Reading Tarot

Reading Tarot

Reading Tarot is a science, AND an art.

First, you have to know what the cards are!

I have been interested in reading tarot since 1996, when Olaf Lindstrom and I began work on the "CPU Tarot" project - a web-based system that deals tarot cards, using spontaneous input from the user to influence the way the cards are shuffled.

If you're more interested in a free tarot reading, than in learning the meanings of the cards, Click Here!

There are a number of "facutal" things you have to learn, in order to learn how to read tarot. Beyond that, there are a number of "non-factual" things you will need to have some kind of grip on - and I say "have a grip" on because you can't really KNOW something "non-factual" - you can feel it, you can have faith in it, you can believe it - and you have to - but for the purposes of this website, I will use the term "know" for the type of knowledge that is quantifiable.

What factual elements are involved with reading Tarot?

  1. You have to know what each card means, in order to read Tarot

  2. You have to know what the card orientations mean, and how each card is to be interpreted if it comes up inverted

  3. You have to know what the positions mean, and how each card is to be interpreted in relation to each of the positions.

Let's draw a parallel with painting - watercolor, in particular - these items would be the equivalent of knowing how to mix colours, and how to make shapes. Yellow plus blue makes green. A circle is round, and a triangle has 3 sides. You can't get very far in the world of watercolor if you don't know how to mix colours or make shapes - but that is certainly not to say that the ability to mix colours and make shapes will make you in any way a competent painter, or even enjoy doing it.

What non-factual elements are involved with reading tarot?

The most important thing about reading Tarot is that the reading itself is intended as something unique to the person having the reading being done. Somehow, and for some reason, the cards come up the way they do because the person they are being read for has influenced the situation, and the universe itself, to such a degree that the cards DO come up in a unique manner. Like the butterfly effect, only much more complicated - a split-second delay here, an emotional response that causes one shuffle/cut to move a single card further down the deck - these are these are the sorts of things that are "non-factual", but obviously of IMMENSE importance to the relevance of Tarot in some peoples' lives.

In developing shuffling algorithms with Olaf, for the Free Tarot Reading Applet, we used some AMAZING math to allow a user to affect the shuffling of a deck of cards that ISN'T EVEN REAL. The contents of the cards themselves was used to cause subtle shifts in the presentation of information to the user - who then subconsciously affects each phase of shuffling by interacting in reaction to the subtly shifted interface. Amazing stuff, and I won't go into it in depth - except to say that, having delved long enough into quantifying the unquantifyable elements of reading Tarot, I now find the QUANTIFYABLE elements SO SIMPLE to understand - that I'd like to share them with you here on this website.


About the images on the cards

The fine folks at U.S. Games Systems, Inc. were kind enough to let me use the images on the cards, which they own, if I put the following credit up:

  • Illustrations from the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck reproduced by permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford. CT, U.S.A. Copyright 1971 by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. Further reproduction prohibited. The Rider-Waite Tarot Deck is a registered trademark of U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

  • U.S, Games Systems, Inc., is the world's largest publisher and source for tarot decks and related cartomancy products. A catalog and information can be obtained by calling them at 800-544-2537, or you may wish to view their web site at


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