Reading Tarot Cards

Interpreting the story of your life

Reading tarot cards
The future is not set in stone … new challenges, possibilities and opportunities are around every corner …  A deck of tarot cards can be a tool for reflection, insight and clarity; a way to visually gain a better understanding of events and situations affecting our path in life. A reading does not determine your future; instead, the cards encourage you to use free will to change, grow and make positive choices in life. A reading can be as simple, light, funny, in-depth, curious or serious as you want it to be.

Tarot cards can be used and read in many different ways: You might pick a card each day to reflect on … or delve into more complex readings at special occasions, or times of the year. Get to know your cards through handling and looking at them. Let the characters take you on a journey and allow the cards to speak to you

Below, you will find some reading examples to help you get started:

Shuffling the Cards

You have a deck of tarot cards in your hand, now what?
shuffling cards

Handling and shuffling your cards is a nice way to centre yourself and pause before a reading. How you mix the cards is very much up to you and what feels right for your hands. A new deck may take a little while to ‘break in’, so spending time with your cards is the best way to work out how you like to shuffle …

As Tarot cards are often larger than playing cards, riffle or faro shuffling methods may bend or wear the edges. Instead, many ‘step’ shuffle the cards, or spread and mix the cards (up-side-down) on a flat surface, and then bring them back into a pile, or select cards to read from where they lie face-down.

Asking the Question…

Focussing on What and How can provide more clarity in a reading:

  • What do I need to see more clearly …?
  • What can I do to help …?
  • What do I need to focus on right now …?
  • What are my true feelings about …?
  • How can I improve on my chances of …?
  • How How does X relate to Y …?

Three Card Spread

A three card reading is a simple and effective way of getting to know your cards:

After shuffling the cards, select 3 cards in order from the top of the deck (or spread the cards up-side-down in front of you and select 3 cards that ‘speak’ to you).

3 card reading
Traditionally, the three card spread is interpreted as a linear description of your situation:

[1]Past, [2]Present, [3]Future

However, there are plenty of variations you can use to make this a flexible and interesting method of interpreting and learning about the cards.

Five Card Readings

Sometimes a simple one to three card reading is just right…

Othertimes, more cards are needed to help connect the dots and provide clarity on a particular situation.

Experiment with different spreads and see what works best for you, you may even like to explore further and come up with your own spread.

5 card spread and Horseshoe spread

Five Card Spread

This is one of my favourite spreads for ‘snapshot’ readings; five cards to reflect on a particular event or situation and gain a better picture of current influences, strengths and challenges associated with moving forward.

Horseshoe Spread

This popular spread delves deeper into underlying factors and past influences. The spread may help shed light on what affects a situation, along with advice on possible ways forward or where your strengths and challenges lie in dealing with life events.

Celtic Cross Spread

Celtic Cross Spread for in depth tarot readingThe classic Celtic Cross spread offers even more in-depth detail, with 10 cards telling the story. In essence, the six first cards provide insight on the heart of the matter (the Situation) , both on an inner level (cards 1 & 2) and outer level (cards 3 – 6). The last four cards provide clarity on how influences & environment impact on what is happening.  (cards 7 & 8) can provide insight on ‘How I see myself’ versus ‘How others see me’, as those around us tend to see qualities we might not always be aware of in ourselves. The final card in the spread (card 10) provides possible outcome or advice, which takes into account the previous nine cards.

There are many alternate versions of this spread; the layout shown here, is the one I use. You might come across (or use) a different Celtic Cross, which is totally fine, the main thing is that the reading works for you.

If you want to find more readings and learn more about the tarot, there are plenty of in-depth guides to reading tarot cards, both in books and online … Once you become familiar with your cards you will discover what works for you and likely develop your own ways of reading the cards. Nine Lives Tarot reflects my personal interpretation of the tarot as a visual tool for interpreting and shedding light on the here and now… and I wish you joy on your journey with these cards.

Symbolism in the Cards

Symbols in Nine Lives Tarot cards
Nine Lives – the name of this deck is derived from cats and their nine lives; connecting to how tarot depicts cyclic movement through life. At no point does one card speak of finality and physical death, instead the cards work together to weave a picture of the here and now with an open road to interpretation …

  • Cat – often seen as a wise guide, clever enough to take the best route forward.
  • Raven – representing intuition and clarity of mind; the raven acts as a messenger.
  • Water – is the element of emotion and symbolises the flow of feelings.
  • Fire – burns with a passion and speaks of inspiration and action.
  • Clouds – allow the mind to wander and encourages free thought.
  • Mountains – symbolise the challenges and obstacles we meet along the way.
  • Books – hold the key to learning about and understanding the world we live in.
  • Yellow – symbolises intelligence & creativity – associated with the suit of Rods.
  • Red – the colour of blood, linked to the heart & associated with the suit of Cups.
  • Green – symbolises earth and growth – associated with the suit of Pentacles.
  • Indigo – colour of the midnight sky, linked to the mind & associated with the suit of Swords.