The Anatomy of a Tarot Reading by H.P. Thomas Moore
In my previous article “An Easy Start to Tarot” we talked about the Tarot card and how we can interpret them fast fun and easy! Here I would like to take that same fast fun and easy principle and apply it to preparing for the reading, and the layout used for the cards. We will talk about shuffling the cards, card placement and stringing all the meanings together to create a full cohesive reading.
First let’s start by going over what we do to prepare for a reading. Many times as you do a Tarot reading you are not only going to read the card meaning but you are also going to get some sort of information from your Guides and Higher Self, though we may not always be aware that is happening. As you become more and more proficient in psychic work and study you will become more aware of the input that your Guides and Higher Self actually add to your readings. So what is it that we need to do first? Well reading the cards is great and can be very accurate but you want to allow other information to come through as well. So what is done first is a small meditation. Bring yourself into your quiet space of reflection, see yourself engulfed by the White Light of divine love and protection, and even if you don’t know who they are yet ask for your guides to be with you during the reading. Doing this will open you to accept information that may come from your Higher Self and Guides in addition to actually reading the meanings of the cards. Second you want to hand your cards to the person that you are going to read and allow them to shuffle them. There is a lot of myth surrounding the shuffling of the cards. Some people say that only you as the reader should shuffle, others think that there should be a specific time limit of shuffling, or that the cards should be split into a certain number of piles. The fact of that matter is allow the person you are reading to do what feels most comfortable for him/her. This way the energy that they have can easy find their way to your cards and the cards that come out will have a deep meaning to your client. After that you take the cars back and begin your reading by first asking what it is that your client wants to focus on, is it Money, Love, Career? Anything! After that it is time to start your layout and do your reading. Ok but where exactly do you begin?
Let’s start with the layout. The layout is the pattern in which you will place the cards on the table. Each of these places has a specific meaning that you can use to better interpret the card and place it somewhere within your client’s life. Sounds a bit complicated but it really is fun and easy! The standard layout seen most often is called the Celtic Cross layout and it uses 11 cards. Lets first go over each of the 11 spaces to know what each will mean, and then we will go over how to lay and interpret the cards in those positions.
1: What is on the Clients Mind?
3: The way through those obstacles
5: Last 6 months
6: Next 6 months
7: 1-2 years from now
8: Family and Friends
9: The next 2 weeks
10: Hopes and Fears (related to the situation)
These represent what each card of the layout is going to mean. And feel free to use this as a cheat sheet when you are first starting out until you become more comfortable with it! So, our first card that we lay is going to represent what is on the clients mind. So let’s say you are reading Joy, and Joy wants to know about her love life. Place the first card down in the center of the table and tell Joy that this represents what is on her mind. From there you interpret the card, in the position according to what Joy is asking about. For example if the first card out is the Ace of Cups what can we say about what is on Joy’s mind regarding her Love life? Well it’s easy we start by saying “This card represents what is on your mind in relation to your love life….” Then we add in the card information, “the Ace of Cups talks about new beginnings in an emotional way.” From there all we have to do is then string it together “So what is being focused on now is adding some new emotions to your love life.” See, easier than you thought isn’t it? And don’t forget that if it is reversed to mention that it is happening at a slower pace!
Now we move onto the second card of the layout, this card lies sideways directly on top of the first. This is the obstacle that Joy is having in relation to the first card on what is on her mind. So let’s say that the card you pull is the 2 of wands. This is how you start. “This card represents the obstacle that you are having in relation to what is on your mind, it is the 2 of wands which talks about physical balance, so your obstacle is to keep the balance of yourself in a physical way.” From here we add this interpretation to the first card that we put down.” So in order to attain a new emotional beginning in your love life you need to keep balance within yourself.” All we did was to interpret the card by itself first and then tie it in to the card that we first spoke about. This same pattern is followed throughout the rest of the reading. You lay a card, interpret it and then tie it in to all the other cards that you have down previously. Let’s move on.
Your third card down falls underneath the first 2. And from here we do the same thing we relate the interpretation of this card to the previous card or cards. Say the card here is the 7 of swords. This is how it may sound. “This card represents the way through your obstacle, the 7 of swords is mental organization. So in order to balance yourself physically to attain a new emotional beginning you could first try to organize your thoughts and then start from there.”
The Fourth card falls underneath the third. And again we do the same. Say this card is the 6 of pentacles. “This card represents your foundation currently; it is the 6 of pentacles which talks about responsibility to finances. So in order to organize your mind so that you can balance yourself and gain that emotional beginning in your love life, this says that you could begin that organization with your finances.”
The fifth card now falls to the right of the first card that you placed. This is the last 6 months. Say this card is the 2 of swords. “This card represents the last 6 months. Here it shows that you have had the mental balance but the responsibility of the finances has thrown you out of that balance so that you are both physically and mentally out of balance and aren’t allowing the new emotional beginnings that you want.”
The 6th card now is the next 6 months. Here is a little trick that I use often. All the cards that are future oriented cards 6, 7, and 11 I interpret together. Cards that are past and present cards 1-5 I interpret together. Then the cards 8, 9 and 10 I interpret by themselves. This way it is easier to “tell the story” that the cards hold by keeping them in order. So card 6 falls to the left of the first card and begins your future interpretations. Say this card is the 3 of cups. “This card represents the next 6 months, the card is the 3 of cups that talks about an expansion of emotions, so it is likely that within that time you will overcome your obstacles.”
Card number 7 now falls above the first card that you placed. Say this card is the Queen of Cups. “This card represents the next 1-2 years, the card in the Queen of Cups and it talks about being an emotional person and finding that emotion within the self. By that time period it is likely that you will have fully attained the new emotional beginning you have been looking for.”
Cards 8-11 fall to the far right side of card 5. These cards will form an upward line one above the other. 8 is the family and friends. Say the card is the 4 of wands. “Her represents your family and friends, the 4 of wands talks about physical foundation, this says that your family and friends are willing to physically support you in overcoming your obstacles.” Are you getting the idea here of how everything is interpreted first and then tied into the other cards as well as Joy’s question?
Card 9 is the next 2 weeks. Here say we pull the 4 of pentacles. “The 4 of pentacle here represents the next 2 weeks. This card says that within that time you will have a firm foundation of the finances and begin to work with them responsibly.”
Card 10 hopes and fears. I won’t give an interpretation for this card because honestly there are times where I don’t feel that it is needed. Know though that here you would do the same as we have been.
Card 11 is the outcome from here you are going to interpret the card alone and then pull in into all of the cards that you have placed in relation to Joy’s question to give the reading that final touch and pull all of the information together!
Not as hard as you thought it would be is it? With time and practice you are sure to get this to go smoothly. As you interpret cards if you feel there is additional information from your Guides or Higher Self feel free to add that in as well. The more information you can get the better the client will be in deciding what decisions and choices they fell are best for them to make. So go out and practice some Tarot reading and have fun doing it!
Rev. Thomas Moore is High Priest of The Coven of L.I.G.H.T in South West Florida, as well as a professional Psychic, Healer, Speaker and Author. He teaches a variety of classes in the metaphysical field as well as Wicca and is the Store Manager for Starchild Books in Port Charlotte Florida.