Tarot is a fascinating deck of 78 symbolic picture cards, but it’s also far more than that. Tarot acts as a key that:
- Opens your eyes to seeing life with greater perspective and the opportunities available to you
- Opens your mind to the deep truth and wisdom you possess within yourself
- Opens your heart to greater love and acceptance, of yourself and the world
The origins of tarot emerged in Northern Italy during the Renaissance, around the mid-1400’s. At that time it was used for playing games, not divination. The deck’s structure is very similar to a playing card deck. It has four suits, with each suit having cards numbered Ace through 10, plus the royalty cards. The main difference is that a tarot deck also contains 22 trump cards, each a symbol of a major theme of life.
Tarot is like our own personal oracle. It acts as a mirror for our soul to see and understand what we know deep in our hearts to be true. The deck is timeless and universal, meaning anyone can learn to use it, and its wisdom applies to everyone at all times of their lives. All we have to do is be willing to see the truth of ourselves and our lives, and tarot reveals it to us.
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle
WHY DOES TAROT WORK?
Tarot is a method of intuition. It quiets our overactive minds so that we can receive the deep wisdom we all possess within our hearts. Other examples of intuitive methods include meditation, prayer, yoga, journaling, quiet time in nature, and creating art or music.
As an intuitive method, tarot gives us access to the truth, wisdom, and love we possess within us. These are tremendously powerful, soul-based gifts that we’re all born with and carry inside us always. Accessing them helps us see life and ourselves with greater perspective and understanding. We gain mindful awareness and see more options available to us throughout our lives. We also feel more ALIVE and live with greater inspiration and sense of purpose.
Contrary to common misconception, tarot is NOT for “fortune telling”.
I feel it’s silly – and even dangerous – to try using a deck of cards to predict the future. On the other hand, tarot allows us to get truly present and connect to the HERE and NOW. Presence reveals the intuitive wisdom that resides within our core. From this higher vibrational state that is infused with love, we’re empowered to create the future we really want.
We can all become intuitive with practice. The more we learn how to use tarot, the more comfortable we become, and the more intuitive we become. As we do, we gain greater access to the sacred gifts within us. In this way tarot becomes a tool for spiritual awakening.
GETTING STARTED WITH TAROT
“The beginning is the most important part of the work.” – Plato
If you’re feeling called to tarot, what’s next? I remember being exactly where you are, curious and inspired to learn, yet confused about how to start. There are so many resources out there that it can get overwhelming.
The following checklist is meant to simplify things. It offers very basic, step-by-step instructions to help get you started learning and practicing tarot for intuitive self-discovery.
May your journey be guided by the light you possess within yourself!
1. Commit to Your Journey
Feeling drawn to tarot is your intuition telling you there’s something valuable for you to discover. Listen to your intuition; follow your heart!
You’ll learn tarot more quickly and easily if you make a commitment to the process. Anytime we learn something new – especially a new intuitive method – it might feel a little awkward at first. The more rational part of your mind will creep in and try to talk you out of this strange new undertaking. It will try to convince you this is silly or that you’re no good at it.
Remember that you can learn tarot because you are naturally intuitive. We all are, most of us just don’t know it.
So make a personal commitment to your tarot journey for at least a few months. Embrace the process of learning because as you learn tarot, you’ll discover YOURSELF.
And your commitment will help you get through the early challenges and resistance.
2. Get a Deck
If you’re new to tarot, this is an exciting purchase! There are countless decks in every style imaginable. Have fun browsing your local bookstore and choose one that intuitively feels right for you. Keep in mind there are other types of intuitive decks, like Oracle cards. These can be great too but are not tarot.
If you’re struggling with the decision, I recommend the following list of excellent decks suitable for a beginner. They’re likely to be available at a local retailer or are available online through Amazon.
3. Consecrate Your Deck
When used with mindful intention, a tarot deck is a very special item. It has the power to awaken you to the depths of your soul, and can literally change your life. A consecration is a blessing; it establishes a sacred relationship with your cards.
It’s appropriate to say some words of intention before using a deck for the first time. These words can take the form of a prayer if you wish. If you’re not sure what to say, consider your answers to the following questions:
- Why did I get a tarot deck?
- What do I want to gain from it?
- How do I intend to use the intuitive wisdom it reveals to me?
This simple act of consecration creates a special bond between you and your deck. Depending on your personal preference, you may choose to perform this as a simple ritual, using candles, incense, or other spiritual items.
4. Add Extras
The following items will enhance your tarot practice, if you wish.
Tarot Journal – I highly suggest keeping a tarot journal. The process of exploring your thoughts and feelings through writing greatly enhances your tarot work. Just be sure to keep your journal in a secure location.
