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Ask a Grey Witch - Questions about witchcraft and magick

Tarot card divination

The messages within await

Cartomancy is divination or fortune taking using a deck or cards. They're are different forms of cartomancy since suit cards were first introduced into Europe in the 14th century. Practitioners of cartomancy are generally known as cartomancers, card readers, or just as readers.
One form of caromancy is Tarot card reading. A tarot card reader uses messages received from the cards to gain insight or new perspectives into the past, present or future.  A question is formulated and then cards are drawn to interpret the messages.  
Message can very depending on the card itself and also the direction of the cards in which it lands, and if a layout or specific card spread is used it will also depend on where the cards land into which position.  Intuition is generally taken advantage of to clarify the meanings of the messages.  The ways in which the messages are related and associated to the different aspects of ourselves and our lives is how insight and new perspectives are drawn out from within us. Hence, "the messages within await".

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Helpful suggestions

Are you interested in doing your own self readings? 

Here are some tips to get started:F

Find a tarot deck that you like.  There are many different kinds of cards that can be used for excellent readings.   The most common tarot deck is the Rider Waite deck.  There are many other tarot decks the use the same or similar symbolism and meanings as the Rider Waite illustrations.  There are also other decks that are completely different and have their own design.  Take your time to find the tarot deck that speaks to you. 

When you have purchased or obtained your new cards, keep it in a special pouch, or wrap them in a special clothe, and somehow make them your own.  Some sleep with them under their pillow for the first few weeks to charge with their energy.  Others place certain types of crystals with them when not in use.  Always keep your's covered to remain dust free and they will last longer.  Do what feels right to you in creating a relationship with your own personal tarot deck. 

Spend some time getting to know the cards.  For tarot, lay out the entire deck. You can separate the Higher Arcana cards, Court cards, and Lower Arcana cards at first if that helps to focus on the differences between these groups within common decks.  Go through the deck and familiarize yourself with each's symbolisms. What does each card 'say' to you?  Whether you are working with runes or tarot cards, be objective, and trust your instincts.

Most tarot decks will come with an instruction book that can be used at first as a general guideline.  However, eventually you should reach a point when you feel confident to read the cards without these descriptions.  As you go through the cards more you'll begin to form a kind of relationship as you learn the cards meanings, including your own interpretations. Follow your intuition.  Consider how each card may mean something different according to where and how it is placed in your layout or spread.  If the interpreted meanings of your cards do not seem to fit with your subject or question, write down those details and watch for events to unfold over the next few days or so - sometimes meanings can make more sense afterwards. Some forewarnings may not make sense until 'it' happens.  

In the beginning, you're going to have difficulty reading a complicated layout or spread.  Especially, if you haven't built a relationship with the cards (getting to know them well).  I'd suggest to start with a simple layout or spread first (1 rune/card draw, or a 3-5 runes draw or cards spread for example). Then, when you feel confident learn the more challenging methods, such as a full card casting, or full tarot spreads (5-9 cards spread, or the commonly used 10 card Celtic Crux spread, or others) 

A great way to start readings is to give yourself readings on a regular basis.  I STILL do daily readings for myself to know what to expect that day.  Each time you'll learn more and more about your own interpretations of the cards and layouts or spreads used. This allows you to become more comfortable and confident before giving readings to others. Knowing yourself well enough is key to remaining objective while giving readings. Our inner-selves can sometimes throw us off in self readings, which is why some books do not recommend it.  The more objective you are in self readings, the more accurately you'll be able to interpreted the messages for yourself, and as well for others. 

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The "Do's and Don'ts" of readings

To do? or not to do?



DO create a relationship with the cards or runes and get to know their meanings on a personal level.

For simple questions or topics, DO use a simple spread or layout.

DO choose a spread or layout to use first, even before shuffling the cards or holding the runes.

DO focus on the use of the spread or layout chosen with the intention of the reading while shuffling the cards or holding/casting the runes.

DO be objective through out the reading, and remain subjective.

DO keep an open mind, and accept the messages received.

DO hear what you need to hear,
(not what you want to hear).

DO expect the unexpected


DO NOT read for others while haven't taken the time to get to know the cards for one's self.

