From the outside, tarot might seem like it’s easy to learn: You get a deck of tarot cards, read along with the little white book, and away you go.
Or, you just feel your way through a reading, letting your intuition guide you.
Well, actually… there’s more to learning tarot than memorizing the card meanings you find in the little white book that comes with your tarot deck.
And while intuition can certainly influence a tarot reading, it’s not always so easy to figure out what our intuition is telling us, or how (or if) intuition even works. I’ve had many people come to my tarot workshops who admit they “don’t believe they are very intuitive” and are hoping tarot might help develop that part of themselves.
So don’t take it for granted that simply owning a tarot deck and flipping a few cards will somehow reveal an insight or answer that wasn’t available before.
If you want to read tarot…you have learn how to do that. It doesn’t just happen by magic.
But don’t be discouraged if you’re finding tarot to be complicated. There are so many books, courses, and blogs about tarot that it can be hard to absorb all of the information.
The kicker is that no matter how much you learn, there’s always something new: A new angle, or new interpretation to consider.
And sometimes that’s part of the struggle. There is such an emphasis on learning what the cards mean that other considerations get lost in the shuffle.
Here are some of my go-to tips that you don’t often find in the guidebooks:
1. Pay attention to detail.
Tarot card reading isn’t just about going off a feeling: Reading is actually part of the process. But instead of reading text, you’re reading images, details, and symbols that can help you gain insight into a situation.
Having attention to detail can be a helpful skill if you want to read tarot cards. But don’t limit yourself to only paying attention to what you see in the cards.
Be observant in your day-to-day life.
Do you tend to rush through emails, books, and news articles, and then end up missing important information? If so, push yourself to take your time to read things thoroughly.
I’m often surprised by how many people sign up for my classes and haven’t even read the class description or policies.
I’ve had people show up for astrology classes expecting to learn tarot – even though the workshop name and details said nothing about tarot.
I’ve had people register for in-person events, with the location clearly listed on the registration page, and then contact me later, confused because they thought the class was online.
And yet tarot requires that we become detail-oriented. So if you find yourself making these kinds of mistakes, make it a point to change that.
Study the policies and fine print when you’re shopping online or off.
Pay attention to what people around you are wearing. Take time to notice your surroundings wherever you go.
Anticipate possible outcomes for decisions you’re making. Stretch your awareness in all directions and take time to figure things out yourself. You can be “in practice” all the time, not just when you’re sitting down with your cards.
And if you are taking a tarot class, pay attention to the lessons. Turn off your phone, ignore your social media (Instagram will still be there later), and follow the instructions for any assignments. Show that you can be focused on what’s being presented.
2. Understand boundaries.
Tarot readings often teach us about the exchange of energy in our lives. We see messages about abundance and flow, and depletion and imbalance. These threads run through our personal and professional relationships, work, self-image, and more.
Tarot can help show us the areas where we are giving more than we’re getting, or vice versa. It can show us how to have better relationships, and how to correct any mismanaged situations we’re in.
Yet some aspiring (and sometimes established) tarot readers struggle to have awareness about the boundaries in their own lives, or the consequences of their actions on others.
So often I’ve had tarot students expect me to remain available for questions, feedback, and guidance long after a class has wrapped up.
Would you reach keep reaching out to a high school teachers or college professors after graduation for any follow-up questions you had? I don’t think so.
Yet no matter how clear I am about cut-off times for questions and homework assignments, there’s always someone who tries to get more of my time than I’ve committed to giving – sometimes months or years after they’ve studied with me.
I’ve also had total strangers contact me looking for free advice to set up their own tarot businesses, expecting me to drop everything to help them figure out their pricing, website, insurance, and more.
Don’t be that person. It can be really tiring to be on the receiving end of someone who is always asking for more – and you don’t want to be the one wearing everyone out.
Look at the consequences of your own actions, not just as a student of tarot, but as someone who is part of a greater community:
Do you ask a lot of other people?
Do you have trouble accepting when a relationship, contract, or agreement is over, and so try to get more from it past the expiration date?
Do you have an understanding of people’s time, energy, and limitations?
Do you respect someone when they tell you they don’t have time to help you?
Do you take time to figure things out for yourself, or do you expect others to swoop in and help you?
Do people ever tell you that you’ve crossed a boundary?
Do you need to be told you’ve crossed a line, or are you able to anticipate what someone’s boundaries may be?
Do you tend to push things to see what you can get out of a situation?
It’s not always easy to look at our own characters, but having awareness of other people’s boundaries – and expecting those boundaries to be there without having to be told – is as important as knowing where your lines are drawn.
3. Know what you believe in.
Do you believe we have souls? If so, what is a soul? Where does it come from, and what is its purpose here on Earth?
Do you believe in reincarnation? Angels? God? Goddess?
Do you believe in destiny, or free will?
Do you believe in psychic ability, or rational thought?
What is consciousness, and why do we have it?
These are just some questions to get you thinking about where your own beliefs sit. Tarot can be a spiritual practice, but it does not come with its own set of inherent beliefs.
As a tarot reader, it can be extremely valuable to be centered in your own beliefs, whatever they may be. This isn’t to say you have to go out and study every spiritual path there is, but it can help to know your perspectives – and it’s also important to admit that you don’t have all the answers. (None of us do.)
Especially if you decide you want to read tarot for others. To deliver a message about karma or ancestry, for example, isn’t very helpful to another person if you don’t have the framework to put it in a deeper context for them. So while tarot guidebooks may connect certain cards to karmic influences or other belief systems, those correspondences may not work for you if you’re not sure what they mean.
Know how to explain your beliefs if they are part of your reading style. Don’t just throw messages out there at random and then leave your sitter to puzzle through it themselves. If you want to act as a spiritual guide for others, then you will have to do the work to get there.
4. Be mature.
Maturity has nothing to do with age and everything to do with self-awareness.
Know where you’re at with tarot. If you just started learning, don’t rush out to pose as a professional just yet. Even if you’ve been studying tarot for a few years now and you know you’re still in the student phase, that’s okay – being up front and honest with yourself about your abilities is a sign of maturity.
And maturity will take you so much further than if you rush to reach the end here. Because with tarot, there is no true end point. But there are new plateaus you can get to if you practice.
And practice, dedication, and commitment can all be part of being mature, too. Knowing that you need to commit to learning tarot and being open to the knowledge and guidance available to you by mentors, teachers, and other experts is key.
Likewise, maturity also comes with some of the points we’ve discussed above, like boundaries. If you’re looking to others to wave a magic wand and turn you into a tarot reader, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
At the end of the day, you’re responsible for developing your skills and confidence as a tarot reader – and for knowing where you still need to put in the work.
5. Know yourself.
It all comes down to this, doesn’t it?
Know who you are and where you’re at.
Know your capacity to learn, and know any tendencies you have to rush or act impulsively.
For example, if you really want to learn tarot but you have a habit of jumping from one hobby to the next, then think about how you can handle that when the restlessness arises: Commit to the journey and be honest with yourself about the time it will take to learn tarot, and how much attention you can put into it every week.
Know, too, that learning anything requires discipline and dedication. Check in with yourself about your capacity with either trait. What can you give to the process? How long are you committed to the journey?
If you’re looking for a shortcut, tarot just might not be right for you – know yourself here, too, and ask:
Are you ready to take tarot seriously enough to learn it properly, no matter how long that may take?
Want to know tarot, read tarot, and live tarot? My new book, THE POWER OF TAROT, will help you develop the mindset you need to do all that and more. Get it here.
Until next time,