How to be of service as a tarot reader

Cards and Crystals [666044]

So many tarot readers begin working with the cards, because they want to help others.

Tarot can be an incredible tool, giving us clarity and confidence in our paths. It can be used for shadow work, spiritual counseling, and so much more. Even a general reading that might start out as something to do just for fun between you and a friend can open up transformative insights and discussions. But a lot of the times, tarot readers – especially those who are still beginners – struggle to see how they can come from a place of service when reading for others (and themselves, for that matter).

What does it even mean to come from a place of service? It means treating a tarot reading as sacred space. It means leaving your ego at the door, as hard as that may be. It means turning off any assumptions you might have about the situation you’re seeing in the cards, and about the person in front of you. It means being clear about how you want to support others, and being generously compassionate with those you are reading for.

Coming from this place might not always be something tarot readers are conscious of. Usually, when we’re just starting out, it’s easy to get caught up in worrying about whether your reading will be any good. It’s so easy to get focused on remembering the positions of a tarot spread and the meanings of the cards, and it’s so common to worry about whether a reading will even be accurate.

But underlying so many of those fears is the desire to deliver a reading that might offer some illumination, hope, or message that can help someone find their way forward. Worrying about giving a “good” reading isn’t so much about what we want for ourselves as tarot readers, but what we want for the people we are serving. And remember, clients can be anyone: friends, family, colleagues. Using tarot to help others is something that all readers can do, whether they’re operating in a professional or personal capacity, or somewhere in between.

So how can you come from a place of service? Here are some tips to help you get started:

Tarot Cleansing

1. Set an intention.

Deciding to come from a place of service is one way to start. It’s a simple step, but once you get consciously choose this, you will begin to shift the energy of your work. You will also be giving yourself a clear intention to fall back on if you find yourself getting caught up in other aspects of a reading, such as getting a confusing or conflicting message.

2. Trust that every person you read for has crossed your path for a reason.

Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that the people we meet – including clients – are some of our greatest teachers. There is a message that perhaps only you are meant to deliver to a client, and you might not even know what it is. Likewise, clients (and tarot altogether) will keep us humble.

If you feel that a boundary has been crossed, or you read for someone who wasn’t a good fit, pay attention to what you learned. It will help you attract people you can best be of service to in the future.

3. Leave your ego at the door.

This one can be hard to do. The ego is the part of us that needs to be right. It wants to feel validated. It wants to hear praise at the end of every reading. It wants to be reassured that it gives the best tarot readings in town.

But remember how in tip #2 I mentioned that there could be a message that someone absolutely needs to hear, and you might not even know what it is? Well, that’s the stuff that your ego can get in the way of. The ego is what might make you see a message in a card and think, “Ugh. That sounds so boring or insignificant I won’t even bother to mention it.”

But it could be just what’s needed in that time.

I am constantly amazed at how mundane some messages can be, and yet they have such an impact to the person hearing them. Don’t hold yourself back just because something doesn’t sound exciting, or feel very flashy.

Ace of Crystals [533112]

4. Don’t assume you know what’s best for others.

Not every client needs to be wowed. They might need to reassured, or they might need to feel seen and heard.

One of the hardest things about reading tarot is that you won’t always know what someone needs. The person you’re reading for might not even be sure of what that is. Try to stay neutral in a reading. That doesn’t mean you have to be unemotional, but leave any assumptions or expectations at the door. They can keep your ego company.

It’s also important not to pass judgment on the messages that are coming through. Sometimes, challenging experiences end up being exactly what a client needs. Not every relationship, job, or decision is going to be perfect. But the lessons they bring might be just what a client needs to wake up to their true potential, or to grow in a way that they wouldn’t be able to without meeting that challenge head on. Sometimes we need to make our own mistakes.

You can offer some guidance for protection around this, but don’t push anyone to choose a different direction without knowing whether it’s a better path for them or not. You might even want to put up certain boundaries around your readings around what types of questions you will answer. For example, I know an astrologer who does relationship readings, but only when a couple has been together for a longer period of time, or is married or engaged.

5. Be honest, clear, and compassionate.

It’s never easy when you see a negative or challenging outlook in a reading. But it’s never good to lie about it, either. Respect what you’re seeing in the cards. Be clear and up front about it, but deliver your messages in a way that is sensitive and compassionate, too. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met who received worrying messages from tarot readers and who stressed about them for months, sometimes years, afterwards.

I’ve heard stories from women who were told they would never have children (that seems to be a surprisingly common one). I’ve heard of readers making bold assumptions about clients’ character traits, telling them that they will never succeed because of what readers perceived as personality flaws.

The list goes on, but in other words: Yikes.

You don’t want to be that type of memory for someone, or that type of story. If you do see something tough in a reading – maybe your friend won’t get the job they really want, for example – you could say, “This might not be the right opportunity for you, because the cards aren’t giving me a green light around it, but let’s recast the cards and see what else is on the horizon.”

