It could happen for almost any reason: She’s met a new love interest and wonders, ‘what will happen?”, or asks, ‘should I take this new job opportunity?”, or what is my teenager up to behind my back?” or, ‘Is it the right time to leave my husband?” or I know you are getting started so I thought I’d offer myself up as a guinea pig”, or maybe you started it by telling your friends about your new interest in reading tarot and left the door open for them to get a free reading if they’d like one…

read for friend 1

One of the most tempting things to do with tarot when one is just getting started is peep into the lives of those we love or fear.  The Tarot gives us the power to do so.  The thing is, it is a power we have to use ethically and responsibly. Aside from attracting bad karma into our lives by misusing this sacred tool, we can wreak real havoc in other people’s lives by disclosing truths… or non-truths…to those who perhaps are not ready to hear it or might have been better off not knowing.  

If someone comes to you and asks for a reading, that’s one thing.  If you approach others and offer to give them one without their having asked, that’s another.  Always remember to keep a person’s feelings in mind – there are ways to tell the truth without smacking someone in the face with it.  Take your cues from The Divine / your intuition before revealing life changing information to a friend. Make sure it feels right to make the disclosure. Just because you see the information in the cards does not mean you have to share it.  Keep in mind the heartfelt value of the friendship before being tempted to show off how accurate you are. Most people only think they want to hear the truth, when the real truth is they only desire to hear the pretty truths, not the ugly ones..

You can share your opinion, but make sure you can support it with the cards.  Why? Because,if you’re not careful, what everyone hopes will be an enlightening experience could quickly get out of hand.  Most people who receive a Tarot reading have a desire to know ‘when’ whatever is on their mind will become a part of their tangible reality.  Reading for friends is great for this because opens up opportunities to hone your timing skills with clients you can actually track for progress and outcomes.

Reading Tarot for friends can be fun and a wonderful way to use this new skill you’re mastering. Practicing with your friends as sample clients can help you master the Tarot and provide you with a ‘safe’ learning environment to try out your new skills. The Tarot could even open up some very meaningful topics for conversation, helping you become closer with someone you already like and care about. 

What could be wrong with that, right?  Well, let’s see….

read tarot for friend 2

I am going to share the 10 essential criteria to keep in mind when reading tarot for your friends:  Why 10 rules? Because the number 10 represents completion and new beginning. Your friends can help you get started by giving you opportunities to build your confidence and later by making referrals to real paying clients based, not upon their friendship with you, but rather on their experience with your Tarot reading skills.  You did your friend a solid with giving them a free tarot reading. They then get to reciprocate by helping you later when you start a professional practice reading tarot by giving referrals. Further, these criterion we will go over here will not only help preserve your friendship but will also help your reading skills with much needed practice sessions so necessary to help you develop the various skills required for your future career.


The fact that you are so close to your friend can make it difficult to be objective. You already know a lot about your friend, her life, her ultimate goals and dreams, and that can make it difficult to discern between what you already know and the unbiased messages your intuition is sending to you. You might unearth some deep, dark secrets that your friend might not be ready to share, which could make the reading less helpful and more traumatic. Or, if the Tarot reading doesn’t have a message that your friend wants to hear, she might react negatively and ‘shoot the messenger,’ which might harm your friendship in the long run.

But you don’t have to avoid reading for friends all together. With a little preparation and careful consideration beforehand, you can read Tarot for friends without having to worry about losing the friendship. Here are my 5 best strategies to help you and your friends enjoy your Tarot readings together.


You ought to make sure that you’re not putting yourself into an uncomfortable situation by offering to read Tarot for anyone, be they a friend, coworker, or stranger.  I have made the mistake in the past of reading for my friends. I more than once regretted it afterwards because it was often so awkward trying to maintain a lighthearted relationship when I had seen all of their real life otherwise hidden pains and burdens.  If you read for people you work with it can be difficult to maintain that ’professional distance’ so prized in western culture after a tarot reading because now you know their intimate lives. 

What I have taken away from my experience over decades of reading the Tarot is that I will only read Tarot for close friends of long standing, and only those of them who are spiritually-aware and ready to take accountability for their future.  How do I know this about them? Because we are close enough and experienced enough with one another to have that awareness.


Aside from setting that boundary, my best advice is to just go with your gut when choosing to read for someone you know.  Consider Do you feel excited and energized by the idea of doing a reading for that friend? Or do you feel a sense of dread, or any hesitation? Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to someone if it doesn’t feel right. That’s your intuition telling you it won’t work out for the best. 

