Etteilla Tarot Reading Meanings and Tips

Etteilla is a system of reading Tarot which pre-dates the popular Rider Waite Smith system. Although the structure of the cards are generally very similar, the interpretations for Etteilla are so much more old fashioned than what modern readers are used to; for example, the 5 of Pentacles is lucky for love. 

the Grand Etteilla Tarot, one of the most ancient and vintage types of Tarot deck in the world. The cards have minimal style illustrations compared to other Tarot art. Here, you can learn the meanings for these cards.png

Not only have I included links to the Grand Etteilla Tarot meanings, but below these links you can find my top 5 tips for reading Etteilla Tarot cards! 

Major Etteilla Meanings  |  Pentacles Etteilla Meanings  |  Swords Etteilla Meanings  |  Cups Etteilla Meanings  |  Wands Etteilla Meanings

Tips for Reading Etteilla 

Because of the differences (and lack of information available in English) many would be Etteilla readers just up, thinking that the process of reading in a vintage style is just to difficult. However, I am here to say don't let these minor things put you off of this amazing system. 

You coming here to this article tells me that you have an interest in reading Etteilla (hooray!) So therefore, I am going to give you my top 5 tips for making Etteilla reading easier, so lets get to it! 

1. Lay Them Out! 

Etteilla cards are read best when you have plenty to choose from. When I'm reading Etteilla, I lay them out in a 5x5 table, similar to a Lenormand Grand Tableau, and then I read what jumps out at me. 

Sometimes, I may be drawn to the card in the middle. Other times, I am drawn to the corners. I can combine cards, read left to right, right to left, the world is your oyster when you're reading with this amazing system! 

2. Read right to left 

If you read old fashioned Cartomancy books, you will notice that many advise you to read right to left. Usually, reading direction can also be dependant on using significators. When reading Etteilla, try reading from right to left for a change and see where this takes you. 

3. Check the Court Card Direction

One thing which is essential if you're reading Tarot old school, is looking at which direction the Court Cards are facing, because this can help you to see what each of the characters in the seekerโ€™s life are up to. The direction Courts face can reflect everything from priorities to problems in the lives of people who are represented by them. 

4. Write on your Deck

Crazy right? Ha! I know but I actually did this to help me learn my Etteilla interpretations. Most people wouldn't dream about writing on their cards and think it looks terrible. However, I didn't use just any old pens. I used fancy metallic pens I got from a stationary shop and wrote on the cards in a decorative style; this way it looks like the writing is part of the design of the cards, not just a lot of scribbles. 

5. Learn the Interpretations

This tip is obvious but essential for reading Etteilla. There isn't much information out there in English for would be Etteilla readers but I have translated and collected some interpretations. Here is the links to The Majors, The Wands, The Cups, The Swords, and The Coins Meanings. 

Well that is it folks hope you enjoyed these tips! You can also download the Etteilla cheat sheets below and learn Etteilla faster by comparing the similarities and differences between modern (RWS) Tarot and the Etteilla systems! 



The cards used in this post are The Book of Thoth Etteilla Tarot and are (c)Lo Scarabeo slr.


Lisa Boswell is an award-winning psychic reading teacher who currently resides in Scotland. Through her website DivinationAndFortuneTelling.com she teaches both experienced and would be diviners how they can predict the future. 

Born into a Romany Gypsy family of fortune tellers, Lisa has had an active interest in the occult from a young age. She specialises in teaching predictive divination, easy mediumship and fortune-telling. Learn more here.


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    This post gives tips for how to read the Grand Etteilla Tarot, one of the most ancient and vintage types of Tarot deck in the world. The cards have minimal style illustrations compared to other Tarot art. Here, you can learn the meanings for these cards, which differ from the modern Raider Waite Smith style of reading. This article explains.  

This post gives tips for how to read the Grand Etteilla Tarot, one of the most ancient and vintage types of Tarot deck in the world. The cards have minimal style illustrations compared to other Tarot art. Here, you can learn the meanings for these cards, which differ from the modern Raider Waite Smith style of reading. This article explains.