Tarot symbolism originates in Medieval and Renaissance Europe, but over the centuries it grew to incorporate everything from Astrology and Kabbalah to Runes and the I Ching, an ancient Chinese oracle which was developed 2500 years before Tarot.
Tarot readings are done using layouts of cards drawn from the shuffled deck. The layout of the cards is known as a spread, and in readings the position of the card in the spread relative to other cards in the spread is what determines the meanings. Although the general language of tarot is universal, the imagery of each individual deck certainly has its own dialect.
There are several ways to spread cards while doing a reading. Here are a couple very simple spreads.
The Single Card Tarot reading
This is the easiest means of divining an answer, because there is only one card to look at. All you have to do is pick one card while thinking of your question. Some readers pull more cards and let the chain of cards reveal a story.
The Three Card Tarot reading
This is also an easy layout, you only use three cards. Then while thinking of your questions choose three cards. To get a better understanding of what your tarot card reading is telling you, read all the positions and let your intuition tell you what you need to know.
To do a tarot reading pick a question you would like answered or a situation you would like to gain insight into. Close your eyes for a moment and meditate on the subject. When you feel ready shuffle the cards and begin your tarot reading.
Remember, the cards are not good or bad in themselves. They only describe certain energies or influences. It is up to you to use this information to make conscious choices about your life. Sometimes an explosion of feeling or dramatic shock provides welcome relief, clearing the air and freeing up new energy.