The Joy of Sharing the Cards

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I’ve spent most of this month visiting my hometown while my children are with their father (my ex-husband) on summer vacation. The month has involved many joyful meals and get-togethers with old friends, some from as many as 25 years back. Inevitably they ask: “Did you bring your cards?” This has been delightful for me, since my professional readings are nearly all done via email for people I don’t know.

When I first started reading the tarot for myself over 15 years ago, I closely followed all the careful prescriptions described in the tarot “cookbooks” I’d bought.

“Cleanse and clear your deck prior to each reading with a quartz crystal.”

“Light a candle before performing your readings.”

“Meditate and deeply center yourself before your reading.”

“Don’t let anyone else touch your cards.”

“Wrap your cards in a purple silk cloth and store them in a wooden box.”

Tarot reading, according to these books, was a very specific ritual, and the message I got was this: God forbid you miss one of the steps–your reading would probably be totally invalid.

Something I’ve discovered, especially after meeting with and learning from divine magical friends like Enrique Enriquez, Camelia Elias, Miguel Marquez, and others, is that truly, folks—the joy of sharing the cards is all that matters. The inherent genius of the cards lies within the storytelling that they generate.

Over this past month, I’ve read for friends in a loud, garish bar with a sticky table; in a Mexican restaurant; sitting by the bay at sunset; from a rickety chair on a busy sidewalk outside a frozen yogurt shop; on the back deck of my parents’ house. I haven’t had a candle, a crystal, or any other acccoutrement on hand. Just my trusty deck of cards and my ability to share the story they generate.

That’s really all you need.

I’ve discovered that the cards are a catalyst for laughs, introspection, therapeutic reflection, and shared humanity.

I’ve had more than one friend spontaneously interpret her reading pretty much all on her own after having seen the cards for just a brief time, and I’ve had another friend ask me “Can I shuffle for you this time?” and wanting me to read for myself in front of her.

I’m on a crusade to bring tarot down to earth. Let’s dispense with extraneous methodology and just get back to the joy of looking at the cards together, sharing our stories, recognizing that we’re all only human. 

The magic of the tarot is its ability to pinpoint exactly what we need to know at this moment. In my multiple readings for various friends over these past weeks, specific cards have reappeared more than once for the same person. Tarot knows, in its mysterious way, how to get the point across.

If you’ve never thought of looking at the cards for yourself, why not start? It’s a lovely practice for inner reflection, and a powerful story generator. Your story is unique, and deserves expression.


Here’s a spread that I’ve been using lately with friends who want a reading but can’t think of a specific question. It’s a great jumping-off point for further exploration. You can try this one with a client, a friend, or for yourself and journal about it. If you don’t have a deck, just go to this random tarot card generator and then use this website of tarot card meanings to help you in describing your cards and weaving your story from them.

Card 1: What’s the most important thing for me to focus on right now; what should I be aware of and acknowledge?

Card 2: What advice or guidance should I follow now relating to card 1, what can I/should I do? (a “negative” card here signifies a block that you can work on removing, overcoming, or understanding)

Card 3: What can I expect in the near-term future (next 1-3 months) as a result of this situation?

Reading the cards shouldn’t be “scary,” nor should it be seen as devious, transgressive, or reserved only for a “special few” with some sort of “psychic gift.”

Give this 3-card reading a try and see what stories emerge from within you.



  1. beautiful. thank you Shelley you will forever be that wonderful bridge that made me overcome my fear of the tarot helping me unlock a great potential of mine. thank you for your generosity. I’ll see you at the end of Sept.


  2. I am glad you’re getting a workout reading the cards in social situations, especially with friends is a joy. I believe that those admonitions from the tarot police about how to treat your cards with respect and not let them become polluted with casual treatment is not meant for the tarot reader so much as it is for the anonymous clients that may be around. Those rituals instill respect for the story that is about to unfold. They help to focus the mind and to remove the person from the secular flow of every day mishmash.
    For me the cards do not prompt the story so much as reflect the universal stories that are ingrained in our brains and hearts which we seek to make sense of a life in pieces of narrative fragments.
    The cards represent a sort of objective dream that brings us out of mechanical time and into the ebb and flow of lived time. Where memory and aspirations mingle to dream bold.
    Likewise I will use my cards in any setting. Often in the neighborhood coffeehouse or kebab restaurant.
    I rarely use spreads anymore and if I do I base them on the Major Arcana Card that I asked the client to select from the get-go.
    I am surprised how often I only need the one card to satisfy their questions or issues, which I steadfastly refuse to inquire about, except to warn that they should make it about themselves and not about a third party.
    Sometimes I say the tarot is not a tattletale or a gossip and doesn’t like to talk about people who aren’t around to fend for themselves.
    Also I do not ever consciously tell fortunes. Though I can’t speak for the cards because they often seem to tell people their fortunes without me having a clue that that’s what I’m talking about.
    For some reason, I do not read tarot in a frankly storytelling fashion. When the cards appear I discuss what they mean and how they interact with the surrounding cards, assuming that the client is putting together the metaphors and applying them to their question or self.
    So keep writing Shelley. I do enjoy your blog when I’m percipient enough to read my email and discover you have a new entrée.

  3. Ciao Shelley! Spero tu sia tornata e che sia tornata alla tua vita romana, fammi sapere quando ci possiamo prendere un caffe! Un abbraccio Antonella

    On Fri, Aug 21, 2015 at 7:39 PM, Antonella Pizzolla wrote:

    > beautiful. thank you Shelley you will forever be that wonderful bridge > that made me overcome my fear of the tarot helping me unlock a great > potential of mine. thank you for your generosity. > I’ll see you at the end of Sept. > > antonella

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