What Is a One Card Tarot Reading?

A tarot card set out with stones ready for a one card tarot reading

There’s one type of tarot reading that practitioners of all levels return to time and time again: the one-card tarot reading. It is simple and extremely useful in several ways. Even if you don’t feel that tarot cards can be used for divination, you can still get a reading using one card.

Why Do a One Card Tarot Reading?

A single tarot card

It is unpleasant to call ourselves or others “stupid”; however, the KISS principle holds true regardless of how hateful it is. In the case of tarot, keeping it simple sometimes, but not always, makes it easier to see and understand. 

Many people think in tarot, the more cards you have, the clearer your reading will be, perhaps that’s why the Celtic Cross is so popular. A detailed reading is often equated with quite a few cards, maybe even clarification cards. You won’t even realize it until you’ve covered a quarter of the deck and still have questions. 

We are forced to engage deeper with a card’s meaning when we draw just one card. This encourages us to think more deeply about how it might apply to our intentions or inquiries. 

Tarot cards are a form of divination that can provide insight, answers, and directions in life for many people. Using tarot cards is like using Google Maps or Mapquest for your journey through life. But the more cards we throw, the more confused our spiritual GPS becomes, and the more updates freeze our navigation systems. The clutter needs to go. 

Five ways a one card tarot reading is helpful are:

    1. A quick insight
    2. An update on a previous reading
    3. Meditation on a daily basis
    4. Communicating with spirits
    5. Bonding with your tarot deck while learning to read it

A Quick Insight

There are times when we need to quickly and easily get a handle on someone or a problem. A one-card tarot reading can be an effective way to gain clarity in this instance. If you shuffle the deck with intention and draw only one card, you will get the most relevant information for the situation, without interference from other cards’ meanings. 

I think it is here where we should stop to mention that the quality of a tarot reading depends on the question you ask. Tarot doesn’t lend itself to a clear YES/NO answer (although some would disagree), so we recommend using a pendulum. The use of a pendulum can also be used in conjunction with a tarot card reading to gain insight rather than drawing clarification cards. 

Make sure you keep your questions open-ended, as you would for research. Instead of asking “Does my partner love me?” ask “How will I know if I should go on a date with this person?” or “Is there anything I should know about how this person feels towards me?” Shuffle the deck thoroughly, then choose the card that lands on the top, or the one you are drawn to.

Generally, this type of reading is helpful when you already know part of the answer, but you need to clarify or gain some insight. In cases where the question or problem is an overwhelming one or too large, you may need to use a spread that is geared toward the problem or question that you are facing. A one-card tarot reading is not the best way to gain a thorough relationship divination.

An Update on a Previous Reading

The word update written in chalk on a black board

If you’ve received a reading previously, either from a professional or by yourself, and time has since passed, you may now wish to “check in” and see if there is anything else you need to know.

When you do a one-card tarot reading, you can see what has changed concerning a previously divined situation by simply asking, “What has changed since last time?” Or you can ask “How can I tell if I am still on the right track?”

As an example, imagine you’ve been dating someone for a while and have decided to do a three-card spread to determine what’s driving your relationship. Suppose you got The Devil (past), the 2 of Cups (present), and the King of Swords (future). Based on your questions, you concluded that you had been addicted to toxic relationships in the past. You also concluded that this person is a great choice since you’re attracted to him in a healthy way. However, the future of the relationship may be challenged by his cerebral and unemotional nature at times.

After a month, the relationship is still progressing well, though he may be a bit distant or overly practical from time to time. A one-card tarot reading could help you determine “How has our relationship changed over the past month?” For instance, if you draw Judgement, this could mean you have healed the part of you that was attracted to toxic men in the past. The new relationship you’re building is working out really well. The only thing that has changed since then is your comfort level. It has grown, and your relationship is thriving.

