Learn to Read Tarot 

5 Quick, Easy Tips for Learning to Read the Tarot

After I read for a client, many of them express to me that they want to learn how to read the tarot cards for themselves. The two most frequent questions I hear are, “How do you learn to read the tarot cards?” and “How long did it take you to learn to read tarot?

I have compiled my top five tips on learning to read the tarot. Other readers may have different opinions, but this is my blog, so I’m offering my opinion. I welcome the feedback of other readers in the comments.

Tip 1 – Purchase the Rider Waite Tarot Deck (this includes the Radiant Rider Waite or Universal Rider Waite). 

I believe that this is the ideal deck for anyone who is learning to read the tarot. My reasons for this are numerous. One, almost every book you read when learning the meanings of the cards will feature images from the Rider Waite. This makes it very simple to transfer the knowledge from the book to the cards you are working with. Two, almost all tarot decks available for sale are based on the imagery found in the Rider Waite. If you can learn to read with this deck, you can learn to read with nearly any deck you want to work with. Sometimes when I read with an art deck (like the Wild Unknown), I close my eyes and see the images from the Rider Waite to help me determine the meaning of a card. I am very glad this was the first deck I learned.

Here is a comparison between the Rider Waite and some other popular decks. Can you guess the meaning of the card? Do you see how the card on the right doesn’t convey quite the same meaning? The meaning is the same, but it is harder to intuitively pick up on it.

Tip 2 – Purchase books on the meaning of the tarot cards and read, read, read. 

There are a growing number of readers who identify as intuitive readers (meaning they use their intuition alone to determine the meaning of the tarot cards), but I think it is critical to learn the traditional meanings. This will enable you to work with more decks if you choose to expand your collection. It is relatively easy to read the Rider Waite intuitively, especially the minors. But when you work with more abstract decks like the Thoth or the Wild Unknown, it is great to have an index of symbols and meanings associated with each card.

I also suggest you seek out information from the best and brightest in the field of tarot. My personal favorites include Benebell Wen, Marcus Katz, Rachel Pollack, Mary Greer, Eden Grey, and Joan Bunning. Here are a list of some of my favorite tarot books.

Holistic Tarot by Benebell Wen (I just got this, but I know it’s going to be one of my favorites. It’s thicker than the Bible.)

Llewelyn’s Complete Book of Tarot by Anthony Louis

78 Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack

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Tip 3 – Commit to drawing at least one card daily.

Each and every day, draw a card in the morning. Write it down in a journal along with the date. Write down everything you know about the card. As the day progresses, be sure to pay attention to how the energy of that card plays out in your life. At the end of the day, write down any notes from what you observed. Then, look up the meaning in one of your books and jot down any meanings or symbols you may have missed. The best way to truly learn the meaning of a card is to experience it on your own. Journaling is an excellent way to record your personal experiences with each card in the deck.

Tip 4 – Study!

You aren’t going to learn tarot without commitment to studying regularly. When I was learning I didn’t go a day without reading, listening, or talking about the tarot. Podcasts, audiobooks, regular books, blogs… Consume them all.

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Personally, I would recommend tackling the meaning of the cards in the following order.

The Major Arcana (you must understand the Fool’s Journey)

The Wands

The Cups

The Swords

The Pentacles

The Court Cards

For some reason, court cards were the most challenging for me to master. I suppose that is why I saved them for last. You may wish to tackle them first. The choice is yours.

I also recommend sticking to the upright meaning of each card at first. Reversals can be very confusing for a beginning reader.

Tip 5 – Join the tarot community.

The tarot community is alive and thriving. Where I live, I am lucky to have an entire “fortune-telling family” that supports and encourages each other. If you live in the Tallahassee area, there is a fantastic FREE tarot class held every Sunday by one of Tallahassee’s best and most experienced readers, Leah. Please contact me for details. These are the people you need in your life!

Sadly, this isn’t a possibility for many people throughout the world. Fear not, because as long as you have Facebook, you are among friends. Reach out and join some tarot groups. Here are the Facebook groups I couldn’t live without.

