Best Practices for Accurate Tarot Readings: Read the Cards as They Fall

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

In my beginning tarot class we did a sample reading for a young adult who asked what action to take to bring in a romantic relationship. We used a simple three card spread with the following positions:

  1. Where you are now.
  2. Where you want to be.
  3. The path to get there.

Another student read for this querent using the Tarot Illuminati by Erik Dunne. The cards were as follows:

  1. Where you are now: Ace of Cups
  2. Where you want to be: Prince of Swords
  3. The path to get there: Eight of Swords

How would you read this spread?

Ace of Cups, Prince of Swords, 8 of Swords from Tarot Illuminati by Erik C. Dunne, published by Lo Scarabeo, 2013.

The reader suggested that the querent currently was open-hearted and overflowing with emotion (Ace of Cups), wanted to be a strong go-getter and move quickly into a relationship, and that the path to get there was to remove the blindfold and release the bonds.

I encouraged the class to kibbutz. Another reader took a stab, essentially arriving at the same reading, that the querent needed to release fear and constraints.

I asked if anyone else had any other suggestions, questions, or alternate readings. We were pressed for time at the end of class and no one was ready to speak up.

I pointed out that in order to get the most accurate readings, we must read the cards as they fall. If the path to get there is the Eight of Swords, then the advised route is one of limitation. What does this mean? The Prince of Swords on the galloping horse with his sword upraised is the quintessential knight in shining armor. He embodies the strong, confident, take-charge suitor that the querent wanted. How to attract such a knight? Be the damsel in distress.

This is not to say to cultivate a fake persona or dumb down the usual independence. What it means is to be able to need help. To ask for help. To accept help. And to trust that a strong partner will ride to the rescue. Unrepentant independence too often attracts weak partners. Knowing your own weakness and being able to expose it to someone you are coming to trust lets the partner shine. Revealing vulnerability invites strength in response.

“But couldn’t the Prince of Swords represent the querent?” someone asked. Yes, it definitely could. How did I know that it didn’t in this instance? One, the question was about a partner, and so I was looking to see if a potential partner was present or not. Two, there is too much contradiction between the powerful, free, and fast Prince and the cowering damsel. It doesn’t make as much sense to advise someone that if they want to be the take-charge Prince they need to follow a path of confinement.

The most accurate reading comes from following the spread positions closely. The objective — the romantic relationship — shows the future partner. Meanwhile the path — the action to take — illustrates the querent’s recommended course of action.

Joy Vernon
Joy Vernon

Joy Vernon is widely recognized as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty-five years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup grew into one of the largest and most active tarot-specific meetups in the world. Now Joy runs the Greater Seattle Tarot Meetup. Joy works as a tarot reader, astrologer, and teacher in Burien, Washington. To learn more, please visit

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