Ten Steps that Will Guarantee a Great Tarot Reading, Part 1

Estimated Reading Time: 8 minutes

Joy FRPP 20101. Take it seriously. Tarot readings really aren’t for entertainment only.

In some states, it’s legally required that tarot readers use the disclaimer “For entertainment purposes only.” Even readers who are located where such disclaimers are not compulsory often put that on their website or marketing materials anyway as a CYA tactic. But the truth of the matter is, very few of the readers I know treat their readings as a fun way to pass some time.

We readers take our work seriously. We have put years, many of us decades, into study, training and practice. When given the opportunity to fully engage in our craft, we can provide information, insight and inspiration that can transform you and your life.

You cannot imagine how frustrating it is to have a client sit down and say, “Oh, I’m just hanging out with my friend this afternoon and she wanted a reading so I thought I’d get one too.” Please, go see a movie. It’s cheaper and will provide more bang for your entertainment buck, and you (and I!) will enjoy our afternoons much better.

2. Have a purpose. Don’t come without a question.

One of the very first things tarot readers learn is how to properly formulate a question. This is an art in and of itself and can make the difference between an accurate, spot-on reading and a jumbled mess.

Not all readers need you to ask a question. Psychics often don’t want a question at all. But if you go to a tarot reader, be prepared with a question. Some tarot readers—often those who also have psychism, mediumship or channeling in their set of modalities—work great without a question. And some tarot readers utilize spreads that are designed to address general life situations. But for most tarot readers, the vaguer the intention of the querent, the vaguer the reading. Come prepared with a question.

Because a properly trained reader knows how to craft a good question for a spread, it’s ok to ask the reader to help you formulate the question. In fact, many readers probably find that to be preferable. Also, depending on the type of spread that is used, some readers, such as myself, are satisfied with simply zooming in on a more general area of life, like career, love, family, money, or a choice that lies before you. I read the cards differently depending on the topic of the question. But if you don’t have a question, I can’t see an answer and we’ll spin our wheels.

Some people worry that if they take too much control of the reading through guiding it towards a specific topic that they’ll lose out on the opportunity to receive general messages. Yes, it is possible to simply ask for the wisdom of the tarot. But the truth of the matter is that if something is important for you to know, it will come out in the reading. I did a reading for a man who asked about career. We read the cards that way but in the end I told him that the cards seemed to be indicating that the main problem was not career but his relationship. He came back at a later date and reminded me of the reading, telling me that not long after that his girlfriend told him she wanted to leave. The answers you need will come, but my experience is that you need to be seeking in order to find.

3. Know that the truth will come out in a reading. Don’t ask a question you don’t want the answer to.

I had a woman ask about her son who had just deployed to Afghanistan. I happen to know that questions about war invariably bring up the Death card—it’s just an accurate representation of the overall situation and usually not specific to the querent. But certainly not a card that a mother will want to see when asking about her son. I asked her if there was something about her own life that she would prefer to ask, because readings about a third party are often inaccurate.

I’ve also heard of this type of thing happening with couples sitting down together for a reading, only to have the clear indications of an affair come up. This can make your reader uncomfortable trying to figure out how to address it, and can certainly make you wish you hadn’t asked for a reading!

When you ask a question, any card in the deck can come up. Only ask if you are prepared to hear the answer.

4. Use both research and intuition to find the best reader for you. Don’t just take whatever psychic is available.

There is a serendipity to finding the perfect reader. I almost always hear from wonderful new clients that they just happened upon the store, then saw my picture and knew they needed a reading with me. One new client told me that she was trying to get to a completely different part of town for a completely different purpose, but roadblocks and wrong turns continued to block her path that direction but opened up an easy path to the store. We had a wonderful reading together.

As readers, we know that this type of fortuitousness is not always how things work. So we try to provide potential clients as much info as possible to help them make their choice. I have tons of info about my style and background on my website, my bio is posted on the store’s site, the readers who are working in the store any given day have laminated mini-posters by the door, more tech-savvy readers have videos on their website, we often give the staff free readings so they can describe our style to you. Many readers have a newsletter, blog, podcast, radio show, TV show, YouTube channel and/or strong social media presence so that you can get a sense of their personality and style. It is easy to research the psychics in your area (or available anywhere in the world via phone, Skype, chat or email) and find one that you resonate with. If at all possible, please take the time to do some research.

Sometimes it’s not possible, but even then when you wander into a metaphysical shop or psychic fair, take some time to find out who’s available, find out what their specialties are, and follow your intuition. Don’t just ask who has the next available appointment. Unless you are really in the flow, chances are you’ll get stuck with someone you don’t click with. And that will be frustrating for both of you.

5. Trust your reader. Don’t test them.

Once you’ve found a reader that you are intuitively drawn to or feel you connect with, it’s time to ask your question. Your reader may ask you for some clarification. Sometimes people start to shut down here because they don’t want to “give too much away.” This really isn’t a psychic test. You and your reader are working together to find your answers.

I find that I try to engage in some chit-chat with my client as we come up with the question or while we’re shuffling. I often ask odd or even inane questions. I had no idea why I did this until I finally realized I was setting a baseline, like in a lie detector test. I just needed to see what the person’s behavior and personality and energy was like before entering into the reading. Asking these irrelevant questions seemed to do the trick for me. But I could tell that some clients thought I was trying to do some kind of cold reading on them. When I get this sense I explain myself, but I’m not necessarily always going to be able to tell. Let your reader have their quirks!

Different readers need different amounts of information to do a good reading. Some just look you in the eye and hold your hand and start going. Some prefer to do more of a counseling style where they ask you to respond to the cards and share your feelings and perceptions. I’m somewhere in between. But if you evade my questions or are scared that I’m trying to pull a fast one, we’ll never develop a rapport and you’ll end up with a bad reading.

Let your heart guide you as to whether you can trust your reader. And if you feel you can’t, for whatever reason, get up and leave. It’s your right. But if your heart says that you can trust the reader’s process, be open about the situation surrounding your question. You don’t need to explain the whole thing (unless you need to do it for yourself to get your mind clear) but please don’t withhold info or be vague or even deceive your reader. You’ll never get a straight answer that way.


Stay tuned and later this month I will share “Ten Steps that Will Guarantee a Great Tarot Reading, Part 2.”


Join us for TarotCon Denver June 26-28, 2015 at the Althea Center for Engaged Spirituality, 1400 Williams Street in Denver.
Join us for TarotCon Denver June 26-28, 2015 at the Althea Center for Engaged Spirituality, 1400 Williams Street in Denver.


Joy Vernon has been studying and teaching energetic and esoteric modalities for more than twenty years. She is the organizer of the Denver Tarot Geeks, Denver Tarot Meetup and Denver Traditional Reiki Meetup, and she served on the faculty of Avalon Center for Druidic Studies. She is one of the psychics at Isis Books and is a Certified Professional Tarot Reader and a member of the American Tarot Association and Tarosophy Tarot Association. Joy also teaches Traditional Japanese Reiki. For information on upcoming classes or to schedule an appointment, please visit JoyVernon.com.

© 2015 by Joy Vernon. All rights reserved.

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 JoyVernon.com.

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