  • Tarot Tarot Tarot (this is definitely aimed at beginners, and provides new tarot readers a place to exchange readings and get feedback in a public forum)
  • Tarot Professionals (over 24,000 members and counting!)
  • Tarot Rebels (just don’t post pictures from Rider Waite here – this is for other decks only)
  • Tarot Nerds

If I follow these tips, how long until I’m proficient with tarot?

I would say that with six months to a year of devoted daily practice and study you can learn to read for yourself, as well as friends and family, rather fluently.

*SOAPBOX ALERT*

Under no circumstances do I feel it is ethical to charge for readings until you have completed at least 50 free readings for your friends, family, and strangers. Once you are comfortable with several spreads and can ascertain the meaning of the cards without using a guidebook, you may be ready to charge for a reading. You may decide never to charge for a reading. Whatever floats your boat!

 Also, I don’t believe there comes a point in the life of any tarot reader when you are finished learning the tarot.

The truth is, professional tarot readers never tire of discussing and learning about the tarot. As a tarot tribe we all learn from each other. The more we work with others who share our passion, the better we get at our craft. The task of learning about tarot is never done.

Have fun on your journey!

XO Bethany

Candle Magic 

Modern Candle Magic

People have used candles to strengthen the power of prayer for hundreds of years. Candles are especially common in Catholic churches, where the devout light a candle as they pray to extend their prayer and honor the one for whom the prayer is meant. Vigil candles have been a part of Christian worship since the time of the martyrs.

There is something deeply spiritual about the act of lighting a candle. As the small flame fills the surrounding space with light and warmth, it gives us a sense of peace and connectedness with our world. With the conveniences of modern life, we lost our reverence for the element of fire. For thousands of years our ancestors built entire communities around fire. Fire was life. It offered warmth, protection from animals, and entertainment. It was around a fire that they ate and drank, slept, and told stories into the night. Focusing our attention on a flame connects us with those who came before us, and some say the light of a candle even attracts their spirits.

Candles have a sacred place in every spiritual practice. Those who are learning to meditate may find that it settles their mind to light a candle as they begin. The same is true for tarot readers who seek to enter a relaxed state of mind before beginning their ritual of preparing and reading the cards.

Harnessing Intention with Candle Magic

Everyone wants things in life, but not everyone will receive them. This is because desire alone is not enough to attract the things we want into our life. We must will these things into existence. Our intention is a powerful force in this world. When we set our intention and align our will accordingly, we begin to a manifest the changes in our life that we desire. It is our will that commands our focus, holds our attention, and shapes our actions in the world.

Our will is carried out by our conscience mind. This is why controlling our thoughts is paramount to our success in life. The law of attraction states that “like attracts like,” so if we spend our time focusing on negative things, we will attract more negative things. If we want positive things in our life, we must keep our thoughts positive.

Candles can be used to strengthen our intentions and, with a little planning and forethought, they help the universe bend to our will. When you reach a point in your life when you are truly open to magical thinking and the power of intention (also known as the law of attraction, or the Secret), you are ready to embrace the use of simple spells using candles.

Here are a few simple steps to developing the perfect candle spell.

Step 1) Set your intention. Be very clear about what it is you want. Do you wish to get rid of something, or do you wish to bring something to yourself?
Step 2) Determine the color and size of your candle. The candle must be allowed to burn out completely. For most rituals I use a spell or chime candle that burns out in about 1 -2 hours. When I have a very important matter at hand, I’ll use a vigil candle that burns for about 5 – 9 days. If you must put the candle out, snuff the flame. Do not blow it out. However, my preference is to let it burn (safely) until it goes out.

 Color Guide

White (in addition to these listed uses, white can be used as a substitute for any color as it is the combination of all colors) = Purification, protection, repelling negativity, peace, healing, truth, cleansing, spirituality, clarity, wholeness, and joy.

Black = Banishes negativity. Protection, banishing, inner strength, repelling black magic or harm being directed at you, healing grief and loss, and ending bad habits.

Yellow = Confidence, charm, persuasion, wisdom, mental strength, personal power, self-esteem, cheerfulness, concentration, communication, memory, logic and learning.

