I’ve Been Reading Tarot Cards for 2 Years, and I’ve Become More Honest With Myself As a Result

In December 2019, I had my first-ever tarot reading, and it helped me put so much about my life into perspective. At the time, I was fresh off a breakup from a five-year relationship, and I was starting to feel like I’d made the wrong decision to end things. I’d just landed my first writing job, but the personal win felt less exciting without being able to share the joy with my ex, who’d been instrumental in helping me believe in myself as a writer.

Shortly after my first tarot reading, though, a friend gifted me a Rider-Waite tarot deck, and from that moment, I was hooked. I’m already a highly spiritual person, so I wasn’t shocked by my instant connection to and curiosity about the 76 cards of tarot, but what I didn’t know at that time was that adopting a tarot practice, wherein I read my own cards, would lead me to be more honest with myself.

When I did my first reading with my own deck, the first card I pulled was the three of swords. That card depicts a heart pierced by three swords with three storm clouds in the background. It represents heartache, emotional pain, and grief, but it is also a reminder that the clouds appearing on the card will eventually dissipate, as would the grief I was feeling about my ex. As I learned about the card’s meaning, though, I realized that I didn’t honestly want to be back in that relationship just because it was comfortable.

In fact, I realized I wasn’t even missing it at all; I was grieving the loss of it, but not with a sense of regret. “With the cards, I feel like I’m able to make that connection between how my head understands something and what my feelings are,” says Chinggay Labrador, tarot reader and author of Practical Magic: A Tarot Newbie’s Guide & Journal. That said, it isn’t always easy to tap into the intuitive power of the deck, especially if you don’t believe that tarot can lead to more honesty or are fearful of what the deck might tell you.

The secret here is letting the cards’ energy wash over you rather than feeling like you need to memorize all of their meanings (which, by the way, you don’t). In fact, believing a singular, inflexible interpretation can keep you from the magical, honesty-boosting powers of tarot. For instance, if you adhere to certain false stereotypes about certain cards, like, for instance, the death tarot card—which doesn’t actually mean you or someone your love will die—you might lose out on the intuitive powers that the cards can afford you.

“Tarot is not about predicting your future. It’s about reflecting within.” —Abigail Eir, tarot reader

“Tarot is not about predicting your future. It’s about reflecting within,” says Abigail Eir, intuitive tarot reader for Before Noon, a membership-based holistic-therapy virtual platform. “It’s really just 76 themes about universal human experiences.”

I’ve worked to internalize Eir’s point as I’ve continued to pull tarot cards for myself during the past two years. For my birthday earlier this year, some of my best friends gifted me a journal that has the sun tarot card on its cover, and ever since, I’ve been recording the card I’ve pulled when I do a reading. This has allowed me to notice patterns, which has facilitated the opportunity for deeper reflection, introspection, and—yes—honesty with myself.

For instance, some cards—like the queen of cups, which represents compassion and intuition, and the hierophant, which is symbolic of spiritual wisdom and religious beliefs—came up for me more frequently than others. In cases like these, when I notice recurring card pulls, I ask myself questions like, What part of my life does this relate to? How can I take the energy of this card and apply it to my relationships? This helps me synthesize patterns in my life.

According to Eir, tarot is “about reflecting within, coming back to who you are, and asking yourself the question first, before you start pushing that onto other people.” Shuffling through the pages of my journal, I realized that some of my earlier entries were just interpretations of what I had read online about the meaning of the card. As I got more seasoned in reading and comfortable with the deck, though, I also grew more comfortable with and honest in applying those meanings to my day-to-day life. For instance, in late September, I stopped writing down what a given website or guidebook was telling me about the card. Instead, I wrote notes to myself after mindfully considering what the meaning of the card might be. “Ahead of this week, remember you are highly capable and deserving. Keep doing what you’re doing,” I wrote on September 26.

By mid-October, I was doing tarot spreads in addition to one-card pulls. I centered myself before each reading and set an intention to listen to what the deck was trying to tell me. Rather than paraphrasing a tarot guide, I began writing down takeaways and notes-to-self based on my personal interpretation of each reading. During a particularly hard time, I used tarot to help me weigh my options and listed pros and cons for each. I grounded myself before reading and worked to be honest with myself about what I truly wanted. I wrote down: “Stick it out. You don’t do well when you’re not busy.”

Now, two years after my first reading, tarot is still leading me to be more honest with myself by way of proper introspection. If you’re wondering whether or not tarot can lead to more honesty with yourself, rest assured: it can. But keep in mind that you have to let it.

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