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Excerpt of Podcast given by Brigit Esselmont of Biddy Tarot, tarot reader & teacher, intuitive coach and spiritual entrepreneur.

What do I mean when I say an automated Tarot reading? There are kind of two main sources for automated Tarot readings. One is through websites. There are a bunch of different websites that offer free online Tarot readings, so Lotus Tarot, Façade, Salem Tarot, Goodness me, there are so many of them. They all offer free Tarot readings.

You can also download apps for your phone. Some examples are: Fool's Dog, Galaxy Tarot and deck-specific apps like the Wild Unknown* app as well. That way you’ve got them on your phone and you can have them when you’re out of the house and exploring the world.

Basically how they work is that you choose a spread and sometimes you can choose the deck. You click on the image of the deck and it may shuffle the cards. Then you can select your cards. Once all of those cards are selected, you view the card by card meanings.

Let’s say you’ve done a Celtic Cross, it will show you each of the cards that you’ve chosen and what those cards mean.


Let’s look at the plus side for now.

Obviously, an automated Tarot reading is quick, it’s easy to access and best of all, it’s free.

I think they give the general public a really good way of accessing the Tarot without having to invest either in learning a deck, buying the deck, buying all the books, all that kind of stuff or without having to invest in a Tarot reader. Of course, that makes me a little bit sad as a Tarot reader, but there’s an alternative to having a reading with a real person.

It’s one way that people can start to get a bit of a taster around the Tarot. So I respect it for that.

It’s also a way that you can start to try out different decks. Maybe you were considering getting the Wild Unknown Tarot and you use their app just to get a feel for the deck first before getting your own deck. You might be interested in exploring lots of other different decks, so an automated reading can help you do that.

They’re also really helpful for learning to read Tarot because you get an idea of different spreads and also different card meanings. We’ll talk a little bit more about the card readings and some of the limitations around those, but for now focusing on the positive. It does help you sort of jog your memory about what does each card mean for more of that traditional meaning place.

It’s also really helpful because particularly if you’ve got a Tarot app on your phone and you’re out meeting a friend at a café. You’re having a conversation, maybe about her love life. You’re like, “Oh, I wish I had my Tarot cards.” Well, luckily you’ve got your Tarot app. You could actually use your Tarot app to do some Tarot readings on the go.

Likewise, if you’re in a café, maybe you’re in Middle America where it’s not quite the done thing to have Tarot out and about. You might be in a small town that is quite religious. Then having an app on your phone can actually give you a little bit more privacy so you don’t have to pull out all your Tarot decks and cards and so on. You can just pull out your phone and nobody needs to know that you’re actually reading the Tarot.

Now, of course, I would love it if we could all feel awesomely confident about pulling out the Tarot cards wherever and whenever we want, but I know that sometimes that’s not the case. It does help having the Tarot app to do that.

So yes, there are quite a few pros and a few positive things about automated Tarot readings, but what about some of the downsides? Let’s see.


The downsides of the Tarot apps and automated Tarot readings are the interpretations that are often used are very generic. They’re generic in a number of ways.

One, typically, most of them will only be a few sentences long. Sure, there are some sites where there’s a more robust interpretation of the cards and sometimes they’ll link to other websites such as BiddyTarot, which I’m very grateful for. But often you’ll find that they are quite short and succinct.

You’ll also find that these interpretations are not aligned to your original question. You’ve usually got a blank textbox, ‘Enter Question Here’. Maybe it’s should I move to Australia or should I move to America. The cards drawn will not be referring back to your question, obviously. They’ll be more sort of general in nature. You’ll need to associate it back into what you’re specific question was.

They’re also not aligned to the position in the reading, typically. I don’t think I’ve seen any automated readings where they’ve taken the interpretations of each card and then aligned them to the position.

For example, I just jumped online and did an automated Tarot reading for myself. The position was what represents your negative feelings. The card drawn was Two of Cups. We typically know Two of Cups is a very positive card, so the interpretation was you can expect joy in the form of a gift or celebration. Yet, this was meant to represent my negative feelings.

There’s often quite a mismatch between the generic interpretation and both the position of the spread and also the questions that you asked in the first place.

For me, that is quite a big deal breaker. If someone was coming to me and saying, “Should I just go and get a free automated Tarot reading or should I have a reading with a real Tarot reader?” Then I would say definitely with a Tarot reader for the reason that the Tarot reader is going to be able to take those cards and move them so far beyond just what a typical interpretation is.

They’re going to start matching it back into your question. They’re going to start matching it back into the spread. They’re also going to be looking for the connections between the cards and creating the overall story in the cards. There’s no way that you can get that with an automated Tarot reading if you’re simply relying on the interpretations that are provided.

For me, I think that’s one of the biggest downsides of getting an automated reading. If you have a really big and important question that you want to ask the cards, then I just don’t think that an automated reading is going to give you the answers that you want.

If it’s kind of like something that you’re interested in, sort of a bit more of a light-hearted question you just want to see what comes up, then sure. Go on and have some fun with it. But for me I think you’ll get so much more out of a reading with a professional reader.

Let’s see, some other cons. For me there’s no soul in the reading. There’s not that special magic that you get when you do have a reading with a real person.

If you’re more of a tactile person, you like to handle the cards, then an automated Tarot reading just might not be the best fit as well.

I’m really on the fence, actually I’m probably more on one side, about the idea of clicking a button and watching the cards like a GIF animated image on my computer screen shuffling the cards versus me holding a deck of cards and shuffling and transferring my energy into that deck. My preference is the more physical holding the deck rather than seeing it on a computer screen.

That said, there are a lot of people that computers and everything is just part and parcel of the lifestyle, so it may not be such a problem for you.

Pros and cons. There are definitely some pros and there are definitely some cons.

Let’s have a think about what automated tarot readings are good for.

I think they’re great for people who are just curios in Tarot and just want to get a bit of a taster, like what is this thing Tarot, what does it feel like to get a reading and so on. Again, it’s great if you are not really invested in the outcome. You just want to have a go, just want to see what comes up for you.

Automated Tarot readings are also great for people who do on-the-go Tarot readings or even if you’re travelling. Maybe you’ve got so many gorgeous, sunny dresses that it’s too much to put in your deck of Tarot cards, so instead you take your Tarot app with you on your holiday. I can totally understand that. Absolutely.

I think it’s also great for people who are really comfortable with technology and it’s just part of their everyday. Of course you’d have a Tarot deck on your phone.

It’s not so great for people who are more tactile and who like to feel the cards.

I think also it’s not so great if you want to get a more enriching experience from your Tarot reading.

The Verdict:

I think when it comes to getting a standalone reading from an automated Tarot reading or a computer generated reading, then I feel like it’s generally best to go with a professional reader. But if you already have a bit of knowledge about the Tarot, then I think that you can use these Tarot apps to your advantage.

For example, instead of relying on the interpretations that are provided with your reading, why not look at the cards and come up with your own interpretation. Use it more for the convenience of having that deck of Tarot cards and being able to shuffle them without having to carry your own deck. But then apply what you know from the Tarot cards to create your own very special reading.

If you’re in a bit more of the learning phase, perhaps you’re quite new to Tarot, then you can also compare some of the standard meanings that are provided in the automatic reading and compare those back to your own interpretations. That’s if you need that little bit of extra guidance. But really try and connect in with your own intuition first, and then if you feel like there’s still a gap and you’re not sure, then go and check to see those standard interpretations.

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