how tarot cards work

What Are Tarot Cards?

How Tarot cards work can be a mystery to aspiring readers. Tarot cards are a divination tool, meaning they can be used to predict the future. 


Tarot cards are made up of 78 cards divided into two parts: 

22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana. 


Each card has its meaning, depending on what it represents, so you’ll want to learn all about them before you start reading Tarot for yourself or others!


The history of Tarot cards is unclear–it may have originated in northern Italy during the 15th century. Still, there’s no way of knowing how old they are (or who invented them). 


There are many different types of Tarot decks available today; some people prefer using Rider-Waite decks because they’re so popular and easy to understand, while others prefer using customized decks created by artists specifically for their own purposes.

How To Use Tarot Cards

Now that you know what Tarot cards are and how they work, it’s time to learn how to use them.

There are many different ways to read with Tarot cards, but the most common method is called a “spread” reading.

In this type of reading, you lay out an array of cards on a table or in front of you in a certain pattern–known as a spread–and interpret their positions relative to one another.

There are dozens of different spreads available for both beginners and advanced readers alike; some are simple enough for even those new at using Tarot cards, while others require more experience before attempting them (and even then, there might be some trial-and-error involved).

Below we’ve listed a unique spread that can help get you started.

Tarot Card Meanings

The Major Arcana cards are numbered from 0 to XXI and symbolize the most important and powerful events in your life. These cards represent what you need to learn about yourself and your relationship with others.


The Minor Arcana consists of four suits: Wands (clubs), Cups (hearts), Swords (spades), and Pentacles (diamonds). 


Each suit has ten numbered cards from ace through ten, plus four court cards: Page/Princess, Knight/Prince, Queen/King, and Ace/Magician. 


The court cards represent people in your life who have authority over you–they may be friends or family members–and they can also represent situations that require action on your part.

Choosing The Right Deck For You

Choosing the right Tarot deck for you is a big decision. So many beautiful and interesting decks are available, but you want to ensure that your first deck will help you learn and grow as a reader.

Some Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing Your First Deck:

  • 🔮 Is this going to be my only deck? If so, I want it to be something I enjoy using daily- not just occasionally! (You will want one deck first, but expect your collection to grow later!)
  • 🔮 Does this deck have any special meaning for me or someone else in my life? If so, that could be a different reason why this would make an excellent choice (or vice versa).
  • 🔮 What kind of reading style do I prefer? Do I like lots of detail or just broad strokes? Some decks offer more insight into specific aspects of each card. In contrast, others focus more on general interpretations and feelings than specifics.

How To Read Tarot Cards

Now that you know how to choose a Tarot deck, it’s time to learn how to read the cards.

The first step in reading Tarot is understanding what each card means. There are many different decks, each with unique meanings for each card. 

An excellent place to start learning about these meanings is by looking at your deck or another popular one like Rider Waite Smith  or Thoth Tarot (both pictured above). 

For guidance on card meanings, check out our free download that lists tarot card keywords. 

There is even a space to journal your insights for each card to better understand and use your intuition for your readings.

Once you’ve got an idea about what each card represents based on its design and imagery, try using them in different ways:

Try laying out three cards in front of yourself face down; pick one at random from within your deck; shuffle both sets together so they’re all mixed up–you’ll be surprised by how differently each option feels!

how to use tarot cards

Tarot Card Spreads

There are several different types of Tarot card spreads. The one you choose will depend on your goal and your question. 

Here is a fun three-card spread called the Dream-Life-Fear Spread.

The Dream-Life-Fear Spread is a simple yet powerful spread that can help you gain insight into your deepest fears and how they may be holding you back from achieving your dreams. 

Here’s how to perform the Dream-Life-Fear Spread:

  1. 1️⃣ Shuffle your Tarot deck while focusing on your question about your fears and dreams.
  2. 2️⃣ Draw three cards from the deck and place them face down in a row from left to right.
  3. 3️⃣ Turn over the first card. This card represents your dream life – what you truly desire to manifest. It can provide insight into your deepest desires and what motivates you.
  4. 4️⃣ Turn over the second card. This card represents your fears – what is holding you back from achieving your dream life. It can provide insight into the negative thought patterns, beliefs, or behaviors that are keeping you stuck.
  5. 5️⃣ Turn over the third card. This card represents the advice or guidance that the Tarot has for you. It can provide insight into what you need to do to overcome your fears and achieve your dream life.

The Dream-Life-Fear Tarot Spread can help you uncover your unconscious fears and bring them to light so you can work through them. 

By gaining insight into what is holding you back, you can take steps to overcome your fears and manifest your dream life.

As with any Tarot spread, it’s essential to approach the reading with an open mind and be willing to consider the Tarot’s messages. 

Cleansing and Charging Tarot Cards

Cleansing and charging Tarot cards is a process that prepares your deck for use.

Doing this is vital because it helps you focus on the cards and make them more powerful. You can also cleanse your deck if it feels negative.

There are many ways to cleanse your deck, and we will go over one of the simplest yet effective ways for beginners to cleanse their tarot cards.

To cleanse your deck:

  1. 🧘🏽‍♀️ Clear your mind of all thoughts by taking several deep breaths.
  2. 🤍 Visualize white light entering through the top of your head and filling up every part of your body until there is no space left inside you.
  3. 🌼 Imagine yourself standing in front of an open door with bright sunshine streaming through it onto a field full of flowers where birds sing happily;
  4. 🚶🏻‍♀️Then step outside into this beautiful place while leaving all negativity behind.

Find a Professional Tarot Reader

You can find a professional tarot reader to help you understand Tarot and how Tarot cards work.

To find a professional Tarot reader, you must know what to look for. Here are some questions to ask and more:

Do your research: Read the tarot reader’s about page and understand their reading style. Are they intuitive, practical, predictive, spiritual, or something else? What tarot deck do they use?

Look for recommendations: Ask friends or family members who have had a tarot reading before if they can recommend someone. Alternatively, look for reviews online on platforms like Yelp or Google.

Look for experience: Look for a tarot reader who has been practicing for several years and has a record of satisfied clients.

Look for a Connection: The most important thing is to find a tarot reader with whom you feel comfortable and can connect personally.


As you can see, there are many benefits to learning how to read Tarot cards. It can help you understand yourself better, gain insight into your life, past, and future, and even give you a glimpse into the lives of others.

In addition to these benefits, learning about the meanings behind each card will also give you more confidence when interpreting them for others.