7 Tarot Readings By People Who Have No Idea How To Read Tarot Cards

And by one person who actually does.

Recently, in a state of Mercury Retrograde-induced anxiety, BuzzFeed writers Rachel Sanders and Alanna Okun offered to give Tarot readings to fellow staff. The caveat: neither of them were remotely familiar with Tarot.


Rachel and Alanna were given a basic primer in three-card spreads by fellow staff member Katie Heaney, who has (some!) experience reading Tarot. They were told to have their subjects shuffle and cut the deck, and to then draw one card each for the subject’s Present, Past, and Future.

And then they just…made some shit up based on the pictures.

Afterward, to make up for the sham prophecies our subjects were given, Katie gave them a real reading, using the same cards. See if you can tell the difference. (You should definitely be able to tell the difference.)

1. KEELY wants to know:

PRESENT: Ace of Wands

Alanna: The wand signifies that Daniel Radcliffe is coming to visit our office. It’s pretty phallic, so you’re going to have a good time.
Rachel: A sexually liberating summer. As you see, there are some clouds: It’s currently raining. It’s been really cloudy lately.
A: There’s a castle! It’s far in the distance, but sooner or later you’ll reach your castle. If you know what I mean.
R: This card just wants you to have a lot of sex.

PAST: Five of Wands

A: More sticks.
R: A lot of sticks. Maybe you come from a place of being constantly mansplained to. Last summer involved a lot of mansplaining and men holding each other’s sticks.

FUTURE: Death

R: This summer holds death for you. It doesn’t mean YOU will die. Just someone.
A: People always die.
R: Or maybe it is your death. You MIGHT ride a horse at some point.
A: Past an ocean? To Niagara Falls! Over Niagara Falls. That’s an easy way to die.

KATIE’S INTERPRETATION (THE REAL ONE)

Alanna Okun

The Ace of Wands suggests the beginning of something new, as evidenced by the growing leaves from this branch. This could mean a new enterprise/project, but it could be more symbolic. You’re on the brink of something.

The 5 of Wands, for your past, suggests there’s been some sort of struggle. Some kind of competition for riches — maybe regarding your job. Something you overcame to get where you are, a new beginning.

The Death card signifies an end. I see your arc here as being part of the same project; whatever is beginning will be wrapped up by the end of summer. There’s a resolution to it.

2. KRUTIKA wants to know:

PRESENT: Three of Swords

Rachel & Alanna: Oh nooooooooooooooooo.
R: That’s just…a heart full of swords.
A: There’s really nothing to say here. But here’s the thing, we haven’t seen the future card, but it can’t get much worse.

PAST: Eight of Cups

A: That moon is like Hillary Clinton in the moon.
R: Maybe the moon is your goddess and she’s removed, and looking down on the world.
A: This was a struggle and a journey, but she’s been there all along. You just have to look up.

FUTURE: The Empress

A: There she is!! This is great. This has a little female sign on it.
R: The heart is carried over and healed by the power of women. She’s wearing a bomb dress.
A: It’s definitely from Anthropologie.
R: There’s wheat — that’s the harvest, fertility. You’re gorgeous. I think she’s coming out!

KATIE’S INTERPRETATION (THE REAL ONE)

Alanna Okun

The 3 of Swords means rupture, dispersion. You’re not currently on the right path. You’ve strayed or been removed from it. It’s a struggle.

The past, 8 of Cups, is moving away from some bounty, but on the right path. Leaving behind something good but easy, basic. Something that was an easy comfort. This is too modest, and now you’re going through a break.

The Empress represents fruitfulness, and the unknown. Difficulty and doubt, but these are all journey cards. She suggests it’s not over, but the right path will come to you, even though you’re not on it right now.

3. SPENCER wants to know:

PRESENT: The Star

Alanna: Tons of nudes. This is literally the internet.
Rachel: Your present is sexy as hell. There are a lot of stars, suggesting you’re surrounded by people you consider to be stars, whom you admire.
A: Sometimes you just feel like a naked lady among the stars.
R: You’re doing something with the water that seems productive. You’re getting shit done.

