Reading for Strangers

By Allan Ritchie

20151201 130605

Witches Tarot by Ellen Dugan

There are milestones in the life of a Tarot reader's adventure with the cards. There is a moment when one decides it is time to attempt at reading for a stranger. There is an amount of fear and anxiety that can accompany that thought. Going public with the Tarot is a defining moment. Many use Tarot privately at first. Then there is the time when they will lay out the cards for family and friends. These are all relatively safe ways in which to explore the cards. There is a mental divide that must be crossed to reach the idea where use the deck and then read for strangers.

Each reader must answer some personal questions and face barriers before reading for strangers. There are questions of fear and self-confidence. Are we ready? Do we have the skill? Then there are many readers face social barriers where they live.  Many of us are in locations that do not lend themselves to an open acceptance of the tarot. Small towns, conservative communities and even family members may be obstacles for some to be able to find opportunities to try it for the first time. In some areas there is an openness to non-traditional spiritual exploration and even an excitement to search out the mysteries of life in a myriad of ways. Yet for some there is limited social  opportunity for Tarot to be introduced and offering a reading. For new and ambitious readers there is a compounded sense that along with the normal first-time jitters there is the consideration of being a Tarot ambassador to an indifferent audience or in a potentially hostile environment. 

Clearly there are many obstacles that block and deter us on our pursuit to develop. Crossing the threshold from Tarot for myself and Tarot for others is one of the many testing grounds. The battle to find yourself before a stranger and a spread between you is a worthy pursuit and full of rewards. Without the attempt there will always be the question linger if it is possible. The majority of us with decks of cards will not go professional and do not even have a desire to take it on as an occupation. Yet for me and I suspect for many there is a inner thirst to know if we have the wherewithal to do it.

So what are the rewards that are the fruit of reading for others? First and I would dare say primarily is self-understanding. Quickly you will have the understanding if you know how the cards connect and speak? Do you have the ability to verbalize card meaning for someone who has zero or limited knowledge of the Tarot? The act will pressure you to rely on what you know and if you have to fight the urge to grab a reference book or if you just look at the cards and go blank you learn about yourself.

Second there is a universal truth that we all must give as well as receive. As a tarot reader, I believe, that the very truth of the universe is waiting to be revealed in a spread of cards. To receive that blessing of understanding demands that I in some way bless others. By reading for others completes that cycle and renews the balance. One of the best ways to break through a dry spell or a learning plateau is found in pouring yourself into a spread to give someone else a clearer understanding of their life and place in the world.

Finally another reward is the act itself. It may seem weird to discuss but if you love to watch the Tarot work then each reading for a stranger is a chance to find the wonder and the excitement anew. For me sometimes it is practice but for many it is a sweet opportunity. Being isolated and feeling alone there is a claustrophobic feeling of knowing that there are relatively limited number of ways of using the cards in study and reading for yourself. Engaging the challenge of reading for strangers is insightful, fun, and confidence building.

If you have not yet taken the leap into reading for strangers but are excited by the possibility take hear there are opportunities available. If you are a member of the American Tarot Association then you are able to enroll in the Free Tarot Network. This is a way for readers to connect with strangers requesting a free reading. You can provide a one-card reading and answer real questions.

So if you are looking to test the waters then head over to and sign up. You get a mentor, then you can take as many readings as you want. On the other hand if you want to get a free reading then head to the site and request one. 

All submissions remain the property of their respective authors. All images are used with permission. Tarot Reflections is published by the American Tarot Association - 2015  Questions? Comments? Contact us at