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Whether you’re checking in for guidance on you, a friend, or a client, here are a few tips on how to get the most out of these divination tools and take your oracle card readings to the next level:

1. Choose your deck carefully.

Before I get on the phone with a client to do a psychic reading, I ask my intuition which oracle card deck or decks I might use toward the end of the session. I have about 30 decks, and I find that the deck I’m guided to use with each client tells me something about the client’s personality or what they’re struggling with. When purchasing decks, use your intuition and choose ones you feel particularly drawn to. Collecting decks over time pays off, as you’ll find that different decks will call to you depending upon your current mood and circumstances or those of the person you are reading for.

2. Treat your decks as sacred objects.

When doing a reading for a friend or client, you should be the person shuffling and picking the cards so that no one else touches your deck. Once I’m through with using cards for a client, I immediately put them back in the closed drawer where I keep all my decks. This protects a deck’s energy and keeps it neutral so it doesn't pick up on stray vibes flying around your home. Decks can be well-worn and well-loved, but they should always be respected. The more you care for the energy of your deck, the more accurate your readings will be!

3. You don't have to ask any special question or set an intention.

Your intuition will always tell you what you need to know most right now. That means the most pressing issue in your life might not be the issue you believe is most pressing! I like to come to the cards with a blank, open mind. When reading for yourself, just make sure you're alone in a quiet place where you can tune in to your own energy. If reading for someone else, just concentrate on the other person as you’re shuffling the cards.

4. Find your shuffling method.

There are many ways to pick individual cards from a deck for a reading, but honing in on the method that works best for you is essential for your confidence in the cards. Personally I like to shuffle the deck until a card sticks out dramatically or even flies out. Others might shuffle until they get a feeling to stop and pick the card on top of the deck at that moment. Play around with it. You can use a traditional tarot spread, like the Celtic cross, or the popular three-card spread, where one card represents the past, another the present, and the last the future. I like to simply ask my intuition how many cards to draw from a deck for a client. I might hear the word "seven" in my mind clairaudiently or see the number seven in my mind clairvoyantly. Be traditional, or make your own rules! Either way, you can’t do it "wrong."

5. Your first intuition that hits when you look at each card is the most important.

I prefer to draw all the cards at once and lay them facedown. Turning them over one by one, I will immediately, within a few seconds, get two to three intuitive messages about how this card relates specifically to my client. What are your first thoughts about what a card means for you or the person you are reading for? Usually our initial intuitions that hit are the most profound. Expect some of these intuitive insights to come as surprises—guidance or insight you had never considered before. If you don’t get a couple of immediate hits when looking at a card, sit with it calmly for a minute or two and see what floats to the surface.

6. The images on the cards hold as much meaning as the words.

Images on oracle cards are not just interesting or pretty pictures. Sometimes the words won’t resonate, but the picture of a man on the card will remind you of your father, or an animal will remind you of one of your pets. Cards with images of a particular season might be telling you that a career change or marriage proposal will come in the fall, for example.

7. Don't pay too much attention to the guidebook.

People who design oracle cards put a lot of time and love into these guidebooks, and it can be fun and informative to read the entries when you get a new deck. But just like when you’re learning to drive a car, there comes a time when driver’s ed is over and the manual is no longer as useful. I like oracle cards that have one big, general message at the top that can be expressed in a few words. When you read those words, do not pay so much attention to the longer explanation of this card in the book as what your own intuition is telling you this card means for your life or your client’s. I never consult the book while reading for clients and only sometimes do when reading for myself. The entries in the book are guidelines. Your task is to use your intuition to see how this card relates in a very specific, unique way to your life or your client’s.

8. Retain a sense of wonder and magic when reading oracle cards.

Intense emotions like anxiety and fear can block intuition, so focus but also relax and have fun. Remember that these cards help you get in touch with your higher self and your spirit guides. Reminding yourself of this will make you pay closer attention to each card’s messages. Silence that annoying little voice that says, "This is too random to work" or "This is silly." Oracle cards can be startlingly accurate. The more you suspend your disbelief, the more you will get out of your readings.

9. Don't use oracle cards as a crutch.

If you are constantly giving yourself readings several times a day, the accuracy rate will plummet. Some people like to draw one card for themselves every morning or evening. I usually do a reading for myself every Sunday afternoon. Find a rhythm that works for you, but allow adequate space between readings.