PAST: The Hermit

A: Very isolated and dreary.
R: Maybe you were working alone, or felt like you were working alone. You weren’t collaborating. But you had a little light, a lantern.
A: A glimmer of hope.

FUTURE: The Tower

A: This doesn’t seem great. This is just a ton of people being thrown out a tower that’s on fire. But maybe this is one of those ones that seems catastrophic but actually means change?
R: This means that BuzzFeed is gonna go out of business and you’ll jump out of a window.
A: I think it implies getting out of one space and into another.
R: It’s going to happen fast, and it’s going to be dramatic. Something’s going to catch on fire.

KATIE’S INTERPRETATION (THE REAL ONE)

Alanna Okun

The Star, where you are now, means loss, abandonment. Alternatively, hope and bright prospects; there are competing forces. You’re weighing pros and cons. Some of these prospects may mean a loss that makes you sad, or mean abandoning something.

The Hermit, in your past, means prudence, treason, corruption, or roguery. It means exercising maybe too much caution, and feeling like you needed to do something drastic to get out of that situation, to where you are now.

The Tower is…not a great card. This is distress, adversity, disgrace, or deception. Here, the most relevant focus is on adversity. I think it emphasizes that a future choice isn’t going to be an easy one, and won’t be completely smooth. It may involve distress, whether it’s yours or someone who’s affected by this.

4. SANDRA wants to know:

PRESENT: King of Wands

Alanna: You’re very regal and sitting on your throne of solitude. You have cats.
Rachel: I guess this suggests someone with resolve. You’re the one calling the shots.
A: There also is an aura of adornment. There’s a sense of doing things for yourself.

PAST: Two of Wands

A: This guy is interesting because he has his back to us. Maybe you haven’t always felt heard, necessarily. This could be some dude, or friendship.
R: His orb suggests an outlet for communication that was outside your relationship — maybe the internet. But you’re standing in a castle, so you had a pretty good setup.

FUTURE: Six of Swords

R: You’re on a sword-boat!
A: [Beyonce voice] Sword-boat.
A: These are interesting cards because none of them are facing us. So you’re moving toward something, and it’s something you haven’t been facing before.
R: It’s hard to know if you’re the one steering the boat or the little walrus lady who isn’t in control.
A: The swords suggest conflict, but not necessarily bad. You’re going to have to find a way to plug the holes in your boat.

KATIE’S INTERPRETATION (THE REAL ONE)

Alanna Okun

It’s interesting that the King of Wands is present, because it’s a good man. Someone who’s married, who is playing a role in your life that’s not romantic, but may influence your romantic life or introduce you to someone. Someone trusted.

The Two of Wands: there’s no marriage possible. The union that’s ended was not meant to be. There was suffering, sadness, mortification.

The Six of Swords is a mystery. It’s a journey by water. This suggests the need for travel, whether that’s an actual trip across water, or a lesser degree — trying new things in a symbolic sense. You’re at the beginning of a journey you haven’t had in quite some time. It gives no positive or negative indication of what’s on the other side.

CLARIFYING CARD: The 4 of Wands. Harmony, country life, and prosperity. This very much suggests there is a peaceful, prosperous union on the other side of the journey.

5. JESS wants to know:

PRESENT: The High Priestess

Alanna: You have a lot of good shit. A lot of pineapples. You just joined the CSA.
Rachel: You’re spending your money on bounty, and not feeling restricted.
A: It says ‘BJ’??
R: We’re not going to ask about that. She has a moon down here so, uh…I don’t know what that means.
A: You have a lot of accessories. You appreciate dolling yourself up, so that’s what you like to spend money on.

PAST: Nine of Wands

A: You come from a forest of sticks.

R: This suggests to me austerity, or a country background. Coming from the forest as you do gives you a certain caution with funds, which you may be getting over now. Your desires have changed. You used to want sticks and now you want accessories.