Orange = Good fortune, prosperity, luck in legal matters, achieving goals, cleansing negative attitudes, happiness, enthusiasm, power, action, increased libido, energy, and courage.

Pink = Love (friendly, romantic, spiritual, and universal), compassion, forgiveness, joy, harmony, sensitivity, emotional and spiritual healing, and self-love.

Red = Action, passion, love, sex, fertility, potency, energy, health, power, vitality, and courage.

Purple = Psychic abilities, spiritual awakening, inviting visions, intuition, spiritual protection, healing, respect, wisdom, purification, sensitivity, spiritual growth, and dissociating from the ego.

Blue = Spirituality, inner peace, domestic harmony, weight loss, insomnia, wisdom, truth, healing, serenity, patience, kindness, prophetic dreams, improving memory, and storing knowledge.

Brown = Promotes concentration, intuition, locating lost items, healing and protecting animals, stability, clear thinking, telepathic abilities, and decision-making.

Green = Growth, money, prosperity, good luck, abundance, generosity, physical and emotional healing, rejuvenation, renewal, and financial success.

Silver or Gray = Deflect negative influences, protection against otherworldly entities, stabilizes energies, promotes inner peace.

Gold = Attracting the gods, encourages success, wealth, communication, persuasion, victory, masculine energy, and confidence.

Step 3) Determine when to conduct your candle spell based on the phases of the moon (I keep an app on my phone for this purpose).

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Source: http://cdn.farmersalmanac.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/moon-phases2-573×400.jpg

New Moon = Powerful time to get rid of something that plagues you, like addiction, disease, or a very negative influence in your life.

Waxing Crescent = Self-improvement, increasing creativity, or inviting an energy into your life.

First Quarter Moon = Attract/bring something to you, like money, a new job, a lover, or the perfect house.

Waxing Gibbous = Giving yourself a boost/kick in the pants to finish something you already started.

Full Moon = Very powerful… It’s important to use to this for something that really matters.

Waning Gibbous = Endings/finding closure (ending relationships or partnerships that are no longer serving you).

Last Quarter = Assisting with transitions and overcoming temptations.

Waning Crescent = Get rid of something that plagues or annoys you (but save serious problems for the New Moon).

Step 4) Choose the appropriate anointing oil. Before a candle is lit, it must be dressed with oil. This infuses the candle with your intention. The right oil depends on your purpose. I use my intuition to choose the right oil. I look for something sweet for attraction, and something earthy/strong to repel.

Here are a few examples:

Cinnamon Oil = Prosperity, finances, and lust/love.

Eucalyptus Oil: Purifying and healing.

Frankincense Oil: Spirituality, psychic abilities, luck, protection, and purification.

Jasmine Oil: Love and money spells, increasing dreams.

Lavender Oil:  Cleansing, healing, and love.

Lemongrass Oil: Mental clarity, breaking habits.

Lime Oil: Energy, fidelity and loyalty.

Orange Oil: Attracting lovers, peace, personal power, and luck.

Patchouli Oil: Mastering skills, growth, love, and physical attraction.

Peppermint Oil: Energy, mental stimulant, enhances vitality.

Vanilla Oil: Lust, mental powers, sexual prowess, personal power rituals.

Ylang-Ylang Oil: Peace, love, and sex.

Once all of these steps have been taken, and the magical night is upon you, conduct your ritual. Begin by gathering your materials, and include a small knife or toothpick for engraving something on the candle. I also write my intention on a small slip of paper. In most cases, I’ll burn the slip of paper completely after I light the candle, but in a very important matter with a large vigil candle I’ll put it underneath the candle as it burns.

Go to a quiet spot. Hold your candle and you think intently on what it is you desire. It is at this moment that your will becomes permanently fixed upon your goal. Visualize yourself in a life where the change you seek has taken place. Take as much time as you need to fully commit to your intention and push as much energy as you can into the candle. Engrave on the candle any words or symbols that relate to your intention. For money, I may engrave a dollar sign. Sometimes I will research a rune that aligns to my wishes and engrave that on the candle. Engrave whatever you wish, or skip this step – it’s up to you.

