10 Common Mistakes New Tarot Readers Make

In Learn Tarot, Tarot Tipsby David Harvey5 Comments

Common Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

Learning to read tarot can be an overwhelming task but it really doesn’t have to be.  There is so much conflicting information and opinions about the right way and wrong way to read tarot, that it’s hardly surprising that new tarot readers get put off.

The good news is that learning tarot can be really simple and more importantly fun!  In my very humble opinion, there is no right or wrong way to read tarot.  The only thing that matters is that you are doing it YOUR way and tuning into your own intuition and guidance.

I’ve put together a list of the most common mistakes that new tarot readers make.  Hopefully, this will help you avoid these mistakes and help you take your tarot reading to the next level, without feeling like you have a mountain to climb!

If video is your thing rather than reading a blog post, you can see me dive into each of these rookie errors right here:

Feeling Like You Need To Memorize Every Card

I see this all the time as it is one of the most common mistakes.  New tarot readers feel that they have to recall the meaning of every single card word for word as per the little white book or one of their tarot books.

This is simply not the case.  In fact, I would really discourage this.  Of course, it helps if you know the basic meanings and energies associated with each card but you should focus on what the card means to you at that time and what your intuition is telling you.

If you try to just recall what you have read in a book you will find your readings are very robotic and not coming from the heart.  Don’t restrict yourself.  Just let it flow and say what comes to you.

Looking Up The Meanings Of Each Card During The Reading

This is another goodie.  I see tarot readers jump online or grab the book that comes with the deck and look up the meaning of each card.

I would advise against this.  Even when you are learning or reading for yourself, take the time to give it a go.  Look at the surrounding cards and try to work out what the cards are trying to tell you at that time.

It’s a good idea to refer to your book once the reading has finished and compare what you saw in the card with what is written in your book.

I would also encourage you to draw a card each day and keep a tarot journal.  Just describe what you see in each card if you get stuck.  Write it all down in your journal in the morning then reflect on that information in the evening.

Another way to get to know the cards is through meditation.  I’ve created a High Priestess meditation.  This is an example of how you can dive into each card and find the deeper meaning. You can hear the meditation here.

Thinking There Is Only One Meaning Per Card

One trap I see people falling into is thinking that there is only one meaning per card and it will mean the same every time.

I find that meanings of the cards shifts for me all the time as my relationship with my cards develops.  The surrounding cards and the question asked can also affect the meaning for me.

An example of this is the 6 of Cups.  If you look up the meaning in a book you will usually see nostalgia, childhood memories etc.  I was recently doing a reading and got drawn to the little shield in the background which reminded me of the Scottish flag.  This was an online reading so the person wasn’t in front of me and I knew nothing about them.  I said what came up to me and it turns out that they were Scottish and living in Australia.  They had been thinking of home, which is why this card came up.

I don’t get drawn to that shield in every reading but now there is another layer on the card for me and maybe it shows up for me if people are homesick.

It’s important to speak up and just trust that the information you are getting is what you should deliver.

Looking At One Card At A Time

I’ve touched on this already but it’s and important point and another one of the most common mistakes.

Don’t get stuck just going through the reading one card at a time.  Have a look at the overall reading and try to pick up the themes.

Are there many reversed cards?  How many majors are there compared to minors?  Are there any suits missing?  If so why?  Does the energy look stuck or is there a lot of movement in the cards?  Are there a lot of court cards and maybe outside influence involved?

This can really bring your reading to life and will help you find the overall deeper meaning.

Not Trusting Your Intuition

Reading tarot really is a big responsibility so I do understand that there is sometimes a hesitation to pass on a message.  However, I see a lot of people second guessing themselves and holding back.

Maybe it’s that you don’t want to deliver ‘bad news’ or maybe you are just unsure about a card.  It’s very important for you to get in touch with your intuition and even more important to pass on whatever information you are getting.

I have a free 7-day course that will help you get in touch with your intuition. You can sign up here – www.tarotavenue.com/intuition.

The magic in a tarot reading really happens when you let the traditional meanings go and let your intuition sing loud and clear.

Thinking That A Card Is Good Or Bad

I’m always looking for different meanings in the cards and I believe that every card has a light side and a shadow side.  Again it depends on the surrounding cards and the question as to whether it’s a good or bad card at that time.

The Tower

An example of this is the much dreaded Tower card.  He has a very bad reputation but can actually be a really positive card.  Maybe it’s the shake up that you need to help you reach your potential.  I’m always drawn to the song from Chitty Chitty Bang Band “from the ashes of disaster, grow the roses of success”.

