Learning to read tarot or oracle cards for others requires ethical behavior and numerous skills. First and foremost, among the skills, you need to develop, and hone is the ability to weave a story from the spread of the cards. Knowing the meaning of the cards is a requirement and putting the knowledge of each card into a connected narrative brings each reading to life. This article will discuss how to build a story when reading tarot cards.
Approaching a Reading
Generally, there are three ways to approach a reading.
- You can have a specific question. Such as, “should I take the job offer in Seattle?”
- You can focus on an area of our life. “I would like to know about my marriage.”
- You can be open and see what comes up.
Drawing the Cards
I prefer to have clients draw cards. Even if I am working at a distance, I use a process that allows the clients to direct me to the card they need based on specific questions I ask them. Most readers will draw the cards for the client. Either process works, I just prefer to give the clients more control over the card selection. Once the cards are drawn, the reading can begin.
Reading the Cards
Cards are drawn face down and the reading begins by turning over the first card that was drawn, then the second card, and so on. When I started reading for others, I followed the most common process. I would have clients ask a question and I would draw a certain number of cards for them and perform the reading. Shortly after I started, I realized I did not like this process. I wanted the experience to be something, even more, engaging for the client and better organized for me, as the reader.
In order to organize the reading better, I developed a series of ten questions that I would ask the client about their question or concern. After I ask one of the questions, I direct the client to draw a card from the deck, which I spread out in front of us on the table.
Let’s use a specific question a client might ask me, “Is this the right time for me to buy a new home?” I am going to show you how to answer the question with two cards. Once I have shown you the answer with the cards in one sequence, I will reverse them and show you how the story changes by putting the second card first and the first card second.
The Two-Card Narrative
The client asked the question, “Is this the right time for me to buy a new home?” My first question to the client is, “What do you need to know right now about buying a new home?” The client has selected a card and handed it to me. My second question to the client is, “What is the challenge you need to address regarding the purchase of a new home?” The client selects another card and hands it to me. We are now ready to begin the reading.
The first card selected is the 2 of Swords:
Purchasing the house is going to lead to some kind of conflict or there is a conflict present regarding the desire to purchase a house right now. There could be a problem getting the mortgage or you could discover problems from a home inspection that the seller will not work with you to resolve. It will be difficult.
The challenge card turns out to be the World (XXI):
The client certainly feels that the purchase of the house represents an important completion. Even with the conflict represented by the first card, there is still a strong, almost karmic need to purchase the home. It may be wise to wait and revisit purchasing at a later time.
If the client wants to discuss the cards with me and share information, the issue can become more focused and the narrative more detailed.
Now, let’s say the first card the client selected was the World. What they would need to know immediately is that the purchase of the house does complete them. They are ready to put the final puzzle piece in place. The challenge card, now the 2 of Swords, suggests that a conflict will arise after the purchase, not before it. The caution regarding the purchase is still present in the story but is not as inhibiting as drawing the 2 of Swords first.
If additional cards are selected, the narrative is further developed. Let’s add a third card to the story, one that answers the question, “What do you need to know for guidance going forward?” The card selected is the 3 of Swords.
This representation, with the plane flying through the sky, suggests, “keep looking.” Whatever the sequence of the first two cards, this card would indicate that the client should see if there is another property that is a better fit or a happier potential purchase.
Each Card is Like a Paragraph in an Essay
When learning to write essays, it is important to know how to build transition sentences at the beginning and end of each paragraph. The reader produces the transition sentences for the paragraph each card represents. The sequence of the paragraphs emerges as the cards are drawn and read. Consider the 3-card reading in this article. With the 2-card reading you have two possible ways to sequence the paragraphs:
- Two of Swords, the World
- The World, Two of Swords
Once you jump to 3 cards, you have six ways to sequence the paragraphs:
- 2 of Swords, the World, 3 of Swords
- 2 of Swords, 3 of Swords, the World
- The World, 2 of Swords, 3 of Swords
- The World, 3 of Swords, 2 of Swords
- 3 of Swords, the World, 2 of Swords
- 3 of Swords, 2 of Swords, the World
As you add more cards you extend the story, which requires constant transition work from the reader to deliver a smooth explanation of the card combinations. Being an effective storyteller is a crucial skill for reading cards, which will offer clients a powerful experience well beyond the meanings of the individual cards.