Tarot 101: Reading for Others for the First Time

So you’ve been reading for yourself for a while now, you’re ready to take the next step.

But what is the next step? How could you possibly do more than drawing a card every day and reading your own spreads? How could you grow even more as a Tarot reader?

Naturally, the reason you’re here, the reason I made this post, the reason you already came up with, is reading Tarot for others.

One of the first things that stopped me dead in my tracks before I even asked any of my friends or family for practice, was… How do I arrange the cards? You know how in the movies, the reader lays the cards out so the cards face the client, then interprets them. But when you’re a still new(ish) reader, it would be hard to try to remember what a card means for the upright interpretation, while looking at the upside-down card, while READING FOR SOMEONE ELSE for the first time!

That scenario alone gave me anxiety for a week about if I was ready or not to actually read for someone else.

After I came to terms with the fact that even the pros began somewhere and even if I mess up a couple readings, it doesn’t mean I suck at reading Tarot, I had to come to terms with what I would do when I sat face to face with a person.

So I hit the blogs and forums, searching out if any of those gracious pros had any advice for baby readers like me. And there was advice aplenty.

And it ranged from who to start reading for to how to arrange you cards to what you should offer to read. So I decided to make a quick post about all the advice that I’ve read about.

Who to read for

To begin with, read for someone who is 1. receptive and open-minded to a reading, and 2. someone who you can ask to spend the time it will take to read for them. This can be your sibling, your crazy witchy aunt, your eclectic coworker, you significant other, your best friend. Just someone who will be comfortable sitting with you for a while you get some practice.

Reading for someone you know first before moving onto strangers (which is also a good way to get better at Tarot), will let you get a handle on your first-time nervousness, how you want to conduct a reading, how you want to work with your cards.

Cards and your readings

Without a doubt, the number one rule you will get is ‘Don’t let anyone else touch your cards!’

But with reading for someone else, you need to remember that they need to contribute some of their energy to the reading for it to be accurate. Otherwise, stuff will pop up for you in their reading!

If you have two decks (I know, fancy), you can dedicate one deck for personal use and one for ‘public’ use. If you only have one deck, just remember to cleanse and charge your deck regularly, to help negate using it for multiple people and multiple energies.

Next is how you want to arrange your cards.

I, personally, like to have the client cut the deck, then I shuffle the cards and then spread them across the table so the client can get a feel for which card they vibe with. You may feel better having the client shuffle the deck themselves. Maybe you don’t want the client to touch the deck at all! That’s completely fine! Whatever you feel works best.

But when you go to lay the spread out, take into account how you want to read. For the first time, try to sit next to your client so you can both see what’s going in the card at the same angle. With practice you can do things like sitting across from the client, and even reading the cards from the client’s point of view (like in the movies). But don’t rush yourself just yet.

Spreads

This is the biggest advice I got from countless bloggers and forum posts: DON’T START WITH A COMPLICATED SPREAD!!! Even a traditional Celtic Cross spread can be intimidating when reading for a client for the first time.

Even if you’re comfortable doing big spreads for yourself, you have to remember that for a client, they have limited time, limited patience, and limited comfort in the situation. And you’re going to go into this first reading nervous, and when you’re nervous, you’ll make mistakes.

So do a simple spread, 5 cards or less, that you can whip out at any location and know like the back of your hand. Then, when you get stuck on the reading (because you will the first time), you don’t have to interpret many cards and make the interpretations work together. It’s like a built in safety net, to keep you on track and able to process the reading and able to process the reading for the client.

What to do when you mess it up

You’re going to freeze the first time. You’re going to misinterpret a card and it will haunt you for a few days after the reading. You’re going to get sweaty and nervous and your hands may shake a little. Your first practice client, hopefully a person close to you, may laugh a little, may even denounce what you say. But just remember, all beginners fail and all pros were once nervously failing their first reading, just like you.

And even if you bunk up your first practice reading, it’ll all turn out okay, because you can practice more, you can still talk to your practice client, you can still learn and grow and discover new tricks and interpretations.

How to make your first reading go right

  1. Choose somewhere comfy for both you and your practice client, to sit and read the cards
  2. If possible, get some drinks. If you’re meeting somewhere grab coffee or a smoothie with your practice client before sitting down to read. If you’re at a house, offer to make a pot of tea or some lemonade.
  3. Go over the rules of your deck, let them know whether it’s okay or not to touch the cards, just so everyone is aware of the boundaries before starting
  4. Also go over the ‘common misconception’ cards, like Death and The Devil. Explain that if these cards pop up, there is another meaning and you’ll answer any questions they have about card
  5. During your reading, just keep calm and remember that you are knowledgeable about Tarot and your practice client is there to support you
  6. Answer any questions you can. And if you can’t answer the right away, let them know! You can always send them a follow-up text or email and let them know that you did more research and wanted to give them a follow-up. While not standard practice, you’re still learning how to give a comprehensive reading to someone else.
  7. AND ABOVE ALL ELSE, THANK YOUR PRACTICE CLIENT!!! Thank them for letting you practice with them and thank them for taking the time out of their day to be with you, thank them for their patience while you learn, and thank them for being open-minded enough to have a Tarot reading done.

When is all is said and done, you’ll feel that you’re a better Tarot reader, no matter what. Even if you stumble and fail. But now that you’re taking that next leap into Tarot reading, keep practicing and keep working.

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