We sometimes need the destruction to happen before we can clear the way for creation.  Letting go or losing what is not working for you is extremely positive, even though it may not feel like it at the time.


Over-complicating Everything!

It’s time to apply the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid).  This is a biggie and very important.

Most tarot courses or books will recommend the Celtic Cross spread.  No doubt about it that this is a great spread but it’s way too complicated for a beginner and to be honest a lot of the time it’s just too complicated for the question.

One of the keys to a deep and meaningful reading is to keep it simple.  There is a temptation to pull 10 cards to answer a question like ‘will I get the promotion at work’.   Sure you want to get as much information as possible but this can be achieved through  1-3 cards.  I find that I could do a 30-minute reading from 3 cards and I can assure you that the querent will walk away with a whole lot more deep information that they would if I were to do a 10 card celtic cross.

In this situation I would probably do a custom 3 card reading:

  1. What action does ‘xxxx’ have to take to increase the chances of promotion?
  2. What obstacles could stand in the way?
  3. What is the likely outcome?

Not Setting Boundaries

You will find that you get asked all sorts of questions when you are a tarot reader.  It’s really important that you set clear boundaries from the beginning and stick to them.

Set yourself up with a simple code of ethics.  It may be that you don’t want to do a reading for a 3rd party.  It’s not uncommon to be asked if a husband is cheating or what a sister’s motive is for not speaking.  It’s not right or wrong to answer this type of question but be prepared and if you feel it crosses a line then don’t do it.

Another big one is health related readings.  I’m pretty open with what I will answer but health is one that I stay clear of.  I always recommend that the person seek professional advice and I have a fear that I could steer somebody in the wrong direction with my reading.

You may also want to be clear about how long your readings run for, how much you will charge (if anything) and if they are done over the phone or face to face.

I’m also really conscious about repeat customers.  I love to get people coming back to me but if they start to rely on tarot I usually have a gentle word and advise that they need no more than one reading a month.  There is a great saying that really resonates with me “tarot is a great servant but not a great master’.  It’s so true!

Giving A Querent An Outcome But No Strategy

Depending on the spread that you are using you could find that the answer to a question is good or bad.  As a tarot reader, you really want to think of yourself as a bit of a life strategist and be sure that you are giving guidance on how they can change the outcome or at least letting them see that this is part of a bigger plan.

It’s all very well to say “no you are not going to get that job” but it’s your responsibility to dig deeper and find out why not.  Is there anything that can be done to change the outcome?  Is there another possible outcome that could be better.

It’s time to channel your inner Sherlock Holmes and piece all the parts of the puzzle together.

Taking It Too Seriously

The most important piece of advice I can give is to HAVE FUN!  Yes reading tarot can be a huge responsibility and it’s one that I do take very seriously. However, learning tarot and reading tarot should be fun.  It’s a great way to connect with others and to connect with your inner-self.

Don’t get bogged down by all the esoteric information that is out there.  Keep it simple and bear in mind that many believe tarot started as a card game!

Tarot can have such a positive impact on your life and the lives of those around you.  I urge you to stick with it if you are currently learning.  It will all start to fall into place.  Just avoid these common mistakes and hopefully it will make the whole process far more enjoyable for you.

Introduction to Tarot Reading



  1. Great post! Good advice! I totally agree with you. Thank you for raising the issue about boundaries. It is so important. I accept to talk about health issues in my readings but I always keep in mind to create a “placebo effect” no matter the evolution of the disease. I never give false hope, but I try to give the seeker a way to create a healing mindset, either physically or spiritually.

  2. I am a beginner …and have read and watched several of your post and want to thank you very much for your insight….You have made me understand much clearer the reading…especially the 78 questions….Seeing one for every card helped me to understand how to put it all together….i plan on reading a few more just to hear your view or way of reading….again thank you very much i am anxious to play with them for a little bit using some of the things i learned….

    1. Author

      Hi Kelly. Thanks so much for reaching out. I’m so happy to be able to help. When I was a beginner I totally relied on other people videos and knowledge and I am only too happy to share what I know. Best of luck in your tarot journey and let me know if there is anything I can help you with.

  3. Hi David. More posts like this, would be sure to put the newest of readers at ease. I love the way that you encourage the new reader, to not be so anxious, and instead of being over the top about the specific meanings, to relax and let the natural intuition take over. I too have found that many developing readers become very focused on whether a card is ” good or bad “. As you say the combination of cards, gives a much clearer picture. It is like having to holiday snaps to show the friend, instead of the one. It conjures up a much bigger story, and this of course, is born in the mind of anyone who is developing their intuition nicely.

    Thanks again David

Leave a Comment