So you want to learn the Tarot? The good news is that you absolutely can and do not have to class yourself as ‘psychic.’ You can also learn how to read the tarot in as little as a day. So set aside a day or maybe a weekend to learn the basics and you will be ready to practice doing readings for others. Let’s start from the top and look at how to read the tarot in 5 easy steps.
Buying Your First Deck
Perhaps you already bought your first deck but aren’t quite sure what to do with it. If that is the case, let me congratulate you for not falling for the myth that somebody must give you the deck. Choosing and buying your own deck is perfectly fine. I always recommend getting the classic Rider Waite Smith deck as a beginner. Most textbooks are based on this deck. But if the artwork rubs you the wrong way, you are better off finding an alternative. Here is a guide to buying your first deck.
A Right-Brained Approach
Before we delve into the five steps to learning to read the Tarot, let me give you a piece of advice about the little guidebook (LWB or Little White Book) that usually comes tucked in with the cards in most standard-sized Tarot decks: don’t bother (for now). Seriously. Learning the Tarot from keywords is a left-brained and longwinded approach. It is also a counterintuitive way of learning the language of symbols. I’m not saying to never learn keywords or read books about the tarot. I’m saying to get off to a flying start, you are better off using an intuitive, right-brained approach.
Also, don’t worry too much about how these symbols ended up in a pack of 78 pieces of cardboard. The truth is, nobody knows the exact history of the Tarot, although plenty of Tarotists love to hypothesise at great length. Perhaps it is enough to know that the first packs were in circulation in the Mediterranean in the late Middle Ages, where people still use them to play a game called Tarock.
A Metaphysical Perspective
If you want to get metaphysical about the true history of the creation of the Tarot, the most likely answer is that it happened over many decades (possibly centuries). And it happened through the creative genius of various artists and metaphysicians in response to a subconscious calling to gather all the key elements of life found in the collective unconscious mind.
Perhaps these artists and metaphysicians were guided by Archangel Raziel. Perhaps the intention of the Angel was to help us find all the right symbols safely gathered in a format that we can all easily carry with us. At least, that’s how I like to think of it. And I love that it has been a collective effort. This points us in the direction of the Age of Aquarius. This next era is when I feel the Tarot will really begin to shine as a tool for psycho-spiritual development rather than fortune-telling. As humanity awakens, our usage of divinatory tools will continue to evolve.
Learn the Tarot in 5 Easy Steps
1. Just Look
Spend an hour or two just looking at the cards as you would any other works of art. Don’t write anything down yet. Just observe your emotional reaction to each of the cards. Make a mental note of the details that stand out for you.
Next, divide the cards into three piles. The cards you love, the ones you hate/dislike and the ones you feel neutral about. Make some notes of what you have learned this way. This is an exercise you can repeat for every new deck you get and is not limited to beginners!
2. Make Friends with the Characters in the Major Arcana
These are the 22 archetypes in the Major Arcana that show you all of life’s most important psycho-spiritual lessons. These archetypes are also the keys to helping you understand the Minor Arcana. Spend some time talking with the Majors. Ask them intuitive questions and write down the answers you get.
You can also do dreamwork with the cards from the Major Arcana to get to know them even more in-depth. Write down your question before you go to sleep, placing the relevant card next to your bed. Upon waking, record the dreams that you remember. Did you get your answer? If not, try again. Dream incubation with the Tarot is a skill we can all learn.
If you work with the Angelic Realm, you may wish to ask Archangel Gabriel to help with the dream incubation.
Strike a Pose
Take the poses shown by the characters or beings in the cards and try to feel what they must be feeling. Use props if you like. Move, walk and dance as each of the Majors might dance. Think about what they might like to eat and how they would decorate their home. Choose a piece of music that you feel resonates with the image before you. I have put together this playlist for the 22 Majors on Spotify for inspiration. They are not in perfect order, so it’s up to you to figure out where they belong!
