black background with white smoke wafting across. 3 black tarot cards in centre with the a gold sun & moon printed on them

Preparing for reading tarot cards. A how to guide for setting up

Lots of beginner Tarot readers steer clear of learning Tarot reading thinking that there are particular sacred items that you need before you can start. If you have watched any magical movies you would see the Tarot reader sitting in a darkened room with a crystal ball; Tarot cards laid out on a luxurious Tarot Cloth and surrounded by incense and candles. As much as this aesthetic is visually pleasing it is not necessary to do all of this to perform a reading for yourself or for others.

Gypsy woman performing tarot reading with crystal ballin forefront and tarot cards

There are certain items that are definitely useful when you are performing a reading such as a Tarot cloth to lay your cards on to protect them from the surface you are working on and to stop them from picking up negative vibes if you are outside of your normal environment. However these items should not be roadblocks to stop you from picking up and connecting with your Tarot cards if you want to perform a reading.

In saying this, when you are first starting out in Tarot it can be helpful to turn your Tarot practice into a ritual. It should be a sacred activity and learning to connect with your Tarot cards at first can be aided by performing certain activities.

Beginner steps to working with your Tarot cards

If you want to prepare for a Tarot reading, the first step is to prepare yourself and your environment. 

1. Dress in comfortable clothing - ensure that your clothing is not restrictive and you are not going to be distracted- if you are in a cold environment, make sure that your clothing is warm and vice versa. The idea is to have no distractions.

2. Create a calm environment- If you have some meditative incense, light it. If you have candles, set some up and light them. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable. You may want to put a quartz crystal on your altar- that's fine too! There are no hard and fast rules. 

incense burning with smoke in background

3. Sit in a comfortable position and meditate for a few minutes. Let your mind relax and connect to your environment.

4.  Unwrap your cards from your Tarot Cloth/ Tarot Bag

5. The next step is to concentrate on what question you want to ask the cards. Hold the question in your minds eye whilst shuffling your Tarot cards.

6. Now that you have set up your environment you can begin your reading.


The more comfortable you get with performing Tarot readings, either for yourself or for others, the less ritual you will need in order to successfully perform them. Many people like the ritual of setting up their sacred space. Just know that it is not necessary in order to be able to do a reading. In the beginning it definitely helps, however technically speaking, when you are proficient at it you could perform a reading in the middle of the street and it would not affect the outcome. It is all about focus and connecting with the question and the cards.

Remember- your intuition is what is actually performing the reading. Cards are a tool to access what you already know. Just like the cards help you to access your intuition, the ritual can help you to connect with the cards.

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