3 Common Mistakes When Reading Your Own Tarot

It’s exciting, isn’t it? You’ve got your tarot cards, you know that they hold mystery and intrigue. You want to unlock that and learn about yourself — but you’ve heard time and time again that you’re not supposed to read your own cards.

Truth is, there’s nothing wrong with reading your own tarot cards. No one knows you better than you do; it’s just sometimes hard to be objective enough to really understand what the cards are trying to tell you. However, if you can avoid these three common mistakes when reading your own tarot, you will find that the cards can indeed speak to you, and bring you very valuable information.

Related: How to Do Your Own Daily Tarot Reading

Common Mistake #1: Reading Your Tarot in the Middle of a Crisis

It’s only human nature to want to know the outcome of an intensely emotional situation, but this is exactly the time that you should not try to read your own cards. It doesn’t matter what the nature of the upheaval is, when you’re too upset about what’s happening, you’re going to be tempted to get the cards to tell you what you want to hear, rather than what’s actually there.

Often in times like this you’ll want to keep drawing extra cards to try to get clarity on the situation — but what you’re really doing is trying to change the outcome. You may even do reading after reading after reading, changing the layouts in order to get a different result. You could keep going back to the cards frequently, in order to try to get the answer that you prefer.

All of this is just going to add confusion and frustration to your already intense emotional state. The best thing to do would be to wait until things have calmed down a bit, and then approach the tarot once, and only once, from a more level-headed frame of mind. If you do have to read in the middle of an agitated emotional state, lay down some ground rules. Decide which type of tarot spread you are going to use, and stick with it. Don’t add additional cards to get qualifying information; this is unnecessary. And don’t keep asking the same questions of the cards.

I’d recommend getting a journal or starting a private blog, and recording only the facts from your tarot reading. Write down what the card was, whether it was upright or inverted, and what that card means — not what you want it to mean in this situation, but what it actually means. Then move onto the next card, noting its position in the spread, whether it was upright or reversed, and what it means. Do this as objectively as you can, with all the cards in the layout. Then walk away from it and return later, when you’ve calmed down a bit and had a chance to contemplate the cards, and see what they’re trying to tell you. If they’re going to be of any help at all, you have to lay your emotions aside, and hear the real message that they’re trying to convey.

Common Mistake #2: Overcomplicating Things

This happens more than you might think it does. You’re really getting interested in the tarot and you want to learn everything that it has to offer. When doing a layout, the more cards mean the more information that you can get from the spread, right? Well, not necessarily. The more complicated the spread, the more room there is for error when you’re interpreting the cards, no matter how objective you think you’re being.

There are as many different tarot spreads as there are people who read the tarot. Some even use all the tarot cards in the deck! While this is flashy and looks important, it’s just not needed. The tarot is profound, with each card representing a chapter in the book of your life. Like any good book, you have to take time to digest the information to get the most of it, rather than skimming the pages and trying to absorb the entire book at once.

Remember to K.I.S.S. your tarot: Keep It Simple, Sweetie. The more important that the situation is, the more you’ll get from a simple spread. Go back to the three-card spread; let the first card represent past influences, the second card represent what’s influencing you now, and the third card representing potential outcome. If you’re trying to decide between two paths, try a two-card spread; let the first card indicate one path, and the second card indicate the other choice. Don’t underestimate how valuable a one-card reading can be, either. Focusing on your question and drawing one card can provide you with very precise and powerful insight into your current situation.

Common Mistake #3: Trying to Change the Outcome

You’d be surprised how many people do this! Because everyone has their own slant on what the cards are saying to them, it’s easy to get caught up in second-guessing yourself. You may read what the cards have to say, and understand with clarity what they’re saying to you — but if it’s not what you want to hear, you could start to wonder if you’re reading them right. This is often your unconscious mind trying to avoid hearing the truth!

When this happens, you might contact a tarot reader whom you know, and share with them what cards you drew, and ask them how they would interpret those cards. I have to tell you that this drives most professional readers nuts! Why? Because you’ve already got the insight. You need to let the reader you’ve contacted do a whole new spread, rather than interpreting yours.

Another temptation might be to start grabbing tarot dictionaries or doing internet searches for different meanings, trying to find an interpretation for the cards that you actually like! This also is trying to dodge what you’re being told. While it’s true that some cards have several meanings, it’s not fair on the cards for you to go researching every meaning you can find, just to get the outcome you desire. This is another instance where recording your thoughts in a private blog or a journal can be very useful. It can be hard to accept things that are challenging, but when you do, you can learn, and grow, and get that much closer to living the life you want to live, even though things are not how you want them to be at the moment.

Related: What to Do if Tarot Gives You Bad News

Do it For Yourself

All in all, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with reading your own tarot, and I actually recommend it. Pull a daily card, and write down your thoughts about the images on the card and the traditional meanings. Do a spread now and again, to gain clarity on where you’re at in your life and how you can improve things. Just avoid these three common mistakes when reading your own tarot, and you’ll find that the cards really do have a lot of wisdom to share with you.

About The Author


I consider myself part astrologer, part comedian, and part psychologist. I try to help people turn on their own inner observer, to see the things they say and do in an objective way. I have been in private practice for over 40 years. I use astrology and my own system called The 4 Elements as tools to help people step into their power. I want to empower people from all walks of life and I have written a book, magazine columns, hosted a radio show and I have a YouTube channel with over 3 million views to accomplish that goal. I’m dedicated to creating community.I believe the future is arriving and none of us can do it alone. I also believe in the power of listening. When we are silent - both with ourselves and each other - the messages that are trying to come through us can be given a voice, and we can all start walking our authentic and powerful path. I split my time between Kauai, Hawaii and Boulder, Colorado where I enjoy talking to the beautiful flowers, daily swims and laughing with my partner, Larry.You can keep up with Debra on our Video Horoscopes page - where she posts her Daily Horoscope videos for Astrology Answers!
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