Drive By Tarot Readings

by Theresa Reed on May 30, 2012

Drive By Tarot Readings

I am a woman of few cards.  In fact, I like my tarot spreads to be as uncomplicated and  clean as possible.

Don’t get me wrong – complex layouts have their place.  But there is something about a simple spread that is so direct and in your face.  It gets to the point quickly with no messing around.  It’s like a “tarot hit job”: down and dirty, fast and furious. Hence, a few years ago I began to playfully call these one card mini spreads “drive by tarot readings”.

All joking aside, don’t underestimate the power of a one card reading.  A single card contains a wealth of information and symbols –  and if you look close enough, you’ll find all you need right there. Simple one card spreads are remarkably effective and efficient.

If you are new to tarot, regular practice of one card draws will help you to learn to read with ease.  It can also aid you in becoming a more efficient reader because you can train yourself to gain direct answers quickly.  In fact, it’s the perfect method to develop good, solid tarot chops.

To start out, you’ll need a deck that is rich in symbols. At least that is what I prefer.  I’m very visual so I like a detailed tarot deck to spur my intuition.  Others prefer a simpler, non-cluttery card.  It doesn’t matter what you end up with as long as you have a deck that “speaks” to you.

My method: I shuffle the card and focus on the question.  When I feel the answer is present, I put the deck down and fan it out.  I then choose one card and create my interpretation from that.

My interpretation could be based on what I am feeling from the card, what I know about the traditional meaning or something that “grabs” me in the imagery such as a particular gesture or perhaps a symbol.  Easy, right?

However, let’s say that you get paralyzed and draw a blank.  Here are a few techniques to get your tarot brain brewing and help you become a true tarot slinging gangsta:

I am going to do a reading based on a question from a client who is recently divorced and just starting to enter the dating scene.  Let’s say he picks The Fool.


  1. Method One: Look very closely at the card.  What symbol catches your eye?  Let’s say you are drawn to the bag he is carrying.  What could that represent?  Perhaps he has put his “baggage” behind him and he’s ready to move on.  Or maybe this could be saying that he has everything that he needs for the next leg of his journey.
  2. Method Two: “Become” a figure in the card. Start a dialogue and form an interpretation from that.  For this reading, I may focus on the dog.  The dog seems to be playfully following the Fool.  However, he also seems to be warning him.  As the dog, I may begin to say: “it looks like great fun ahead and it’s awesome to be free of that old life.  But let’s be careful here.  We still don’t have a road map and there may be rocks down below.  Look before you leap and don’t be in a rush.”
  3. Method Three:  Begin to describe the card in detail and then notice what words resonate with you. Using our Fool, let’s begin: a man in an ornate outfit is walking with his head in the sky.  He’s holding a flower and a bag on a stick.  There is a little white dog by his feet. The man seems careless, free, open.  There are rocks around him and he is about to step off a cliff.  He’s unaware of what lies below. Interpretation: He’s all dressed up and ready to go but clueless.  It’s time to bone up on his dating skills because it’s a whole new world out there.  But he should go for it – even if he doesn’t feel like he knows what he is doing.

Now if I put all of those together, my interpretation could be: “You have closure with your previous relationship and are ready to begin the process of finding a new partner.  You may feel like a fish out of water as you enter the dating scene.  In fact, you may not even know where to go.  Take your time and step into the singles scene carefully and slowly.  Look at this as a grand new adventure. Let go of your fears and put yourself out there.  The risk will be worth it!”  Hell yeah!

Très simple!  No go on with your bad ass tarot thuggin’ self, dawg, flip that card and represent!  Word.

“It is with words as with sunbeams – the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.” ~ Robert Southey



© Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady

Holla back: I would love to hear your experiences with one card tarot spreads.  Do you think you can get enough info in one card?  Do you prefer complex spreads?  Lay it on me in the comment section below, yo:

Special thanks to taoxproductions for the fly image

Al May 30, 2012 at 5:16 pm

I love this lesson in DRIVE BY TAROT READINGS! Fast, fun, and to point. i’m def going to be using this approach for daily practices. Thanks T!

Theresa Reed May 30, 2012 at 10:28 pm

I know you are a true tarot gangsta, Al!

Hilary May 30, 2012 at 10:32 pm

I love drive-by readings! I think complex spreads have their place, but when you need a direct answer, one-card draws are the way to go.

Your methods for reading a one-card draw are great. Here’s an additional one: I also like to look at the colors on the card. Cooler colors like blues, blacks, and purples speak to me about isolation or someone acting “cold”. More vibrant sunny colors in a card tell me something is a solid thumbs-up or positive results lay in being outgoing and in a group setting.

Wanderlust June 6, 2012 at 2:36 pm

I like your method of focusing on one symbol in the card and looking into that. I typically stick to the traditional meanings, but sometimes those leave me feeling a bit cold, so I will try this!

Leelahel June 8, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Dialogue is very important in the tarot; the dialogue between the cards and the dialogue between the querent and the reader, if there is a querent. I will be adding some of these techniques to my tarot diary!

Argenta June 13, 2012 at 4:04 pm

I love simple spreads, but usually go for two or three cards. As my decks of choice are TdM-style it is easier for me when there is at least some interaction, since there aren’t so many symbols, especially if I get minors.

Bonnie June 25, 2012 at 5:50 pm

I prefer simple spreads and usually do one card for the theme of the day or a 3 card spread for past, present, future. Currently using the Rider Waite tarotdeck. Looking for other suggestions as well that are appealling to the eye. Your 3rd method of interpretation is what I try to do in a face-to-face reading. It allows the person I am reading to, to follow what I’m saying and see what I’m seeing.

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