how to do a tarot reading for yourself

How to Do a Tarot Reading for Yourself: A Beginner’s Guide

Hey gorgeous! If you’re curious about tarot cards and how they can help you gain insights into your inner world, then you’re in the right place! Learning how to do a tarot reading for yourself is one of the most empowering ways to connect with your subconscious.

All you need is a deck of cards, an open mind, and a willingness to connect with your intuition.

In this beginner’s guide, I’ll cover everything you need to know to do a tarot reading for yourself, from choosing the right deck to interpreting the cards. I’ll also walk you through a full example reading using a simple three-card spread to see how it all comes together.

So, grab your favorite deck of cards, settle into a cozy spot, and let’s go!

how to do a tarot reading for yourself

Getting Started

Before diving into doing a tarot reading for yourself, finding the right deck and establishing a connection with it is important. The right deck can make all the difference in your readings, so take some time to explore your options and choose a deck that resonates with you.

There are hundreds of different tarot decks available, each with their own unique artwork, symbolism, and energy. Some decks are more traditional, while others are more modern or whimsical. Some are based on a specific theme or culture, while others are more general.

When choosing a deck, pay attention to what appeals to you both visually and emotionally. Do you prefer bright, colorful artwork, or something more subdued and mystical? Are you drawn to a particular theme or culture? Do you want a deck with traditional imagery or something more modern and abstract?

Connecting with Your Deck

Once you have your deck in hand, it’s time to start building a connection with it. Here are a few simple practices you can do to establish a strong bond with your deck:

⭐Shuffle the cards: One of the best ways to connect with your deck is through shuffling the cards. Take your time as you shuffle, focusing on your intention to connect with the cards and the messages they have for you.

Hold the deck in your hands: Before you start your reading, hold the deck in your hands and take a few deep breaths. Visualize yourself surrounded by white light and ask the deck to provide you with clear and accurate guidance.

Meditate with the deck: Another way to connect with your deck is through meditation. Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit, hold the deck in your hands, and close your eyes. Visualize yourself surrounded by a white light, and focus on your breath. As you breathe in, imagine drawing in positive energy and guidance from the cards, and as you breathe out, release any negative energy or distractions.

Use your intuition: As you start to work with your deck, trust your intuition and let it guide you. Pay attention to any images, words, or feelings that come up as you shuffle the cards or lay them out in a spread. This will help create a bond with the unique energy of your deck.

Understanding the Cards

Tarot cards are divided into two categories: the major arcana and the minor arcana. Each category has its own unique characteristics and meanings that can help you gain deeper insight into your life’s journey.

The major arcana consists of 22 cards that represent major life themes and spiritual lessons. These cards are typically the most powerful and transformative in a reading, and often indicate significant life events or turning points. Each card in the major arcana has its own unique symbolism and meaning that can provide guidance and wisdom on your life’s journey.

For example, The Fool card is often associated with new beginnings, taking risks, and following your intuition. The Death card, despite its ominous name and appearance, is actually about transformation, letting go of the old and embracing the new.

The minor arcana consists of 56 cards divided into four suits: wands, cups, swords, and pentacles (sometimes called coins). These cards represent the everyday experiences and challenges we face, and provide insight into areas like relationships, work, and personal growth.

Each suit has its own unique themes and meanings:

  • 🌿Wands represent creativity, passion, and action.  It’s connected with the fire element.
  • 🍷Cups represent emotions, relationships, and intuition. It’s connected with the water element.
  • ⚔Swords represent mental clarity, decision-making, and conflict. It’s connected with the air element.
  • 💰Pentacles (or coins) represent material abundance, stability, and practicality.  It’s connected with the earth element.

Each card in the minor arcana also has its own unique symbolism and meaning that can provide insight into specific areas of your life. For example, the Ace of Cups may represent a new emotional connection or the start of a new relationship, while the Ten of Pentacles may indicate financial stability and abundance.

how to do a tarot card reading for yourself: understanding the minor arcana suits
The 4 suits of the minor arcana

Biddy Tarot is a great site for looking up tarot card meanings if you’re stuck!

While understanding the meanings behind the cards is important, it’s also crucial to remember the role of intuition and personal interpretation in tarot readings.

Tarot cards are not meant to be interpreted solely based on their pre-defined meanings. Instead, they should be viewed as a tool to tap into your own intuition and inner wisdom.

When doing a tarot reading for yourself, trust your intuition and allow it to guide you as you interpret the cards. Your personal experiences, emotions, and beliefs can also influence your interpretation, and that’s okay. It’s what makes your readings unique to you!

I also highly recommend keeping your own personal journal about the meanings of each card as you start doing readings for yourself.

How to do a Tarot Reading for Yourself

Set an intention

Before you begin shuffling the cards, take a moment to think about what you hope to gain from this reading. What questions do you have? What areas of your life do you want to explore? 

Setting an intention can help you focus your energy and attention on your goals for the reading.

Choose a quiet space

Find a comfortable and quiet space where you can focus your attention and relax your mind. Dim the lights, light a candle, or play some soothing music to create a peaceful atmosphere.

