Many expert Tarot readers will tell you that the secret to giving a good Tarot Reading is finding the ” Tarot Story ” in your reading. In other words, whenever you look down at your spread of cards, you should see a sequence of events with a beginning, middle, and end. You should be able to see where the situation started, how it is right now, and how it will likely turn out in the next few months. Despite this being such a crucial part of giving a good Tarot reading, many Tarot students struggle with the Tarot Story and how to find it. You can know all the meanings to all the cards, but if you don’t know how to connect them and apply them to someone’s life, you aren’t going to be able to give a good reading. How does one learn to find the Tarot Story in their readings?
“Backwards” Tarot Readings
I developed my own method of teaching this skill called “Backwards” Tarot Reading. In a normal Tarot reading, we start with a question about that is unknown (Who would be a good person for me? What will happen at my job over the next 6 months) and then draw cards in order to divine information about the situation or the future. My teaching method “reverses” the Tarot process. In “Backwards” Tarot Reading, we start with an event that has already ended in our lives, then pick cards from the Tarot deck that we think represent the sequence of events. This process helps Tarot Students bring the abstract energies of the Tarot down to the physical world by connecting them to an event in their lifetime. This practice will aid in finding the Tarot Story within future readings.
The “Backwards” Tarot Reading Method
- Pick a Major event from your life. This could be a new job, a new relationship, an ending relationship, a marriage, etc.
- Sketch out a basic sequence of events that led up to the main event. If your event is a new job, your outline could be:
- Finding the opportunity for the new job
- Applying for the new job
- Interviewing for the new job
- Getting the Job
- Think about and reflect on each entry in the outline. Think about what you know about the Tarot and the meanings of the individual cards. If you need help with basic Tarot Meanings, I recommend Joan Bunning’s website as a good starting place.
- Pick a card for each entry in the outline that you feel accurately describes that event. For example, if your entry is about the birth of a child, you may pick a Page. If it’s about a wedding, you may pick the Four of Wands. If it’s taking a risk, you may pick The Fool.
- Arrange the cards in order in front of you. Look at them and see how they connect and tell the story of the event that you picked in the first step.
An Example of a “Tarot Story” using the “Backwards” Reading Method
To demonstrate this method, I have done a “Backwards” Tarot Reading for international superstar Lady Gaga, and her rise to fame.
Arguably the biggest Pop Star on the planet, Lady Gaga’s career has exploded since her arrival on the scene in 2008. This Tarot Story chronicles her rise to fame, her immense success, her sudden hip injury, and her subsequent recovery.
Before The Fame: Eight of Pentacles. Lady Gaga didn’t rise to fame overnight. Her solo career started way back in 2005 when she was still known by her birth name, Stefani Germanotta. For three years, Gaga worked the underground club circuit of New York before breaking through to the mainstream with her first hit single “Just Dance”. I selected the Eight of Pentacles to represent this period of Lady Gaga’s life. In the Eight of Pentacles, we see a man diligently working on a Pentacle, and by the looks of the scene, he’s been working quite a while. This card represents hard work and applying yourself in order to reach a goal, two things that were very prevalent in Gaga’s life in her pre-fame days.
The Rise To Fame: Wheel of Fortune. After her first hit singles “Just Dance” and “Poker Face”, Lady Gaga rose through the ranks of pop stars at a rapid speed. Her debut album, The Fame, remained on top the Billboard Dance/Electronic albums chart for 106 non-consecutive weeks, and has sold over 12 million copies to date. Her debut album spawned five more Top-10 singles and a critically and commercially successful re-release of her debut album called The Fame Monster. The Wheel of Fortune represents changing events in a person’s life, usually for the better. This card accurately captures Lady Gaga’s rapid rise to fame as an important “turning point” in her life.
Continued Success and Acclaim: Six of Wands. Gaga’s second worldwide concert tour, The Monster Ball, was a commercial success, grossing over 227 million dollars. Her next album, Born This Way, sold over 1 million copies in its first week, and spawned four more top-10 singles, including the song Born This Way, which remained number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 6 weeks. By this time in her career, Gaga had been nominated for 20 Grammys, and had won 5 of them. This period of her career was marked by astounding commercial and critical success. The Six of Wands is a card of victory and acclaim. We see a man riding through the streets as onlookers cheer him on. This card perfectly describes Gaga’s success at this time in her life.
Hip-Injury: The Tower. In the middle of her next hit tour, The Born This Way Ball, Gaga suffered a labral tear in her right hip, and was forced to cancel the remaining dates of the tour. The injury came as a great surprise to her fanbase and it forced Gaga to take things slow for a while, moving her out of the public eye for over a year as she recovered. The card I have selected for this period in Gaga’s life is the Tower, a card of sudden events and endings. This card captures the sudden changes that Gaga went through during this period of her life and how they disrupted her schedule and plans.
Recovery: Four of Swords. After her injury, Gaga was forced to move out of the public eye to focus on her recovery. This period, often called the “blackout” by her fans, lasted from the cancellation of her tour in early 2012 to the beginning of her next album campaign, ARTPOP, in late 2013. The card I selected to represent this period is the Four of Swords. The Four of Swords shows a man in meditation, possibly sleeping. This card represents taking a break from the action, and focusing on the internal rather than external. This card captures the non-action and healing focused “blackout” that Lady Gaga took perfectly.
As you can see, creating a Tarot Story isn’t so hard once you learn to connect the Tarot to events in your life. Try this method with events from your own life, and see how your readings improve!