Meditation on a Daily Basis

A one card tarot draw is ideal for meditation, especially when you find it difficult to focus

The practice of meditation is an effective way to gain mindfulness, focus, and relaxation for spiritual and non-spiritual people alike. Depression and anxiety symptoms can be reduced by regular meditation while strengthening parts of our brains.

A tarot draw consisting of only one card is ideal for meditation, especially for those who find it challenging to meditate without a focus object or those who are learning meditation for the first time. You can focus on the artwork used to illustrate tarot cards even if you do not believe they are magickal or spiritual. Besides the traditional meanings behind the cards, the symbols associated with them can also provide inspiration for your meditation.

For those who believe, a one-card tarot reading can be used to receive messages about the day ahead or to acquire the mindset needed that day.

Communicating with Spirits

When communicating with spirits  ask them to guide your choice of card for a one card tarot reading

Divination tools can help communicate with the spirit realm, especially with our ancestors. When communicating with spirits, please take all necessary precautions to ensure your safety – you don’t want to summon something dark or evil. Cleanse your area properly and set up wards or a protective circle. When trying to reach a specific person, set out the things they loved in life, a favorite drink, or a picture, for example. The use of herbs and crystals such as amethyst or celestite can also create energy that is tuned to the spirit world. The spirit world can now be reached more easily.

When you have created your space and feel that you have summoned your chosen spirit, ask for a message or a sign from them. If you wish, shuffle the cards and draw one, or spread them out and ask them to guide your choice. Take the card you were drawn or guided to pick.

Please remember that pulling the “Death” card does not necessarily imply an actual death. It is extremely rare for it to indicate an actual death. In most cases, the “death” in question is a metaphor– the death of an aspect of yourself (or someone else) that no longer serves a purpose. Getting rid of the old and ushering in with the new.

Remember to thank your spirit guides and let them know you are closing the door when you are done. When you have completed the reading, cleanse that area with salt, smudging, etc. The protective circle or wards may be lifted once you feel it is safe.

Bonding With Your Tarot Deck While Learning To Read It

Using one-card tarot readings is an excellent method of learning tarot cards while creating a link with your deck. To get the deepest and most accurate readings out of your deck, it is necessary to link with it. You get to know it like you would a close friend.

To connect with the energy of their decks, many tarot enthusiasts wrap newly purchased decks in silk and carry them around. Sometimes they even sleep with the deck under their pillow. Through this process, you allow your unconscious and your spirit to imbue the deck with your energy, much like an imprint.

The process of learning tarot requires the same amount of intuition as memorizing. Every day, shuffle your cards and draw a new card to help this process along. To learn Tarot, study the card and use your intuition and knowledge to determine its meaning through both its vibe and art. After that, read the guidebook to find out what it means. Tarot journals help keep track of your readings.

It’s okay if your intuitive reading of the card doesn’t match the guidebook. This doesn’t mean that your intuitive interpretation is incorrect. You get the intended meaning from the guidebook, but you get the spiritual meaning from your intuition. Your interpretation will change as you grow and develop your relationship with the cards.

The guidebook can provide some excellent tips, so you could also read it cover to cover and pull the card corresponding to what you are reading at that moment. Hold it while reading about it, then study the card’s art and energy. Record the keywords in your tarot journal. After you have studied the cards shuffle them thoroughly, then place the deck face down in a place that you can use for the next 78 days. Each day, draw a card and perform the previous exercise. This will give you a sense of how the day will unfold and may even warn you about upcoming events.

Tarot Readings: When Is a One Card Reading Not Enough?
Sometimes a one card tarot reading is not enough, you might need three cards or more

One card may not always provide the guidance we need or answer all of our questions. Your intuition will guide you here, and often you will feel compelled to use a specific spread.

The following are just a few of these bigger questions:

    • How can I tell if this relationship is the right one for me?
    • Is there anything I need to know about him/her/them?
    • Is there anything I need to do in order to have a successful career?
    • How can I make this work or what can I do to make it work?

 A larger spread is likely to be needed if the topic is about a life-changing, highly psychological, or highly emotional matter.