Cartomancy is a form of divination using decks of cards. The different kinds are Oracle cards, Tarot and playing cards. Oracle cards are similar to tarot. Tarot cards originated from playing cards and involve the whole spectrum of emotions.
When picking a deck, make sure to choose the one that "calls" to you. Before doing readings you should look at each card and see what it is telling you. Each card has a different "feel" or meaning to each person. I suggest spending several hours a day playing with your cards and doing your own readings. This will familiarize you with them.
Before doing a reading, many people like to ask for help from a divinity. This is up to the reader. Most tarot readers will drape thier space with a cloth. Black cloth helps to ground out other energies. Purple, yellow and blue cloths can help with psychic awareness. You can use any color that suits you. No matter what you choose it is important to protect your cards.
There are numerous ways to do a tarot reading, and everyone does it different. No one way is right for everyone. You can make it as elaborate or as easy as you like. To start off I suggest purifying your space and making sure your mind is clear enough to focus on the querent. If not you will influence the reading with your own questions or feelings.
There are many different spreads you may use. A one card spread is used for meditation. You pull one card and meditate on what it is telling you. A two card spread is used for asking yes or no questions. A three card spread is used for past/present/future or mind/body/spirit questions.
For a basic question like " where is my life leading me" I would use a three card spread. The setup of the cards and the amount you pull depends on the question asked, the feelings you get from the querent, and when you both feel that enough has been answered.
No one layout is correct for any reading they are simply a way to organize your cards. Reversals have no real significance in tarot, because each card tells you both well or ill meaning.
When reading the cards, you must look at all the cards in the layout to get a complete picture. Trump/major arcana cards mostly represent spiritual matters. Court cards represent meetings in society or relationships with peers.
Wands indicate great energy or quarrels. Cups represent love emotions , pleasure and possible intoxication. Swords represent intellectual matters, trouble and death. Disks represent business matters, possessions and success or failure.
Aces of any suit represent power, strength, and new beginnings. Each card is different and means something different for each reading.
There are 22 cards in the major arcana, when including the fool. These cards are very important. When many of them show up in a reading, it suggests powerful influences or people. The names of the cards are different for some decks, and so are the meanings.
You must become accustom to the meanings of your cards based on the deck in order to get a clear picture. Having a majority of a type of card means the reading is pointing to that significance of that suit.
When you get a mix of different types, you must see which cards are lying next to eachother. Two opposite suits can mean the cards are ill dignified. Having swords next to disks or wands next to cups, can change the meaning of the cards. This is not always so, as when doing a three card "past, present, future" layout. They could be ill or well dignified, so go with what they are telling you. Use your gut instinct and make sure if the querent does not agree to tell them both meanings.
A proper reading requires concentration on the part of the querent as well. You can ask your querent for a generalized question like "what does my future hold", Or simply have them focus on something important to them.
While the person you are reading is concentrating, shuffle the deck until you feel satisfied that it is well mixed. I usually shuffle for at least one minute. Then you pull the cards from the deck one by one. You can pull them from the top of the deck, or simply pull them out at random depending on your preference at that time.
You are only finished with your reading when both you and the querent are satisfied that the question has been answered. It may take one card or over a dozen. It is up to you how you pull your cards and how to set them up.
When you are done with your reading it is important to meditate and cleanse your cards. Smudging them can be a very effective way to keep them from building up other energies. Cleansing yourself is also important. If you have a particularly negative reading you do not want to keep that with you all day. Any cleansing or balancing method will help. I carry hematite when i do multiple readings because it helps draw out negativity.