Tarot Card Reading Instructions (Before, During & After)

Updated October 1, 2021
Friends having fun with tarot

Tarot cards can be read in an open booth at a busy festival, at a company or house party, or in a quiet room with the door closed. A tarot reading can be as informal or formal as you choose to make it. However, there are certain rituals a reader can do before, during, and after that show respect for the art of tarot card reading.

Before a Tarot Card Reading

There are several things you should do before a tarot card reading.

Prepare Your Tarot Cards

Make sure your tarot cards are charged and healthy.

  • Use sage smoke to clear the cards.
  • Hold each card of the tarot deck, study the image and meditate on it for a moment. This will charge or recharge the cards with your energy.
  • If the deck is new, divide it into two stacks, reverse one pile, and put the deck back together.

Prepare your Reading Space

You will need to prepare your reading space, be it a festival booth, a table at a party, or a private space-you do need to set the mood. However, there's no need to go overboard.

  • A candle or candles will help you focus, cleanse and instill magic in the space.
  • Burn incense to clear negative energy and provide a mystical scent.
  • Arrange sacred gems or crystals on a beautifully clothed table.
  • Have low-volume meditative music playing in the background.
  • Don't forget to bless your space.

Prepare Yourself

It's common for tarot readers to prepare themselves for a reading with a prayer or affirmation. For example, "I honor the divine spirit within all of us and open myself to becoming a conduit of truth and insight."

Prepare your Querent

Building rapport with your querent before you begin the reading creates a more trusting relationship.

  • Start with a casual, friendly conversation.
  • Ask if they've had a tarot reading before.
  • If they seem negative, distracted, or agitated, give them a paper and pen and ask them to write down what's bothering them. Then fold the paper and put it in a nearby box and gently tell the querent that these thoughts have been put away for now.

During a Tarot Card Reading

A tarot card reading can be a mystical, magical, and a very up close and personal experience.

Set the Tone of the Reading

Begin the reading with a ritual that will set the tone for what's to come. These simple acts continue to build rapport and give the reader an air of mystery.

  • Reach across the table and gently hold the querent's hands.
  • Hold a moment of silence.
  • Tinkle a small bell.

The Inquiry

Readings can be general, focused on a specific area of life, or provide insight about a particular question asked. Ask the querent to be very clear about the question and situation that brought them for a reading. If need be, ask them questions to ensure that you clearly understand what they want to know. If the querent begins with a "Will," "When," or "Should," ask them to rephrase the question. Direct them to focus on what they want to know as you shuffle the cards.

Shuffling Your Tarot Cards

Due to their size, shuffling a deck of tarot cards is often more tricky than shuffling standard playing cards. Still, there are many ways you can shuffle tarot cards; however, the easiest way is to simply place the deck in one hand and release a section of cards at a time into the opposite hand. Do this until the entire deck has been mixed and redistributed.

Take your time while doing this, and meditate on the question or situation and ask the querent to do the same. When you finish shuffling, ask the querent to cut the cards into three stacks and select the one you'll deal from. Then ask them to pick it up and hand it to you. This channels their energy into the cards and makes them more personally invested in the reading.

Tarot cards in hands

Why shuffle the Cards:

  • It mixes up the order of the cards.
  • It serves a meditative purpose that allows you time to focus on the question and ask for divine assistance and guidance.
  • It grounds you so you can be in the best possible state of mind to connect with spirit and receive the information you're seeking.

Laying Out Your Tarot Cards

There are many tarot card layouts or spreads. The best spread is the one that fits the inquiry. However, if you're a beginner, select a spread you know really well and adapt that to the question. Every position in a tarot card spread has meaning. When you place a card down in a position, you're attaching the card meaning to the meaning of the position. Each card's individual meanings are refined when linked to the other cards through the spread. The entire spread creates a timeline or story related to the inquiry.

Woman telling another woman's future with tarot cards

During the Reading

During your tarot card reading, shut your objective brain off and go with your intuition and instincts. Keep your focus on the bigger picture rather than tiny details. Be open to what your querent says, and don't be afraid to ask questions. A conversation will expand your reading and help you to give a more insightful, detailed, and accurate reading.

Ending a Tarot Card Reading

As you reach the end of your reading, treat the closing with just as much importance as you did the opening. Energy surfaces during divination, and if it is not channeled carefully, it could cause disturbances to either party involved. To close the reading, transform any negativity and anxiety that may have arisen into positivity. Successful methods include; blowing out the candles, a moment of silent reflection, or even a simple hug.

Storing Tarot Cards

It's important to honor your cards by storing them correctly.

  • Wrap your cards in black silk fabric to prevent them from absorbing both negative and positive energy.
  • Store the wrapped cards in a unique bag or box with a protective crystal.

Caring for Yourself After a Tarot Card Reading

After reading tarot cards for a querent, it's essential to bring the energy back into yourself by grounding and centering yourself in the present.

  • Thank your cards and guides
  • Close your eyes and take a pause to meditate and release the reading to the Universe
  • Drink something and take a bite of food to reground your energy

Beginner Tips to Remember

Below are a few other tips for beginners.

  • Hold grounding stones or put them in your pocket.
  • If you become unsettled during the reading, close your eyes and center yourself using your breath.
  • Make sure you remain objective.
  • The tarot is often conversational and reveals more than the querent might want to know, so be kind and gentle.
  • A tarot reading can give the querent a general idea of the future if the situation remains the same as it is at the time of the reading.
  • Never use the same tarot deck for personal reading as you do when you read for others.

Reading Tarot Cards

Reading tarot cards takes understanding the cards and the spreads, making friends with your tarot deck, everyday practice, and establishing rituals. However, there are no tarot card rituals or methods that are set in stone. This article only suggests some common ways and rituals for reading tarot cards. Most tarot readers eventually create their own rituals and methods for reading the cards.

Tarot Card Reading Instructions (Before, During & After)