"The more I learn, the more I realise how much I don't know", or so says an ancient proverb. Discovering more about ourselves, the people around us and our circumstances in life, is the purpose of the tarot. Learning how to use the tarot correctly, can be a richly rewarding and fulfilling experience. However, this is not a discipline to be trifled with. Tarot cards demand a certain degree of care, sensitivity and respect, in order for their results to always be positive and beneficial. We have drawn upon the experience of our expert tarot reader Dr. Rittu, in order to explore the key best practices when using the cards. These are her suggestions, based on her experience as a professional tarot reader.
What you Should do Before Making a Reading
Dr. Rittu says that even though this is at the risk of stating the obvious, it is important to emphasise that the cards themselves do not provide any insights about the future. The cards are but tools that allow us to focus our psychic ability and connect with the divine realm. However, the path from our physical dimension to a higher spiritual plane, is a not a direct, linear one. It is very easy to, so as to speak, take a wrong turn and to open undesirable pathways. It is therefore essential to condition your mind and surroundings so as to create the optimal environment for conducting a tarot reading. Time, emotion and ambiance are all important contributing factors for using tarot cards in a safe and desirable manner.
Begin on the Right Note
Time is one of the most powerful entities in the Universe, but it is also a double edged sword. If you catch time at its auspicious crest, you will ride on a wave of success in almost everything you do. If on the other hand, you find yourself on the wrong side of time, it will always be a struggle to keep your head above water. Therefore, if you have the option, always try and choose an auspicious time and date to perform your readings. Refer to astrology to find favourable times and dates. First-hand knowledge of astrology is not required, simply refering to an online astrological almanac or a list of good and bad times of the month, such as that on PowerFortunes.com will suffice. An absence of inauspiciousness also qualifies in this regard, so avoid the time of the day that falls under 'Rahu Kal', at your location. If possible, also avoid the period of the waning moon to conduct your readings. We do appreciate that limiting readings to these particular times may not always be an option, especially if you read the cards professionally. In such an event, remember that 'A job well begun is half done'. That is, try and start some part of your reading during an auspicious time and then complete the rest of the reading at your convenience. Dr. Rittu says that inviting spiritual positivity in this manner, causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes.
Create the Right Conditions
Identify a suitable place to make your readings, this should be quiet, comfortable, airy and pleasant. Dr. Rittu says that the reader should always face the north, east or north-east while using the tarot, as these are the directions from which positivity flow. Under all circumstances, do not face south. Once you have identified such a suitable place, make this your permanent seat for reading the cards.
Enhance the ambience of your chosen place by lighting some incense and surrounding yourself with symbols of positivity. This could be in the form of flowers, crystals or by placing a talisman such as the 'Om', 'Gayatri', 'Saraswati' or 'Mahakali' Yantras. In the case of such talismans, place them on, or nearby the surface on which you are about to conduct your reading. Also, choose a cloth on which you will spread the cards. This can be a square of about 24"x24" and may be of any solid colour that you find pleasing, however colours like white, red, orange and yellow are astrologically favourable. Fabrics like satin and velvet are often used. If you don't have a suitable cloth at hand, you will find one online and they are often referred to as, 'Tarot Altar Cloths' or 'Tarot Reading Cloths'.
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Say a prayer asking the Almighty to guide you and provide you with the wisdom to decipher the correct meaning of your tarot layout. Dr. Rittu likes to cleanse her surroundings by chanting a 'Ganpathi Mantra', the 'Gayatri Mantra' and the 'Saraswati Mantra'. These three chants will bring success to the reading, attract positive spiritual energy and help her to connect with correct information. She then puts herself in a relaxed frame of mind by meditating and focussing on her breathing, for a few minutes.
Before a tarot reading, it is good practice to focus on the questions being asked. Gain clarity on the intent of the querent, their circumstances and the essence of what they wish to learn. Counter question if need be and disregard superfluous information. Querying the tarot in a clear and succinct manner leads to accurate and meaningful answers. If you are performing the reading remotely or on someone's behalf, concentrate on their questions as you shuffle the cards. If the querent is present in person, have them do likewise.
