Behind the Scenes

Starchild whimsical Tarot card spread, crystals, Lenormand cards, Oracle cards

My Tarot reading space, my process, and details on how I read the cards

Updated 28 Apr 2021

My Reading Space

Here’s my Tarot reading space: a mid-sized black armoire desk that closes–great for preventing kitties from stealing crystals and reshuffling my cards. I appreciate the shelves and space for books and notebooks since functional organization makes me really happy. Most of my decks live nearby, in an over-the-door hanging organizer with clear pockets.

My 3 favorite decks, the 78 Tarot Nautical, Bohemian Wild Lenormand, and the Universal Mind Oracle, usually live inside the desk (when we’re not out having Tarot adventures together). I clean off and close the desk when I finish what I’m working on, so I always start with a clean slate. This is also where I journal and plan my weeks.

Setting up a Sacred Space

Because I start clean each time I set up for a reading, there’s no distracting clutter. I enjoy the whole process of setting up (Virgo, ya know?)–keeping the question in mind as I do so. If anything stressful or difficult has happened, or I feel the space could be lighter, I might light the tip of a sage bundle and waft the smoke through the reading space or over myself. Some days you just need to go sage yourself.

Mindset: Take a few deep cleansing breaths and exhale worry, overwhelm, or anything else that might cloud your judgment.

Physical setup: I lay out a Tarot cloth, choose crystals and other beautiful items that support the reading, and light a candle. If I’m reading at a wooden table or another appealing surface, I may skip the Tarot cloth.

Set up can be as simple or elaborate as I like or have time for. Taking the time to carefully lay out everything prompts me to relax and focus. Read more about creating your sacred space at Biddy Tarot.

Choosing a Deck or Decks

I usually choose my decks based on the reading topic and what feels best or most peaceful at the time. Sometimes I look over my collection and pick the decks that catch my attention–that’s often how I know I’ve got the right set of cards. When I begin using a new deck, I’ll use it for several readings to really get familiar with the cards. Deck themes and illustration styles are often helpful in choosing.

When I’m using multiple decks in a reading, which is most of the time, I like the color palettes and art styles to complement each other. Card size matters more when I’m using a smaller Tarot cloth or reading space, like the blue cloth pictured above, and when I’m doing a larger reading with more cards. I read most often with a Tarot deck and an oracle deck, choosing one or two oracle cards to set the tone for the reading.

Choosing the Cards

I begin my readings by holding the Tarot deck I’ve chosen while I focus again on the question(s). Then I shuffle twice, and cut the deck twice. I fan the cards and choose any that stand out or are easier to remove from the cards around them. I remove the number of cards needed for the reading, stacking them face down so the first card drawn is on the bottom. Then I lay the cards out in order. I repeat this with the oracle deck if I’m using one.

How you shuffle your cards is a matter of personal preference. I tend to like larger decks and I can’t shuffle in the traditional riffle or overhand styles. Instead, I take half the deck in each hand, spread them apart (keeping the tops and bottoms aligned, sort of like fanning them, but holding the cards in a horizontal line), then slide them together into a single pile.

You may choose to shuffle and/ or cut the cards differently–use the way that works best for you. This is simply the way that works best for me. See Ethony*’s How to Shuffle and Select Tarot Cards Like a Pro, a 30-minute video with transcript, if you’d like to try a different way.

If you read reversed cards (aka reversals) or want to try, you may choose to turn one section of your cards upside down when you cut the deck. I personally don’t read reversals, but instead I sense when the reversed or shadow meaning of a card is indicated. There are great Tarot teachers in both camps–reversals and no reversals.

Next, I fan the cards out and choose the number needed for the reading. I take the cards that catch my eye first or slide out of the deck the easiest.

Preparing for a Samhain Reading. L – Arcana Iris Sacra, Center: Muses of Tarot, R – Indie Wild Rune Oracle

Doing the Reading

I look at each card individually, then as a group, and weave their meanings together as an answer to the current question. Many times, I’ll receive intuitive sparks as I read the cards, so I make notes. My notes also have an automatic writing aspect, so I don’t always recall having the ideas I’ve written down during the reading. I usually take pictures, then sit at a computer to type my full interpretation. If reading for myself, I record the reading in a journal or mirror book.

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