Ask Tarot Ann- Daily Tarot Spreads, Part 1: Single Card Draws

Introducing… Ask Tarot Ann!

One thing I LOVE and really make an effort to do in my readings is help the client feel connected and invested in the reading process so that they can truly get as much benefit from the reading as possible.  I can’t count the number of clients who have contacted me later to say they want to learn more about tarot and who ask for my help and advice, so I’ve decided to start this new feature called “Ask Tarot Ann” to publicly answer some of these questions .  Today’s question comes from the fabulous Niki who lives all the way across the world from me who I likely never would have met if not for tarot- how cool is that?

Niki asks Hi Ann, I have a question. I started doing spreads for my “daily” tarot readings. Well, I try to do it daily. Anyway, I was wondering if you have tips on what questions to ask for a reading? I saw on Aeclectic Tarot that someone uses a 3-card spread (1 major, 1 court, 1 minor) for her daily spreads that help her get to know the cards. I’m just not sure how I’m supposed to “read” them without a question.  How would you recommend new tarot readers approach the daily spreads?”   

8 of Swords, Rider-Waite Tarot

8 of Swords, Rider-Waite Tarot

 

This is a great question and something I really struggled with when I started out- not only did I feel compelled to do a specific daily spread everyday, I also fell into one of the most common traps new tarot beginners get stuck in of relying solely on the book meanings and trying to be a pro all at once.  In fact, I could probably write a whole book just about my advice for beginners, but since this is a blog, I’m going to break my response down into two posts.  Today, I’ll be addressing my thoughts on how to learn tarot and connect with your deck through single card draws in a manner that is primarily focused on beginners. Tomorrow, I’ll be covering how to learn using multi-card spreads and other techniques ideal for daily readings using more than one card. I’ll also be discussing how more advanced practitioners can gain more insight through daily readings.

 The introductory set I bought when I was first  interested in Tarot contained the Gilded Tarot by Ciro Marchitti (still my absolute favorite deck, 150+ decks later) which has a 5 card “Daily Draw” spread printed on one of the extra cards in the box.  I tried to do this spread for myself everyday- and it was a huge mistake! First of all, I was just learning, so I was constantly looking the cards up in the book, then googling them, etc trying to establish my own meanings.  That in itself wasn’t really a problem- after all, how else do you learn?- but trying to do that with 5 cards a day, every day, when I had just started learning about tarot? I was totally creating a 8-of-Swords situation for myself, before I even understood what that meant!

It didn’t take too long to realize that wasn’t really working for me as although I was spending time with the tarot, I wasn’t learning anything.  After giving up for a few weeks, I picked up the deck and the book again and decided to start over and came up with a plan that worked for me, based on how I learned new skills before.  I think the key piece of advice that you can find in almost every book about tarot and on every website about tarot is that when it comes to tarot,  you should do what works for you, is also the most ignored. After years of college, graduate school, and post-graduate training, I was really stuck in the “follow the book, memorize everything” mindset and I suspect I’m not the only one.  I decided to just try to learn by doing things I was pretty much already doing in a way that worked for me. A big part of this was spending daily time focusing on tarot, but not spending daily time doing a 5 card reading!

 The first thing I did was go back to some of the sites I had found during my frequent internet searches and sign up for the daily e-mails updates of new content.  This was great because I’m a very digitally connected person and start most of my days by reading the news and e-mail.  In this way, I was actually learning and thinking on new concepts everyday, made even easier by  e-mail being available almost anywhere- now even waiting in the lobby of a doctor’s office could be learning time.  Another benefit to reading all the new content was I was constantly getting new ideas myself, making connections and find differences in one person’s interpretations and another, and thinking critically about the topics they were discussing. I started to pay much more attention to blogs, websites and the forums on Aeclectic Tarot than the books, and by doing that, I started really learning.

That being said, you can read every book, forum thread, group discussion, and blog post written about tarot ever but if you don’t actually pick up the cards and try it out for yourself, it’s never going to feel real for you- it’s just going to feel like memorizing the answers to the world’s most complicated flash cards.  To actually connect with and learn to read the cards-rather than recite their definitions- you need to actually use them.  Rather than go back to the initially over-whelming 5-card spread, I started with picking one card for myself each day based solely on the imagery of the card and if I felt it was speaking to me at that moment. Note: for this reason, I recommend that beginning tarot enthusiasts start with a fully illustrated deck.  Stay tuned for an upcoming post on best decks for beginners next week!)

First, I spent some time contemplating the message I felt the card was trying to give, just based on my intuition and the picture itself.  Then I looked in the book and compared my thoughts to the author’s interpretations, often underlining or making notes in the book.  I know that not everyone is a fan of marking up their tarot books, and a deck with a little white book versus an actual book might or using an e-book might make this difficult,  and in that case, I recommend having a notepad or journal to use.  If I felt especially drawn to the card, confused about the card, or just wanted to learn more (which was usually the case) I would look up information about that specific card. Throughout the day, or until I selected a new card, I would also look for examples of how this card’s meaning was relevant to the people and situations I was encountering- such as my 8 of Swords reference above. Doing this really “sealed the deal” for me when it came to connecting with an individual card, and I still do this years later.

For more advanced tarot readers and practitioners, you can take this to the next level by comparing the card to the same card in other decks, or look back on the notes you made as a beginner and compare how your perception of certain cards has changed as you have grown as a reader.  Check out my recent post on my changing view about the Ace of Wands for an example of this.  To take it even further, consider a card outside of it’s usual context- such as, what positive messages does the 8 of Swords convey? What are the negative attributes of the World card, and how could the world card in a blockage position be interpreted? Consider these questions using the same techniques as above- base it on your instincts first, then consult the books.

Once you start to feel somewhat confident, then try your hand at doing multi-card daily readings to practice interpreting the cards with each other. Part 2 of this post will cover exactly that tomorrow!

What do you think about daily single-card draws?

Got another tip or technique that I missed? Let me know in the comments!

4 comments

  1. Eryn Andrews - February 27, 2014 2:00 am

    The first desk I had I read the book front and back and bought the corresponding workbook. I learn best by visualization and writing. A way I learned that I didn’t care for using reversals was by pulling a card a looking at it from both ways. It made my head hurt. So I learned the pictures and how they cause a reaction with me. Since then, I’ve used this concept when I read for others. I let them sit on my side and we look at the spread together. I gauge their reaction and walk them through the reading. It helps them see what I see but through their own filter.

    Reply
  2. admin - February 27, 2014 2:05 am

    I remember you doing that with me with the Goddess deck back in college before I even got interested in Tarot, in between making pasta for dinner while trying not to set off the fire alarm and looking at wedding magazines. Hollins Love <3

    Reply
  3. Niki - February 27, 2014 8:20 am

    Thank you! I love that you really expanded on your answer to me here. I am just stoked you took my question as an inspiration for a post. Can’t wait to read your post on multiple card spreads.

    Reply

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