DO NOT read when emotional

DO NOT drawing "classifiers" or extra tarot cards beyond the chosen spread

DO NOT do multiple readings on the same question or topic without allowing time to pass in order to offer a new perspective.

DO NOT do Readings in hopes for specific meanings. 

DO NOT use complicated spreads or layouts for simple questions or topics. 

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Personal associations

Getting to know the cards

Below are some associations to begin reading from tarot spreads, and then allowing intuition to guide fine-tuning the messages of each card according to the energy of the quarrent or sitter. 

It is important to understand that the interpretations of the meanings of each tarot card will change slightly according to its spread/layout position and also, whether it has been placed right side up, sideways or reversed will further refine the message from the reading, as well as the intuition of the reader.

Tarot Reading and The Cards:

For the following, these are general associations according to Rider Waite symbolism.   

Card Suites

The Quarrent - Spirit, Within, subject or question

Pentacles or coins - Earth, North, money and achievement

Swords or blades - Air, East, intellect and decision

Wands or rods - Fire, South, and action

Cups or chalices- Water, West, and emotion

Higher Arcana

0 The Fool - a fresh start or leap of faith

I The Magician - power, skill

II The High Priest(ess) - intuition, higher wisdom

III The Empress - fertility, abundance, creativity

IV The Emperor - authority

V The Heirophant - religion, group identity

VI The Lovers - union, binders

VII The Chariot - victory, assertion, momentum

VIII Strength - cottage, self control

IX The Hermit - solitude, soul searching

X The Wheel of Fortune - Karma, turning a cycle

XI Justice - fairness, cause and effect

XII The Hanged Man - letting go, suspension

XIII Death - endings, beginnings

IXV Temperance - balance, healing

XV The Devil - bondage, restriction

XVI The Tower - sudden change

XVII The Star - hope, spiritual, guidance

XVIII The Moon - illusion, Merry, dreams

IXX The Sun - success, vitality, youth

XX Judgement - Inner Calling

XXI The World - completion, accomplishment


Page - messages, enthusiasm, synchronicity, curiosity, youth

Knight - motion, passion, romance, haste, adolescence

Queen - creativity, vibrancy, nurturing, astute, women

King - vision, emotional self control, truth, man

Lower Arcana

Pentacles / coins

I prosperity

II balance

III teamwork

IV budgeting

V poverty

VI charity / giving

VII making investment

VIII patience

IX independent wealth

X culmination, ancestry

Wands / rods

I inspiration

II choice

III foresight

IV community

V conflict

VI recognition

VII standing your ground

VIII travel / news

IX resilience

X burden

Swords / blades

I clarity

II decision

III pain

IV rest

V defeat

VI transition

VII making a break for it

VIII isolation

IX anxiety

X endings/ defeat

Cups / chalices

I intimacy

II love

III friendship

IV apathy

V loss

VI youth

VII dreams / fantasy

VIII moving on

IX fulfillment

X marriage / happy home

Positions from spreads:










Many come to pass

Will come to pass


Family opinion












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Working with the cards

An energetic exchange with the deck

Energy is everywhere. It is a part of us and every item and object that surrounds us.  We can interact physically and energetically with our environment.  The balancing of energies is an important aspect of all workings with tarot cards, in my opinion.
Energy work is used within many different practices, such as mediumship, metaphysical healing, working with nature or wildlife or deity, sensing or scrying and also includes working with rune casting and tarot card readings.  

Especially during the shuffling of tarot cards. While doing so, there is an energetically charging of intention that is taking place (for example the question of the querrent) and feeling the reflection of that energy return is how to know how to read the answer.

When shuffling tarot cards it's the energy of the cards that lets the reader know when to stop or which card to choose.  Again, it's the energetic draw of the symbolism in the tarot card's design and spread used that guides a tarot reading alongside the intuition of the reader. 

Aside from oracle decks, there are many different tarot decks to choose from when you are ready to purchase your own and get started with doing your own readings.  To know which to choose, you should select the one that energetically "feels" right to you. 

For more information...

... visit the Stafford Tarot website reading tips blog:

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