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Automated Tarot Readings

June 15, 2010

Recently someone asked me, “Just how accurate are automated Tarot readings?”  Of course, the answer to that question was more complicated than the person asking the question anticipated.

The Fortune TellerMaybe you’ve seen one or two of those websites or used such software.  You type in your question and the website (or software) will lay out several cards and give you the interpretations for them.  But how can a computer do something that requires intuition?  The short answer is that it can’t, but a more in-depth answer is that there is value to those automated readings.

So what is that value?  First, these automated readings give you a chance to use a Tarot deck that you may not own.  It’s like taking a test drive before you buy a car.  Next, the computer is a very efficient card shuffler. And if the Universe can direct the random selection of the cards when we shuffle them, I don’t see why It can’t do the same thing when a machine does the shuffling.  Finally, a computer can suggest meanings for the cards.  Now, I stress the word “suggest,” because here’s where the intuition part comes in.  Ultimately, the interpretations come from you, the human in the equation.  But sometimes our intuition may need a little jumpstart, if you will, and the suggested meanings from the automated facility can do that much.  I would be quick to point out, however, that we should not rely on these suggested meanings.

So the long answer to this question is that automated Tarot readings can shuffle the cards of a deck – one that you may be interested in but don’t own – and lay them out for you to read.  It will give you suggested meanings for the cards, but the intuitive “work” of doing the reading is still up to you.

With that said, I would be interested to hear what other people think about automated reading websites and software.

Also, I now provide a few links to automated reading sites.  (See my links list on the right hand side of this page.)  One in particular, Automated Readings — “MyDivination”, features my Tarot of the Masters deck as one of its featured decks.  If you want to try one and let me know how it works out for you, I would be interested to hear your experiences.  Also, if anyone knows of other good free automated reading sites, let me know and I’ll include those links here.


From → Readings, Spreads

  1. Great post, very interesting…I think technology can and does act as a medium for conveying psychic information, sort of like electronic voice phenomenon and the like. The free tarot at Llewellyn is my fave, seems quite accurate, and I also play this Nintendo video game called Animal Crossing that has a fortune teller, and she is somehow always spot on! No machine has a thing on you and your reading skills, though…

    • Thanks Melanie.
      I’ve used all three of the automated sites that I have posted so far, but I’ve never used a video game. Interesting that it works so well!

  2. David permalink

    I agree with you, James. Automated reading give interpretations that are similar to those found in the LWB and other text by various authors. The Automated reading give one the chance to use different decks that are not owned. A trial run as it were. The interpretations are jumping off places that let one develop there own intuitive style and as such are a valuable resource. The interpretations are static and unable to utilize the energy of card placement in a spread. It take the reader to enrich the interpretationl

    • Right, David. Using just the static interpretations given by an automated reading site would be much like doing a reading using just the meanings in the deck’s LWB.

  3. Due to my hectic lifestyle, many times I have to do my email readings on thego and in public places, and then I use the Orphalese software. I’m sure you’ve hear of it- it is professional-oriented, as it doesn’t give the meanings. It shuffles the cards allows you to create your own spreads and to use every deck in the market, including oracles, I-ching and runes. It is also great for creating captions of your spreads to enclose in mails and documents. I heartily recommend it.

  4. One week I decided to test out automated readings against ‘myself’ by asking what clients were coming to discuss, half an hour in advance of their arrival, then waiting to see if the automated reading was verified by my own reading. This is something I like to do anyway myself before a reading…then I watch to see if the cards reappear in their presence and if they do, I know I’m on their continuum. The results were interesting. Repeatedly the automated reading turned out to have foreseen the living ‘question.’ However, I ignored the text provided in making my correlations, so if I were not a tarot reader, but was trying to interpret card by card using the text, nothing wrong with the text, but I might have struggled to access it. I have clients who have tried them and say they’ve read the texts but still don’t understand what they mean. I’d say they do ‘work’ and I agree about them them as a useful learning resource. I like Facade, which allows reversals. As Melanie says, Llewellyn’s is good, though I find it has a slight ‘grumpiness’ 🙂 Good if you want straight talking with a bit of ‘grit’ in your reading, otherwise The New Age one is gentle. For me, Facade strikes a balance.

  5. I find if I ask a sincere ethical question, I get good results.

    A lot of beginners want to use their own cards and lay them out manually, but need help interpreting them. I have only found two websites that cater for this, Students of Tarot (free) and tarotdotcom (for a fee).

  6. I pretty much agree with you on the key points. I find when I am doing readings for myself, a quick one card random draw from my favorite automated site works well. I like this one because it offers 11 spreads to choose. The suggested interpretation are customized by deck.
    But for medative readings I perfer cards in hand. As well as face to face.

  7. As a reader I also like the ability to explore a deck or to see how various spreads might work in a reading. By necessity, the “interpretations” of the cards in an automated reading are usually pretty vague and generic, as if to cover all the possibilities. It doesn’t surprise me when clients have trouble understanding the reading with only those interpretations to go on.