Shuffle the cards

Shuffle the cards gently and thoughtfully, focusing on your intention and connecting with the deck’s energy.

Some people prefer to cut the deck a few times after shuffling, some people like to fan out the cards face down to pick the cards intuitively for their reading, while others simply deal out the cards into the spread immediately after shuffling.

It’s completely up to you!

My recommendation is to try out a few different methods, and once you find one that feels right, stick with it.

Lay out the cards

Once you’ve shuffled the cards, lay them out in a specific pattern or spread. There are many different types of spreads, ranging from simple three-card spreads to more complex layouts like the Celtic Cross.

We’ll focus on a simple three-card spread for this beginner’s guide.

Interpret the cards

As you turn over each card, take a moment to observe the imagery and symbolism. Consider how each card relates to your intention and the overall theme of the reading.

Remember to trust your intuition and personal interpretation of the cards, as this is where the true magic of the reading lies.

The Three-Card Spread

The three-card spread is a simple yet powerful spread that can provide valuable insight into your past, present, and future.

how to do a tarot reading for yourself: the 3 card spread

Here’s how to conduct this spread:

The first card represents the past: This card represents events or energies from your past that may be influencing your present situation. It can also provide insight into what you’ve learned from past experiences and how you can apply that knowledge moving forward.

The second card represents the present: This card represents your current situation, including any challenges or opportunities you may be facing. It can also provide insight into your emotions, thoughts, and actions in the present moment.

The third card represents the future: This card represents the potential outcomes or energies that may be coming into your life in the near future. It can provide insight into what you can expect to experience and how you can prepare for these potential outcomes.

Here are some possible interpretations of each card in the three-card spread:

The Past:
  • The card may represent a significant event or relationship from your past that still holds meaning or influence over your present situation.
  • The card may represent a lesson you’ve learned from past experiences that can help you move forward.
  • The card may represent a pattern or behavior from your past that you need to acknowledge and work on in order to achieve your goals.
The Present:
  • The card may represent a challenge or obstacle you’re currently facing that requires your attention and focus.
  • The card may represent an opportunity or potential that you need to take advantage of in order to achieve your goals.
  • The card may represent your current emotional or mental state, providing insight into your thoughts and feelings.
The Future:
  • The card may represent a potential outcome or energy that is coming into your life in the near future.
  • The card may provide guidance or advice on how to prepare for these potential outcomes.
  • The card may represent an opportunity or potential that you can work towards in order to manifest a positive future.

Remember, these are just a few possible interpretations of each card in the three-card spread. As you practice and connect with your deck, you may develop your own unique interpretations and insights into the cards.

A three-card spread tarot reading example:

Let’s say you’re feeling unsure about your career and want some guidance. You decide to do a three-card spread to gain some insight and clarity.

The Past: For the first card, you draw the Three of Pentacles. This card represents collaboration, teamwork, and mastery of skills. In the context of your career, it suggests that you have worked hard in the past to develop your skills and that you have been recognized for your contributions.

The card also shows a group of people working together on a building, indicating that you may have benefited from working in a team or learning from others.

The Present: For the second card, you draw the Eight of Swords. This card suggests that you may be feeling stuck or trapped in your current career situation. The woman in the card is blindfolded and surrounded by swords, indicating that you may be feeling powerless or lacking clarity.

However, the card also shows a way out of the situation, with a path leading towards a castle in the distance. This suggests that you have the power to overcome your current obstacles and move towards a more fulfilling career path.

The Future: For the third card, you draw the Ace of Cups. This card represents new beginnings, emotional fulfillment, and creativity. In the context of your career, it suggests that you may be embarking on a new project or job that will bring you emotional satisfaction and fulfillment.

The card shows a hand holding a cup overflowing with water, indicating abundance and the potential for growth and expansion in your career.

Overall, this three-card spread suggests that you have worked hard to develop your skills and have been recognized for your contributions in the past. However, you may be feeling stuck or trapped in your current situation.

The cards suggest that you have the power to overcome your obstacles and move towards a more fulfilling career path that will bring you emotional satisfaction and creativity.

Interpreting the Cards

Interpreting the cards is a crucial part of a tarot reading. It’s where you take the meanings of the individual cards and apply them to the specific situation or question at hand. Here are some different ways to interpret the cards:


One of the most common ways to interpret the cards is through their symbolism. Each card has its own imagery and symbolism, which can provide additional insights into its meaning.

how to do a tarot reading for yourself by interpreting the common symbols in tarot cards

Here’s a small list of some of the symbols that regularly appear in the classic Rider-Waite tarot deck:

The Moon: Represents intuition, subconscious mind, illusions, and the mysteries of the unknown. It can also signify fear, confusion, and the need to trust one’s instincts.

The Sun: Symbolizes joy, success, vitality, enlightenment, and positivity. It represents clarity, optimism, and the fulfillment of one’s potential.

