Skip to content

Interesting variations on doing Tarot readings

August 25, 2010

3 CARD FAN -- Tarot of the MastersRecently a reader of this blog, a woman named Ruth who is a tarot reader who lives (as she says) “in the middle of nowhere,” wrote to me with an idea about an interesting variation on how to do Tarot readings.  What follows are her suggestion and my response to her. If, after reading this, you have a reaction or a suggestion you would like to share, please do.
Here is what Ruth said:

An idea for doing double readings just popped into my head, but I don’t have anybody to try it with. Since your blog is my favorite tarot blog, I thought I’d see if you had ever heard of anything like it. This might be something that I read on-line somewhere and just forgot, or maybe it really is a breakthrough in tarot technology. I don’t know.
This is my idea:

Two people (we’ll call them Bob and Ted) both shuffle their decks. Either they can focus on a common issue, like problems they’re having at the company they own, or they can each focus on a separate problem, like Bob’s trouble with his mother and Ted’s bouts of depression.

First Bob lays down one card that Ted reads, then Ted lays a card that Bob reads. If they have a common issue, the card could refer to the person shuffling or the person reading the card or just generally about the issue, but if they have separate issues the interpretation should be for the issue relevant to the person dealing the card.  This process can be repeated as necessary.

What would make this even more fun is if the two people use different decks.  This would be especially interesting if the readers aren’t familiar with the other person’s deck, or if they’re overly familiar with their own deck. Someone else’s interpretation of your deck might show you things you never noticed.

You could even do this with more than two people, with everybody putting in their two cents worth, but that could take all day if you’re not careful. Maybe there could be a time limit. Each person would just get 2-3 minutes per card, then the person who drew the card would have a chance to reflect a little before the next person drew a card.

Here is my response:

Hi Ruth,
The closest thing to this that I know of is the “conversational reading” technique that I discuss in my book, Tarot Spreads: Get the Whole Story.  This is a brief excerpt from my book about that:

One-card readings can be expanded into a series of one-card readings.  In that case, the querent and the Tarot reader engage in a dialogue that is facilitated by an occasional draw of a new card.  Each card that is dealt examines the question just asked until a new question arises.  This iterative process continues until all the querent’s concerns have been addressed.

If you want to see an example of this technique, see pages 220 – 223 of Tarot Spreads: Get the Whole Story.


Besides being an interesting idea in itself, this also brings up the question of what other new, innovative techniques for reading the cards are out there? Do any of you, my readers, have ideas for different ways to do a reading?  Or do you have experience with either Ruth’s or my techniques and want to share how that has turned out for you?

I look forward to hearing from you all.





From → Readings, Spreads

  1. Very interesting! It reminds me of “the first reading ever recorded” (Mary K Greer mentioned this) where two people work together in one reading. One person deals the trump cards, and the other person deals the minors, and cards are paired up for one coherent reading.

    More clear information with instructions can be found on Mary’s blog:

    I really like the idea of two people working together for one outcome. That’s a lot of energy!

    Great blog as always, James!

  2. Gloria permalink

    The method described by Ruth sounds like a method that I use when two of my tarotfriends and I have our get-togethers! We all use different decks, one of us asks a question and then the other two interpret the cards,(up to 3 cards each)pulled from each of our decks.

    We get a few good insights into our decks as we read each others decks as well as our own.

    I usually do very interactive readings with my clients, I prefer to have a sort of running commentary with them – I don’t always do spreads for them, we sometimes just pull a card for a question and keep pulling cards until we feel the question has been answered before moving on to the next question.

    By the way, I really enjoy reading your blog, James!


    • Hi Gloria,
      The method in your first paragraph does sound like Ruth’s … and then your interactive readings sound like what I describe in “Tarot: Get the Whole Story”!
      And thanks for the kind words about my blog. 😀

  3. Something I’ve done quite a bit, which can work really well, is to do a group reading. The basic way of doing this is that one person lays the cards for a second person, but all the people in the group are encouraged to chime in with what they see in the cards and how they feel this relates to the querent and their question. They may also want to share how it may be relevant for them, but as everyone will have a reading done, that may be a more appropriate time to cross-reference cards and readings. It can also be really interesting when cards repeat for different people, or when similar issues come up, from different angles. This gives everyone a chance at a new perspective.

