How to Read Tarot Cards

Tarot Bards Deck

How to read Tarot Cards to give Tarot Readings. Tarot cards and their meanings have intrigued and fascinated many people over the centuries.

If you want to learn more about these intriguing cards, their traditional meanings and what they can reveal to you then read through the following pages I’ve put together.

The Tarot consists of 78 cards divided into two sections, the Major Arcana and Minor Arcana. The word Arcana means secret. The Tarot cards, therefore, are a collection of the secrets that can be revealed in Tarot Readings. The Tarot cards convey many messages because of the richness of their images and connections.

It is the interpretation, guided by psychic intuition of the Psychic Reader that can verbalize these messages to pass onto others in Tarot Readings.

The History of Tarot Card Readings

The origin of the Tarot is clouded in mystery. No one knows exactly where the true origins lie. Some say Egypt, China, or Greece.

What is certain is that the cards were used in Italy in the fifteenth century as a popular card game.

The designs of the 22 cards in the Major Arcana can be traced back as far as 1440, when the first known deck appeared in Italy. The 3 decks called the "Visconti Trumps" are generally regarded as the "forefathers" of the decks that are widely available today.

It is believed that they were originally created as a game for Noblemen. It is not until centuries later that the cards re-emerged, this time as a tool of divination.

How to Read Tarot Cards of The Major Arcana

Click on the links and look through the 22 Major Arcana Tarot cards, numbered from 0 – 21 of the Tarot. More importance and significance should be placed on interpreting a Major Arcana card as these represent major events, emotions and deciding factors in any Tarot Reading.

The Minor Arcana cards represent the more mundane, everyday aspects in Tarot Readings.

There are hundreds of different Tarot designs and themes of Tarot decks but I’ve featured the most traditional – the Rider Waite Deck.

Most packs follow the same specific order in the Major Arcana, but some packs switch the Justice card and the Strength card numbering 8 or 11.

The Tarot Cards of the Major Arcana

How to Read Tarot Cards Easily

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The Tarot deck used to illustrate is the Rider Waite Deck. You can buy this Tarot deck from Amazon or use any other Tarot deck you have.

The Fool’s Journey

Each of the Major Arcana cards symbolises an aspect of our being. In our lives, we are continually influenced and driven by the underlying forces that the Tarot depicts. Collectively, the Major Arcana depicts the 'Fools Journey', the journey we all make, 'our lives' in other words.

More on the Fools Journey

To learn more about each of the Tarot card meanings simply click on the pictures below.

The Minor Arcana

Similar to traditional playing cards, the 56 Minor Arcana cards are divided into four suits. These are Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles.

Find out more about the Number Minor Arcana Cards

Court Cards

There are 4 Court Cards for each suit - Kings, Queens, Knights, and Pages (sometimes the names differ in different Tarot decks)

The challenge exists for Tarot Readers in interpreting the Court Cards because the Kings, Queens, Knights, and Pages can represent actual people, events, or aspects of a person's personality.

Learn more about Court Cards and their meaning.

Reversed Tarot Cards

Some Tarot Readers use reversed (upside down) cards in their interpretation of Reading the cards.

Using reversed Tarot cards when reading the cards is a matter of choice for the Tarot Reader. If you want to Read the cards for yourself or for others it is something you may need to think about. You can choose to include reversals in your Tarot Readings if you wish but please remember that many of the most experienced and competent Readers do not use reversed cards at all in their Tarot Readings. Whether or not to use reversals is a decision you must make for yourself.

It can be quite overwhelming to use both upright and reversed meanings when you are beginning to use the Tarot, so it is usually best to learn the upright cards first until you have a firm understanding of the numerous layers and dimensions of any one card. It is also useful to remember the many facets of that card in different positions and different spreads. This allows you to add your own meaning to the card through your experience, rather than simply following the ‘text book’ meanings from a Tarot book.

There has been plenty written both for and against using reversals with many Tarot Readers stating there is no need to use reversals since the entire spectrum of emotion and action is already covered in the 78 cards. Others maintain that a reversed card signals that the energy of the upright card is blocked or may be delayed in some way.

Others still, believe that a reversed card has the same meaning as an upright card but special attention should be paid to it.

If you feel fully confident in using upright meanings you can, if you choose go on to introduce reversed cards to your Tarot spreads. There are numerous ways you can introduce reversed cards to your Tarot deck. Firstly, you can shuffle, then split the deck in two and turn one half upside-down. Continue doing this until you are satisfied the cards are well reversed. When doing Readings, you can also use this method to ensure that different cards get reversed for different readings. You can also ask the Querant themselves to cut the pack and decide which half gets turned upside-down. Or you can simply allow your cards to naturally reverse themselves.


Some Tarot spreads have a built in significator (a card drawn to represent the Querant), and some do not. Some Tarot Readers do not Read with a significator, and simply ignore that position when it is built into a Tarot spread.

As with many aspects of Tarot Reading there is no hard and fast rule about this and it really comes down to what you the Tarot Reader are comfortable with. 

If you decide to Read with significators, there are various ways that the card can be chosen. Again there is no right or wrong way to choose a significator card.

One traditional way is to use the Magician to represent a male Querant and the High Priestess to represent a female Querant. Some Tarot Readers choose a court card based on the physical appearance of the Querant. In the method using physical characteristics, the traditional view is to use Wands for a fair person with blond hair and blue eyes. For a Querant with light to medium skin, brown hair, and blue or hazel eyes, consider using Cups. Choose a Swords significator card if the Querant has olive skin, dark hair, and light eyes. Finally, a Pentacles court card would be used for a Querant with dark skin, dark hair, and dark eyes.

Another traditional way to select the significator card is to base it on the astrological sign of the Querant. The fire signs of Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius would use a Wands court card. The water sings of Cancer, Scorpio, and Pieces should use Cups. A Sword significator is suited to the air signs of Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius. Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn, the earth signs, would use Pentacles. In the method using Zodiac signs, once the suit has been defined, the Court Card that best matches your client is chosen. Pages are most often seen as children of either sex, Knights as young adults of either sex; Queens as adult females and Kings as adult males.

In addition to the physical appearance and astrological sign, you can also choose a significator card based on personality. This can be how the Querant sees their personality normally or how they feel based on the matter they are thinking about. A Court Wands significator card is for someone who is passionate and energetic. Cups would be suitable for an emotional and creative person. If the Querant is an intellectual and logical person, they may want to use Swords. Pentacles are good for a practical, down to earth person.

The main disadvantage to finding your signifcator card in a Tarot deck in these traditional ways is that it cannot be used in other positions in a Reading. That is why some methods have been developed which allow the significator card to have meaning in the Reading.

You can do this by letting the deck choose which card will be the significator card. Simply shuffle the cards and use the top one. When you do this, the significator card can show how the Querant feels about the role he or she plays in the situation. If the Querant is unfamiliar with the Tarot deck, you can allow him or her to go through the deck and choose his or her own significator card. This method provides insight in how the Querant sees themselves.

Although the above are all popular methods for finding a significator card in a Tarot deck, don't feel duty bound to adopt them. Experiment using these techniques and your own until you find the ones that you feel lead to the best Readings.

Tarot Spreads

Tarot spreads are simply the ways that Tarot Readers lay out the cards to give a tarot Reading. Normally, each position in the spread is assigned an area of life such as love, health, career, family etc. or past, present, future etc.

More on Tarot Spreads

Positive energy is very important if you are to live an abundant and prosperous life and build up good karma. A great way to do this is by undertaking some charity work.   

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