How to Read Tarot Cards for Beginners: A Step-by-Step Guide - Crystal Sand Tarot

How to Read Tarot Cards for Beginners: A Step-by-Step Guide

Tarot card reading has gained immense popularity as a tool for insight and clarity when it comes to self-discovery and spirituality. If you’re intrigued by tarot and eager to learn how to read tarot cards, you’ve come to the right place. There are a few fundamental steps to begin your journey as a tarot card reader, but most of the experience after is intimate and individual. Once you know the basics, you’ll have the knowledge and confidence to embark on this fascinating path of self-discovery.

Getting Started with Tarot Reading

Before diving into the world of tarot reading, it’s essential to understand the basics. Tarot cards are a deck of 78 cards, each brimming with symbolism and meaning. These cards are used for divination, personal insight, and spiritual exploration. One of the most beautiful aspects of tarot reading is that it is accessible to everyone, regardless of belief systems. Whether you’re a skeptic or a spiritual seeker, tarot cards can offer valuable guidance.

Tarot cards Tarot, the chariot card in the foreground.

Choosing Your Tarot Deck

Selecting the right tarot deck is a crucial first step for beginners. Tarot decks come in various themes and artistic styles, and it’s essential to choose one that resonates with you. The best recommendation for beginners is always the traditional Rider-Waite deck. If you’re looking for more suggestions, check out Best Tarot Decks for Beginners. It’s also recommended to have some sort of guide to go with your cards, whether that be a general guide like ours that you can download for free or a deck-specific guide. Feel free to explore different decks until you find one that speaks to your intuition and aesthetic preferences.

Tarot Card Meanings

Understanding the meanings of tarot cards is at the heart of tarot reading. Tarot cards are divided into two main categories: the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana consists of 22 cards, each representing significant life events and archetypal energies. The Minor Arcana is further divided into four suits: Cups, Pentacles, Swords, and Wands, each with its unique symbolism. Begin your journey by familiarizing yourself with the meanings of key cards in each suit, as they often reflect everyday experiences and emotions. You can use our Ultimate Tarot Cheat Sheet, or use the guide that comes with most tarot decks. 

Tarot Reading Spreads

Tarot card spreads are layouts that determine how cards are drawn and interpreted during a reading. As a beginner, it’s best to start with simple spreads. One of the most accessible spreads is any variation of a Three-Card Spread. The most popular version provides insights into past, present, and future influences on a situation or question. 

To perform a basic tarot reading using this spread, shuffle your cards while focusing on your question, then draw three cards and interpret them in the context of your ask. This may sound simple, but sometimes the cards may have conflicting expressions. This is where intuitive interpretation factors into how you read tarot cards. 

There are also many tarot spread guides out there to help you along your journey! These guides often have visual examples of where to lay each card, as well as what each card position means. You can check out our Tarot Spreads for Beginners if you’re looking to advance beyond your basic three card layout.

Developing Intuition

While understanding the symbolism of tarot cards is essential, intuition plays a significant role in tarot reading. Think of your intuition as the real guide for tarot, without it, there is no energy match between your question and your reading. This is why it’s so important to trust your gut when choosing a tarot deck to buy or read. 

To develop your intuition, spend time meditating with your tarot cards. Gaze at each card, noting the images, colors, and emotions they evoke. Trust your initial impressions, as these intuitive insights are often the key to a meaningful reading. Even regular meditation practices can enhance your intuition and your confidence in intuition as well. I also recommend pairing your sessions with a tarot journal, to keep track of your spreads and answers, but also to see the growth in your knowledge and intuition.

Interpreting Tarot Readings

Interpreting tarot card combinations can be challenging for beginners, but practice makes perfect. Remember that each card’s meaning is influenced by its position in the spread and the cards surrounding it. While tarot cards have traditional interpretations, don’t hesitate to rely on your intuition to offer personalized insights into your readings.

Connecting and Resolving Conflicting Meanings

Tarot readings often involve the intricate dance of multiple cards interacting with one another. Sometimes, these cards may appear to have conflicting meanings or suggest a complex narrative. As a tarot reader, your ability to connect the cards and resolve conflicting interpretations is a valuable skill that deepens your understanding of the reading. 

Connecting Cards in General

Connecting cards in a tarot reading involves looking for relationships, themes, or patterns that emerge when multiple cards appear together. It’s important to consider not just the individual meanings of each card but also how they interact within the spread. 

Card Placement

Take note of the positions of cards within the spread. Each position often signifies a specific aspect of the question or situation. For example, the past, present, and future positions offer a timeline perspective, while cards placed to the left or right may indicate supporting or opposing forces.

