How to Use Tarot Cards to Guide Daily Decision-Making

Written by: the Editors of goop


Updated on: September 27, 2022

Intuitive and shamanic healer Colleen McCann wasn’t always dealing tarot cards on a mat. In her first career, she was a designer and stylist, doing something quite different than her present-day occupation, in an oddly similar way. She was tasked with presenting visual information in a compelling and organized way, that incidentally, anticipated what was coming in the next season. After her intuitive gifts became impossible to ignore, McCann found a spiritual mentor, bailed on her career, and responded to her true calling—while wrapping her practice, Style Rituals, up in a bright pink bow. Readings with Colleen are unusual, as she has a literal bags of tricks, employing everything from sage and energy clearing, to crystals, to tarot cards, which form the framework from which she reads. Colleen combines dozens of decks into a master pack for clients, though for anyone curious about integrating tarot into a daily ritual, she suggests starting with a single one. Below, she explains more about how even beginngers can read tarot cards, integrate the information, and pick the right deck.

A Q&A with Colleen McCann


What do tarot cards represent?


Tarot cards are there to give guidance, and as shamans like to say, “medicine” around what is happening in your personal orbit: love, money, career, goals, and general life path.


How should someone interpret the cards they pull?


Every tarot deck comes with a guidebook to aid in interpretation. However this practice isn’t about learning a correct meaning to the card or a single way to interpret the message. I ask that you use this moment to flex your own “intuitive muscle” and tap in to how a particular card is applicable to different areas of your life.


After you pull a card, do you put it right back in the deck, or does it need to be addressed?


OPTION 1: It is A-OK to put the card back in the deck after the reading is done.

OPTION 2: While you are contemplating the message you received, it’s great to leave it out somewhere in close proximity to refer back to it. Just don’t lose it!

I have always been taught that the cards you have chosen from the deck go back into the box face-up on top of the pile of cards, while the rest of the deck stays face-down in the box. Repeat this practice every time you do a reading for yourself or others.


What process do you recommend for pulling and addressing the cards?


How to Pull Tarot Cards:

  1. Open your tarot box.

  2. Hold the cards in your hand. Take a few deep breaths and ask your spirit guides (or whomever you believe is out there communing on your behalf) to be with you during the reading. Ask your guides for clear messages that will most benefit your highest destiny path.

  3. While still holding the cards in your hand, “knock” or tap the pile of cards several times to spread your energy into the deck.

  4. Give the cards a thorough shuffle.

  5. Cut the cards into three piles and then put them into one pile again.

  6. Now you are ready to start the reading as you have jazzed up the cards.

  7. Spread the cards on the floor or table.

  8. Choose the cards you are drawn to.

  9. Consult the guidebook and your intuition!

NOTE: If the cards are brand new, or they are new-to-you, meaning the cards have been gifted to you or someone else has used them before, you must clear the deck! You want to remove other people’s energy and infuse it with your own. First, use sage smoke to clear the cards. Then I touch every single card in the deck. I look at the image on the card and meditate on it for a minute—repeat with every card.


Should someone pull one card, or should they pull many?


This is what i recommend:

Training Wheels

Pull one card from the deck and look up the meaning in the guidebook. (Before picking the card ask out loud or silently: “What is the message I need to hear today?) Read for yourself before you start practicing with others.


There are different spreads you can follow. (In most cases traditional card spreads can be found in the guide book). You can also Google image search “tarot card spreads” to get a quick visual tutorial of how a spread works. Pick the configuration that most resonates with you. These are two very basic spreads to try:

  • THREE-CARD READING: One for past, present, and future.

  • THE WEEK AHEAD: Pull seven cards. (Decide which card represents each day of the week before turning the cards over.) Again, reference the guide book for additional info.


What resonates with you on the card? Without using a guidebook, take a few deep breaths to clear your energy field and focus, and then pick as many cards as you feel is the right number. What are you most attracted to on the card? Is it a word, number, picture, color, or perhaps what the entire scene is portraying? This is a moment to be still and hear, see, or feel what the message might be. Trust in what you sense and allow the message to unfold around you.

HOT TIP: After I pull a card for myself I always ask my spirit guides to blatantly give me a sign in my everyday life to confirm what I was sensing in my card reading. It may come in the form of a conversation with a stranger, something you read, or perhaps a photo you see on Instagram. Start to notice patterns and look for recurring themes, or as I would say, signs, around the initial information you learned from the reading.


Do you think it’s important to start with a reader, or can you realistically read for yourself?


I am a big fan of having mentors and learning methods from others and then making it my own. Take what serves you and leave the rest behind—we all take in intuitive information in different ways. I would always recommend that you get tarot readings from a professional and learn what their process involves. There are also in-person classes on how to learn basic tarot.

Remember, you are entering someone’s energy field and it is important you have a basic knowledge of what you are doing. HOT TIP: Do not read your tarot or anyone else’s tarot if you have been drinking or doing drugs. You are not in your right frame of mind and it can allow unwanted energy into your space or provide faulty messages. HOT TIP 2: If you are just beginning to read for someone, I find it helpful to not have other people in the room so you are not distracted by anyone else’s energy.


How do you keep a deck charged or healthy—is there tarot card maintenance?


Since I do this professionally I have certain decks that I use for my own personal readings that nobody else touches, and I have working decks for client readings. Here’s what I recommend you do to your deck:

  • Sage it.

  • Keep it on your altar.

  • Lay crystals on top of the deck.

  • Respect your cards like you would your clothes. Keep them in a bag or box so they don’t get dusty or damaged.