A special Welcome to those lovely souls who are just getting their feet wet in the big, sometimes intimidating, ocean of Tarot!
So you want to start reading the cards? Good for you!!! You will find yourself embarking on the most amazing journey of your life – I promise you, you will NOT regret it!
“I know too much about Tarot”, said no-one, ever! – Tarot is so versatile, you will want to learn more all the time, but where to start?
First of all: NO!!! You most definitely do NOT have to wait for some kind soul out there to gift you your first Tarot deck!!!
If that was the case I would be waiting still and the past 2 decades of my life would have been much blander for it.
This myth comes from back when the aspiring tarot reader was apprenticed to a master and received their very own deck from their teacher after being deemed sufficiently educated in the craft – it no longer applies in this day and age, where cards are readily available and self-study is the norm.
Even so, if someone wants to buy you a deck then give them a big hug and say thank you, like your mother told you to 😀
The important thing is to find a deck that you LIKE – if you cringe at the artwork you are never going to connect with your deck. Find a deck that is a joy to look at, full of amazing detail to discover, and you are halfway there, because you are going to WANT to spend time with it, study it, get to know all the cards and find out what they mean.
But which deck would be a good choice for a beginner?
I do suggest you start your journey by looking at a Rider-Waite style deck and here’s why:
The Rider-Waite deck, with images drawn by Pamela Coleman-Smith, is one of the most recognisable, iconic sets of Tarot cards in the world. It has been tried and tested by millions of Readers accross the globe and it has stood the test of time.
If you learn to work with this deck it will be very easy to move on to using other decks, because you will understand the structure of Tarot and you can build on that solid foundation.
You will also find plenty of guidebooks out there that will support your learning and you will easily relate your cards to the images in those books or in online tutorials.
If you start with a deck full of quirks and changes it will be more difficult – if everyone is talking about The Hermit, but in your deck she is named The Turtle, you might struggle to catch on…
Does this mean you have to buy an actual Rider-Waite deck? No! A lot of people will find the artwork on this deck too old-fashioned, bland, or otherwise unappealing (no offense to those of you who love this deck!!! I have a soft spot for it too).
If you DO decide to go with RW, maybe try the Radiant Rider-Waite as the updated colours and cleaner lines are so much more vibrant and will make it a good, classic choice. I love my Tarot-in-a-Tin version and it often travels with me 😎 Here are some decks you could consider:Note: The Tarot made Easy boxset contains the Llewellyn’s Classic Tarot deck, the Beginner’s guide to Tarot has the Sharman-Casselli deck (if you want to look up the images or buy your deck separate) – underneath those you see images of Dame Darcy’s Mermaid deck, if you like mermaids, ocean-themes or tattoo-style images, or if you just fancy an Indie deck 😉 All these decks are readily available in shops and online today!
I think that the Everyday Witch in particular would be a good choice (check out my review on this blog if you want to know more!), along with the Radiant Rider-Waite (as mentioned earlier) and Ciro Marchetti’s Gilded Tarot. That’s 3 distinctive styles for you to choose from right there! But hey, please follow your gut!
If you have any questions regarding a deck you like the look of, and wether or not this would be suitable as a learner’s deck, just ask and I will advise you as best I can!
Buying a deck is so much easier these days, you can browse the internet and look at which images you find attractive – when I started out on my path I just had to pick a deck in a bookshop, wrapped in cellophane, so you had to go by the box and the content could be disappointing!
So please people: do your research! You do not want to spend your hard-earned cash on a deck you will never use.
Note: REHOME your unwanted decks! Not being loved makes them sad… REMEMBER: Decks are people too!
Now you have your deck, you have looked at all the cards and maybe formed some ideas as to what they might be all about – from all the talk about Intuïtive Reading going around, you might feel like you should be able to just go ahead and start reading, right? WRONG!!!