Recurring Symbols
Close-up of wet female hands and clear water splashes

Pay attention to recurring symbols, colors, or elements in the cards. These can be clues to a common theme or message. If, for instance, several cards in a spread feature the image of water, it could suggest emotional issues or a need to delve deeper into one’s feelings.


Consider the numerical significance of the cards. Numerology plays a role in tarot readings, and cards with similar numbers may share common themes or energies. For instance, multiple cards with the number seven might indicate a need for introspection and spiritual growth.

Interpreting Conflicting Cards

Conflicting cards in a tarot reading can perplex readers, but they often hold valuable insights when approached with an open mind. Here’s how to interpret apparent conflicts:

Context Is Key

Always consider the context of the reading and the specific question or issue at hand. A seemingly negative card in isolation might take on a more positive or nuanced meaning when viewed in light of the entire spread.

   Example: Imagine drawing the Five of Pentacles, a card often associated with financial hardship, in a career-related reading. Initially, this might seem negative, but it could suggest that a period of financial restraint is necessary for personal growth and future success.

Balance and Resolution

Seek balance and resolution within the spread. When conflicting cards appear, explore how they might complement or challenge each other. Is there a way to find harmony between their meanings?

   Example: If you draw the Two of Swords, signifying a decision that requires careful consideration, alongside the Knight of Cups, symbolizing emotional impulsiveness. Here, the cards might suggest a need to balance the heart and mind when making choices.

Intuition and Additional Cards

Trust your intuition as a reader. If two cards seem to conflict, consider drawing additional cards to clarify the situation. These extra cards can provide further context and guidance.

   Example: You pull the Temperance card, which signifies balance and harmony, followed by the Eight of Swords, indicating feelings of restriction. Drawing an extra card can reveal a way to find balance while breaking free from limitations, such as the Strength card, suggesting inner courage and strength.

In tarot readings, the beauty lies in the layers of meaning and individual interpretations that emerge when cards interact. Embrace the challenges that conflicting cards present, as they often lead to profound insights and a deeper connection. Remember that tarot reading is an art as much as it is a skill, and your intuition is your most valuable guide in navigating the intricate web of card interactions.

Variations in Tarot Card Meanings: Upright, Reversed, and Sideways

When interpreting tarot cards, it’s essential to recognize that each card can hold a spectrum of meanings, depending on its orientation—upright, reversed, or even sideways. These variations add depth and nuance to your readings, allowing you to explore different facets of a situation or question. 

1. Upright Position: In its upright position, a tarot card typically represents its core, traditional meaning. It signifies the card’s inherent qualities, energies, and messages. Upright cards often symbolize positive aspects or opportunities associated with the card.

2. Reversed Position: When a tarot card is drawn in the reversed position, its meaning is often considered to be in a state of reflection, challenge, or blocked energy. Reversed cards can indicate obstacles, resistance, or a need to address underlying issues.

   Example: A reversed Three of Swords may suggest healing from past emotional wounds or a need to work through grief and sorrow.

3. Sideways or In-Between: Some readers interpret cards that appear sideways or in-between as holding a blend of both upright and reversed meanings. These cards can indicate a situation that is in transition or not yet fully defined.

   Example: A card positioned slightly tilted to the left might suggest that while progress is being made, there are still some unresolved elements to consider.

By considering these variations in tarot card positions, you gain a more comprehensive view. The orientation of the cards adds depth and flexibility, allowing you to tailor your interpretations to the specific circumstances and energies present in each reading.

Tarot Reading Ethics

As you progress in your tarot journey, it’s crucial to adhere to ethical guidelines. When reading tarot cards for others, respect their privacy and obtain their consent before starting the session. Maintain professionalism and boundaries throughout the reading, and avoid making predictions about life-altering events or health issues. Tarot readings are about empowerment and guidance, not fortune-telling.

Ethical Considerations

  • Consent: When reading cards for others, always seek their consent and ensure they are comfortable with the reading.
  • Boundaries: Respect personal boundaries and privacy, avoiding intrusive or overly personal questions during readings.
  • Empowerment: Encourage individuals to see readings as a tool for empowerment and self-reflection, not as fortune-telling or a replacement for personal responsibility.

Embrace the journey, trust your intuition, and let the cards be your trusted companions on your path to self-discovery. As you continue to explore and learn how to read tarot cards, may your readings provide you with the clarity and insight you seek.

If you’re looking to learn more, check out Best Tarot Books for Beginners, Combining Crystals and Tarot, and How to Cleanse Tarot Cards, or reach out to us at

Happy reading!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © 2023 Orton Blog Pro. All Rights Reserved