How To Read Tarot Cards for Personal Growth

I had a conversation last week with an acquaintance who had just joined my list, after we’d chatted about the work that I do as the Grounded Mystic. She was curious, engaged, and eager to see what I had to offer. But she didn’t respond to the opt-in free gift, the three card reading. When I saw her yesterday I mentioned it … just because I love for people to take advantage of the resource!

“I know,” she said. “I guess I haven’t come up with a topic I need to know about. You know, like I’m not worried about how something is going to turn out right now. Can I use it later?”

“Well–sure,” I said. “You can use it anytime. But if you don’t mind, I’d like to dig a little deeper, because most of us have something we’re working on in our lives!”

We chatted further, and I found–no surprise–that she felt that Tarot was for fortune-telling, or predicting future events. This is so common, because this is how Tarot is portrayed in popular media, and, of course, how it did evolve through its history.

Tarot began as a card game, evolved into a system of divination, and now–much like the evolution of astrology–it has become a vehicle for personal growth and spiritual development.

When I explained this to my friend, she was like–“Ohhhhh … I didn’t realize that. Ok. Yes, I definitely have something I’m working on. I’ll email you tonight.”

She did, and the reading helped her immensely, so much so that she right away bought a one-question reading. With her permission (personal details changed for anonymity), I’m including that one-question reading here, so you can see an example of how I work, and the way Tarot can be a tool for guidance and clarity.

Shona’s Reading

Shona is a performance artist. Her question was about a current project and larger thread she is exploring in her work.

Where is Project X leading me? Why do I feel so compelled to do this work?”

When I do a reading (other than the free three card), I let my guidance dictate how many cards, the layout, and what each card represents in relationship to the question. For Shona, this looked like the following:

  • Card 1: What is trying to be born
  • Card 2: What needs to be let go of
  • Card 3: How to best allow the process to unfold

(these three formed the top row of cards)

  • Card 4: It’s meaning for you
  • Card 5: It’s meaning for the world

The Reading

I include this in the hope that you may be helped by it yourself, if you have a similar type of question, and/or you can see how an integrated reading from me works. Note: I reference an earlier reading she had, about family dynamics. It was fascinating as some of the exact cards showed up here, in the same orientation. Ah the magic of Tarot!

  1. What is trying to be born: Wheel of Fortune, X, reversed
Mary-El Tarot

Interesting, because this showed up in your last reading. This card clearly says a few things to me: one, that it is important to your life journey, and that inherent in this process of Project X, and the evolution of your work generally is a big evolutionary “step.” Two, there is nothing for you to do, per se, to make it evolve, that it is head down, and headed out the birth canal as we speak. This is a natural turning of the wheel of the life of the work as its own being, as it resides in you as its own inspirational force. You are the mother of it; you are, like in the previous reading, the grounded presence amidst the chaos. So it remains for you to—like the woman in the image, with her blindfold—to trust the process and understand that in a way, the work has chosen you, rather than you the work, and it is going to grow if you let it—of course you are always at choice. But it is hard to stop a baby in the middle of the birth canal! This project/work will unfold as it will, without a regard for your desire or comfort. There is a sense that this is a part of your soul’s greater longing—to birth this form—but to the human, incarnate intellect it can seem “out of control” or fated. The essence of Project X is self-trust, on a level that isn’t always experienced but that is becoming necessary in the very evolution of human consciousness.

devil maryel
Mary-El Tarot

2. What needs to be let go of: The Devil, XV

Another repeat from your last reading. I shuffle these cards very well—so it’s always fascinating when we see repeat cards—especially for very different questions. What needs to be let go of is clear: obsessions with controlling the work, giving a shit what others feel about it, fear of doing it wrong or of needing it to be more mainstream or legit . . . bring in that old “devil may care” attitude … letting the work be what it will, and bugger anyone who can’t/won’t/doesn’t want to understand it. Because letting go of any old stories, ideas, beliefs around doing this creative work is what this project is for. However, the Devil does show up in tricky ways, and so it’s good to be a little vigilant about how you are thinking and doing with your new process. The Devil asks for some humor too, and perseverance through obstacles. If you notice the color and energy of this image, it is bloated, stagnant, dull. If you find yourself feeling this way, check to see if your devils and demons are sneaking in. Because the whole point of Project X is to let go of stagnant, bloated conceptions and find new freedom.

