How to Read Tarot Cards
Before you start
Surprisingly, the most time consuming part of reading tarot cards is grounding and protecting yourself before you begin the reading. It is important to set your intention because you want to make sure that only your angels/guides are allowed to talk to you through the cards. You definitely do not want any dark entities, or spirits that haven't gone through the light to come and talk to you.
Before I describe how to do that I would like to clear up a few misconceptions about tarot cards. First, they are a way to listen to your angels/guides, they are not used for dark magic like in the movies. If you're Christian, for example, you pray to God/Jesus and ask for guidance. Prayer is how you talk to them. Meditation/Tarot/Pendulum/Etc is how you listen. It's a lot more time effective than "waiting for a sign", but that is who you're communicating to (not some dark spirits). I use Christianity as just one example because it's my upbringing, but the same goes for all religion including agnostic. You can call the entity God/The Universe/The Divine/High Energy/Allah (although that's the same as God)/Etc and it's all different words for the same entity.
Pull out any crystals if you have them. Amethyst helps with third-eye intuition and psychic ability, which is why I have one in the photo. I also have black tourmaline that is a very strong protective stone and transmutes negative energy. The rose quartz helps with the heart chakra so pull that out for a love reading or self-healing reading. I have little clear quartz crystals surrounding my amethyst to make it stronger.
How to begin
Before you even touch your cards you need to ask for protection. Again ask from the universe/archangel Michael/mother earth/Heavenly Father, whatever you pray to... ask it to protect you, your room, your house, etc. Set your intention that only your angels/spirit guides and only pure, heavenly/divine energy is allowed to come through and speak through the cards.
Next you need to ground yourself. I have a whole post on how to do that called How to Ground Yourself to be Happier & More Productive. Definitely read this before you do any light work (the term for readings, healings, or any psychic/energy related activities). It is super important that you are grounded before you begin. The time this will take will depend on how often you ground. It can take me 30 seconds or it can take me 30 minutes just depending on how much I've been grounding recently. Also, it isn't required, but you should smudge to get rid of negative energy before a reading as well.
After grounding you need to clear the energy in the cards. I would recommend after every session to put your cards on selenite to clear any energy. You don't have to do this in-between each reading, though. You need to knock with your knuckles three times on the top and bottom of the cards in order to "knock out" the energy from the last person who was read, including yourself. So for example, if you reading for your friends you'll knock on the cards before you start shuffling for each of them. At the end of the day put your cards on selenite. If you don't have selenite you can buy some online fairly cheap and it will be helpful for all light work.
Starting the reading
Ask for permission
If you're reading for another person, that person needs to tell their gatekeeper (a spirit guide that protects them from "outsiders") that you're allowed to ask their angels/guides questions. So no, you cannot read for another person without their permission. That would make you a peeping tom and bring in bad karma. The querent needs to let their angels/guides know that they want you, the reader, to speak for them through the cards.
Ask the question
If you're reading for yourself or for a friend you need to start with a question or intention you're asking the card. These should not be yes/no questions as there are no yes/no cards. They should be open ended. A good place to start is "what does the Universe/God/Etc want me to know?". This is where I always start and what I suggest to folks I'm reading for.
For oracle cards (different than tarot) you'll want to shuffle with an overhand shuffle so you don't damage the thick cards. For tarot though, you'll want to shuffle them with a riffle shuffle (like a normal deck of cards) because the cards have different meanings in a reverse format and overhand shuffling doesn't change their direction. If you don't want to bend your cards there are other ways to shuffle them, this is just the easiest for me.
You're going to shuffle until you get the "feeling" or hear the message that you should stop. This is where trusting your intuition comes into play and it really is that simple.
Querent Touching the Deck
If you're weird about energy or are getting the message that the querent shouldn't touch the deck that's fine. I ask them to split the deck because when their energy is on the cards I feel like I can interpret the card meanings much better and they're usually more thorough. If I feel like the querent is super closed off and blocked I'll have them touch all the cards before I even shuffle. You don't have to, this is a reader preference.
If you're new to tarot I would recommend starting with a 3 card reading. These can mean past, present, future as in this is what happened to get you to this place, this is where you are, and this is what will happen if you continue or change depending on the card. If you want more advanced spreads click here.
Once you have the cards laid out take a look at all of the cards to get a first impression of what you think it means based on the photos or what messages you're receiving. It took me a long time to memorize all of the cards and even now I still have to go back and look some up sometimes. In your deck you should get a booklet that has the card meanings. There's also Biddy Tarot that has lengthy card summaries for upright and reversed. Go through each card and read the meaning for the card.
When you've read through each card you can make an interpretation. When I'm reading for a querent I will tell them each card in order, but I tell them the meaning will depend on the messages I get after I get through the last one. When you read for yourself it is fairly easy to interpret the cards because you know yourself better than anyone. For a querent that is blocked and not giving feedback it can be more difficult. The more you practice the better you will get.
If while you're shuffling cards fly out at you or fall out of the deck keep those and read them as "extra" cards outside of the reading. Those are cards your angels/guides really want you to know. For example, I was shuffling my deck when I got a text message from someone from my past and immediately the Devil card flew out, which basically means there someone trying to hurt you or that has bad intentions. It couldn't have been more obvious. So keep these in mind.
Thank your angels/spirits for the advice and information after your reading. Gratitude is the attitude for blessings and divine gifts.
If you have any questions don't hesitate to comment or reach out, I'm here to help!