It’s natural when learning to read tarot that your first client is going to be yourself. You want to find out just how accurate these cards can be. Yet most of us are guilty of making certain mistakes. Do your best to avoid these common errors when reading tarot for yourself.
Over Complicating the Question
This can go two ways. Either we formulate a convoluted question, or we don’t ask one at all, expecting the cards to know the information we’re after. It’s fine to do an ‘open’ reading, by asking ‘Tell me what I need to know’. But if you have any kind of situation in mind, it’s best to spend a little time to work out what your question should be. And to keep the question simple and straightforward.
For example, Jane is in a relationship with Mike. She’s confused about whether they are going to stay together, or if he has lost interest. So she decides to do a reading. Jane mulls over the relationship in her mind and writes out her question: “Can the cards tell me if Mike still loves me and if we are going to get married? Will we have children and buy a home together?” Then she draws a few cards and has no idea which cards mean what. She’s utterly confused.
So Jane needs to break her questions down into four separate ones and draw a single card for each.
Seeing What You Want to See
This is when you shoehorn the card into giving you the answer you want. You twist its meaning, even though it might have given you a different answer. For example, Ali wants to know if she should look for a new job. She’s conflicted about this because although she thinks she needs to get a new job in order to progress in her career, she is also a little nervous about doing so.
She asks, “Is this the right time to be looking for a new job?” She gets the Eight of Wands, which is a direct answer and clearly means, ‘Yes! Get going!’. She looks through her book and sees that another meaning for the Eight of Wands is organization. So she decides not to apply yet and instead spends time organizing her files at work.
Of course, that’s an extreme and simplistic example, but it illustrates how someone ignores her initial instinctive response to the card and looks for a way to make the interpretation fit into her comfort zone. Applying your preferred interpretation is natural, but won’t help you.
Drawing Too Many Cards
This is really common. For some reason, new readers don’t think they are doing a proper reading unless they are laying out a full 10-card Celtic Cross. And they only wanted to know if there was a likely promotion coming their way.
Huge complicated spreads for simple questions are unnecessary and confusing. You only need to use large spreads for general situations, or for things like spiritual questions, birthday, astrological, and New Year spreads.
When it comes down to it, most questions can be answered with five cards or fewer. When I started branching into larger spreads, I’d even do a Celtic Cross and then use a different deck and lay a second spread over the first. Crazy.
Clarification and More Clarification
This follows on from the previous point. The reader asks her question, draws a card, doesn’t like the answer so draws a second ‘for clarification’. Don’t do it. If, in your preparation for reading, you decided to draw one card, then stick to it. It’s unlikely that the second card in the deck is relevant, because the tarot is only responding to that one-card only intention.
Similarly with outcome cards. If you are going to do a 10-card reading with an 11th for clarification of the outcome, then be clear in your mind about it before you begin. Drawing more cards after the fact will never help you.
There is one exception to this, and that is the base card. What is the base card? It’s the card at the bottom of the deck. So often I’ve found that the base card has provided a lot of information which is completely relevant to the question. It usually tells me why the question is being asked in the first place. It can show up insecurities, motives, or other underlying factors. Keep it in mind next time you feel the need for clarification.
Repetition When Reading Tarot for Yourself
It’s so tempting. You’re really keen on that person and you desperately want to know if they are interested in you, so you do a reading. Next day, you do another. And sometimes another on the same day. All with the same question in mind. And of course, you get different cards, with confusing messages.
Take the first answer. Wait at least a week before asking the same question again.
Asking Others to Interpret Your Cards
Asking other people to interpret your reading is a big no no. The only exception is if you are participating in a tarot training course and are asking for feedback from your tutor/mentor.
As a tarot reader and writer, I get many requests asking what do I think about this card appearing in that reading or in that position. Sometimes the person picks out one or two cards and seems to think that I have the magickal ability to see right into their life and give them the definitive answer. Other times people give me a list of all the cards in their spread and expect me to interpret them. In other words, to give them a complete free reading. Like we professional readers and writers haven’t got better things to do <grin>.
As well as it being rather cheeky, there is another more important reason for not interpreting someone else’s reading. When you turn the cards, they are responding to you. In that moment. A reading is an energy snapshot. It’s personal. Asking another person to interpret your reading is never going to work.
So if you want a professional reading, set it up and get one. If you want to read for yourself, then read for yourself. If you are confused by the answer, write down your question and the cards in your journal. After a week or so has gone by, go back and review it. The passing of time will often shed light on the message from the cards.