If you keep a tarot journal, you might want to sit down and work out some responses to worst-case scenarios in readings. Challenge yourself to find sensitive approaches and solutions to handling the tough stuff.

Rose [666045]via Unsplash

6. Know what to do if an issue comes up that you’re not equipped to deal with.

As tarot readers we need to go beyond the cards in order to understand where someone else is coming from. Having real-world experience helps us to put the cards into context and create our own reading styles. But sometimes, compassion doesn’t feel like it’s enough.

As you branch out and read for more people, you will eventually meet someone who brings a question or a situation to you that you might not have the life experience to address. This is definitely a time to be honest. It is much better to be up front and say, “I don’t know what that’s like, but I can keep reading the cards, and you let me know if this resonates with you.” Check in with the client as you go along. It’s okay to ask questions and make sure you’re connecting.

Tarot readers aren’t omniscient. We don’t see, hear, and know all (though that would be amazing wouldn’t it?!). It’s okay to remind a client that you’re human. If you really feel like a topic is out of your scope, refer them to someone else.

7. Recognize that reading tarot is a big responsibility.

People put a lot of trust in tarot readers. There is a level of vulnerability involved, and people often approach readings as safe spaces to share their fears, worries, and insecurities. Don’t take that lightly. Remember that as soon as someone sits down for a reading (or opens up with beautiful messages via email), they’re going to be hanging on to your every word, and they’re going to be taking you seriously.

So again, if you do start steer someone down a certain path or dish out advice, be sure to do it in a balanced way that allows your clients to make their own decisions at the end of the day. If you tell someone that their new business will be a success, or that they should write a book because it will be a bestseller, or that November is a great time to sell their house, remember that you are setting up some lofty goals and encouraging clients to possibly take a lot of risks.

Taking a balanced approach and helping people explore their options can help clients stay empowered about what’s to come. Not everything has to be absolute. If a client is pushing you for promises or guarantees that you’re not confident in delivering, then don’t.

8. Know the difference between being inspired and empowered.

There is a lot of talk in the tarot community about empowering clients, but what does that really mean? It’s different from leaving someone feeling inspired. Feeling inspired can be exciting, but empowerment is deeper than that.

Empowerment happens when someone reclaims authority over their life.

Empowerment is when someone gives themselves permission to make a change, or to perceive themselves in a way they haven’t dared before.

Empowerment is what helps a person act on their inspiration.

A great tarot reading can do both of these things for someone, but it should always remind a client that they need to own their decisions and their destinies.

10 of Pentacles

9. Be sure that you’re ready.

As I said before, tarot is a big responsibility, and that responsibility can deepen if you decide to go pro with your readings.

Knowing when you’re ready isn’t always easy. Some tarot readers take a class and then decide they’re ready to go professional. Some readers practice for years (like me) before they take the plunge. Choosing to read tarot and putting yourself in the position to deliver messages that may alter someone’s life is a big deal, and every reader is going to decide they’re ready on their own time. It’s a very personal choice.

Know that if you do decide to start charging for readings, the pressure of seeking financial opportunities through tarot can do weird things. It can make you question your own intentions and integrity. It can give you a bit of an imposter complex.

But this is where coming from a place of service will help guide you. When you can fall back into that space and remind yourself of what your true intentions are with tarot, you will see that the path will open up to you in time. Ask for the right clients to come your way, the ones who you can best be of service to, and allow the universe to help you find each other.


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  1. Beth says:

    I love this post, Liz. There’s sound advice for readers of all levels – having just returned to tarot reading after a break, I found it so helpful to remind myself of these principles. Setting the intention to be of service – as you say, such a simple thing, but so easily skipped over. And getting the ego out of the way? Eeesh, I think this is such a universal struggle. Thank you for naming it and finding practical ways to work with our desire to deliver ‘the best’ (and how that can, ironically, hold us back from delivering the real best…)

  2. Eli says:

    This is wonderful advice. I read for a phone line, and it can be quite tough, because I feel like I have a lot less control over the conditions of my reading than I’d like. Many of my clients have very different beliefs and expectations about tarot than I have, and there is also, unfortunately, a kind of monotony to the questions I get–95% are about an ex (should I take him back/does he want me back/what’s going on with his new partner). I struggle against boredom and exasperation. But there’s real vulnerability, pain, longing and need in these clients, and I am always trying so hard to properly be there. I like this perspective for helping me to be patient, be present, be humble. Setting intentions is a great step.

    The majority of my readings end up involving the delivery of a disappointing message–because, well, happy reunions with exes don’t grow on trees. I’ve found that I take inspiration from the Dear Sugar columns by Cheryl Strayed ( She has a beautiful way of delivering wisdom and hard truths in the most loving way. An excellent example of empowering vs inspiring.

  3. Rafelina says:

    This was so helpful! I’m just starting to want to practice with friends and family and this helped me think intentionally of how I go about it and keeping the ethos of service in mind, so thank you!!

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