I think people confuse INTERPRETATION with MEANING – once you have a basic idea of what a card might mean, you can get as creative as you like with interpreting it! That’s where the Intuïtive Reading part comes in…
Tarot requires some study, people! You will need to put in some time and effort but you will be rewarded beyond expectation. Don’t worry, I am not talking about memorising loads of card meanings! Just familiarise yourself with the cards, learn to really look and see what you can deduct from the images and find a keyword or two that will help you understand and remember what the card stands for. The most important part is handling your cards often and practising as much as possible – you will be familiar with them before you know it!
I suggest you get a notebook (as pretty or as simple as you like) or, even better, a ringbinder and noteblock (so you won’t run out of space, can add sheets when needed and throw stuff out if you feel you messed up). Let’s start with the basics:
A Tarot deck has 2 distinct parts;
1) The Major Arcana:
Arcana means Secret and the first 22 cards in the deck make up the Major Arcana – those archetypical events in life that we all are subject to at one time or another. These are cards dealing with outside influences, opportunities, dilemma’s and Fate. Generally, things that happen to us that we have limited control over other than how we choose to deal with them. The Fool is numbered “0”, he will be going on the journey of his life, encountering all the different situations depicted in the rest of the cards!
2) The Minor Arcana:
These cards depict our day-to-day experiences, troubles and triumphs.
The 56 cards of the Minor Arcana are divided in 4 suits, generally these are:
Cups (or cauldrons, vessels,…) – Wands (staves, sticks,…) – Swords (arrows, daggers,…) and Pentacles (coins, stones,…).
Each suit represents one of the Elements: Cups are Water (dealing primarily with emotions and relationships); Wands are Fire (action, ideas, creativity); Swords are Air (thoughts, the Mind, decisions) and Pentacles are Earth (dealing with the material world, possessions, carreer).
The suits are numbered 1 (Aces) to 10 and then have 4 Court cards each – generally Page, Knight, King and Queen (or Queen, then King, but I tend to turn these around – girlpower!).
See? Now you have a basic understanding of the structure of Tarot!
You will expand your knowledge as you progress in your studies.
Now – take your notebook and pen and write the name and number of each card on a separate sheet, starting with number zero, The Fool.
Look at the first card and write down what you see. Now write what you think this card represents. Then look in your guidebook, or online and write down some key-words or phrases that will make you remember the meaning of this card. Do they match up with your own thoughts and ideas? Great! If they don’t, do NOT throw out your notes as you may find later on that the card can have additional, layered or personal interpretations too.
Congratulations! You have just started your very own Tarot Journal!!
Now, repeat this for every card in the deck. I TOLD you you would have to work for it!!!
You do not have to journal about each card in the order they are numbered. That is why it is a good idea to write each of the names on a page first, so you can move back and forth through your journal with ease and work on whichever card you feel like! Also, this is an ongoing process, so please, continue with your lessons, you do not have to wait until this project is completed!
Once you have a basic understanding of the cards, THEN you can start relying on your Intuition and start reading them using your gut feeling. Again, I am NOT suggesting you need to learn long lists of meanings and interpretations, it’s okay if there are some cards you are not sure of, but please my lovely students, if you do not lay any foundations you will struggle later on…
Whilst you are learning, please have FUN with your cards – ask questions and pull cards, look up the meaning and be amazed at your own accuracy! Pull a card every evening and see if you can relate it to the events of the day. All these exercises will help you become more familiar with your deck and that can only be a good thing – aww, you guys are BONDING, how lovely!
Remember: there is NOTHING wrong with looking at your guidebook, that’s what it is for! Someone went to great lengths to write it for you, so USE IT!!!
You may also like to look at “adendum 2: Keywords” to help with card meanings and possible interpretations.
In later parts I will cover some good books to support your tarot quest, as there are myriads out there and not all deliver what they promise…
All this will keep you busy for a while – so I will leave you to it for now.
Look out for Part 2, where we will continue your education and tackle some myths relating to bonding with your deck, who can touch your cards, and much more!!!
Thank you for your attention, class dismissed!☺️
Love you all!!! Xxx
PS: please feel free to ask questions, I shall do my best to answer them!