Playing with a full deck of tarot cards



Mckibbon relies on her cards and intuition in equal measure during her readings.


There is a small, green cloth bag stored at the bottom of Kristen Mckibben’s backpack. During free ROAR periods, when she has nothing to do but socialize, Mckibben unties the neat white ribbon and folds back the fabric to reveal a set of colorful cards. Meanwhile, curious students in her senior AP Lit class volunteer to let her test her skills. 

“Five of clubs is feelings of disappointment, left out, change,” Mckibben said.                                                                                         

The translation comes directly courtesy of the introductory book in her hand. Then she looks at the next card and flips through the book again, looking for the exact meaning. Mckibben uses a combination of book-learning and her own knowledge to translate the mystical verbiage in the context of the real world.

“I study each card and the meaning,” Mckibben said. “I’m trying to connect all of them [book and card]  together in a way that makes sense, a way that is applicable.”

Senior Anna Hoang got her reading from Mckibben at a time when she was filled with doubts and concerns regarding her future and her plans for university. Fittingly, Mckibben tailored the  reading to address some of Hoang’s main concerns. For Hoang, this was a prime opportunity to reveal something about the path her future would take. 

“I think a part of reading cards after they reveal something is that I was inclined to tell her about stuff that’s happening to me, so I think that helped her put the cards into what was relevant to me,” Hoang said.

Each new reading prompts Mckibbon to continue bettering her tarot reading process.

Predicting the path the future will take through these cards isn’t an exact process. Ultimately, a lot of tarot-card reading can be based around interpretation. 

As a self-taught reader, Mckibben studies each individual card and its meaning. Her book acts as a cheat sheet that explains each card’s values.

Tarot cards can be finicky, even on the best of days. Tarot owners have to treat them with respect in order to earn cooperation and prevent bad readings. Upon buying herself a deck, Mckibben had prepare the cards by wrapping them in a cloth and letting them sleep under her pillow.

“You’ve got to be nice to them so that they want to cooperate,” Mckibben said. 

Even now, there’s certain lore that Mckibben follows to prevent bad readings. No shuffling. Don’t be aggressive. 

In combination with her cards, Mckibben gives the people she’s volunteered to read a crystal, which they hold onto for her. This is just another tool to help guide Mcibbon’s reading process.  

Though she’s still new at reading others, her classmates’ willingness to volunteer allows her to grow as a tarot card reader. If Mckibben plans to do this in college, she needs all the experience she can get.

“So that you don’t give someone extremely misguided readings,” Mcibbon said.