Beginner's Guide To The Tarot Deck
If there is one more thing you should know about me my dear followers is that I love to read Tarot - which in fact I have been doing one and off for about ten years now. For me, my initial first memories of being exposed to the Tarot was when I, one day, walked into a local New Age store on a whim to buy some incense. In my own curiosity, I began wandering down the pathways of the store, coming across a bookshelf filled with decks - from the very basics of the Rider Waite Tarot deck to my favorite, the Shaman Wisdom deck. Something stuck out to me on the shelf, I wasn't sure if it was the pictures and the artistic representations that were spread out on each deck, but I was intrigued nonetheless. I spent a long time looking at each deck, examine their cards, their figures, and their meanings. I was completely drawn in, and on a whim, purchased my first deck.
I will be honest in saying that my first deck with the Rider Waite deck, the same deck that has been used by many beginners such at myself at the time. It perhaps remains as one of the most popular decks, and I strongly recommended it for beginners. If you are curious in practicing this incredible divination tool, look no further. This is my guide to learning the Tarot.
A Very Brief History of the Tarot
What is incredibly interesting about the Tarot is that research indicates that the cards weren't used for the New Age practices of today. Instead, the cards date back to the 1400s, where they were initially used for a card game rather than divination. The game spread quickly to all parts of Europe, and people began referring to it as tarocchi, which is an Italian version of the French word tarot, around 1530. It wasn't until the 1800s the cards were used as a divination tool. Soon enough, the cards became a comprehensive link between that of astrology and ancient Egyptian lore. By this time, occult writers started to write about "the tarot" and boosted its appeal though occult philosophy.
Over the next few centuries, mystics and philosophers continued to expand the role of the Tarot further, shaping it into what it is today. The current method for tarot interpretation started in the 1970s, and along with a growing interest in psychoanalysis, the use of Tarot cards grew exponentially. A boom within the New Age movement and practices such as astrology, reiki, and meditation, furthered the spread, with thousands of new decks now being produced annually.
What Is Tarot Actually Used For?
So guess what - I have some shocking news for you. Although the common belief is that tarot cards are meant to tell the future or reveal someone’s fortune, this is far from true. Whether media or television contributed to this belief, anyone who uses Tarot for fortune-telling may not be using the deck correctly. In contrast to this belief, Tarot is most importantly, a valuable form of meditation, providing a much-needed analysis of the present moment through the formation of valuable insight and advice.
For many people, including myself, doing a reading helps to connect to our inner wisdom, taking time to be mindful, while also helping us to understand a particular situation. More so, it provides us clarity on how we should handle that individual situation as well. It will give insight to past, current, and future events based on the person’s current path at the time of the reading. The cards will then determine the best course of action based on what is known and what the cards show.
Getting Started - Choosing A Deck
As stated before, there are hundreds - if not thousands - of different Tarot decks. This being said, it can be quite intimidating trying to figure out which one is right you. The Riders Waite deck, as mentioned, it the most popular one among beginners and avid users, but if you want to go against the mainstream, here is my advice for you :
Different Tarot decks are going to resonate with us in different ways, and it’s imperative to connect with that and find the deck that is right for you. The Rider Waite deck was my first choice, but I continually change decks and find that my favorite decks take on less traditional forms (I sometimes use regular playing cards, which is a whole other lesson for another day). Just know that there is no perfect answer here, and ultimately, you do need to find that deck that feels good for you.
This being, look for a good learning deck. If this is your first deck, you want to make sure it’s a deck that you can learn with, and that’s going to make your learning process easy and enjoyable as well. While you may want to go for a deck that as cute kittens on it (which I promise you, that it is a real thing), consider things like the pictures and the imagery in the card - as this will play into how you understand each card, interpret the card for a reading, and how you take into consideration the advice you are maybe giving to yourself or others.
Begin To Familiarize Yourself With The Deck
When you first pick up your deck, you will learn that there are some cards that have actual phrases on them (the Major Arcana) as well as cards that are more traditional, in that they have a suit, a number, or a person on them such as King or Queen (the Minor Arcana). Before even diving deep into the meanings of what those are, spend time just familiarizing yourself with the deck. Ask questions such as:
- What Are The First Images or Iconography That I See?
- What Am I Noticing Right Away On These Cards?
- What Are Things That Stick Out To Me?
If these, it might be a symbol. You might feel something in your body or sense a certain emotion that comes with each card. But better yet, you might start to see almost a story coming out through that particular card. Now, you don’t have to do anything with that information. This is just about connecting in with each of your cards.
In truly starting, spend three or four minutes with each card. Really take time to dig into each card - take in the imagery, the energy of the card. Then pick up the second card and do it all again, until you’ve started to work your way all the way through your deck.
Start A Daily Practice
Once you familiarize yourself with the deck, take the time to begin daily practices. These do not have to be a full-blown reading, but rather a chance to sit with your deck and build a deeper connection with the cards. Begin at the end of your day, asking the Tarot, "What might I experience today?" Shuffle the cards in the deck a couple of times, and set that intention. Split the deck, picking the first card on top of the split.
Examine that card. Look at the pictures and begin to draw a narrative. When I am stuck on a card, I usually will turn to online guides to figure out the meaning on a deeper level. Think about how it relates to your day - it doesn't have to be something extreme, but rather, it could refer to a feeling, a block in the day you noticed had popped up. What can you do or learn from the card? When you are done with that card, meditate on the notion, and repeat throughout the rest week.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, do not feel discouraged if you do not pick up the meaning of the cards right away. Honestly, there are plenty of cards that I sometimes struggle with or forget their meanings - and as I said, I have been doing this for years! Just take it with a grain of salt. After all, practice makes perfect. And while the cards do sometimes have their meaning, the importance lies within the interpretation you give to it and the advice you manifest into your practices.