3. Connect with the Four Elements
Sit in a circle, remove the Majors and divide the four suits up into four smaller packs. Lay them out around you, with the Ace on top, facing up.
Begin with Fire in the South. This is usually the Suit of Wands in the Minor Arcana. Here you find the Zodiac energies of Aries, Leo and Sagittarius. There is inspiration, vitality, raw sexuality, courage and even aggression connected with the Element of Fire. Sit facing South and focus on drawing the energy of the Ace of Wands into your body… really feel the Fire.
Once you feel that you are done, write your impressions down in your Tarot journal.
Next, you turn to face West and the Suit of Cups. This is the direction of the Element of Water, connected with emotions, intuition, dreams and psychic ability. Here we connect to the energies of the Zodiac signs Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces. Look at the Ace of Cups and draw the energy of Water into your body. Make some more notes.
Next up is the Suit of Pentacles in the North and the Element of Earth. The energy here is cold, dry and stable. This is everything that manifests into our 3D reality and is the reason why the suit is symbolised by Coins or Pentacles.
Earth connects us with the Zodiac energies of Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn. The Suit of Pentacles shows us matters relating to work, health and money. Take a few minutes, look at the Ace of Pentacles and breathe in the Element of Earth into your body. Write down your findings.
Finally, we arrive in the East, the Suit of Swords and the Element of Air. The Zodiac signs represented by this suit are Gemini, Libra and Aquarius. This is the suit of the Mind, our intellect and our ability to problem-solve. Because most of the ‘problems’ we experience is literally only in our minds, this is the reason why find the most visually disturbing cards here, such as the 3, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10 of Swords.
But in each of these ‘troubled’ cards, we also find the remedy. This suit’s gift is metacognition and the ability to detach, analyse and solve what is troubling us. Take a few minutes to focus on the image of the Ace of Swords and feel the Element of Air. Make some final notes and close the circle by gathering your cards together.
Top Tip: Pay particular attention to where in the body and how you feel the energy of each Element, as well as what the Element feels like… Light or heavy? Hot or cold? Smooth or spiky/jagged? The more connections you make to each of your five senses, the more information you will be able to pull from the cards in future readings.
4. Connect the Numbers
Each of the ten number cards 1-10 relate to the I-X Major Arcana cards. Try getting an intuitive feel for this connection by spending some time with all five of the 1’s (Magician + all the Aces), then with High Priestess and the four 2’s and so forth. Make notes of the intuitive connections you get from the combination of the suit Element and Number for each of the cards, as well as how you feel the Number cards relate to the Majors.
This exercise could easily turn left-brained so pay attention. Keeping going with the flow of your intuitive, inner knowing without censoring yourself.
5. Get to Know the People Cards
My top tip is to view each of the four courtiers from the same suit as a family, where the King is the Father, the Queen the Mother, the Knight a young adult/older brother and the Page a tween/child/younger sister.
If you start with the fiery Wands family, you would draw to mind the qualities and the feeling you experienced in the circle while facing the South. You would then think about what these fiery, passionate and extroverted people might be like as a family unit. Interview them if you like. Imagine them talking to each other. Is their family home organised or messy?
Are they loud or quiet? Do individual family members remind you of someone you know or someone famous? What kind of decorations can you see in your mind’s eye if you look around their home? Write a story titled, My Visit with the Wands Family. Repeat this exercise with the other three Court Card families.
Think about a family from a favourite TV series. Which Element is dominant in that family?
Congratulations if you read this far and especially if you did all the exercises! As you know now, these exercises are a full day’s work but so worth it. And like I said in the beginning, you can choose to divide them up over a weekend or even over several days.
I hope this helps you to truly begin connecting with the cards far beyond the level of keywords. The 78 Keys of the Tarot are what make up the Book of Life. Once you get to know them, you will not only know how to read the Tarot, you will know yourself and begin to understand how you can begin co-creating your destiny to manifest your full potential in this incarnation.
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