    Thanks to you, James, I will now probably spend an inordinate amount of time experimenting with the sites you linked to… 😀

  8. Tiana permalink

    Another sign of the times, me thinks! 🙂 What I find it hard to do is visualise (and do), is to do what they suggest, and that is to concentrate on a question before ‘shuffling’…before an inanimate object…who asks you to choose cards that ‘pull’ at you…hmmm…better yet, asks you to write down the question beforehand…before shuffling….etc

    Computers are by design, made for logic…a great tool to learn from, great for beginners and psychological students in developing understanding of cards, to play with various designs and spreads, etc…but for a ‘non-tarot reader’ to use this method…much a waste of time…and for a tarot reader…well, let’s just say I’m not automated and not manipulated by a program that replies with stock answers…besides looking at a screen that gives off so much magnetic energy puts a strain on my eyes and scrambles my intuition…:P

  9. Wow, lots of comments so quickly!

    Rozanda — Apparently there are many products out there for doing readings. I am not aware of Orphalese. I know that there are apps for your cell phone too (is that what Orphalese is?). That way you can do a reading wherever you go.

    Katie Ellen — Interesting experiment. I just tried it and will see how it works out. 😀 … Also, as noted, I definitely agree that the automated “meanings” are to be used only as a starting point (if at all) so such readings would be hard if not impossible for novices and non-tarot people.

    Paul — Thanks for the “facade” link. I’ve added it to the list.

    Zanna — Sorry if I’ve led you to a new addiction. 😉

    Helen — Yes, I like the Students of Tarot facility also.

    Tiana — As noted, I agree that these sites are not for non-Tarot readers. They are to a “real” Tarot reading what a newspaper horoscope is to getting your astrological chart done. However, I think they are an interesting tool, when their limitations are taken into account, for those of us who use them as a way to shuffle a virtual deck and lay out the cards.

    Bright Blessings,

  10. Hi James,
    in fact Orphalese is tarot software for professionals and one of the pioneers in this field. I guess there will be a mobile phone version sooner or later but I use te computer one for my netbook, which goes around with me and which i call “baby Pooka”-Pooka is Irish for a witch’s familiar, enough said. 😉
    A very complete Orphalese version is free, if you want to know more: http://

  11. Automated internet readings served as my gateway drug into full fledged tarot reading. The utter objectivity is appealing, even if the ascribed card meanings are static, they can’t be swayed or bent to my mood. If I’m having trouble reading for myself, these sites can come in handy.

    As to Orphalese — LOVE it. It’s not an automated reading program, it’s software that uses virtual decks to shuffle and throw either your own stored spreads or you can lay the cards out yourself one by one. I wouldn’t necessarily use it in a face to face reading as that might seem weird to a client, but I use it with my online readings a lot. It allows me to save a screen shot of the cards and attach it to my client’s email reading as well. It behaves like a real deck in almost every sense except you’re not actually handling the cards. I’ve been able to preview decks with this program before I buy them so I can see how I read with them. You can also create your own spreads, save readings, notate them, etc. It’s an incredible resource. I would love a mini-version app for my phone!

    • That’s a good point, Ginny. When doing a reading for yourself, it’s hard to wiggle out of the dispassionate and objective answers that an automated system gives you. 😀
      And thanks for your additional thoughts about Orphalese. I have to look into it.

  12. I fully agree with Ginny. Orphalese is invaluable for email readings and allows you a lot of possibilities. Hope they,ll make a phone app version someday 😀

  13. I have to admit that sometimes I enjoy using the automated readings for myself when I want to explore a new deck. It’s a great way to get a feel for it before you purchase it, to see if it resonates with you. (working on automating my deck at the moment).

    My thoughts have floated back and forth on the accuracy of it, while I have had automated readings that seem to be accurate, I have had others that have not. I believe that the most beautiful experiences during a tarot reading happens through the interpretation. That’s where the automated readings lack, and will always lack. Computers cannot do the energy / emotional based interpretations, and they never will.

    Saying that, I have to say that I like Llewellyn’s automated Tarot, and

    • Hi Chanel,
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Actually, I’ve had live readings that didn’t work too, though, so getting some inaccurate automated readings doesn’t automatically (no pun intended) negate their value. 😀
      But again, I think their best value is as a way to shuffle and deal a deck, especially one you don’t have. Interpretations are ultimately up to you.

  14. Jason D. permalink

    Hi James,

    I started out using the RiderWaite deck with a how to do Tarot book to interpret the cards. It went well but then I discovered Tarot softwares. I truely believe that everything that comes to us through our psyche can come through the “machine”. I love computers by the way.

    Now, I use Visual Tarot and Orphalese software. I tend to favor Orphalese because of the background options and the ability to float your cards over the desktop.

    I have done extensive personal testing with these software on my own personal readings and my conclusion is that they absolutely work as well as the card. I’ve even written my own program in Excel and guess what. It works just as well. I am a reluctant and “parttime” psychic. I hate using that word but it’s most appropriate. I have conciously picked the cards seconds before it appears on the screen and “directed” the spread ‘s result when the topic did not fit the querent ‘s question.

    So, if you ask me. The machine is part of the matrix and can be relied on for Tarot. The “New Age” point of view is that everything in existance belong to the matrix and everything is energy/vibration. The matrix that I speak of is not like the movie but similar and referred to by remote viewing.


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