mary el nine swords
Mary-El Tarot

3. How to best let the process unfold: 9 of Swords, reversed

Here we can look at the issue of trust—though as I mention, the process of doing the work in the first place is one of self-trust—and the energy to bring to the actual evolution and unfolding of Project X and its eventual offspring (performance puppies!). Ok … I love this … because really this card is just echoing what has been shown in the first two cards. Traditionally, the Nine of Swords is a card that shows we are messing with our own heads, such that we’ve let limiting beliefs, victimization, and such-like totally get us in a knot, and we are feeling pretty miserable. And that energy still floats around this card. But what I love about the imagery in this deck, however, is that we see that this energy is really about crossing the threshold from limited human conception into eternal soul-worlds … and accessing and witnessing the wonders therein. If you look at this image you will see two towers—white and black, and beyond the magnificent city. In the process of birthing and evolving with this work, you are going to get some pretty interesting insights on the nature of (perceived) human limitation in light of the soul’s essential creativity. I know this sounds pretty “woo,” but this card is about accessing the sublime with the tool of the mind, the sublime that always lays beyond whatever mind-fuck we may be engaging in. Kinda paradoxical.

The reversed nature of this card says you are not obligated to share this threshold crossing experience with anyone if you don’t want; this will be an internal experience, and this is ok. No one even has to know that you are getting divine downloads. And don’t let your journey into this realm of the mystical mess you about; it’s perfectly fine. You can still be a regular, grounded person. So, please, don’t resist. Going back and forth over the threshold of doubt and inspiration is a part of how this work unfolds through you.

3 cups maryel
Mary-El Tarot

4. Its meaning for you: Three of Cups, reversed

So, what does Project X et al mean for you? Check it out! The Three of Cups, reversed. So now we have all the cards present as they appeared in your first reading. I love it! This work is the way you are present to the life force of the universe, your soul, and how you are expressing love out into the world, from a very subtle, almost hidden place. Again, it isn’t for anyone “out there” to know what the heck your creative work does for them and to them. Vibrationally, what you are putting out into the world with this particular form, is very similar to what you are holding for your family, the women therein  in particular. I am compelled to wonder about the space you are holding for yourself to evolve into the strength of the feminine and a few other cosmic ideas. But really, for you, this work is a quiet celebration of what it means to be you. It is the coming together of disparate—perhaps even disowned or disempowered—parts of yourself to flow from the whole, separate into harmonies, and rejoin the whole. The tree in the foreground reflects the chaos that we find in the Wheel of Fortune. The swirling, unpredictable energies of the soul, the universe, etc. Project X is about accessing your true and unique gifts that need to become visible to you first, and then flow out into the world.

I must Create a System, or be enslav’d by another Man’s. I will not Reason & Compare; my business is to Create.” —William Blake, Jerusalem

queen of swords mary el5. Its meaning for the “world”: Queen of Swords

The Queen of Swords. You hold the space for an environment of Truth and Wisdom, where ideas can develop in freedom, and where others can gather to share knowledge, and experience the wisdom of you, each other, and their bodies. Nuff said.




It’s all here: probably you already knew all of this, on some level, because this work is coming from such an instinctual place within you; from your embodied soul’s wisdom that resides in your very cells, a hologram of your gigantic entirety! Interesting to look at the eyes in the Devil and the Queen in contrast to the blindfold of the woman on the Wheel. Fate cares not for the glances of others.  The work is important, as an evolutionary tool and experience, both for you and others. There isn’t much you need to “do” other than do it and let it move through you, and once it’s “out” (the baby is born), to nurture it and allow it to grow. You can trust it as much as a mother has to trust the birth process. If you start getting interesting dreams or visions, pay attention. Watch the fears and double-checking/second-guessing, that’s just the Devil tryin’ to get his due. And, dare I say it, I believe that whatever arises/is born/travels through you in the process of this work will only assist you in the further showing up with and for your family, because all those cards are here, an echo or a mirror.

So … Now What?

Are you intrigued by how this reading worked? You can use the Tarot yourself or get a reading from me on any type of major question, even if it seems abstract. For Shona, this reading provided her with exactly the clarity she needed–and the validation of thoughts and feelings she was already having. Tarot can do this for you too.

If you are one of those people on my list who hasn’t claimed your free three card reading, I encourage you to do so! It’s so fun.

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If you are ready to jump in with a one or two question reading, or you know you want a whole bunch of Tarot goodness, (bundles of readings to be used throughout the year), go here for more info, or here to book.

I am constantly amazed and humbled by the power of the Tarot. It is so much more than a party trick or scary psychic device. The Tarot harnesses the power of archetype, intuition, and–if the reader is clear and connected–Divine wisdom.

I hope to read for you soon!






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