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A Bruja Explains How to Read Tarot Cards

A Latina Bruja's Guide to Doing a Tarot Card Reading For Yourself

Photography / Esoteric Esa

When I first started working with tarot, I did so primarily for personal uses. My abuela was a tarot reader, so I mostly wanted to just keep the tradition alive. I didn't go into it with the intention of becoming a professional reader. Today I merge ancestral veneration through my professional practice of tarot. In my community work, I am seeing a huge influx of Latinx newcomers in this once-forbidden realm and it really excites me. Tarot, or sometimes called las barajas españolas (Spanish playing cards) in Latinx brujería, has deep colonized roots. However, in the US, tarot is being reclaimed by modern millennial Latina spiritualists as a healing modality for introspective purposes.

Anyone can read tarot cards and anyone can feel connected to their magic. You don't need permission by any gatekeeping brujas out there to have the free will to own a deck or provide readings for others. The intention is all that matters. Ready to bust out your newest deck and test a reading for yourself? Read on for my brujita guide to doing a tarot reading for yourself. Like with anything, it takes practice. ¡So, ponte las pilas mija!

Understanding the Basics of Tarot

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Tarot was designed based on structure. From a beginner's perspective it is significant to understand that tarot is split into two arcanas. The major arcana and the minor arcana make up the 78-card standard deck. From there, you'll want to study the four suits the 56 minor arcana cards are categorized into. The suits, which are cups, pentacles, swords, and wands, give meaning to the minor arcana and are considered to represent trivial situations. The major arcana are considered to be archetype energies that show up when we're going through some serious ish.

Aside from symbolism connected to each card, it is also important to understand that tarot isn't about having all the unknown answers. The basics of working with tarot are ethically etched into the understanding that we are asked to explore our inner world through our psyche and intuitive intelligence when asking tarot for guidance. Tarot won't fix all your problems, so let's start with that.

Building a Relationship With Your Deck

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A popular question I receive is whether or not one should buy their first deck or decks for themselves at all. My biased answer is yes, go for it! There's no golden rule that prohibits you from purchasing your first deck.

Every deck has its own energy and brings a different flair to your practice. It's integral to develop a relationship with your deck. Consider the deck your new homegirl and explore her to get to know her vibe. Decks are vehicles of energy. Therefore, some decks will be sassy, petty, and outright brutally honest. Others will be gentle or surface-level. This is where you have to dedicate time to ask your deck questions to better understand the roles you play together.

I like to shuffle and ask new decks questions such as, "Do you want to be used privately or publicly?" and, "How can I best foster a relationship with you?" Get creatively inspired with your questions! This is how I break them in, so to speak.

Maintaining Your Aura

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Tarot operates off of energy. We as energetic beings are emotionally transient based on our experiences and circumstances. It is crucial to only touch your tarot deck when you feel unbiased to the situation. I don't recommend asking the tarot a question hot off of an argument. You'll bring that low vibe into your cards. Also, if you're constantly thinking about someone or you had a recent discussion with someone right before you touch your deck, you'll want to sage your aura and cut cords so you don't read their energy instead of yours.

Those are all tips that can be considered aura maintenance. Keeping your aura clean and neutral is key to getting accurate and solid readings. Also, maintaining the aura of your decks and keeping them clean is key. That could range from cleansing them routinely with sacred smudging to not letting anyone touch your deck besides you, so their energy doesn't transfer. Trust your intuition in this process. Ask your higher self what practical steps and rituals you should consider in keeping your aura and that of your deck refined.

Establishing Spiritual Protection in Readings

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This is recommended not so much to keep the boogie man away, but to make sure you're fending off evil eye and other negative energy that could be thrown your way. However, yes, there are dark spirits that wander this realm that you want to make sure you don't entertain. This is where developing and establishing a consistent spiritual protection practice during readings is strongly advised.

Sometimes when we read for others, even friends or family, we can take on their energy or emotional gunk. Setting a protection ritual in place while reading for others will help you to not take on their emotional dumping such as anger or sadness when they come to you asking why they didn't get that raise. Working with salt, black obsidian, cinnamon, and fire is potent for protection work. Calling in high-vibrational beings, your spirit guides, and the four directions for protection are great for tarot sessions, even if you're a newbie.

Phrasing Your Questions and Card Pulls

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Now it's time to start thinking about what you want to ask your cards and how to do so "correctly." Asking for yes or no answers will only confuse or limit the outcome. Asking open-ended questions is preferred, as they can better craft the story your deck is narrating. You can format questions with "where," "when," "why," or "how" to start.

Is there such a thing as pulling the wrong card? The answer is no. Every card you pull has a purpose to the attached question. Every card you pull is essentially in theory "the right card" because it provides you with context.

Choosing to take cards that fly out while shuffling is something I get asked about frequently as well. I personally read the "flyers" (that's what we call cards that pop out fast and unexpectedly while shuffling) and reversals. But you don't have to read reversals or flyers to be accurate or legit.

I suggest you set the energy of your room, ask your question, shuffle as many times as needed, then pull your cards when reading for yourself. That's a simple basic timeline. From there, you'll want to consider using tarot spreads. I personally don't use spreads and read freestyle. However when I began, I used to read three-card spreads. Three lines of three cards. First line of past energy of the situation (pull three cards), second line of current energy of the situation (pull three cards), and third line of incoming/outcome energy of situation asked (pull three cards).

Keeping It Low Pressure

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Remember your interpretation is intuitive storytelling. Everyone reads the cards differently. Don't get too caught up in being a practical reader or a by-the-book reader. That will make you frustrated and take you out of your intuitive element. Tarot thrives off of relaxed energy. Take time to meditate before your card pulls to help you get into the vibe. Lastly, develop your own style. You don't have to sound like every reader out there. Be unique and have fun with it. The more you practice the more comfortable you'll be with tarot.

Image Source: Esoteric Esa
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