How to Do a Tarot Reading without a Deck

Somewhat of a disclaimer: without a physical deck
How do you do a tarot reading if you don’t own a physical deck? Or if you want to do a tarot reading on the go? Fortunately technology nowadays has an answer to literally almost everything, including this one involving being deckless.


First things first

Deckless? The solution: tarot apps! Simply search up “tarot” in your app store and choose a tarot app that pleases you aesthetically and functionally. There are many free tarot apps out there; you basically just need one that allows you to do one-card readings or one-card draws. You may be limited to the types of tarot spreads that you can do and you may not be able to engage with a spread as a whole, but as long as you have a one-card draw function, you can use that to your advantage and answer any questions that you may have for the cards.

Since I own an Android phone, I recommend Android users to try Galaxy Tarot. It is probably one of the most developed and well-designed new age tarot app that is out there, with tons of amazing features–serving both a tarot reading machine and esoteric knowledge. It stores a lot of background and additional information for each card, and contains many unlockable spreads. (You have to pay to upgrade to the Pro version to have access to all the features, but the Single Card reading is available via the free version, so no pressure to buy the app at all!)

I don’t own any Apple products, so I don’t have a recommendation for Apple apps. But I did a quick search online and there are many free tarot apps available. Like I mentioned before, you just need to pick one that allows you to conduct one-card readings, and ideally, gives you a basic definition/key words for each card you draw. If you are only using tarot cards for tarot writing or you don’t really plan to study deep into the subject, having a quick reference guide is extremely helpful.

So you have the app now. What next?

Once you have successfully downloaded and installed the app, open it and locate the One Card Reading function. That may be named differently (Single Card Reading, One Card Draw, One Card), but it shouldn’t be hard to spot. They might be under “Readings” category–again, this might have a different name (Get a Reading, Start a Reading, Draw Cards, etc) but you should be able to find it rather easily.

For Galaxy Tarot, click “new reading” then”Single Card Reading”. Onward you will be led to a screen that allows you to take notes and customize aspects of the reading. If you want to read with tarot reversals, you can click the box “Allow Reversed Cards in this Reading”. If you only want to use the trump cards in tarot, click “Use Major Arcana Cards Only in this Reading.” You can choose to Shuffle Cards (the app will allow you to click on the screen multiple times and produce a shuffling effect) or you can Go Directly to Card and allow the app to draw a card for you without shuffling.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with tarot reversals or have no idea what the major arcana is, here is a quick explanation: tarot cards can be read in its upright position or in its reversed position, meaning that a tarot card is upside down when being read. Reversals often modify or add another layer of meaning to the original upright definition of the tarot card in question. Reversals may indicate a number of things depending on context, such as blocked energy, delayed perspective, difficulty embodying the archetype, a release of the difficult energies of the original archetype, or learning the lesson of the archetype etc. There are many possibilities and a reversed card is not necessarily negative or the direct opposite of its upright position. On the other hand, the major arcana is the 22 trump cards in tarot, excluding the minor arcana and court cards. To find out more about how tarot is structured, check out this introductory tarot post for more information.

So you’re about to draw the card! Before you do, make sure you know what question it is that you are asking. State the question clearly in your head or say it out loud. It doesn’t have to be super meditative but it does help if you are focused. Once you’ve asked the question, shuffle the cards or go directly to your card. For example, you might ask “What is something I need to pay attention to in this new relationship that I am in?” or, if you are tarot writing: “What is something about my protagonist that I am unaware of?”

And then, bam! Six of Swords. This will be the card that answers your question. If you click it one more time, you will be able to look at the key words and universal definitions of that card. Remember, always listen to your intuition and your own inner voice when conducting a tarot reading–you don’t have to stick to the conventional meanings of a tarot card. If the references and key words inspire you to reach a different conclusion, as long as it feels right to you, it’s perfectly fine.

To ask a different question, simply start again and repeat the process. Make sure you take lots of notes if you want to reference the cards you’ve drawn in the future. Personally, I feel like it’s always more fun to have an actual deck in your hands when you shuffle and draw, but if owning a deck or logging a deck around isn’t the most convenient thing for you, tarot apps are a wonderful alternative. I use it when I’m on the bus or if I just want a quick draw before I go to bed (or sometimes I use it when I’m in bed and can’t sleep, haha. Nothing beats a tarot reading during the late witching hour!), and I use it when I’m in a coffee shop with a small table and can’t really lay out all the cards as space is limited. It’s super handy and an awesome thing to have.

To close (and last but not least!) I am no technical guru, but I am sure I can help you figure out how a tarot app works to the best of my ability. If you are suffering from technical difficulties with the Galaxy App, leave a comment down below and I will do my best to help you. If it’s another app, I will do my best as well! *motivational epic music*

Anyway. I hope this post has helped you deal with your decklessness! (Seriously though, you should totally, totes get an actual deck. It’s worth it. Deeeeewit!!!)


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