So I’ve been reading tarot even longer than I’ve been Pagan. My father bought me my first deck for my 12th birthday, and I’ve always kept at least one deck around. My interest waxed and waned, and I didn’t get super serious about tarot until about 10 years ago, but I’ve always enjoyed reading for myself and friends- even when I had to look at the little white book for interpretations. So I feel justified calling myself salty here.
Now for the advice. Are you ready? Here we go.
- Learn the meanings of the cards. Yes, I know it’s fashionable now for tarot gurus to say that you can read completely intuitively and shrug off studying the actual meanings of the cards. But to do so is to do yourself a great disservice. There’s so much symbolism and meaning in the cards that you miss by reading entirely intuitively. There IS a place for intuition in tarot, definitely so, but it works best when you combine your intuition with study. There’s a reason it’s called ‘occult’ knowledge. It’s not supposed to be easy or skippable. Personally, I’m not sure why anyone wouldn’t love to study tarot anyways. It’s fascinating. Give yourself the gift of knowledge here. You won’t regret it!
- Read reversals. I know that this feels cumbersome when you’re first beginning, but you don’t necessarily have to study the reversals as long as you know what the card means upright. If a card is reversed, it shows either a lack of the energy of the upright card, the opposite of the energy of the upright card, it can show that the energy of the upright card has passed and the user is coming out of it, or it can represent the energy of the upright card taken to a dark place or taken to extremes. Once you’ve thoroughly studied the upright meanings, these reversed meanings will start to come to you, especially when you see how they work with the surrounding cards. And they add SO MUCH nuance and detail to a reading. Reading reversals makes your reading so much more effective- don’t skip it!
- Use a tarot cloth. Trust me here. On a metaphysical level, it sets your reading space apart from the mundane world and shows that something important is about to happen in that space. On a practical level, it can protect your cards from all sorts of nasty stuff, like syrup on the table at IHOP. Ask me how I know… You can buy a yard of fabric at your local fabric shop for less than $10 and keep it folded nearly around your cards in whatever bag you like to carry. It will save you frustration and damaged cards.
- Keep a tarot notebook. This can be a great place to write down what you learn about each card, as well as your personal impressions as you begin to develop your own tarot language. You can do this online (as a blog or personal journal), on your computer, or in a paper notebook. Mine is in a binder so that I can update, print, and replace pages as they get too beaten up to read effectively. And when you get a new deck with new art, you’ll have a place to add new impressions and knowledge. This will become an invaluable resource for you!
- The best way to learn the meanings of the cards is to do a daily draw. You can do this every morning or evening, whenever you have time. Just draw a card, look up the meaning (whether in a book, online, or in your own personal tarot journal with your own notes), and think about how the card applies to your day. For extra credit, jot down your impressions in your tarot notebook with a date so you can refer back to patterns that show up for you. Before you know it, you’ll start remembering the cards and their meanings.
So that’s it! That was relatively painless, no? If you have any questions about tarot, I love talking about it. Feel free to email me at AmieRavenson@gmail.com and I’d be happy to answer questions or provide clarification!
Blessed be! <3