Anoint (cover) the candle with oil. If you are repelling something, start at the center and work the oil towards the ends. If you are attracting something, start the oil and the ends and work it toward the middle. Focus on your intention very strongly while you anoint the candle.

When you are ready, light the candle. Slide your note into the flame and let it catch fire, then burn it completely.

Remember to ensure your candle burns out completely, and safely. Be sure that no well-meaning family members blow out your candle, as this is said to extinguish your wish.

As the moon goes through a full cycle, hold your intention in your mind and visualize yourself having met your goal regularly. Try your best to master your thoughts and keep them fixated on your intention.

Wait and watch for the universe to respond.

Note: Using a ritual like the one described above, I have successfully quit a 15 year smoking addiction, eliminated an unhealthy fixation on a past event, and got a sizable raise at work. This really works. I must encourage you only to use this ritual for positive purposes. Many in the magical world believe that if you send out negativity or evil into the world that you will receive it back three-fold. I would prefer not to test that theory.

Please feel free to share your thoughts or your own personal practice with candle magic below!

The Wild Unknown 

Diving into the Wild Unknown

(This post contains expletives)

Here in the United States, yesterday was Election Day, but I will more fondly remember yesterday at the day MY MOTHERFUCKING WILD UNKNOWN tarot deck finally arrived!

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I was so excited to finally have this deck in my possession, having ordered it on September 25th and being forced to wait what felt like forever. Once I took it out of the Amazon packaging I promptly poured myself a big glass of wine and filmed my first unboxing video, which I immediately deleted because it was so terrible. I’m not made for film, folks.

The deck and guidebook did not disappoint. I am honestly so impressed with every aspect of this deck. Kim Krans created a beautiful work of art when she designed these tarot cards and the packaging for them is just as exquisite. The kit contains a gorgeous, sturdy guidebook that is really well done. I find the card meanings align very closely to a traditional Rider Waite deck, though the art is certainly different. The card stock is pretty good, maybe a little thin, but far better than some other decks (Thoth and the Gilded Tarot, for example).

The biggest distinction with this deck is that is features only animals, no people. For some that may be a turnoff, but it wasn’t a problem for me.

The court cards feature owls (swords), snakes (wands), swans (cups),  and deer (pentacles). Here are the “Fathers” of the court, aka the Kings.

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Now, I present to you some of my favorite cards from this truly rewarding deck.
The Majors:
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The Devil (this reminds me of Black Philip in The Witch): Addiction and Negativity
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The Chariot: Strong Will and Triumph
The Minors:

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Nine of Swords: I know the worms aren’t visually appealing, but there is nothing appealing about the Nine of Swords. Dark visions and Anguish

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Ten of Wands: Burdens, Blockage, Difficulty
 

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Ten of Cups: Radiating Energy

I am enthralled by the artwork on this deck and highly recommend it to anyone who may be considering adding this to their collection. I am looking forward to using this for my daily readings.

 

Prep Work 

Preparing for a Tarot Reading

I am an intuitive reader who prides herself on honest and open readings, and I consider it an honor and privilege to connect with spirit and help people. I am committed to an ethical spiritual practice and ensuring that my clients are satisfied with their readings.

Tarot readings are a tool for providing you with divine guidance in life. I take my responsibility as a tarot reader very seriously. If I cannot establish a connection with you and spirit, I will end the reading and refund your money. Most of the time, however, spirit shows up and information will begin to flow.

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My office, encapsulated by the Florida sun.
A reading can greatly benefit people who are open and empowered to take control of their lives. I believe the future is predictable, but not predetermined. We have the power to change the future and that power lies in our day-to-day actions. In a tarot reading, we will analyze where you are. We can then look at your future and give you an idea of what you can expect if you stay on your current path. If you do not like what the cards predict, we can discuss strategies to change your outcome.

It’s easy to get a reading from me – even if you are across an ocean. Spirit doesn’t require that we be in the same place at the same time. I am able to connect energetically with only your name, though I find a photo and birthday to be very helpful in establishing a connection.

If you are on the fence, please check out testimonials from my clients. If you have questions you can always contact me here (it may take up to 24 hours for me to respond).