    A variation on this is to deal one reading, and then interpret it for the question of each querent, with everyone chiming in different interpretations as appropriate. It’s quite amazing how different card interpretations will spring to mind for a different question and querent using the same cards!

    Clearly, this is best with a small and fairly cohesive group, but I have done it with 6 people, 3 of whom had never met before!

    • Thanks for sharing this, Chloe. I’ve done something like this as a learning experience in my Tarot classes, and it does work well.
      Also, we’ve done group readings for world events in our local Tarot meetups now and then. Yes, it’s fun to see how different people interpret the same cards.

  4. Have you ever tried doing a past-life reading with someone? I have done this with friends, and we each use a different deck (so we know whose cards are whose)of our own choice, and we see how our past lives intermingle. We went back 3 lifetimes, and it was interesting how the lessons carried through from lifetime to lifetime. At the top, we asked if each one of us would come back again or if we were “through.”

    It took an entire, cleared-off table to lay out, and we put the spreads lengthwise (vertically) along the length of the table. We had the left side being the energy of Person 1, the Right side of the spread Person 2, and the center was how we intermingled, and what we learned from each other (challenges and benefits). You can add other things, with some ideas that interest you. One sample with ideas is in Power Tarot, p. 255, though ours was highly modified and reduced to fewer cards per lifetime.

    Our lessons were profound and helped us understands issues we see happening in our current lives and how we hold each other up.(Likely one’s foes won’t be there to do a reading with us, so we can try it alone with comparisons and see what the challenges/lessons there are, too).

    • Hi Donnaleigh
      I haven’t done past life readings, but this sounds like an interesting idea. Thanks for sharing this, and for the link to Mary Greer’s post, which you mentioned in your previous comment. That one sounds like a great idea too.

  5. James, I wasn’t sure where I could ask this question, so I’ll do it here. I recently purchased Ciro’s Legacy of the Divine Tarot. Since you participated in the writing of the guide book, I thought maybe you would know the answer.

    The think is all of the reviews of the deck say that the major arcana cards are color coded to the elements. My deck is not. So, I’m curious as to what the color coding is related to, or maybe I got a defected deck? For example, The Lovers is pink. It’s not the only card that doesn’t match up with the element of the card. What do you think?

    I’m asking you and Bonnie. If neither of you know, I will go to the source.

    Thanks for your time.

    • Hi Cher,
      No, your deck is not defective. I think the font colors for the Majors was an artistic choice, not an esoteric one, but I might be wrong. (Ciro purposely did not give any of us who contributed to the book an explanation of the deck because he wanted our comments to come from our own intuition rather than from HIS explanations.) If you want to ask Ciro, I can tell you that he is very approachable and very friendly. My guess is that he would be happy to address your question for you. Are you on Facebook? You can find him there if not via his website.

  6. James,

    Thank you for responding. I’ll contact Ciro. Yes, he is a very nice person. I’ve emailed him on another occassion concerning his Gilded Deck.

    Thanks again,

  7. Cher, can you share Ciro’s response, please? That is my favorite deck and I’d love to learn what he says.

    Great discussion. Thanks, James!

  8. chergreen permalink


    Yes I will. Hopefully, it will be interesting enough to make a post on my blog. I don’t believe in random thought, especially when it comes to Ciro. I just sent him an email on the subject.

    I’ve had this deck for almost a month now and still haven’t did the first reading with them. I’m savouring the deck I guess at the moment. I’ve even started writings of the fool’s journey based on the deck, which will appear on my blog soon. The deck is amazing! And I love the introduction to the deck. This made the deck even more intriguing.


  9. chergreen permalink


    Yes I’ll let you know as soon as I receive a response.

  10. chergreen permalink

    Ciro is such a nice person. He is one person I would like to one day meet.

    His response to our question:

    “The colors used on the titles of the Major Arcana are simply to be harmonious with the overall color tone of each corresponding card. There is no symbolic rational.”

    He was also kind enough to send me the link to the introduction video to the deck. If you haven’t seen it, here’s the link:

    • Thanks for getting back with this. As I suspected, the font colors for the Majors was an artistic choice, not an esoteric one.
      And yes, Ciro is very nice … and quite funny and entertaining. I met him a few months ago for the first time at the Readers Studio in NYC.

  11. Thank you, Cher!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: