Keeping It Real: Getting Practical Answers from the Tarot

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Do your tarot readings always tell you you’re in a period of transformation? That you need to seek balance? Do they inspire you to embrace your truth and reveal your higher self in an ongoing unfolding evolution? Sheesh. Some questions require a more mundane approach. The bulk of our life, and our questions, happens on the practical level. Sometimes we need motivational angel revelations. Sometimes we need to keep it real. If you’re ready for reality, read on for my seven steps for getting practical answers from the tarot.

In this article, along with the accompanying video workshop and downloadable pdf summary, I’ll start you off with tips for getting focused and pointed in the right direction. Next up we consider the right question and the best spread. I share my best tips for interpreting the cards and how to simplify your interpretations so you can always land on the practical answers. Last, I’ll show you how I break each tarot card into levels so every card can include a real-world answer. I invite you to pull some cards and practice sticking to the facts! Once you’ve brought your readings down to earth, I’ll guide you in how to layer on spiritual inspiration at the right time. We’ll keep the cards on the ground without clipping their wings.

The Eight of Pentacles often shows someone engaged in practical work.
“Eight of Pentacles” from Cosmic Tarot by Norbert Losche, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. 1986.

Seven Steps for Keeping it Real: Getting Practical Answers from the Tarot

Here are my tips for getting real answers from the tarot. Download the pdf if you’d like a keepsake copy of this information!

This image links to the pdf handout, "Keeping It Real: Getting Practical Answers from the Tarot" with tips to make your tarot readings more practical.
Click the image to download a pdf of the seven steps for getting practical answers from the tarot.

1. Ground and Center

journal and tea
Photo by Carli Jeen on Unsplash

Although this can be a woo practice, we could rephrase it as: wait until you have the time, energy, and focus for a reading. If you’re practiced in the metaphysical arts, you can create that opportunity any time you want by doing a grounding exercise. Mystical or not, closing the door, stretching, taking some deep breaths, and calming yourself are necessary steps.

2. Set the Intention

Never underestimate the power of a clear intention. Simply requesting practical information in advance helps the cards know what you need. And if nothing else, it reminds you to focus on the real. Expect usable answers. My intention? I always center every reading around Truth, Clarity, and Compassion.

3. Ask Practical Questions

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

The art of asking questions is your go-to technique if you’d like real-life answers. Forego the guides, don’t unburden yourself to the universe, forget the highest good. Just ask simple, plain questions that elicit simple, plain answers. Like you’re talking to a friend. Because you are.

I had a client ask what would be the quickest way to resolve a conflict. The cards replied, back down. Well, that didn’t suit the client or me! So we rephrased — what was the most efficient method to get what she wanted.The cards offered up a completely clear answer, one she had not thought of!

Tip: Journaling accomplishes all three of the above steps! I frequently journal or take notes on the topic I want to address prior to pulling cards. It helps me focus, sets my intention, and gives me a chance to figure out the best question.

4. Choose Positional Spreads

Positional spreads are top-notch for getting the most meat out of a reading. They help you pinpoint what you need. It also helps to de-clutter your spreads. 3-5 cards is best for most questions. You’re not trying to unravel the rest of your life. You want a next step. If you’re still not getting clarity, tell the cards to bottom line
it. Pull two cards. Boom. That’s your answer.

If you need some spread suggestions, watch the video tutorial for ideas, or peruse the tarot spreads category here on the blog. I also have fun love tarot spreads on my other blog, Tarot in Love.

5. Find the Action in the Image

Ok, now we’re down to the nitty gritty. If you want the above steps to pay off, interpret your cards in a practical manner. Send out the search and destroy bots to evict airy-fairy angel messages from the cards. Focus on finding the action in the card: that’s your to-do. Use the keywords you’ve already developed for your deck. Now is not the time to meditate, explore, research, or intuit. Rely on what you already know. Practice makes practical.

6. Keep It Simple, Starchild

When asking practical questions, the simplest answers usually are right. But those just-right answers may or may not be the first thing you hit on — believe it or not, intuition works differently for different people! More importantly, your first thought is often what you’re programmed to think, not what you actually think. It’s not necessarily wrong, but it’s not necessarily right either. Jot your ideas down in your journal. Refine and simplify until you get it.

7. Step It Down

Photo by Max Ostrozhinskiy on Unsplash

Best trick for getting practical answers from the tarot? Break each card into four levels of interpretation: Spiritual, Emotional, Mental, Physical.

  • Spiritual meanings are your messages, big life concerns, inspiration, motivation, and the why behind it all. Big cycles.
  • Emotional level is how you feel, the angst, the part that is changeable, that advances and recedes. Intuitive or heart-centered approach to life.
  • Mental level is psychological, understanding why and how we think what we think. Smart and clever. New way of thinking. What we believe. Our logical approach to life.
  • Physical level is practical. It’s actionable. It’s real, immediate, detailed, in your face. Next steps. These answers might seem curt, obvious, or simplistic. Don’t overlook them.

It’s Been Real

The beauty of tarot is in its intuitive insight and spiritual invocation. The power of tarot is in its practical advice and to-the-point perspective. When you need practical advice from the tarot, use these seven steps to keep your readings real, and your deck will be a real friend and true guide.

Watch the Video: Keeping it Real: Getting Practical Answers from the Tarot (Video Tutorial)

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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