Learning how to read tarot intuitively in a blend of practice, openness, and knowledge.
Some people get discouraged that they’re not able to read tarot intuitively right away, but it’s actually rare for a person to pick up a deck and start reading with confidence and ease without a book or teacher. (Children are great at this, simply because they haven’t yet been fully conditioned to ignore their intuition.)
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you as a reader if you can’t immediately let the cards be a conduit for your unbridled and wise intuition.
Accessing your intuitive powers
We ALL have intuitive powers. But because our (patriarchal, capitalist) society values only the tangible and logical, we’ve systematically been taught and conditioned to discredit and disavow our intuition over the course of our lives (especially when we’re younger and our connection is the strongest).
The less we listen to and use our innate intuitive capabilities, the harder it is to hear them over the noise of our busy minds and the “shoulds”. The intuition is harder to access the less it’s nurtured and relied upon, which can lead to an excess of stress, overwhelm, anxiety, overthinking, and negativity.
Your intuition connects you to your core self and grounds you in a courage and confidence that’s impossible to think or effort your way to.
So how do we access our intuitive powers?
There are many ways to tap in that aren’t on this list, but hopefully this will get you started:
Start asking your intuition questions.
Just start asking your intuition low-stakes questions (let’s not start out with, “What’s my life’s purpose?” mmmk?). We’re learning to build our intuitive muscles here, so let’s start small with: “What should I wear today?” or “Which route should I take home?”
Observe the response you get and how it feels in your body.
What’s the FIRST response you get? Take note of that. How did it sound? How did it feel? Did you feel a sensation in your body when you heard it? Write these things down so you can start picking up on patterns.
Act on the answers you receive.
Part of building your intuitive muscle is acting on the advice you receive to build your trust in the process and, more importantly, trust in yourself. Notice how following through on your intuition’s advice feels and the results it yields.
Take the pressure off.
If you feel like you’re not receiving guidance or feel frustrated, pause and pivot. Consider a different approach, something that feels light and maybe even fun.
Get grounded and rest.
Another way to approach our intuition when we feel like we’re not getting much back or perhaps are putting too much pressure on it, is to shift our mindset and environment.
Getting grounded through time outside in nature, paying attention to our senses, movement, breathing, quiet rest, music, or meditation can help shift our minds from doing to receiving mode. Receiving mode is where the messages come to us.
What does it mean to read tarot intuitively?
I personally feel that the best readers do a blend of studying and knowing the tarot in the traditional sense (by putting in the hours, reading up, and learning from teachers) AND using their intuition.
Read more about Tarot Foundations for Intuitive Witches.
The tarot is a beautiful blend of symbolism and structure that helps us access our unconscious wisdom.
The concept of reading intuitively takes into account the individual meanings and symbolism of the cards and yet isn’t bound to them exclusively.
An intuitive reader feels into the way the cards interact with one another when brought together in different formations, picks up on energy from the querent’s questions, and listens to messages that want to come through the reading.
In order to read tarot intuitively, you must have self-trust.
Self-trust is something we build over time by taking actions on what we know is right for us and by keeping promises to ourselves in big and small ways.
We can strengthen this self-trust by sticking to habits or routines we know we want for ourselves AND through tarot by acting on the advice we receive from it.
Similarly, reading intuitively is something we have to practice at, can strengthen over time, and learn to trust by DOING IT, trying things, and responding.
Choose to view the tarot as a bridge to your intuition rather than something you need to put pressure on.
Tips for how to read tarot intuitively
1. Tune in.
Take a couple of minutes to slow down, cut out distractions, and ground yourself in your body before you pick up your deck. Conscious breathing and little rituals can help.
2. Ask a specific question or have an intention.
Asking the right questions or simply coming to the reading with a clear intention can help you tune into the cards with a better context, leading to more clarity. Hold your question or intention for the reading in your mind as you shuffle.
3. Note your first reaction.
When first you pull the card, what words or phrases pop up? What’s your reaction to the imagery? If you’re reading for yourself, write this all down (magic happens when you put literal pen to paper).
4. Get curious.
Look at the card closely for clues and note anything that catches your eye and what you think it means. Imagine yourself within the scene of the card, how would you feel? What medicine do you think this card holds?
5. Take the pressure off.
Let yourself sit with the card(s) for a little bit, gazing at it and letting your mind open up. Write any more info that comes through down.
6. Repeat this practice daily.
Showing up regularly helps you notice and respond to patterns, find a rhythm, and see what comes up even when you’re not feeling your best/most intuitive. We’re looking for realness here, not perfection.
7. Start a book/document of your own definitions and findings.
These can include definitions from others (books, teachers, podcasts) that really resonated with you.Build it out with your own findings, too (i.e. things you noticed in readings, song lyrics, rando connections you stumbled upon in books or conversation, etc). Tracking what clicks about a card for you will strengthen your bond to it and help you play with it more intuitively.
This is my process, but I’m so interested to hear your perspective. Do you read intuitively? Is there something in particular that helps you do it?