Lemniscate: Also known as the Infinity symbol, it represents eternity, infinite possibilities, and the interconnectedness of all things. It signifies balance, harmony, and the cyclical nature of existence.

The Dove: Represents peace, purity, innocence, and divine guidance. It symbolizes messages from the spiritual realm and the presence of higher wisdom.

The Rose: Symbolizes love, beauty, passion, and transformation. It represents the unfolding of the soul, inner growth, and the cycle of life and death.

The Ankh: A symbol of life and vitality, the Ankh represents eternal life, regeneration, and divine protection. It signifies the union of the masculine and feminine energies.

The Sphynx: Represents mystery, guardianship, wisdom, and enigmatic forces. It signifies the need for introspection, intuition, and inner strength to overcome challenges and navigate life’s journey with grace and resilience.

The Laurel Wreath: Symbolizes victory, achievement, honor, and recognition. It represents success, triumph over adversity, and the rewards of hard work.


Another way to interpret the cards is through numerology. Each card is associated with a specific number, which can provide additional meaning and insights. Here’s a quick summary of what the numbers 1-10 mean in numerology:

  • One: New beginnings, individuality, independence, leadership, and originality. The start of a journey or a fresh start in any aspect of life.
  • Two: Balance, partnerships, duality, harmony, and cooperation. It often represents choices, decisions, and the need for compromise.
  • Three: Creativity, communication, expression, growth, and expansion. It symbolizes collaboration, manifestation, and the blending of energies.
  • Four: Stability, structure, foundation, security, and organization. It represents practicality, hard work, and laying down solid groundwork.
  • Five: Change, adaptability, freedom, challenges, and versatility. It represents dynamic energy, unexpected shifts, and the need for flexibility.
  • Six: Harmony, balance, family, responsibility, and service. It represents nurturing relationships, cooperation, and finding solutions.
  • Seven: Introspection, spirituality, wisdom, analysis, and seeking truth. It symbolizes inner growth and the pursuit of knowledge.
  • Eight: Success, abundance, achievement, power, and manifestation. It represents material and financial security, as well as the rewards of hard work.
  • Nine: Fulfillment, compassion, wisdom, and humanitarianism. It represents achieving goals, spiritual enlightenment, and transitioning to a higher level.
  • Ten: Completion, accomplishment, fulfillment, and wholeness. It represents the end of a journey, the culmination, and the beginning of a new cycle.


Finally, it’s important to trust your intuition when interpreting the cards. While the traditional meanings of the cards are helpful, it’s ultimately up to you to determine how they apply to your specific situation. This can involve looking beyond the traditional meanings and tapping into your own inner wisdom.

trusting your intuition while doing a tarot reading for yourself

Trusting your instincts and making meaning from the cards is a skill that takes time and practice to develop.

How to build your confidence and trust your intuition:

Practice, Practice, Practice: The more you practice doing readings for yourself and others, the more comfortable and confident you’ll become. Over time, you’ll begin to develop your own style and approach to interpreting the cards.

Stay Open and Receptive: One of the keys to making meaning from the cards is staying open and receptive to the messages they’re trying to convey. This means being willing to look beyond the surface-level meanings and tap into your intuition to uncover deeper insights.

⭐Trust your First Reaction: Your intuition is a powerful tool for interpreting the cards. Trust your initial instinct when you see a card in your spread.  I find that often it’s a feeling of just knowing, even before I start processing the conscious meaning of the card.  Your subconscious reacts faster than your conscious mind, so don’t be afraid to follow your gut feeling, even if it goes against the traditional meanings of the cards.

Keep a Tarot Journal: Keeping a tarot journal is a great way to track your progress and reflect on your readings. Write down the cards you drew, the positions they were in, and your initial thoughts and feelings. Over time, you’ll be able to look back and see how your interpretations have evolved and improved.

⭐Seek Guidance and Support: If you’re struggling to trust your instincts or make meaning from the cards, don’t be afraid to seek guidance and support. Joining a tarot community, taking a class or workshop, or working with a mentor can all be helpful ways to deepen your understanding and build your confidence.

Tarot readings can be powerful tools for self-reflection and personal growth. By interpreting the cards and connecting with your intuition, you can gain valuable insights into your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

After completing a tarot reading, take some time to reflect on what the cards might be trying to tell you. Think about how they relate to your current situation and how you can use their guidance to make positive changes in your life.

Remember that the ultimate goal of a tarot reading is not just to gain insight, but to take action and improve your life in meaningful ways.

Okay, you made it to the end of this guide!  By now, you should have a good understanding of how to get started with tarot, how to choose and connect with your deck, and how to conduct a simple three-card spread.

Remember, tarot reading is a personal practice, and everyone’s approach will be different. Allow yourself the space to experiment and explore what works best for you. Trust your intuition and don’t be afraid to make meaning from the cards in your own unique way.

So go ahead, give tarot reading a try for yourself! You never know what juicy insights the cards may have in store for you. 

Happy card-slinging!

To learn more about using Tarot cards, visit my Tarot 101 Page here!

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