Tarot card deck displayed for reading

A beginner’s guide to tarot reading, with Instagram’s favourite card reader Christopher Corsini

Tarot can be an amazing way to reflect on yourself and your life, but it also can be quite overwhelming at first encounter. Here, professional tarot reader, Chris Corsini, explains the benefits of tarot and provides some advice on how to get started with reading tarot cards yourself.

Welcome to The Curiosity Academy, Stylist’s new learning hub where you can access workshops, how-to guides, new research and learn the most up-to-date skills from the UK’s most in-the-know people.

Tarot is a historic practice that originated in northern Italy during the late 14th/early 15th century but it is having a renaissance in the digital age, as online tarot readings have become the norm. Owning a deck of cards is no longer a habit of your ‘quirky’ friend but a fairly common pastime. 

Sales of the most famous tarot pack, the Rider-Waite, created in 1910, tripled between 2013 and 2018, according to Rider Books and research from consumer behaviour platform, Spate, shows that searches for ‘how to read tarot cards’ were up 78.4% in 2020 in the US, compared to 2019.

During uncertain times, having your tarot cards read can also be particularly comforting and Chris Corsini, a professional tarot reader who posts his readings online, has seen just how much demand there is for them, as he has grown his online community significantly over the past year. “I don’t think that tarot is a fortune-telling tool,” he says. “It’s an introspective tool that helps [people] dive into their own energy and figure out how to move forward.”

If you’re interested in using tarot as a way of reflecting on yourself and your life, Chris has some tips on where to start, as well as advice for people who would like to start reading tarot cards.

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What is tarot?

Chris is keen to stress that tarot will not predict your future, or at least not in the way you might imagine. “It’s important to understand that we have free will. So no matter what the cards say, you are still autonomous, you are still somebody who can decide how you want to move forward with the information that the tarot is bringing to you.”

Tarot cards are different to astrology, but the two things are related, as each zodiac sign has a card that it represents and tarot readers use characteristics of the zodiac signs to help them interpret the cards. You can have personal tarot readings, or you can have your reading done based on your star sign, which is the kind of readings Chris does on his Instagram page. 

How do tarot readers know which cards to pull?

“When I’m pulling cards, it’s very intuitive,” Chris says. “So it’s really important to just trust what is coming through without second-guessing it.”

Tarot is based largely on intuition which is also different to how horoscopes work, as they are based on astrology and astronomy (the placing of the planets). Tarot readers are more interested in energy than planetary alignments, although they can do readings based on the energies of entire zodiac signs, as well as individuals.

Chris explains that accessing your spiritual guides are an important part of tarot, and it is possible to access your guides through improved levels of consciousness. Tarot readers pull cards they feel drawn towards intuitively, and use the traditional meaning of the card, the zodiac sign it is related to and the information they receive from their guides based on the card, to interpret what it means for the group or the individual they are doing a reading for.

Embracing tarot is really a process of learning to trust yourself, if you are doing your own readings, or trusting your tarot reader. “When you overthink it, or you start second-guessing things, then you’re not in the flow,” Chris says. “It’s important to just see what you feel when that comes up. If the Emperor card comes up, does it always mean the same thing? No, absolutely not.”

Chris says that he usually doesn’t understand the relevance of the cards he is pulling when he is doing readings for other people, but trusting his intuition that they will have some meaning for the person who the cards are being pulled for always pays off.

What will I take away from a tarot reading?

“[Tarot] is a really good tool for evaluating yourself and situation and others,” Chris says. “And I feel that it’s important to note, it’s rarely something that is a surprise. It’s usually things you’re already intuitively feeling.”

“It sort of brings forward either a subconscious energy either in and around you, something that you already feel that is happening but you need confirmation.”

Chris explains that rather than predicting the future, tarot provides you with predictions of what might happen if you go down a certain path, like a new work agreement, for example, and offers you the chance to reflect on whether that is something you want. Even if you’re not totally convinced by the ways in which tarot works, it can be a great way to regularly reflect on where you are in your life and how you feel about it.

Can anyone read tarot cards?

“We’re all naturally psychic,” Chris says, explaining that anyone can read tarot cards. “We just don’t use it. We don’t flex the muscles. So when you begin to use it, you just get better over time.”

He uses the example of when you think of your friend and they then call you a few minutes later, explaining that we underestimate the importance of energetic connections and that people shrug off the idea of being psychic because we’re so used to seeing stereotypes of psychics with a velvet curtain and a crystal ball.

The most important thing, if you want to start reading tarot cards, is to trust yourself and your intuition. Chris always says the first thing that comes to his mind - he usually sees images but you might see words or other kinds of visuals - “I just say it and I don’t think about it anymore. And as soon as I stopped thinking about it, it took me to a new level of being more accurate, because I’m not wondering why I have to say it.”

How can I start pulling tarot cards for myself?

Chris recommends pulling cards for yourself on the new moon and on the full moon each month and asking yourself a question. This can be something general like “where is my attention best spent for this new moon cycle?” or something specific about your life that you feel confused about, like work or relationships.

Chris recommends pulling no more than three cards and then using a journal to write down the date, the question you have asked, the cards you have pulled and a few paragraphs about what they mean to you.

Chris warns against pulling cards too often because you will become overwhelmed and your interpretations will become diluted and less meaningful.

There are various ways you can pull your cards. For example, you could pull one card for the past, one for the present and one for the future and there are also formations like the traditional Celtic cross spread that a lot of people opt for. The best thing to do, Chris advises, is research these spreads, see which one you are most drawn to and experiment with them.

Before you start reading cards, Chris advises that you should create a phrase to ensure you’re only welcoming positive energy into your space, something like, “I welcome into this space my guides and my ancestors of love and light and honourable intentions”. When you’ve finished reading cards, you should also close the interaction, Chris explains. You can thank your guides and let them know that you will connect with them in the future, which will help you disconnect from the process so you can get on with your day without feeling overwhelmed by it.

How can I start pulling tarot cards for other people?

Once you have had some practice pulling cards for yourself, you can start doing tarot readings for your friends and family. It can be difficult to pull cards for people you know, Chris explains, because you might already have assumptions and opinions about their life, which might make their way into your readings.

“You need to be careful how you say things,” is Chris’ advice, explaining that when people come to you for a reading, they are often giving you a lot of their trust, which puts you in a powerful position. “I don’t want the karma of leading these people into a decision,” he says. “They need to decide.”

If Chris pulls a card that signals the person he is reading for might need to leave a situation, for example, rather than saying this outright, he would say “there are two options here - we can stay or we can go and you really need to figure that out.”

A successful reading shouldn’t leave someone feeling upset or drained, Chris explains, but empowered and able to trust themselves more.

How can I learn more about tarot?

In terms of choosing your own cards, Chris suggests that you simply go into a shop that sells them and choose the set that you are most drawn to. If you can’t get to a shop right now, Chris recommends the Rider-Waite deck, as they are the most traditional and based on the original structures of tarot and are therefore good for learning.

He also recommends following different tarot card readers online, stressing the importance of diversifying the readers you watch in order to hear from different perspectives.

You can head to Chris’ YouTube channel or his Instagram page to learn more about tarot and you can also read more about astrology and tarot on Stylist.co.uk.

  • Chris Corsini, tarot reader

    Chris Corsini reading tarot cards

    Chris Corsini is a tarot card reader and the founder of Inward Boutique and Wellness, an online platform that offers tarot readings and workshops. He has built a community of more than 300,000 people on Instagram through posting monthly tarot readings and various workshops and he is also an ASL/English interpreter, meaning his readings are accessible to both the hearing and deaf communities.

Lead image: Getty


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