What Happens When a Tarot Reading Fails?

Reading Tarot Cards
Some Tarot readings just go bad, and there's not much you can do about it. Floris Leeuwenberg / Getty Images

Question: What Happens When a Tarot Reading Fails?

I've been reading Tarot cards for a few years now and have been practicing on family members and friends. Last week, I was asked to do a reading for someone I had never read for before, and it was a disaster! None of the cards made any sense, and I felt terrible afterwards. Is this normal?


While I wouldn't go so far as to say it's normal -- because that word can mean a lot of things -- it's definitely not uncommon.

Really, it does happen, and it happens for a variety of reasons. Sometimes you, as a reader, may just be having an "off" day. Maybe you're tired, not feeling well, you have other stuff on your mind, etc. It happens.

Other times, it's the querent themselves. I once attended an event where I was doing readings all day -- and by that, I mean, from 10 in the morning until 7 pm. I made sure I took breaks when I needed to, cleared energy out between readings, and so forth. Everything went beautifully, and all of my readings were spot-on.

Until the last guy.

He sat down at my table, I spread the cards out, and nothing made sense at all. It was this jumbled, tangled mess of hostility, frustration, rage and confusion, and I couldn't make heads or tails out of it. Worse yet, he kept asking questions, each one more specific than the one before. I couldn't help him, and with each card I pulled out and put down, the spread got even more and more baffling.

Finally, after forty-five minutes -- normally I spend about 10 - 20 on a client at an event like this -- I had to give up. I told him, "You know, I'm not going to charge you for this because I know I haven't been able to help you at all. I'm very sorry, but it doesn't look like I'm the person who can help you find the answers you need."

Later, I learned from other people at the event that he had consulted other readers as well, and had similar results with them. Looking back, it seems that this was a person who wasn't just desperate for answers to his problems - he was looking for someone to fix things as well, and none of us were capable of doing that for him. Although, this is a pretty dramatic example, it has happened to me on a smaller scale a few other times as well.

Remember, when a reading "fails," there are two people involved: the reader, and the querent. Theresa Reed at The Tarot Lady says one person's "bad" reading may be another person's blessing. She says, "A “bad” tarot reading doesn’t always have to become a prophecy nor does it need to be swept under the glitter-fairy-dust carpet... Besides – do you want a tarot reader who only tells you what you want to hear or do you want an honest forecast?"

So, is it normal when a reading fails? Probably more normal than you realize. If it does happen -- whether it's because of the querent or the reader -- understand that there's not much you can do about it, other than move on. Let the person know that you've tried to help, and you've run out of answers. If you think the blockage is with you, invite him or her to come back another time and let you give it another shot.

If the problem is with the querent, and you know darn well that you can't help them, be honest and tell them that. This will keep them from wasting their time and yours.

Use our free Introduction to Tarot study guide! This six-step lesson plan will get you started with the basics of Tarot!

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Wigington, Patti. "What Happens When a Tarot Reading Fails?" ThoughtCo, Aug. 13, 2016, thoughtco.com/tarot-reading-fails-2562769. Wigington, Patti. (2016, August 13). What Happens When a Tarot Reading Fails? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/tarot-reading-fails-2562769 Wigington, Patti. "What Happens When a Tarot Reading Fails?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/tarot-reading-fails-2562769 (accessed November 23, 2017).