How to Read Tarot – Preparing the Space

The ritual of setting up my reading space prepares me, and the space, for the reading. What is most important is that it feels right. What colors support you? Which fabrics feel right? What stones are you attracted to?

Happy Libra New Moon dear ones! This month we are going to start a series of How to Read Tarot by exploring the preparation of the reading space. 

Just as the year itself is balancing the scales of the seasons and releasing the light of summer while heading towards the dark winter with the autumnal equinox before this Libra new moon, it is good to reset our balance before we read. Preparing the space in a way that supports and suits one’s aesthetic as well as provides a clean slate for a reading is important.

When I am preparing to do a reading, I look at the space and see what is needed; is there adequate room on the surface of a table to read the cards? Is there enough light? Are there comfortable seats for both the querent and myself? Is there enough space for a candle and is it safe to light one? Does the energy of the space feel clean or do I need to light some sage to clear it? Is it safe to light sage or should I use an essential oil spray? Sometimes clearing the energy of a space is as simple as intending it and watching as it clears up. Once the space is right it’s time to take out the cards.

I carry my cards in a special bag from Peru that a dear friend brought me after visiting her home country. In that bag the cards themselves are wrapped in a white silk handkerchief that becomes an outer wrap once it frays and I have to find a new inner one. It is a continual cycle of wraps. Next to the cards in that bag is a small silk bag with 4 pieces of natural citrine and 2 pieces of polished kyanite. Next to the bag in my case, I keep a sphere and a heart both made of selenite and a sphere of shungite.

Finally, there is a bigger set of white scarves wrapped around 2 long pieces of selenite. When I unwrap those pieces, the scarf becomes the sacred space that I do my readings on. Essentially I carry my reading space with me and all I need when I arrive to do a reading (or someone arrives to receive a reading) is to open and place the scarves, set the stones where I want them (they do have specific placements/patterns I prefer), and voila! there is my sacred reading space.

Selenite, citrine, kyanite and shungite are currently my favorite stones. All of these stones are very high resonance so that they do not attract any unwanted energies and instead they clean and clear whatever comes in contact with them. They keep the energy of my cards clean and raise the vibration of the reading space when I set them out in preparation for a reading.

You will likely have your own colors, fabrics, stones and other symbols or talismans that support and resonate with you and your work as these do for me. What is most important is that it feels right. What colors support you? Which fabrics feel right? What stones are you attracted to? Use your intuition, your gut, and your senses to tap into what is right for you. When I lived in a home with rose bushes I would bring a vase of roses with me when I read and give a roses out at the end of each reading.

The ritual of setting up my reading space prepares me, and the space, for the reading. As I set up my space I am changing from every day mundane reality to the enchanted liminal space where the messages can come through. I am letting the universe and my subconscious know that I am ready to offer the guidance of the cards to whoever comes to receive.

After I set the space I prepare the cards; at the end of each reading session I separate the deck into major and minor arcana decks* before wrapping it up in the silk so in the beginning of each session I shuffle the two decks together into the full tarot deck, mixing them up at least 3 times. I also cut the deck in to three piles and then bring it back together. Then I tap the cards on the selenite heart to make sure it is cleared of any old energies.

At this point it is time to start the reading and so I hand the deck to the querent, the person who has come to receive a reading. When I read tarot it is important to me that the person take as much responsibility for their own reading as possible and so I invite them to shuffle the deck until it feels right and cut it if that feels right as well. When they feel the deck is ready they hand it back to me and I spread it in a horizontal line before them on the table and ask them to pick their first cards and hand them to me one at a time so I can place them for the reading.

How many cards and how I place them depends on the reading that is appropriate for that time, place and person. Next month we will discuss find the deck that suits us, and then delve into a simple reading format.

Many blessings on your equinox and your Libra new moon, may you experience the balance and the peace of this time.

Foot note: *For those who are just learning about tarot, the tarot deck is actually made up of two decks: the major arcana consists of 22 cards that represent the major spiritual milestones that occur in every human life; each of the major arcana cards is associated with one of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. And the minor arcana, which provides surrounding factors &/or influences for those milestones and essentially resembles the modern playing card deck with 4 additional trump cards (either page or princess depending on the deck). Hearts are cups, which represent the element of water; diamonds are pentacles or coins and represent the element of earth; clubs are wands and represent the element of fire and spades are swords, which represent the element of air.

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