What is a Tarot reading like?

Someone asked me recently what happens, generally, when I do a Tarot reading. Since I think that’s a great introductory question that more people might like to ask, here’s my answer:

Laying the groundwork: This is when I get to know you, if I don’t already, and invite you into the space, make sure we’re both comfortable and relaxed, and find out what your general goal is for this reading. It can include me giving you background information about Tarot, telling you more about my reading style, and making sure you understand my code of ethics.

Setting up the reading: I may have multiple decks available, and may ask you if there is one you prefer be used for your reading. Depending on your level of familiarity with Tarot, I may ask you if there is a particular spread (layout of cards) that you want used, or if you prefer to have reversals included. (I normally use elemental dignities instead of reversals.) I will ask you whether you want to state a specific question (it’s okay if you don’t), and if you do, I may help you reframe that question into a more suitable form. (For example: “Who is the love of my life?” is not an easily answerable question. Something like, “In what ways am I compatible or not with So-and-so?” is a better one.)

Shuffle and deal: I shuffle the cards, invite you to cut with your non-dominant hand (the hand that you don’t write with), and deal from the point at which you cut the deck into the specific spread we have agreed upon.

Reading and discussion: I generally start reading the cards in order, and give possibilities for the interpretation of each card. Then I invite you to imagine where that message or situation may be relevant in your life at the moment; to whatever degree you feel comfortable sharing that with me, I discuss it with you and refine possible interpretations based on it, continually dialoging with you to help you explore your current situation, possible future courses of action, and potential alternatives. As I read more cards, I link them together with previous cards according to patterns in the Tarot, which usually helps both of us see overarching patterns or threads of stories that are going on, and gives ideas about how those patterns may play out and how you may influence them to get the most desirable outcome.

Finishing up: I’ll ask you if you have any other questions, and whether you feel satisfied with the overall gist of the reading and our conversation based on it. In most cases, if you want, I will take a photo of the cards dealt and email it to you later with brief notes about what we discussed.

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About Literata

Literata is a Wiccan priestess and writer. She edited Crossing the River: An Anthology in Honor of Sacred Journeys, and her poetry, rituals, and nonfiction have appeared in works such as Mandragora, Unto Herself, and Anointed as well as multiple periodicals. Literata has presented rituals and workshops at Sacred Space conference, Fertile Ground Gathering, and other mid-Atlantic venues. Literata offers healing and divination services as well as customized life-cycle rituals. She is currently completing her doctoral dissertation in history with the support of her husband and four cats.
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3 Responses to What is a Tarot reading like?

  1. inquisitiveraven says:

    Diane Wilkes records all her readings, and sends the copies home with her clients. Back when I had the store, she’d record them on an old fashioned analog cassettes. I don’t know if she’s updated the technology she uses since the store closed though.

    With cell phones and computers able to do voice recording these days, it might be worthwhile to record readings as MP3s and email them with the photos of the spread. I estimate that an hour long reading might yield a 30 Mb audio file which ain’t that big these days. My personal cell phone has more than enough memory for the job. It does voice recordings in a format other than MP3, but I have software on my laptop that do the format conversion.

  2. inquisitiveraven says:

    Well, I found a 58 minute podcast on my hard drive that comes in at a little over 13 Mb, so figure an hour will probably require less than 15 Mb or about half my earlier estimate.

    • Literata says:

      IIRC, Mary K. Greer had an awesome post about using her iPad to record a Tarot reading and email it to the client afterwards, and that’s something I’d like to able to offer. I’m still learning to use the relevant apps, but I think it would be really cool.

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