Reading Cards For Yourself
Tarot For Self Development
Have you ever been told that you shouldn’t read your own cards? I’ve been given this exact advice but I’ve also been told that reading your own cards can be a great tool for introspection, so what’s the truth? The reasoning behind not reading your own cards is that you may be too emotionally invested in the questions you’re asking to properly interpret them. You might read into your fears or try to manipulate the interpretation so that the cards tell you what you want to hear. This can be a problem when our higher self is trying to guide us but we ignore the message.
This is particularly true when we use the cards for targeted questions on highly charged aspects of life, like romantic relationships or jobs. This isn’t to say emotion is inherently bad for tarot/oracle readings. In fact, emotions are a necessary part of our intuition. Still, very strong emotions can change card readings or lead to tarot addiction- but there are ways to avoid this problem.
What are self readings for?
First and foremost, remember that tarot cards do NOT predict the future. Doing tarot for yourself is about introspection and self-development. The cards can show you a potential and likely path, but this is grounded in the current moment. It is your behavior after the reading that will shape how that path develops, or even if you move to an entirely new path. In fact, it is the point of the cards to help guide you and promote change where necessary.
Why ask about the future at all? Insight into the past and present are just as necessary to figuring out who you are and growing as an individual. The cards can show you your own fears, passions, or behaviors, where they stem from, and how they might benefit or harm your current situation. Try asking questions for guidance on problems you’re having now or asking your higher self for more general life advice.
If you do want to use tarot to ask about the future just remember the future is not set in stone. It depends on the past but also on the present, and it can therefore change. This is why one of the most popular spreads is the past-present-future tarot spread. The card placements must be read together to get a full understanding of the answers the tarot provides.
How often should I read my own cards?
This all depends on what you want to get out of the cards and how you deal with readings. Some people only do spreads when they want an answer to a question, but can become distraught when they don’t see the outcome they want. Remember that there are no “bad” cards, and reversed cards aren’t inherently “bad” either. These cards may bring news of disappointment or struggle, but they are meant to prepare you and help you through a transition. A reading is not a permanent state and sometimes trouble can be avoided because of a reading.
Some people do daily readings or pull a daily card without a specific question. The scope of these is shorter and can give you something to meditate on every day, even if it is not directly related to the events of the day. For instance, you might pull the hermit card and think about solitude. It may be necessary to hide away from the world and do some soul searching but there is also loneliness and sadness that accompanies this. How can this serve you and how can you work with the shadow aspects of the card? For more on how to interpret tarot, check out our earlier post titled “Learn to Read Tarot”.
If you choose to do frequent readings keep in mind that you can abuse the cards. Tarot addiction happens and it can manifest in different ways. Say you ask a targeted question and you decide you don’t like the answer. “That can’t be right!” Your fears are heightened. You ask the question again, just to be sure, but now the message is more convoluted, so you ask for clarification. The clarification doesn’t make sense with the last card, so you decide to rephrase the question and ask again the next day. Now you get a completely different answer. Hmm … Was it wrong the first time or the last time? Is there a way these two answers work together? You can see how this can easily lead to anxiety and confusion. Perhaps you let your fears take over in the first reading and you couldn’t interpret them clearly or maybe you’ve put too much pressure on the cards and now they need to be cleansed. If this sounds like you, take a step back, remember the purpose of the cards, and give yourself time to reconnect with your deck.
Which deck(s) should I use?
Some people prefer tarot cards, some oracle, and some use both. Tarot cards have been used since at least the 15th century in Europe for games and since the late 18th century for divination (as far as we know), but the origins and history of the cards prior to the 15th century are unclear. There are 78 cards in the tarot pack, with major and minor arcana cards. Tarot cards require a lot of time to learn the possible interpretations, variations of each card, and how they change in relation to other cards and/or their position.
On the other hand, oracle cards are much more free since the creator of an oracle deck chooses the theme, images, symbols, what they mean, and how many cards will be in a deck. Oracle cards often speak to very broad or big meanings, but are fairly straightforward when combining their imagery and accompanying text. They generally take less time to learn and interpret, but are layered with just as much meaning. Ultimately, whatever feels right to you is the right deck and you can use any number of tarot and oracle decks in combination with one another. To check out our decks, click HERE.
How do I interpret them for myself?
Whatever deck you choose, look at the symbols of the card as well as the text. Think about the traditional or written significance, but also your own personal and/or cultural meaning of the card imagery. There are several ways to read oracle and tarot cards together, and you can use different decks that you feel work together. Here are some options for doing combined readings:
- Draw a single oracle card at the beginning for an overall feeling or theme, and then draw tarot cards in a spread as you normally would
- Pull a tarot card and accompanying oracle card for each position in a spread. The oracle cards are used to give more clarity to each tarot card.
- Do a tarot reading and draw an oracle card at the end to give yourself an actionable step to take based on the reading
Remember, if you choose to do your own readings the tarot and oracle cards are here to help you. They are tools of introspection. If you have a card that keeps showing up or that you are drawn to, you might want to keep it with you throughout the day as a sort of talisman. If you feel anxious pulling cards, center yourself first or wait until you feel more calm and grounded to read. For all card readers, keep in mind that how you ask a question is as important as the answer itself. The cards are simply tools; it is up to you to figure out how they can best serve your self-development.