Visit my Book a Reading page and locate the kind of reading you want. Payment will be sent through PayPal. I will contact you within 24-48 hours to confirm that I have received your payment and verify the details of the reading you wish to receive.

Once you have ordered a reading please send me your name and date of birth. I also need you to send me your question and the method through which you wish to receive your reading. You may send any additional information or other necessary details about your situation if you wish. I find a photo can be helpful in connecting with a long-distance client, and the birthday allows me to delve more fully into astrology which complements the tarot.

Here are tips to prepare for a phone, Skype, or Facebook Messenger reading:

  • I will call/contact you at our scheduled time. If you do not answer or respond, your payment will be forteited.
  • Make sure you are in a quiet space and will not be interrupted.
  • Prepare your questions in advance.
  • Refrain from asking the same question again and again – this will never produce a good reading.
  • The future is not predetermined! If you do not like something that comes up in a reading, know that you always have free will and can alter your life any way that you wish.
  • Timing is the hardest thing to predict. A tarot reading can only give a general outlook on timing.

 Here are tips for an email reading:

  • Make your question as specific as possible.
  • If you have requested a general reading, you may respond with three follow up questions. Once completed, your reading is done. If you want to continue to go deep on a question, it may be best for you to seek a phone reading instead.
  • You may ask between 1 – 3 follow up questions within several days of the reading and I will gladly respond.
  • Do not try to wrap more than one question into one. It may confuse the energy of the reading.  One thing at a time is always best and leads to a more focused answer.
  • Timing is the hardest thing to predict. A tarot reading can only give a general outlook on timing.

Final Notes:

  • Please refer to my ethics and business policies here. I will not perform readings on medical, health, pregnancy, or any other issues for which I am not qualified.
  • I do not “tarot stalk,” meaning I will not read to pry into someone else’s life except for how it may intersect with your own.
  • Once I receive payment and your information, all readings are usually completed within 24-48 hours. If you book a reading over the weekend or during holidays it may take longer but I will be in communication immediately as to timeline.
  • I reserve the right to refuse to read for any client and will refund any money paid.
  • I will not read for anyone under 18.

 

 

 

Answering Yes/No Questions 

Yes/No Questions: Hard to Avoid!

Any tarot reader will tell you that despite your best efforts to use tarot for guidance and to encourage only open-ended questions from your clients, people inevitably want to ask yes/no questions.

And who can blame them, really?

The truth is that we all want to know what’s going to happen. Despite our best efforts to live in the present and not to worry about the future, WE DO. I bet even Eckert Tolle (author of The Power of Now, who I adore) will occasionally lie awake some nights wondering how his next book will be received or how his next overseas tour will go.

If tarot readers are being honest, even they have probably used the cards to attempt to answer a yes/no question from time to time. I know I have. In fact, learning how to answer yes/no questions was one of the first things I attempted to learn when I began to learn tarot. I wanted to know the future, damn it!

In my studies I researched a ton of different ways you can answer a yes/no question, but one in particular really resonated with me. This method was developed by Susyn Blair-Hunt and is featured in Barbara Moore’s book entitled Tarot Spreads: Layouts & Techniques to Empower your Readings.

In this method, you will use the following guidelines in deciphering the cards:

  • Major arcana and even-numbered minor arcana indicate YES
  • Court cards and odd-numbered minor arcana indicate NO

To perform this spread, you will shuffle the deck while considering the question at hand. You lay the deck down, then you cut it twice to the right so that you have three piles. You then leave the three piles on the table.

Starting with the pile on the left, lay down one card face-up. Then lay down a card from the middle pile, and then finally a card from the pile on the right.

Lay down another card from the pile on the left and the center pile. You should have a total of five cards.

At this point you will consider how many cards indicate “Yes” or “No.”

5/5 indicate “Yes” – An enthusiastic YES!

4/5 indicate “Yes” – Very probable YES.

3/5 indicate “Yes” – Probable, but not certain.

2/5 indicate “Yes” – Not likely, but possible.

1/5 indicate “Yes” – Very unlikely.

