The Top 6 Mistakes Rookie Tarot Readers Make

by Theresa Reed on September 19, 2012

No matter how long you’ve been reading tarot, here is a sobering fact: you are going to make mistakes.  But the good news: the longer you keep at it, the easier it gets to glide over the sticky wickets that many readers face.

I’ve been in the tarot trenches for over thirty years now (two decades professionally) and I remember all too well some painful mistakes I made early on.  I learned some hard lessons along the way but the best part is this: once I understood those mistakes, I stopped making them.

I have spoken with many fellow readers over the years and we’ve all been guilty of one or more of these six common errors when we first started working with tarot:

  1. Depending too much on the “little white book”.  While there is nothing wrong with using tarot books to get familiar with the cards, at some point you have to ditch the training wheels.  One, no client is going to be comfortable with a reader who is constantly referring to the book.  Second, you risk memorizing rote meanings that someone else wrote instead of listening to your own inner guidance.  Read the book, grasp the concepts and then develop your own interpretations.
  2. Becoming enamored with your newfound “powers”.  When you begin giving readings and start getting some positive feedback, it’s all too easy for that tricky ego to sneak in the back door and suddenly you assume you are some sort of all knowing mystical guru.  One bad reading usually ends that mindset (of course, then you have the opposite problem of thinking you suck).  Get over yourself.  The reading is never about you or your powers – it’s always about serving the client.
  3. Giving a prediction without strategies to change the outcome.  Just slamming down the cards and telling a client that something negative may happen is unhelpful and disempowering as well.  Explore other possibilities and strategies with your client.  Encourage them to ask questions that put the future in their hands.  Remember that nothing is cut in stone – remind your client that they are always in control of their destiny.
  4. Not keeping healthy boundaries.  Middle of the night “emergency” readings, clients showing up without an appointment, friends begging you to “just toss a couple of cards” – yes, this happens more than you’d think.  Learning how to set appropriate boundaries with your customers will keep you sane and keep them from becoming dependent on you. This can be as simple as setting regular business hours or letting your phone go to voicemail.  Once you have policies in place, stick to them.
  5. Taking on the role of a doctor, therapist or lawyer.  A tarot reader is not equipped to be giving legal, medical or psychological care/advice.  It’s okay to look at the general energy surrounding a situation, but it is not in your client’s best interest (nor ethical) to assume a role for which you are not licensed.  Let them know that you are not able to provide that service and then refer them to the appropriate professional.
  6. Thinking you got it all down.  No matter how long you’ve been reading tarot, you must still keep working on your skills.  If you start to believe that you know tarot inside and out and don’t need to learn any more, you risk becoming complacent. Stay thirsty for knowledge.  Take classes and attend conferences as often as you can.  Don’t get too fond of your own tarot style – open your mind, broaden your base of knowledge and keep growing.  Your clients will thank you for it and you will keep yourself from getting into a stale tarot rut.

Just remember, the more you practice, the more confidence and skill you develop.  And if you do make a mistake, don’t sweat it. Brush yourself off, put those cards back in your hands and keep at it.  No great reader happens overnight.  Stay the course and keep on reading.

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.”  ~ Elbert Hubbard



© Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady 2012

What are some of the errors you made when learning tarot or starting your tarot career?  Please share your stories in the comment section below:

Laura September 19, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Great Advice! Probably some of the best advice I’ve seen out there. Especially 3. Ethics and Integrity are critically important in this industry. Thank you very much for this post.

Theresa Reed September 20, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Thanks for stopping by, Laura. Ethics and integrity are everything – if you are not operating out a place of honesty, how can you serve your clients?


Hilary Parry | Tarot by Hilary September 19, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Ohhh, how many times have I made #4? Healthy boundaries, for the win! This is the reason why my phone line goes straight to voicemail, UNLESS I have a phone appointment scheduled. I also keep my social life “cards free”, and very rarely will carry a tarot deck on my person when I am on a social call… certainly is easy to not “throw a few cards” when I don’t have them with me!

Theresa Reed September 20, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Hilary, #4 has always been my biggest issue – boundaries! Oh, I had to learn that one the hard way….

stella September 20, 2012 at 4:01 am

thanks for the advice!

Lisa Frideborg Lloyd September 20, 2012 at 11:18 am

Great advice, Theresa! I’m with Hilary, #4 was by far the most difficult one for me and I believe that’s true for many of us because we start out motivated by wanting to help others. #3 is probably THE reason why Tarot readers get better with age – like fine wine! Life experience helps us help our clients come up with great strategies 🙂

Theresa Reed September 20, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Hi Lisa

Yes – the more life experience we have the better able we are to find strategies for our issues! So true….

tricia sawyer October 28, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Great post theresa, im a professional Tarot reader myself,i must admit ive made some past mistakes along the way whilst learning the tarot, i do believe that honesty is the best policy when reading for someone, and also to take responsibility for other peoples feelings so keeping it good and real is what i do. I am in the prceeds of creating my own Tarot Deck The Retro Tarot Deck,which is a great challenge for me and hopefully will be completed by the new year, i would love to send you a deck for review it thats possible .


Naware March 24, 2013 at 7:17 pm

I’m with you there and that’s right where my issue stemmed from! Wanting to be “right”. For me I took a class from a woman I greatly respected and who I go to when I need a reading. While I felt a little silly at first she broke it down in a way I wish I had learned when I first started doing readings!

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