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Home > Article Library > Divination > Twilight's Tarot Workshop Search

The Tarot According to Twilight
by Twilight

(Break the Rules)

Tarot readers are just like everyone else.  Like most arts, some people seem to have a knack or a gift for it, but it's also a skill that can be acquired and improved over time. I have written this workshop for people who are new to tarot reading.

Often when a person starts out with Tarot, they will hear of a variety of taboos that they just "mustn't" break.  Don't buy your own deck.  Don't read for yourself. Don't allow others to touch your deck.   But my advice? Break the rules!

To begin with, there will be times in your life when something just SCREAMS, "Buy me!" If you get that message from a tarot deck, listen! My own deck is the Robin Wood tarot. I first saw the cards' artwork in a book called Tarot, Plain and Simple, and it was love at first sight. From that point, whenever I walked into every bookstore and occult shoppe in town, I kept an eye out for that deck!  When I saw it at the Enchanted Forest, I snatched it up. I've never regretted that decision.

The first thing you will probably want to do is become acquainted with your deck. Before doing your first reading, spend some time touching the deck, shuffling it, looking at the cards. I spent three days just shuffling the deck and getting a feel for the cards before doing my first reading. Keep in mind, though, that this isn't a law, etched in stone and unbreakable. Diana did a reading for someone with a deck she'd bought that very day. The woman was a complete stranger, but the reading nailed her situation perfectly, as all the woman's friends were quick to point it out.

You might want to choose a special place to keep the deck when you aren't using it, such as under your pillow wrapped in silk, or in a nice wooden case. While some people will say that this effects the deck itself, others feel that this is a way to remind themselves how magickal and sacred the divinatory tool is. I made a bag out of rough silk, with a drawstring. This way I could carry the deck around with me, conveniently attached to a belt or around my wrist. You never know when you'll run into someone who is looking for a reading!

Numerology and The Origins of the Tarot

Tarot reading began with the discipline of numerology. The significance of numbers in mystical texts is well documented. This was combined with the four Quarters or elements to create a comprehensive divinatory tool. Artwork was added much later, using archetypical symbols to help "remind" the reader of the significance of the card. Today, numerology can seem almost secondary to the interpretation of these images. However, understanding numerology can help you, not only to understand each card in a spread, but also to provide the general tone of the reading.

You can find a brief description of numerological associations on EnchateD EncounterS at  To find the general tone of the reading, add up the numerical value of all the cards in the spread. Then add the digits, until you reach either a Master Number or a single digit.

Final thoughts: After putting this section together, I realized that no numbers were printed on the court cards in my Tarot deck, so I tried looking up the numerical values in both of my books, and couldn't find any.  Then I asked around and got a few different answers. One person has assigned the following values: Page (11), Knight (12), Queen (13), King (14). Another person has Page (15), Knight (17), Queen (13), King (11). This person had gotten this system from one of her books.  When I reviewed the few readings for which I'd worked out the numerological value, I found that I had skipped those cards altogether. Unless your deck already has numbers assigned to the court cards, you may wish to experiment a little with these systems.

Learning YOUR Tarot
Some Simple Exercises

While correspondence tables and instructional books may help, your readings will be more accurate and meaningful if you take the time to discover how the cards speak to you. Each of us has memories and meanings attached with various symbols, and these will flow together into a language you share only with your deck. Below are some exercises you can use to become familiar with that language.

To begin with, keep a journal that you will use to document your discoveries. Later, when you review what you've written there, you will find fresh insights into your discoveries and what you've done will be reinforced and enriched by the knowledge you've gained since.   Journal not only your exercises, but also the readings you do.  That way if you need to, you can go back and see how the things you predicted in the reading are turning out.  You might amaze yourself!

Card Meditation – Breathe deeply and relax your body and mind. If you have a comfortable technique for entering a trance state, use that.   Once you sense that you are ready, choose a card from the deck and study it. What thoughts come to mind as you look at the card?  What feelings? Imagine that the figures on the card are whispering to you – What do they say?

One variation of this technique that I used also included placing the card under my pillow before bed. When I woke the next day, I wrote down any thoughts or feelings I had upon waking. If I had dream recall, I also wrote down the dream.

Daily Reading – This can be done with either a single card or three-card spread, as you're starting your day. If drawing a single card, concentrate on that card. Write down what you anticipate based on the card itself. At the end of the day, write down what happened during the day, then go back and compare that to the morning's reading.