0/5 indicate “Yes” – An enthusiastic NO.

One of the best things about this spread is that the cards will provide additional information on the question, and will help you determine why something may or may not occur.

An example would be helpful, so I’m going to address a question about some land that my husband and I are trying to sell. I decided to do a quick spread on the question, ”Will my husband and I sell our land soon (in the next three months)?”

I decided to use one of my favorite decks, Thoth. Before you get hung up on my caption, please know that in the Thoth deck the Knights are actually Kings in the traditional sense of the tarot.

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In order from left to right: Two of Disks (YES), The Fool (YES), The Lovers (YES), King of Cups (NO), 4 of Wands (YES)

Thank you, cards! Managing this land has been a juggling act, as it required that we jump through a ton of hoops to get it listed. There was also the expense of having it surveyed and paying to have it advertised. To be honest we could have handled the process in a much more expedient manner, but we were distracted by other more fun things and didn’t get the land listed for six months. We were also a bit foolish in our initial asking price and had great faith that it would just sell, and it didn’t. We recently made the decision to lower the price despite my husband’s initial feelings that it wasn’t enough, but with the 4 of Wands I’m certain we will have cause to celebrate soon. We just lowered the price this week. (If the cards are right, it should sell by the end of January).

I hope that you will find this method helpful in your own readings when you have a yes/no question or if a friend or client persists in asking them. However, I encourage everyone not to put too much stock in yes/no readings. The tarot is not intended for this purpose and to reduce it only to these kinds of questions is to miss out on the wealth of hidden knowledge that it contains.

How do tarot readings work?

How do the cards arrange themselves into a meaningful pattern? Why should some pieces of cardboard with pretty pictures on them be able to mysteriously arrange themselves into an order which tells us about our life and experiences in a detail that often exceeds what we are consciously able to observe?

No one knows for sure. I can’t say exactly how the cards work, but I can assure you that they do. Several theories abound as to why this is. One is that when we shuffle a deck of tarot cards (or your reader shuffles them for you while concentrating on you and your question), the cards connect to your energy and they arrange themselves accordingly based on it. We all have energy within us. Christians call it the Holy Spirit. In Chinese medicine, it’s Chi. Yoga refers to it as Shakti. In the West, it’s commonly called Spirit. All great spiritual traditions talk about spiritual energy and the energetic body. Whatever the tradition, the energy and spirit within each of us is meant to flow as blockages result in physical and spiritual issues.

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Another possible explanation can be found in Karl Jung’s theory of synchronicity. Synchronicity can be defined as “the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.” Jung was fascinated with the tarot and worked extensively with the I-Ching, a Chinese form of divination based on the same principles. Sometimes in life we are gifted with “meaningful coincidences.” Can you think of a time (or several times) where you were simply in the right place at the right time?

By deliberately shuffling the cards we are invoking synchronicity into our lives and the cards will ‘just happen’ to arrange themselves into an order which tells us something useful about ourselves or the question we have asked.

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Different areas of psychic study credit the subconscious mind with an entire array of powers and abilities of which we are generally unaware. As an explanation for the tarot, it is usually supposed that in some way the subconscious mind ‘knows’ the order of the cards and through the shuffle, re-orders them so that they will lay out in an order which conveys a useful meaning to the person performing the spread, based on insights that the subconscious mind presumably already had.

Lastly, let’s not rule out magic (or magick). Magic means ‘to make events occur in conformity to your will’. In this case, the will of the reader is that the cards will arrange themselves in a meaningful way, in order to reveal something useful. The magical explanation is simply that this focused intent is enough to make the cards arrange themselves in a useful way. This involves accepting as an explanation that magic is real – the Universe really does respond and change according to the will of an individual. It also suggests there is some skill required in ‘making the tarot work’ as well as simply interpreting the cards. A deck of tarot cards is believed to be particularly susceptible to this form of magical influence, because of the way the cards are read.

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These are all theories. We will never know for certain exactly how tarot cards work.

The bottom line is…they do.

This post contains excerpts from http://www.weirdshitnotbullshit.com/articles/how-does-the-tarot-work.