FUTURE: King of Wands

A: This speaks favorably.
R: He seems hella rich.
A: HE has the biggest stick of all. You’re going to get a little pet, there’s a salamander.
A: Started from the bottom now you here, is what the cards are saying.

KATIE’S INTERPRETATION (THE REAL ONE)

Alanna Okun

The High Priestess is the default card for women, so it stands in for a number of qualities they ascribe to women — wisdom, tenacity, silence. (Eep.) The orb and that imagery suggest mystery, some questioning.

The 9 of Wands, he looks worn out. This indicates strength and opposition. Something overcome, challenges met. The worst of any challenges and financial issues you might have had this year are behind you.

The King of Wands is “a dark man.” He’s friendly, honest, conscientious; someone who’s married. Likely not a romantic partner, but someone who may be an employer or able to assist you with these concerns. A very straightforward form of guidance, a mentor of some kind. A good guy is coming into you life at some point.

6. KRYSTIE wants to know:

PRESENT: Queen of Swords

Alanna: This is in profile, so you’re kind of not looking at the future, but looking around and taking stock of your current situation. But sometimes that makes it hard to see forward.
Rachel: She’s wearing blue and white polka dots, like you are. So this is you. I mean, the sword suggests that you are armed. You’re getting shit done.

PAST: Three of Pentacles

A: There’s some Satanism in your past.
R: There’s a monk and a jester. This is a weird party. So maybe you’ve been to a lot of weird parties this year? Or maybe you’ve just been hanging out with a really broad range of people.
A: But now you don’t necessarily want to be at the Satanist parties every weekend anymore.

FUTURE: Knight of Swords

A: It’s moving forward, plunging into, I don’t know what, the unknown?
R: You’re on the horse, which suggests that maybe you find —
A: — the horse? An unlimited metro card?
R: I see a certain continuity in that they both have swords. You’ve equipped yourself and now you’re charging ahead. It seems exciting, but who’s to say?
A: Not us.

KATIE’S INTERPRETATION (THE REAL ONE)

Alanna Okun

The Queen of Swords indicates female sadness: embarrassment, absence, mourning, or separation. Maybe you’ve moved, or there’s something you’re nostalgic for. A little bit discontented.

The 3 of Pentacles is nobility, renown and glory. For this year, that might mean some of the biggest achievements, or ones that came most easily, have already happened, and now there’s more of a sense of struggle.

The Knight of Swords is a sign of skill and bravery, conquering the future. An element of resistance and opposition. The easy part of the year is over. There are good things to come, but there’s going to be some struggle before you reach it.

7. EMMY wants to know:

PRESENT: Knight of Swords

Rachel: This is very exciting. It looks like something’s on fire.
Alanna: This is a hottie extraordinaire.
R: I think this signifies you riding into the battle of love.
A: Again, a phallic sword.
R: You can’t say EVERYTHING is phallic!

PAST: King of Swords

A: You’ve been lonely before, isolated on your giant throne among tiny trees, because they couldn’t measure up to you.
R: You were above the options you had in the past.
A: You’ve always been noble and had high standards.
(Emmy: That’s … not true.)
R: There’s an artsy background.
A: Drugs have figured in heavily.
(E: I did acid once when I was 19?)

FUTURE: Five of Wands

A: The sticks again! Your affections are going to be fought over.
R: You are the king and you get to choose the one you want.

KATIE’S INTERPRETATION (THE REAL ONE)

Alanna Okun

The Knight of Swords means meeting resistance: confidence, bravery, willingness to overlook challenges.

The King of Swords suggests a man — maybe an ex — who’s influenced your romantic life; someone who’s involved with the law or the government. This could even mean a figure you held as a romantic ideal when you were younger: someone like a military commander. A GI Joe.

The Five of Wands has to do with struggle for finance. This is something that’s going to become more of an issue in your relationship. There’s teamwork here, but also struggle. This is a time for patience with your partner, or for coming to a decision point.

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