Here’s what happened at my first tarot reading — and how you can get started as a beginner

Don't know where to begin when it comes to the world of Tarot? From decks to beginner spreads, we have you covered.

While I have long dabbled in the world of Tarot, I had never had a professional reading until last week. That all changed when I had a 50-minute session conducted by tarot reader, psychic, and intuitive artist to the stars, Fiongal Greenlaw. The London-based spiritualist quit his successful career as a fashion designer after his physical and mental health hit rock bottom. Unable to find a solution within conventional medicine, he started a profound journey of psychic exploration and healing, which led him to found The Wellness Foundry in 2018. 

During the course of the reading, I found Greenlaw to be incredibly perceptive and intuitive. Despite barely asking me any direct questions, he accurately surmised many things about my current situation and offered me detailed advice and guidance for the following year. The way he conducts sessions will undoubtedly put sceptics and beginners at ease too. “The work of an intuitive is only ever a suggestion, so take what’s helpful, leave the rest, and come back to it at a later date if that proves useful,” he tells me at the beginning of the confidential reading, which he invited me to record. 

“Always get the messages to fit into your life rather than trying to get your life to fit into the messages. We don’t work as fortune tellers, or in definites. We do look at likely outcomes but do remember that you’re in charge of your own destiny, so neither I, nor the cards, or the spirit will ever tell you what to do,” he continues. I, for one, left my reading feeling grounded, and with a deeper understanding of where I am personally. Safe to say, I’m already looking forward to our next session.

However, if you’re not ready to undergo a professional Tarot reading but still want to explore the ancient practice, you’re in good hands. HUNGER spoke to Tarot reader and astrologer MaKayla McRae (aka The Starry Eyed Mystic) about how beginners can get into the world of Tarot. 

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What deck should you start out with?

McRae, who has read for a number of public figures, recommends the traditional Rider Waite tarot deck for beginners. “The imagery on this deck sticks with the traditional meaning of each card, making it easier for those starting out to determine what the cards symbolize,” she says. 

So you’ve got your deck — now what do you do next? 

The first thing you should do is energetically cleanse your deck,” she explains. This involves setting an intention for your reading, and even using crystals or sage to “cleanse” your surroundings. “Whatever method you choose works,” McRae adds, detailing that she personally uses a piece of the crystal selenite as it naturally absorbs negative energy. 

While she doesn’t personally use spreads, McRae recommends that beginners use a simple past, present and future spread. This involves pulling one card for each and placing them from left to right — so, the first card drawn (at the outmost left) will be the past, the second the present, and the final the future. This mini spread can provide general guidance for whatever is going on in your life at the moment, but it can also help those who are seeking insight as to how a situation has progressed, or how the past is affecting them in the here and now. 

How do you interpret the cards? 

When interpreting the cards, McRae urges us to use our intuition first before turning to books or websites. “Look at the imagery of the card and see if anything stands out or comes to mind. Beginners often surprise themselves with how much Tarot allows them to tap into their intuition!” 

Novice readers can also be intimidated by cards that look scary like Death or The Tower, but the spiritualist advises us to not jump to the worst case scenario. “Tarot is a tool that’s meant to empower you. “Reading when you’re in a neutral, balanced emotional state is important for this reason, as it can heighten anxiety to read when you’re anxious or upset! Even the “heaviest” of cards bear blessings in disguise and seek to provide us with clarity to make decisions that align ourselves with the best path possible.”

For this reason, after a session, she recommends reflecting on your reading. “What conclusions did you walk away with? What advice did you want to practice? I find journaling really helps you preserve your divine insights.”

What kind of environment should you conduct your readings in? 

“A safe, calm, peaceful environment allows you to conduct your best readings,” says McRae. “When you’re distracted, stressed or feel pressured, it’s usually not the best time to read. This way, you avoid jumping to the worst conclusions as you pull cards, and avoid overall misinterpretations.” 

In regards to whether you should practice alone or with friends, there’s no right or wrong. “However you chose to practice is personal and valid. I think that reading with friends can be a fun way to experience Tarot, but it may also be a very private, intimate practice you chose to reserve for alone time. As long as you feel comfortable, it is safe to read with whomever you wish!”

How can you grow your skills in tarot from there? 

As with most things, practice is key. McRae says that it took years of study to get to the point where she can now read for others. “I recommend reading tons of material from all different sources so you can discover the Tarot philosophies and ideas that resonate most with you. Know that there’s not one “right” path with Tarot, just like anything related to spirituality. All that matters most is the intention to learn!”

Dos and don’ts

Do start by reading with open-ended questions. For example, ‘what is the advice for my love life?’

Don’t start by asking closed-ended questions at the beginning. For example, ‘what does John think of me?’

With that, let your tarot journey commence! 

  • Writer Nessa Humayun
  • Banner Image Credit Unsplash

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