My friend Beverly asked for tips and techniques for reading for one’s self.

I’m not sure about you, but reading for myself can be an exercise in frustration. I used to throw down some cards, hoping desperately that they tell me what I want to hear, and look at them for a nanosecond and scoop them up with a heavy sigh, thinking “I have to do it again. I’m not centered enough (or I wasn’t clear on the precise wording of the question or some other excuse).”

Now, I have better habits for self-reads.

One of the first things I do to insure a good reading for myself (by good I mean useful not necessarily what I want to hear) is to commit to doing the reading. This means treating it with the same respect I treat a reading I’d do for someone else. This means being clear on the question, the spread, everything, before I begin, just as I would with a client.

It also means committing to scan, process, print out, and glue in my journal (with notes) the spread. This requires a lot of time. This does something important: helps me weed out the readings that I really don’t need to do. People who pay for readings do not bring every single question they have to a reader (well, maybe rich people do but I don’t have any of those as clients).

Making a commitment to my own reading requires me to prepare for it just as I ask my clients to prepare. Figure out what you want to know and why. Imagine best and worst possible answers. Imagine how I’d use that information (from the worst to the best), how it will help me.

When I read for myself, I used to just look at the cards and assume I’d done the reading, the interpretation “in my head.” But when I read for others, it is in the process of talking that many of the connections are made, patterns revealed, and important messages found. So I read for myself out loud. I used to record them just to force myself to speak out loud and you may find that helpful. Now that I’m in the habit, I don’t have to record anymore, but I do write everything down.

Another technique I use “to keep myself honest” is to be fiercely honest about the cards that come up. I (and perhaps you do, too) used to be really, really good at “spinning” any cards that came up to give the answer I wanted. Well, I’m still good at that, but I work hard not to do it.

After I interpret a card or set of cards, I force myself to question my interpretations. If I say, for example, that the 6 of Cups means a hot and heavy date night ahead, I ask myself what other cards in the deck could actually mean that and why didn’t tarot let those come up, if that is the answer. The 6 of Cups is not the 2 of Cups or the Ace of Wands or anything that I would consider “hot and heavy.”

My friend and owner of Ferndale, Michigan’s Boston Tea Room, presented a workshop on reading for yourself at the North Western Tarot Symposium. She used a similar idea but makes it way better and easier. She suggests that when you read for yourself that you go through your deck and select the cards that you think will be the answer. Then you pull randomly for the same positions to find out what tarot says is the answer.

I now take that further and pick the cards that create my ideal (or expected or hoped for) answer with one deck. Then I use another deck to shuffle and randomly draw to get tarot’s perspective.

This technique really does wonders to help me understand what outcome I’m attached to and helps me be more honest with myself about my self reads.

I hope these ideas help you, too. If you have your own self read tips, please share in the comments!

Written by Barbara Moore
The tarot has been a part of Barbara Moore’s personal and professional lives for over a decade. In college, the tarot intrigued her with its marvelous blending of mythology, psychology, art, and history. Later, she served as the tarot specialist for Llewellyn Publications. Over the years, she has ...