If using a three-card spread, draw one to represent your physical condition, one to represent your emotional/mental condition, and one to represent your spiritual condition.

Read Past Events – One way to learn the language of your deck is to do a reading for events of which you already have knowledge. As you compare the message of the reading to the event as you recall it, you will gain insight into the nuances of the cards. Note that this will only help you with the symbolism and numerology aspects of reading tarot. To develop your intuition, you must read about events of which you do not have knowledge, and review the reading after those events unfold

The Reading

It's usually best to breathe deeply, or use your favorite meditation, to enter a trance state before starting the reading. Once you feel prepared, shuffle the deck. (Here's where we get into breaking rules again. In spite of the taboo against other people handling your deck, when possible, I will have the person I am reading for shuffle the deck themselves. I will provide cleansing methods, which I use after every reading whether I shuffle or someone else does, later on.)

Pay special attention to cards that jump out of the deck. They can sometimes give you more useful information than the whole rest of the reading. Set them aside until you have the spread laid out.

When you or the person you are reading for (your call) senses the deck is ready for the spread, cut it, or have the subject cut it. I usually have it cut three ways and draw from the center stack, but you can experiment with this. This being done, lay out the spread.

Try to resist the temptation to interpret the cards until they are all laid out. I've heard it said that looking at a spread is like looking at a painting. You better understand each element in it when you are looking at the whole thing as a single entity. Or for another analogy, in every spoken language, a word is defined in part by its context.   Taken by itself, the word "shot" can mean any number of things.  It isn't until I tell you about my trip to the doctor's office yesterday that the word is given its specific meaning.

Now that the cards are laid out, begin reading them. Watch for potential relationships between the various positions. For example, if you're doing a prediction with both short and long term forecasts, what in the short term forecast could lead to the long term? If you're doing the Celtic Cross spread, how might the foundation card effect the crowning card or the future card? If any cards leapt out of the deck during the shuffle, take a look at them now. Place them on the table with the rest of the spread and see if they provide any information about the spread.

Pay attention to any words or feelings that leap to mind as you look at the spread. Tarot reading is part numerology, part symbolism, but mostly intuition. Much of this will only come with practice, and you will always have some readings that are clearer than others.

If a reading turns out to be particularly murky, and you didn't get any "jumpers" when you shuffled the deck, you may want to draw one or two "clarifiers." I draw the line at three cards drawn for clarification. Don't worry if you still don't understand the reading.  The person you are reading for might lock on to what you're telling them, even if you have no idea what you're saying. This is also where keeping a journal comes in handy, because you can go back and look at a confusing reading after some of the events transpire and have a "light bulb" moment of understanding.


The need for cleansing is commonly debated among tarot readers. I personally have chosen to cleanse my deck after every reading, but I know some experienced readers that choose not to. As my uncle would say, it's in the "tweechy zone" (to each, his own).

Cleansing can be as complicated or as simple as you desire. I have used spring-water charged in moonlight, by sprinkling it over my deck (after putting it in the silk bag I made for it, to protect it from water damage). I have chosen another cleansing method as my favorite, because it can be done anywhere, without the necessity of tools.

Waive your "power" hand (whichever one is dominant) three times widdershins (or counter-clockwise) over the deck three times. Brush your hand over the deck and "blow" the energy residue off your hand and into the air, dispersing it. Repeat as many times as you feel necessary.

Quarter Spread
(One-Week Forecast)

The Quarter Spread is one that I first used about a month ago, on a gut feeling. I liked the results so well, that I thought I'd include it here. It doesn't have to be used for a one week forecast, but can be used to forecast short and long range future events, endeavors, as well as to provide key insights into current situations. The spread itself is simple:

1st Card – EastThis card represents what you need to think about, related to the question, information you might not have considered
2nd Card – SouthThis card represents the creative force driving the issue at hand, or your source of inspiration
3rd Card – WestThis card represents your feelings
4th Card – NorthThis card represents the physical realm, practical needs and concerns
5th Card – CenterThis card represents the core of the matter, and possibly the outcome of events

If you have a tarot deck with you, go ahead and do a reading for yourself for the week. (If you are uncomfortable with this, you can read for someone in the group without a deck.) Write down your interpretation, and next week review the reading and compare it to how the week went.

Article copyright © 1999 Twilight

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