Learn how to choose a tarot reader and what questions to ask to get the most out of your session.
For many people, the introduction to tarot is part of a social event — there’s a reader set up at a Halloween party or a bridal shower. Or you’re hanging out with friends and decide to check it out on a lark. Or a colorful tent is set up at a festival. Or you’re on vacation and can’t resist the blinking neon “Fortunes Told” sign in the window of some spooky storefront in a historic little downtown. It’s entertainment… a parlor trick. You leave thinking, well, that was fun. And, if you’re lucky, the experience is illuminating — you think about it for days afterward and can’t believe how relevant the reading was to your life and current situation.
No doubt, getting a reading can be fun and entertaining, but what if you want to dig deeper? Tarot is a great tool for getting to the heart of any challenge, choice, or question — but there’s a secret to getting the most out of your reading. Here are a few tips for getting the best tarot reading ever.
Finding a Reader
A reading is only as good as the reader. Whether you go to a someone’s house or storefront, or order up your reading by mail or on the internet, your first encounter with an individual tarot reader can be a bit of a crap shoot. So, where do you start? Here are some tips:
- Check Recommendations and Testimonials: Getting recommendations from people you know is fantastic, but that’s not always possible. Maybe the people you hang with just “aren’t into that kind of thing,” or perhaps you don’t want to share the fact that you’re seeking the advice of a reader. If you’re doing your own fact-finding, check out the reader’s website for testimonials, or their ratings if they’re selling on a 3rd-party platform like Etsy or Fiverr.
- Understand the Reader’s Methods: There are as many methods of reading as there are readers. It’s perfectly okay to ask a reader how she or he approaches their practice. If they can’t give you a good, clear answer, you might want to keep looking. Here are a few common types of readers:
- By-the-Book Readers simply lay the cards, then repeat back to you what’s written in the standard pamphlet that came with their deck, or some other written reference. These readers are often new to the craft and their readings can lack depth and nuance.
- Psychics sometimes use the cards as prompts, props, or tools to channel what they’re feeling or seeing. The cards guide, support, or facilitate their psychic reading, but are not necessarily the focus.
- Intuitive Readers (like me) have a deep knowledge of the meanings and symbolism of the cards and pair that knowledge with intuition to read for the querant (aka “client”).
- Check the Vibe: The relationship between a good reader and a querant is a deeply personal and intimate one. It’s built on trust and respect. Your reader should be discrete, professional, and absolutely guarantee confidentiality. You should also vibe with your reader and her or his methods. A great place to start is by familiarizing yourself with the reader’s website, blog, and social media accounts. What’s their tone? Does reading their posts make you feel confident in their abilities? Do their beliefs and way of interacting with others feel right to you?
Check In With Yourself First
A tarot reader has all the answers, right? Not really. Though some readers might claim to be able to predict the future, I don’t believe that to be true. Think instead of the tarot as a tool to illuminate possible paths you can take to reach a destination. Ultimately, your own actions (or inaction) will determine the outcome of a situation. So, in order to get to the right answer, you should be crystal clear about what you want to know and why you’re asking the question. For example, being frustrated or upset about a relationship is the result of the problem — it’s not the problem itself. Before you sit across the table from a reader, be very honest with yourself about what the problem is and what solution or resolution you seek. Then you’re ready to visit your reader. Next we’ll talk about how to ask the right question to get a great reading.
How to Phrase Your Question
Once you’ve found a reader, and identified the thing you want to learn about, it’s time to decide what you’ll ask and how you’ll ask it. Let’s start with what not to do. Do NOT ask your tarot reader a Yes/No question. You don’t need a skilled tarot reader for that — you might as well flip a coin. Instead, think of your problem/challenge/dilemma as having many possible outcomes. The reader is there to help you illuminate possible paths and consequences to help you make the best decision and take the best action to get to your desired outcome.
For example, you might think the question you want answered is, “Is my partner cheating on me?” There are many, many layers to this seemingly straightforward Yes/No question. Let’s break it down:
If you’re asking that question, you probably have some inkling or gut feeling that your partner is in fact cheating, or at very least that something is amiss. Whether they are or aren’t, the question itself points to some serious trust issues. And, if they are in fact cheating, the infidelity is really a symptom of a larger problem with your partner and your relationship. So, while it might be nice to know for the sake of closure, asking the Yes/No question “Is my partner cheating on me?” is ultimately irrelevant. What you really need to know are things like how this relationship advances or hinders your own personal progress, what being in this relationship says about your view of relationships and your self worth, and even what your suspicion (correct or incorrect) says about how you interact with the larger world.
Instead of asking, “Is my partner cheating on me?” ask “What do I need to know about my relationship with my partner?”
Ask that, and a good, experienced reader will be able to give you loads of valuable insights into the situation, and into yourself. Note, your reader will very likely ask some follow up questions for clarification, but that will give you both an excellent starting point.
The Secret Formula to the Perfect Question
Okay, I know that’s a lot of information to unpack — and the section above is a very specific situation — so I’m going to boil it down to a very simple formula that will work universally to kick off any tarot reading:
“What do I need to know about (blank)?”
Fill in the blank with whatever is on your mind:
- Instead of: Is my coworker out to get me?
- Try this: What do I need to know about my coworker’s intentions?
- Instead of: Will I get the job?
- Try this: What do I need to know about my upcoming job interview?
- Instead of: Is my partner cheating on me?
- Try this: What do I need to know about my relationship with my partner?
Don’t Get Scammed!
Finally, a word about scam artists. It pains me to have to write this, but they’re out there. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to protect yourself.
Watch Out For These Red Flags:
- The String-Along: Each reading should be a complete experience. If the reader completes the session by saying there’s more to learn about the question you came with, and that you have to schedule another reading to get the full answer, thank them and walk away. That said, you certainly can come back as many times as you’d like for new questions.
- The Curse Scam: If the reader tells you during or after the reading that you’re “cursed” or that someone has “hexed” you, and that you need to come back (and pay for) one or more sessions to lift the curse, thank them and walk away.
- Fuzzy Policies or Codes of Ethics: Any professional reader should be able to provide you with their policies and Code of Ethics. You can read my Policies and Code of Ethics here.
- Payment Methods: I recommend always paying in cash for in-person readings. If you’re ordering a reading online, make sure the website is legit. Just look for the little padlock icon in the address bar at the top of your web browser. And, make sure you’re paying through a secure method, like PayPal.