It is not uncommon to read Tarot cards for yourself, especially when first learning. Many professional Tarot readers have developed a skill set around self-readings and know what works for them to get accurate results. Some professional readers advise against reading for yourself period, citing many pitfalls that can result, such as: the inability to be objective, having too much emotion around the question, re-asking the same question over and over again, or pulling too many “clarifying” cards to get the answers that you really want, not just accepting the answer that is given. Without objectivity it is hard to discern what message the cards are truly trying to impart. That being said, even though it may be suggested that you don’t read for yourself, many Tarot readers do just that. So what is the best way to do this while keeping your objectivity intact? Below are just a few things I have found that have worked for me and perhaps can work for you too.
1. Tarot Journal – I like to jot down in a notebook what my question is, how many cards I am pulling and the result of my reading. First, keeping a journal allows me to see what cards continuously come up for me over and over again. This tells me what I truly need to pay attention to. Second, I like to see how accurate my interpretation of the cards are-did my prediction come true, or was I way off? This gives me greater clarity into my own track records of predictions. Finally I also like to record my readings so that I know EXACTLY what the question is I asked the cards in the first place. It is very easy to ask a question and do a reading, then ask a very similar question and do a reading again and get completely new cards that mean something very different then your original spread. This happens because you changed the question-even if you slightly changed it, it can result in very different cards. Knowing exactly what you asked will help the cards make more sense.
2. Set your intention – What exactly is it that you would like to know? Sometimes it may be very obvious, but other times it may be difficult to know exactly what piece of information would help you the best. Get very clear on the information you seek. If you aren’t exactly sure what that “thing” is then I would suggest meditating for a bit before going forward with the reading. Get still and really sync in with yourself to see what comes up for you. Can you put your finger on exactly what “it” is you want to know? Once you do this move on to #3.
3. Get clear on your question- Once you have an idea of what information you are truly trying to learn, then formulate the question. This is also tricky as you want to play around with the wording of the question so it will elicit the exact answer you are looking for. For example, if you want to find out if the guy you are interested in likes you back, then do not ask “Will he call me for a date” as this doesn’t really answer the question if he likes you. He may just be looking for a one-night stand, or he’s bored and is looking for friendship, or he isn’t sure if he likes you but wants to take you out to see. Instead try asking the question, “What does he think of me?” With a question like this it is easier to understand what he truly does think of you. Or if he does ask you out, then you can ask “What are his intentions towards me at this point in time?” This will let you know how he is thinking about you in the context of that evening. The point is get very clear about how to word the question so you can derive the exact answer you want.
4. Determine your spread – Before you start your self-reading decide how many cards you are going to pull or what spread you are going to use. This intention will help the Tarot cards get into the correct order as you shuffle them. I keep my self-spreads incredibly simple; I usually just pull two cards. If I need more information I’ll pull a clarifying card or two. The number of cards or spread you use is truly up to you, some people will want to read with the Celtic Cross spread every time, while others may just pull one card and move on. You just want to make sure you know how many cards you want before you begin, so the Tarot can sync with that intention.
5. Ask for specific cards to help you find your answer – One method I employ is directly asking for specific cards to show up in a spread. If I do a reading on a new business venture, then I’ll say “If I get the 9 of Pentacles, then I know this business venture will be a success.” It’s amazing how many times I try this technique and I get the card I asked for. If you don’t get the cards you requested then its ok too, it just means that the cards you pulled are a better fit for the question then the cards you asked for. Let go of not getting the definitive card and just interpret what you pulled instead.
6. Write it down and shuffle the question into the cards – Once you have set your intention, formulated your question, chosen how many cards you will pull and asked for specific cards for clarity then it’s time to write all of this down in your Tarot journal. Recording this information will help you remember the exact wording of your question and exactly what cards you hope to pull for concrete answers. Once you have recorded this information, begin the shuffling process while thinking of your question. I take a long time to shuffle, as I want to make sure I have thoroughly shuffled my intention and question into the cards. I also focus on the number of cards I intend to pull and the cards I have requested. Using my intuition I typically stop shuffling when I feel its right or when the cards stop flowing together easily. That is when I select the first two from the top of the deck and lay them down.
7. Lay the cards out and record your first impressions of the reading- When I lay the cards out, of course I will first look to see if any of the requested cards came up for me. If not, I will look at the two cards together and have an immediate impression of what the message is for me. Sometimes it is not obvious to me and I’ll ask for a clarifying card, for which I will reshuffle the deck, and when ready I’ll pull another card. I record what cards I drew as well as my first impressions/interpretations into my Tarot journal. I do sometimes consult other Tarot references for interpretation of the cards as I find that it helps to build my own impression of the cards and can change the way I see the reading. Whatever works for you in this fashion is what is key.
8. Ask a tarot reading friend for confirmation- Finally after you have done all of the steps above and recorded your reading, I would call a Tarot reading friend and ask for confirmation on your question. You certainly do not have to do this, but if you are still unsure of your objectivity in the reading there is nothing wrong with seeking a second opinion, especially if it is a big, scary, emotional question. If you have a friend in the Tarot community that you can ask, then I would do that. I would tell them what your exact question is but not what cards you pulled, so as not to influence them in their reading. Ask if they can pull the same number of cards that you pulled and then see what they get. If they get the same cards or pull cards that have similar meanings to what you received then you will know you are on the right track with your reading.
So what about you? What techniques have you tried for self-reading? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.