 Consider why they have asked you for a reading.  Is it just to help you practice or are they seeking insight and advice about a very serious matter?  Are they upset or filled with fear about a matter of great importance? Are they even trying to set you up to knock you down by saying 

your reading was no good?  Sometimes, people harbor secret disdain for prognosticators and feel it is their divine right and duty to knock you down to get you back on what they believe is the only right track…they actually think they are doing you a favor by bemusing you of your delusion of prophetic skill,…you all know what I’m talking about here…, so enough said about that.  Part of being discerning is to ask if they hold any negative opinions about the Tarot before you start the reading.  If you are so inclined, you can share my free 50 FAQS about the Tarot article to better inform them… and perhaps adjust their attitude for the better!


This tip goes hand in hand with getting the question right.  Unless your friend is also a tarot card reader she / he probably does not really know what a tarot reading is about.  Just like reading for a paying client, it’s important to set clear expectations with your friend before you start the Tarot reading. You’ve been studying the Tarot for some time and have an idea of what the Tarot can and can’t tell you, but your friend may not know this. So be sure to explain how a Tarot reading works, and what she can expect from consulting the cards. You also want to make sure she knows the Tarot might give insights or messages that she might already be aware of or that you both already know. That doesn’t mean the insight isn’t important or that you’re faking it, but rather that it’s crucial information and requires attention.

Also, do your best to prepare her in case there is a message that is difficult to hear. To avoid hurting her, you will want to check in with your friend beforehand, to see if there is any topic in particular she doesn’t want to discuss at length. This way you’ll avoid going into depth on any topics that are too personal or private.

And finally, be sure to decide ahead of time if you’re OK doing more than one reading for her, or if she can ask follow up questions. Then, whatever you decide, make sure you communicate that clearly ahead of time.


Just because you are reading for a friend does not mean you should skip over the ritualistic aspects of clearing and consecrating the space, and whatever else you would do for a paying client.  A big part of ritual work is that it helps you connect to the divinities or powers that be that support and assist you in producing a clear and useful reading. Also, doing so helps your friend get more insight into you as a tarot card reader and to see you more in that light than perhaps he or she has previously.  It helps you both get focused on the reading. It shows you respect the process and him or her and that you are endeavoring to do a good job for them.


When you begin the reading with your friend, you may discover some of her deepest fears or even some dark secrets. Your intuition will be your guide through this, so be sure to check in and feel out the situation. If you feel that the reading is veering towards new and potentially painful subjects, especially ones she has not yet shared with you, take extra care to be a good friend. Ask for permission first to share your insights on what could be a very personal topic.

Help your friend feel safe by assuring her that you will not share what has come up in the reading with anyone else. You may also agree that what happens in the reading, stays in the reading, and that you won’t discuss it afterward. You want her to feel comfortable in a potentially vulnerable position.  After you have promised to respect her privacy, respect it.


Chances are, your friend may ask for insight on a situation you already know about, and may have opinions on. If your friend is asking about her relationship, and you strongly believe she should leave the person she is with, you should still do your best to remain objective and read exactly what you see, rather than what you want to see, or what want you her to see.

This can be hard, even for the most experienced Tarot reader. So be sure to set an intention before the reading begins to leave aside your personal opinions and judgments so that you can give a clear and honest Tarot reading for your friend.


It can be tempting to play fast and loose with those we feel familiar with and go beyond our legitimate skill set when reading for them.  This happens most often when someone asks ‘when?’ will something happen: when will i get more money, when will I meet the love of my life or my spouse to be? When will my kid straighten up and fly right?  Timing questions using the Tarot are an area of expertise that takes study and practice. You can certainly practice on your friends but make sure you tell them you are not sure about the timing… unless you actually are. If you would like to develop this very in demand skill of using tarot cards to reveal time, get the book Telling Time with Tarot Cards: Tarot Timing Techniques, by Cathleen Vaune Carr,  available on Amazon.  


The most important thing in a Tarot reading is to have fun! Remember to enjoy the experience and make it as enriching and positive as possible. You’re here to support your friend on her journey, and your friend is here to support you as you grow. Take care of both of you and your friendship.


Thank them for their time and trust.  Thank them for allowing you to practice.  Ask them to let you know how things unfold over time so you can gauge your accuracy.  Tell them that you would appreciate their kind words about the session, if they choose to disclose it to others and let them know, if you care to, that you would appreciate any referrals down the road after they are convinced of your worthiness.  This let’s them feel good about helping you, let’s them know you care about the results and them, and signals to them that you would appreciate referrals and that they need not fear outing you.

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Related content: Free Style Tarot: Unconventional Interpretations

                           Telling Time with Tarot Cards: Tarot Timing Techniques

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Author, Cathleen Vaune Carr