How to Maintain Your Tarot Deck
Take care of your cards and they will take care of you. However, the first order of business is to find a deck you can connect with. With so many decks to choose from, this can seem daunting at first, so take your time till you find one that resonates with you. Gauge the colours, imagery and the general look and feel and then just go with your gut instinct.
Dr. Rittu says that when she gets a new deck, she likes to purify the cards and does so much in the same way that she prepares for a reading. That is, by choosing an auspicious time to offer incense, prayers and recite a few chants for the new deck. She also smears a few drops of holy water on the pack, this only needs to be done on the top and bottom cards or on the outer cover. She also recommends repeating this process every three to six months, as a manner of cleansing the cards and maintaining their sanctity.
Once your cards have been purified, you must always treat them as sacred and with reverence. They must occupy a holy place in your home, where they will remain undisturbed when not in use. Your cards also need to be kept under the protective cover of a bag or box. This covering may also be anointed inside and out, with holy water or oil. Also place religious or sacred symbols of your choosing, in close proximity to your stored cards. A protective talisman, like a 'Mahakali' or 'Gayatri' Yantra is a good option, as are protective and healing crystals.
Performing a Reading
Tarot readings aren't regimented, the style of reading that you wish to perform is very much at your own discretion. Dr. Rittu favours the 'Celtic Cross', for detailed readings. This is because the ten positions that this reading covers, provides a comprehensive answer for clients. However, interpreting ten cards can sometimes be, something of a handful, even for an experienced tarot practitioner. If you find this is the case, opt for a simpler method, such as picking out three cards or just a single card. This can also prove to be an effective reading method and yet fulfill the demands of most situations. That is, once you are attuned with the cards, you will be able to rely on your skills to provide the insights you seek, regardless of the procedure adopted. Having said that, as Dr. Rittu realises how complicated a Celtic Cross reading can sometimes be, she has helped to conceive and develop the PowerFortunes, Online Tarot Assistant. This simple, but effective tool takes away much of the agony involved with deciphering a Celtic Cross layout. The Tarot Assistant provides details of all ten card positions, in one simple output and can hence, quickly reveal the overall meaning of your spread. You may then refer to additional sources like a good tarot book, to gain deeper insights.
You can of course, go in a completely different direction and assign your own meanings, by relying on your instincts based on what you feel intuitively. In fact, many tarot readers follow this method and don't look up card meanings. Both methods have their pros and cons, however acquainting yourself with the basic meaning of each card is a good practice. In either case, identifying common groups and considering the meanings of the cards in totality, will help a coherent prediction to emerge.
Another point to consider is whether to read reversed tarot cards or to ignore them. This is again a matter of personal preference. Reading reversed cards will give you deeper insights, but this also adds an additional layer of complexity, as you will have to know the reversed meaning of each card. Most tarot readers get by just fine without getting into the intricacies of reversed cards. Also, depending on how your cards are shuffled and kept, it may be the case that you rarely, if ever, see an upside down card.
Perfecting Your Tarot Skills
Like all good things in life, the tarot demands practice. Not only will this allow you to become accustomed with the process of making a reading, but this will also sharpen your powers of intuition and psychic ability. Taking out a card every day will help you to develop a connection with the cards. Other divination tools like the PowerFortunes Fortune Telling Cards not only help to sharpen one's tarot reading skills, but also prove to be invaluable if a tarot reading is proving hard to interpret.
If after reading the cards for a while, you notice that your readings seem to be more off target than before, gently knocking or tapping on your deck three times, will 'Unblock' their energy. It is also a good idea to reset your deck, say every few months, by placing all the cards back in their original order, by denomination. This is also a form of cleansing.
Points to Consider
Tarot readings might not be for everyone. Avoid taking up tarot readings if you feel that they might conflict with your belief system or if you are in any way sceptical.
More than a tool for divining the future, the tarot is a means of seeking guidance from the Universe. It is important for both the person seeking a reading and the reader performing it, to remember that the cards are not infallible. This is simply because people are not infallible either, there is always scope for error and misinterpretation. Our advice for tarot predictions remains the same as our advice for astrology, neither discipline should act as a substitute for common sense. It is said that, "The best way to predict your future is to create it". In the final analysis, it is our thoughts, deeds and free will that ultimately determine the course of our future.