Tarot 101: Helpful Tips for Beginners

Tarot 101: Helpful Tips for Beginners

Though I immediately connected with tarot and felt its magic, it took me a long time to really understand it's language.

I got my first reading when I was in college and was instantly struck by the accuracy and power. How could I not have been? It was simply magical how the cards seemed to stare right back at me.

A year later, I was given a deck and even though I used it ALL the time, it wasn’t really clicking for me. I would shuffle, pick cards, feel instantly seen by Spirit and then I’d look up meanings online. This process went on and on. I wasn’t really learning them by ‘heart.’ It took many workshops, classes, books and podcasts for me to full grasp the concepts. But most of all, it took practice. Here are a few tricks that if I’d known, it would have made learning Tarot a lot easier!

1. Think of reading Tarot as interpreting the scenes depicted on the cards.

This is a great one because it means that even as a very beginner, you’ll get a lot out of value out of pulling cards. This is part of the magic of the Tarot! Information is encoded within the cards in the form of imagery and symbols. The images in the cards depict events, personality traits, atmospheres, situations that convey messages. Being able to interpret the meaning in the images and symbols will really help you understand the cards and learn them by heart.

2. The Tarot tells the story of the Fool’s Journey

Something I didn't know until way later in my studies is that not only is the Tarot a story, but we have a main character: The Fool. We meet the Fool in card 0, as we see them taking the leap into a new world and adventure. From there, the remaining Major Arcana cards portray a chronological story of The Fool's journey! Of course!

There are 22 Major Arcana cards. These are the cards that are numbered 0-21. When they are placed in numerical order, we see The Fool's journey through the Tarot. The Major cards are commonly understood to be the larger themes, atmospheres and events. (These cards would be included in the Spark Notes version of story, they are that important.) They tend to represent Major things that are going on in our lives when they come up in readings.

If a card from the Major Arcana comes up during a reading, something big is going on.
It can really help to take these first 22 cards out separate from the rest of the deck and get to know them first. It can help to provide some groundwork of understanding of the Tarot. They are the main guideposts that anchor our readings.

A note about the Minors: rounding out our Tarot are the Minor Arcana. These are the other 56 cards that make up a traditional 78 card deck. The Minors are just as they sound, smaller themes that deal more with the ins and outs of our day-to-day lives. If the Majors are the main guideposts, the Minors are the smaller details. They help connect the dots of the tale of human experience, but don't carry as much weight as the Majors.

It can really help to take these first 22 cards out separate from the rest of the deck and get to know them first. It can help to provide some groundwork of understanding of the Tarot. They are the main guideposts that anchor our readings.
Tarot is intuitive… but that shouldn’t add to the pressure.

This one was tricky for me. At first I guess I thought I’d flip the cards over and then intuitively know the answers to my questions? There is such a sense of the cards starring back. (This is why I included an eye on the back of Midnight City Tarot).

It is a lot more than that. Now I understand that a good Tarot reading isn't about pulling psychic information out of thin air, it's more about working with the cards and being able to interpret the messages you see. It’s not forced. Basically, it’s a lot less pressure than I had first thought.

A note about psychic messages: Your psychic gifts can definitely come out during readings, and often do, but as I understand it, Spirit meets us where we are, which is in the physical, and can easily give us messages there. Each time I work with the Tarot I notice something different. Spirit can guide you to notice a symbol in the card that you can then interpret for meaning, or maybe it will bring to mind relevant information. Today if you pull the Fool card, you might really notice the yellow suitcase, or another day, the sun on the horizon might stand out the most. Noticing something might prompt a memory or idea that you feel compelled to mention. Going with the flow is so important.

4. Tarot is a language.

When I began to look at Tarot as a language, a lot of things clicked for me. Understanding the meaning behind each card is like understanding new words or phrases when learning a new language. By the time you piece a few cards together, you have a story!

Each Tarot reading is a unique story being reflected back to you.

The broader story of the Tarot tells the tale of human experience - which connects us all.

5. It’s not only about the cards you pull, but the cards you didn't pull

I believe that the whole deck is always at play in a Tarot reading. The cards that you pull bring messages. And the ones that you didn't see during your reading reinforce the messages.

For example, if you got the 5 of Wands, but you didn't get the Ten of Wands, The Hanged One, or The 10 of Swords, this is ALL important information. The 5 of Wands is a card in the Minor Arcana, so it's not a big theme, it's also a lower number than 10 which is significant.

Especially at first, I found it very easy to get freaked out if I was asking about something important to me and I saw a card that was a little tough. Remember to take into account the other cards you pull, as well as the ones that didn't show up! If you got The Ace of Cups in a reading about love, it's important to take this information for what it is. While it's easy to feel sad that the 2 of Cups (toasting with a new love or dear friend) did not show up, you did get it's precursor! The Ace of Cups can be a beautiful and quite magical time falling in love with and caring for self. Let it be what it is. There's a lot of trust and acceptance that comes with reading cards. The more you practice the more comfortable you will become.

6. It takes time… and that’s okay.

Learning Tarot is an ongoing, ever evolving process. There are so many layers and facets to Tarot and to each card. I have been studying and practicing Tarot for nearly a decade and I know a tiny tidbit of information about the Tarot. There are so many directions to go with your studies! Numerology, ancient traditions, myths, and religions, all come together to make up the Tarot. This isn't meant to be overwhelming or feel make this journey feel unmanageable, it is just a reminder that I don't believe we are ever truly done learning Tarot. Consistent practice, reading a book or a blog or listening to a podcast that really makes you excited about your Tarot studies is the perfect place to start! Following your excitement will lead you in the right direction and keep you on your Tarot path.


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