The Medium in Our Midst: A goop Staffer on How to Read Tarot Cards
The goopiness of goop always makes us smile. There are adaptogenic smoothies cooling in the test-kitchen fridge, essential-oil-infused steam pipes out quietly from sleek ceramic diffusers from Vitruvi, and our copy chief is actually named Aura. Then there’s our senior VP of fashion, Shaun Kearney, who also happens to be a full-on intuitive. He mentioned it when he first started in our weekly all-staff stand-up meeting, and we all immediately descended upon him, full of questions. He gives out the occasional Slack-channel astrological update and has even conducted some (mind-blowing) readings for other staffers.
Kearney’s real job is, as you might imagine, somewhat all-consuming, so we try not to drive him nuts with the readings. Instead, we asked him for some tips on how to get started with tarot cards, which he uses as a jumping-off point for his readings.
Dear Shaun, We love these tarot cards—the illustrations alone are so cool-looking, and the book that comes with them is even more inspiring. How do we learn to read them? Is the book all we need? Can anyone learn to read tarot cards?
Dear goop staffers,
A deck of tarot cards is the best way to get started—and to see if you connect with your intuition. If a beautifully designed deck like this one gets you more excited, you’re more likely to spend time experimenting with the cards, and that’s the key to learning to read them.
You build a relationship with tarot. I’m not so much a tarot reader as an intuitive, so I use the cards as a guide. They’re the foundation for the reading.
First, learn the basics: You’ve got books (this deck comes with a great guidebook), and you’ve got cards, and you read about their meanings. Then you start playing with the cards, asking the deck questions. You’ll start to see and feel things as you’re going through them. As you fool around with the deck, you start to build trust in it. Sometimes you’ll get pretty definitive confirmation about something. If you ask the deck the same question over and over, often the exact same cards will reappear, over and over, no matter how many times you shuffle them or split them. That sort of thing is what helps you build real trust in the cards.
It’s best to practice reading someone else. I mean, I’m guilty: I ask the cards everything about myself, but when you do that, you’re getting more a reflection of what you’re thinking, not the whole picture of what’s going on. You go to a doctor, right? Self-diagnosing is never a good idea. When you’re reading someone else, you’re not so attached to the answers, not so biased, so you have some perspective. As you get better at it, you start to realize the reading isn’t about you; you become this channel for information to flow through.
If you can, go to different intuitives for readings, and you’ll learn more as you go. Take a picture of the cards when they’re set out, and take notes on what the reader says about them. The more intuitive and connected to the cards you become, the more you’ll be able to scope out what resonates with you.
You need to look at the surrounding cards to bring out the meaning of a particular card. As time passes, the cards will start to have different, more nuanced meanings. For example, when novices see the Tower card or the Death card, they freak out. But those cards don’t often mean a literal death is going to occur, and they can actually be pointing to good things, even enlightenment. It could be a toxic relationship is over or a job you need to leave behind. The Tower is like oh, no, change is going to happen! But that change could be just what you need to make you happy. Death is often the universe saying to you: Time to refresh—press reset.
On the other hand, people see the Wheel of Fortune card and they’re like, OMG, jackpot! Prosperity! And that’s not usually literally the case, either. Wheel of Fortune is a karmic card, so if you’ve been having a rough time, it can mean maybe things are going to get better. It also signals a calmer energy.
In the end, you just have to get in there and try. It doesn’t always work, a strictly mechanical reading going back and forth between the cards and guidebooks, but feel your way and see what comes up.