Tarot reading for beginners - ten tips to get you started

Learning the Tarot is an ongoing experience. It can give you great insight into yourself, those who seek out your services and give a better understanding of people in general. However, like any new skill, learning the Tarot takes time, sometimes an entire lifetime. Some of the most experienced Tarot readers profess that you never stop learning, and the nuances and subtleties of the cards throw up new scenarios and information every time you use them. Having said that, it’s fairly simple to get a basic grasp of the cards and be up and running in a relatively short time. Here are ten tips to get you started.

1) You need to remember that when it comes to the Tarot, there’s very little right and wrong involved. Some readers use their intuitive powers to discern the messages in the cards, while others memorise the stories behind each one. Either method works and, as time progresses, you’ll work out which one works best for you. You’ll develop your own style and your own understanding of what the cards mean. Don’t focus on following the ‘rules’; focus on what the cards mean to you.

2) This one might come as a bit of a surprise, but read on: most Tarot decks come with a small, white pamphlet. This can give you a little background information on the cards and their history, which it never hurts to read. However, it will also give you concise guidelines on how to read the cards. Throw it away. You can’t learn the Tarot as if you were painting by numbers. It requires more depth and understanding than that little pamphlet will give you, so get rid of it.

3) Once you’ve thrown the pamphlet away, get yourself a decent book on Tarot card reading! There are hundreds, if not thousands, out there – so you won’t be stuck for source material. However, if you’re unsure as to which one would suit you best, ask around. If you bought your deck from an arcane store, then ask the shopkeeper; they are sure to have some idea of what the most popular books are and be able to advise you if you’re starting out. Alternatively, you can Google the subject and read around the reviews to see which one comes up trumps. In addition, you might want to consider buying a book about the Tarot’s history, just to further your knowledge.

4) Once you’ve chosen your books, stick to them. Just as you’ll develop your own style, so to have the authors of the many guidebooks that are out there. To get yourself off the ground, stick to one book at a time; there’s plenty of room to read around at a later date. Your main focus to begin with is to glean a working knowledge of the cards themselves.

5) One of the best ways to encourage familiarity with your deck is to learn a phrase or keyword that sums each card up. Each of the cards is part of an allegorical story known as the Fool’s Journey, and each card tells a part of that tale. While you’ll come to be familiar with those stories over time, the best way to set the ball rolling is to learn a bit at a time. Key words and phrases are also a good way to see what the cards mean to you; your interpretive skills are embryonic and this exercise will help you nurture them.

6) As you start to use the cards, either reading for yourself or others, it can be an idea to keep a journal of your thoughts, observations, dreams and feelings as you progress. The Tarot will permeate your subconscious and your subconscious will respond through apparently-random images. Keeping a journal will help you to spot any themes running through your thoughts and give you a greater understanding of how particular cards resonate with you. This may even alter your perception of certain cards but, as long as you’re being true to yourself and the deck, this is no bad thing.

7) To further your understanding of how the cards work and what they can mean to yours or someone else’s life, do a daily draw. Begin with only one card a day, drawing it in the morning and observing how its influences affect the way you perceive the world. This is especially useful for those cards that people have a natural fear of and it’ll teach you that there is nothing to worry about; the meanings are almost never as calamitous as the images might suggest. Note your findings in your Tarot journal at the end of each day; through doing this, you’ll come to understand which cards resonate with you the most.

8) Remember that at the end of the day the cards are just inanimate objects with no will or influence of their own. Without you, they are useless. Bearing this in mind, you should strive to become the best person you can. Any negative attitudes or energies you carry around may well influence the way you perceive certain cards and have an effect on the way you read them. The better you understand yourself, the more accurate and incisive your reading will be. There’s a great responsibility that comes with the Tarot cards – particularly if you’re reading for others.

9) Keep your deck with you at all times. The day you leave it at home is the day you’ll regret not having it there.

10) There’s a strong community of Tarot readers out there, particularly on the Internet and they tend to be more than happy to share their knowledge. Learning from books is a great place to start but, at the end of the day, you can’t beat actual experience. Seek out forums and chat rooms and introduce yourself as new to the fold. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and advice; the Tarot community is a friendly one. There are numerous sites and forums available, so have a browse and see which ones you like the look of.


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