Reading Tarot cards accurately is a skill that takes time honing. However, anyone can learn to read Tarot if they are determined to put in the time! You don’t need any super-powers! In this article, we will discuss the most basic aspects of Tarot reading and how you can start your journey as a Tarot reader. Who knows where it will take you?
Choosing a Tarot deck
In order to begin your Tarot adventure, the most important thing is to get your hands on a deck. There are hundreds of decks available, and if the Tarot bug bites you, you will most likely end up with more than one deck in your collection - I have dozens myself! - to suit your every Tarot needs and whims!
However; First things are important! Keep reading through the following advice to grab the best first Tarot deck for you.
There’s a myth out there that says that your first Tarot deck needs to be gifted in order for it to work, but nothing further from the truth! You can purchase your own decks and they will work just as well as a gifted deck. Let me tell you a secret, it is you who does the magic, not the deck!
When shopping for your first deck, here are some things to take into account.
- Don’t purchase an overly expensive deck. There are plenty of options for around $25 in many different styles. The point of your first deck is to use it to death! If you get into collecting - and you most likely will - there’s definitely time for that later on. Spend an amount that you’re comfortable with and that doesn’t hurt your pocket, so you don’t feel the need to be particularly precious with your cards.
- Make sure that your deck has illustrated pips. This is not vital, but many Tarot students find it way easier to learn with a deck that is fully illustrated, as opposed to Marseilles style decks, which Minor Arcana are more similar to a deck of playing cards.
- Buy a deck that you like. Rider Waite Smith (RWS) is an awesome deck to get started, but it isn’t exactly a visual delight for many. If it is your style, then run with it! However, it is important to have cards that you consider visually engaging and it will speed up your learning process.
Shuffling is a big deal for many. I have seen plenty of new readers ask “What is the right way to shuffle?” and the answer is “none”.
Don’t make a big deal over shuffling. Perhaps with time you will develop a system, or you may not, however, don’t let it get to you! Whether you riffle shuffle or shuffle overhand, cut or not cut or if you shuffle seven times is not relevant for the quality of your reading, so leave self-doubt aside and trust the process.
The Tarot Journal
This is probably mentioned in every single Tarot website around, but it is true. Having a Tarot journal, at least when you begin, is one of the most useful things that you can do for your Tarot practice. It doesn’t need to be a fancy journal, any notebook will do! Try to develop the habit of taking notes of your readings. Having a journal where you can track your progress and look at your past readings in hindsight will be immensely useful in the future.
To Reverse, Or Not To Reverse?
Reversals are a controversial topic in the Tarot community. While some maintain that it is unthinkable to read Tarot without reversals, others say that there’s no need for them. In this case, you will have to make that choice yourself.
On a personal level, I don’t use reversals, but I read reversals. What I mean is that even though I don’t manually reverse cards or I don’t put the cards physically upside down, I do pay attention to whether the card is positively or negatively aspected in order to give my reading.
My advice is to experiment! Use reversals, then stop, use them again, do it with some spreads and not with others... Experience will help you determine how are you the most comfortable and the most accurate.
The best way to learn to read Tarot is reading Tarot. It might feel intimidating at first, but experience is the best teacher you will ever have. Pulling a daily card will help you not only remember the “book” meanings of the cards, but also relate them to actual events or energies.
Make a habit of pulling a card at the beginning of your day. You can ask some simple question, such as “What are the energies today?” or “What will be the most relevant thing that happens today?” or even “What challenge will I encounter today?”. Take a moment to reflect on the meaning of the card, and then take note of the card, its meaning and your first impressions in your Tarot journal. At the end of the day, revisit your reading and try to associate the card to what happened during the day.
At first it can feel like a pointless exercise, but with time, you will start identifying patterns and getting to know the way in which the cards speak to you.
There are as many Tarot books as there are decks or even more! Some can be really dense and theoretical, and others can be really practical. While experience is your best teacher, Tarot has a tradition and a system that is worth learning. A combination of theoretical knowledge and intuition makes the best Tarot readings!
I recommend having one or two reference books to help you with your Tarot journey, or you can even find good reference websites online. Don’t try to learn it from memory before getting started, you will eventually get there, but make a habit of seeking reference.
Multiple Cards Readings
The next step, once you are comfortable with one card readings is to try something bigger. Three cards readings are simple enough to use when you are starting, yet they are incredibly versatile and can contain a lot of information. Try answering a question with three cards for a more thorough answer, or even try a spread with positions.
You can use the world-famous past - present - future combination to give a look to the main energies that are at play in one situation. As a piece of advice, you will get better results with situations that you are not very personally attached to, at least at the beginning. Being emotionally detached from the situation will help you remain objective and it will be positive for your progress as a Tarot reader.
Card By Card Meanings vs. First Impressions
There’s a tendency to interpret card by card when reading on a question. However; It is sometimes very frustrating and confusing, because you might find that the cards are contradictory or don’t seem to go with the question. It is for this reason that I always recommend to take time to pay attention to the first impressions and the reading as a whole before going card by card.
Look out for repeating numbers, pay attention to the suits and see how the cards interact. Does a particular combination strengthen the meaning of a cards, or are there cards that seem to be “canceling” each other? Take notes of your first impressions and compare them with the results. With time, you will be surprised about how helpful it is.
Consider Downloading A Tarot App
There are many apps available that you can download on your phone and that can serve you in your Tarot journey. Downloading an app, such as the ones from The Fool’s Dog, will help you have a digital Tarot deck readily available to you at any time, a Tarot journal and a Tarot book all in one!
If you are concerned about the accuracy, bear in mind that energy isn’t limited to our physical experience and it doesn’t respond to our limitations. Also, this is a great tool to have when you are in a place that requires discretion, because, let’s be honest, nobody needs people around giving them “the look”.
Clean And Store Your Cards
Cleansing your cards can be as intricate or as simple as you desire. Some cleanse their decks by ordering the cards and restoring them to their original positions, others knock on them a few times to dispel any energies that may have attached to them, others like to bury them in salt or leave them by the moonlight. The truth is that whatever ritual is relevant to you, will be good enough! Do what you feel that will help you connect best.
As for storing the cards, even though there are some myths about storing them in silk and wooden boxes, the truth is that there’s no need for it. My personal recommendation is to keep them in their original boxes if they are easy to carry that way, although eventually the box will tear apart and you will need a pouch. Whatever you choose, make sure that it is comfortable, durable, and that your cards are easy to access.
Find Like-minded People
Your Tarot journey will expand when you can share it with like-minded folks who share your interest! If you can’t reach a local group, try joining some Facebook groups, online forums or website communities in order to enrich your knowledge and your experience.
You can also enjoy one of our Free Readings to get a feeling for the hidden meanings of Tarot Cards