Tarot Box or Bag – Keep your deck stored in a small box or bag for safe keeping.
Tarot Cloth – This creates a barrier between the sacred and mundane, and helps to keep your cards clean while working with them.
Other Items – Add any other items that you feel will enhance your tarot workings. Crystals, candles, and incense make good choices but are not required.
Small Chest – Store all your tarot-related supplies together where you do your tarot workings.
5. Develop a Personal Practice
Tarot is learned much more quickly and easily by developing a daily sacred practice. Just 15 minutes per day can make you much more mindful and aids you in personalizing the meanings of the cards. This is essential to learning.
Choose a time of day and place in your home for your tarot practice. Early in the morning and later in the evening tend to be good choices. As for a place, find somewhere in your home that feels cozy and free of distractions. Consider this your special place where sacred work will be done.
Intuition is like a muscle. For many of us, it’s weak because we do not exercise it regularly. But once we engage with that muscle on a regular basis, our intuition gets stronger, and we learn to hear that inner voice of truth within us more easily. Tarot then becomes more effective and more fun.
6. Start with One Card per Day
To use tarot effectively it’s important to learn to see how the cards apply to your daily life. When you’re new, this is done quite easily with a single card per day.
There’s no need to have a special question for the cards. Just choose one card randomly from the deck. Then relax and look closely at the card. Read the description in the booklet that came with your deck. Then consider the following:
How does this card provide guidance for me today?
Listen closely for your intuition to speak and write whatever comes to mind in your journal. Then keep your eyes open to the themes of that card throughout your day. Do this daily and tarot will come to life.
7. Don’t Fear “Scary” Cards
Yes, it’s true: some tarot cards look pretty scary! It can be intimidating when you pull cards like Death, The Tower, and the 10 of Swords. How do you overcome the fear of getting them?
There are a couple things to remember. First, despite appearances, there are no “good” or “bad” cards. By their nature, they’re all neutral, with positive and negative aspects. Please don’t judge a card based strictly on its appearance! There are gifts (and potential drawbacks) to all 78 cards in the deck.
Second, I strongly recommend not trying to use tarot for predicting the future. Instead, see the cards you receive in a reading as dynamics that are present in your life HERE and NOW. With this approach you’re more honest with yourself and are empowered to use your intuitive insights to improve your life.
Plus it takes all the fear out of getting those scary cards!
8. Start Using Spreads
Although choosing one card per day is an excellent way to learn tarot initially, you’ll soon feel ready to branch out. That’s when you start using tarot spreads. A spread is a layout of multiple cards. All cards in the spread can be understood as linked to one another, like aspects of the same story.
The 3-Card Spread is an excellent choice for daily use. It doesn’t take much time and provides plenty of opportunity for insight. You can pull three cards to address a specific situation in your life, or just to gain general intuitive advice.
Another popular choice is the Celtic Cross Spread. This 10-card layout helps you look thoroughly at any situation or your life in general. It’s a classic spread because it’s so versatile and loaded with information.
Feel free to visit the Spreads Page on this site to see these spreads and a selection of others.
9. Expand Your Knowledge
All tarot decks come with an instruction booklet. While some of these guidebooks are well-written and helpful, others are woefully brief and even confusing.
I suggest getting an additional book or two when you’re starting out. There are lots of really good options out there, with new ones coming out all the time. Browse your local bookstore or Amazon for one that you connect with. A personal favorite of mine – although it’s not flashy – is called the Tarot Dictionary and Compendium by Jana Riley.
Another way to expand your knowledge is to take an online course. This can be a more interactive and fun way to learn. Please click here to learn about the one I offer. I’m also happy to provide one-on-one mentoring if you want specialized, personal instruction.
10. Continue to Learn and Grow
Learning tarot is a wonderfully eye-opening and mind-expanding process. As you gain experience hearing and trusting your intuition, you’ll access more of the heart-based wisdom you possess deep inside of you. You’ll learn more about yourself and life than you ever thought possible, all by learning a deck of cards!
I remember my first year with tarot, I couldn’t believe how it felt to awaken to the inner gifts that had been inside me my whole life, hidden from view. As good as it felt, awakening does come with challenges too. It slowly liberates you from outworn beliefs and attitudes that no longer serve you, so please be prepared to go through changes and adjustments. Remain true to yourself and let love guide you forward.
The process of learning tarot never ends. It changes and evolves as you do, always revealing deeper truth like a mirror of the soul. It provides lifetime access to the gifts you possess within yourself.
The tarot awakenings easy keyword guide
You’re welcome to download this easy-to-use guide with basic meanings of each tarot card. It works well with most decks, especially those in the Rider Waite Smith tradition. Use it to supplement the instruction book that came with your deck.