. It’s good to play around with it a little. So on one day you might draw a card to reflect the tone of the coming day. Or you might draw one as a ‘lesson of the day’. Or you could draw the card retrospectively at the end of the day and see how that works out. There’s no right way in tarot – use it in whatever way feels good to you.

      All the best and thanks for asking the question.

  4. Karen Ballard

    I had a Tarot reading via email yesterday for a yes or not answer. The card drawn was Father of Cups. I was told just to trust my own intuition. I wanted guideness so felt somewhat disappointed. So now I am interested in learning more about Tarot reading. Can you suggest the book I should start with to learn more? And how does the Tarot reader decide what card to draw? I’m currious if I had another reading if it would come up different. Thank you, Karen

    1. Troi Post author

      Hi Karen,

      Great questions!

      I can’t really comment on the reading you had yesterday, but I understand your frustration. I think people who ask me for free readings also experience frustration when the cards give them an answer they don’t want 🙂 The reader probably gave the best answer they could.

      Tarot is fascinating. It reflects the whole human experience, spiritually and otherwise. It’s an elegant system, not just a tool for fortune-telling. There are so many really good books out there and I am probably not up-to-date on them. I do like Tarot Plain and Simple by Anthony Louis. There’s also a whole free book by teacher Joan Bunning available for download, though when I started, I found that a little confusing.

      The reader doesn’t decide on a card, he or she, shuffles the cards and then draws one at random. And yes, of you had another reading, it would be different. A card, or cards, is literally a snapshot of the energy around you in that moment in time. That’s why repeated readings in a short period are not a good idea.

      Hope that helps.

  5. Michael M.

    Hi! I have been reading tarot for a few years now and find that I have one deck that really just screams at me, while my other decks I have to really work hard at interpreting or go to the book for answers! How do I get over this? What should I do to use another deck with the proficiency that I do with the deck that screams at me?

    Also, I am absolutely terrible at reading for myself! Nothing (even from my good deck) comes without looking up the meaning! Do you have any advice on that?! Thank you so much for your article! I loved it!!

    1. Troi Post author

      Hi Michael, 😀 that’s just the way it goes sometimes. I have one like that too, yet I do make myself read with other decks and just go with it. How I got around it was to hold the original deck in my head. So while I used a new deck, I would refer to the original image in my head. Gradually, it sort of faded away. Mine is the Robin Wood.

      I don’t do very well reading for myself either. I sort of go, ‘yeah yeah…’ and put the cards away. So I tend to stick with one card only if I need a question answered. Each card has its own ‘yes/no/maybe’ energy for me. Anything deeper, well that takes a lot more work so I rarely do it.

      Thanks for your kind words – appreciated x


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