“I want to learn tarot. Where should I start?”
Tarot is big right now. Neptune is in Pisces and it’s waking a lot of people up. Many are turning to tools like tarot to activate their intuition and develop deeper connections with themselves and the world around them.
And what better time to learn tarot than now. There are more tarot decks to choose from than ever before. There are tons of well-respected books written by established and emerging tarot readers.
There are blogs, podcasts, and websites devoted to helping you learn tarot.
But where to start? It’s a question I’ve heard many times over.
Learning tarot can be overwhelming at first. There’s so much information to take in, and so many different sources, that you might not always be sure who to listen to or what’s most important.
When you’re new to tarot, it’s not unusual to feel frustrated, discouraged, and confused. Like anything, it is a learning process.
Here are five things that I recommend every new tarot reader should do.
1. Learn the history of tarot.
I can’t tell you how important this is. When we first get a tarot deck, it’s totally normal to want to flip through every card and start learning how to read them right away.
But where do they come from? What do their images represent? Why were they designed the way they were?
Learning the history of tarot was a game-changer for me in my journey. A lot of mythology has been built up around tarot over centuries, and it’s important to know the truth about its origins and its intentions. It will make your readings that much stronger when you understand how the cards evolved over time.
You don’t have to put off your tarot practice just to become a history buff, but at least get to know the story behind the tool you are working so hard to understand.
2. Learn the art of discernment.
One of the reasons that I so strongly recommend getting familiar with tarot’s history is because it gives you something factual to work from.
I know that sounds boring. We are here to work with something mystical and magical, right?
Knowledge helps you practice discernment, which you need on any spiritual path, including tarot.
It doesn’t just extend to tarot’s history, but to all kinds of techniques and information that is out there about the cards.
Tarot has no formal connection to astrology, numerology, Kabbalah, or other systems. It is a tool all on its own. There are practitioners who do combine these techniques together, but the key word is “technique.”
There are lots of ways to read tarot, but you have to decide whether they work for you. The cards alone are enough to give you deep, insightful messages without adding on other divinatory systems.
Question anyone who pushes rules and systems on your learnings as though they are tarot law.
3. Learn a classic tarot deck.
I have to start with this: I do believe that it’s important to choose a tarot deck that you feel called to work with. In my tarot classes, I find many students come in with the Wild Unknown.
But…I highly recommend learning to read the Rider-Waite-Smith, or a similar deck, like the Morgan-Greer, Universal, or (my go-to) the Sharman-Caselli.
Even if it means working from two decks at once, to compare and contrast, or to alternate in between.
Why? Tarot cards pre-date the Rider-Waite-Smith by hundreds of years, but this is the deck that popularized tarot and set the tone for many of the modern decks we see today.
It is also the deck that so many tarot resources have based their meanings off of.
So knowing the Rider-Waite-Smith, or something close to it, will really help you build a foundation for your practice.
Again: Go with what you’re called to work with, but don’t write off the classics. Their influence still holds strong.
4. Learn to wait.
Patience is such an important part of this process.
Tarot takes a long time to learn, like many things in life.
The cards might not speak to you right away, no matter how strongly you feel called to work with them.
The process might feel easy at first, but then, six months in, you hit a snag. Maybe you give a reading for a friend and it feels off. Discouragement sets in.
Congratulations. You’ve been humbled.
It will not be the last time, if you keep going (which you should). It happens to us all, again and again, even after years of experience.
There is always something new to learn with tarot. As soon as you think you’ve mastered it, it will peel back a whole other layer.
Stay committed, but don’t rush through it. Part of the journey is in learning how to wait.
5. Learn to look.
Tarot is a visual tool. There is so much emphasis on learning the meanings of the cards that it’s easy to forget sometimes that the answers are often in the images.
I’m not talking about decoding a secret language here. For me, there is no secret symbolism to decode in a card’s colours, or in the number of points on a court card’s crown, for example.
Simply allowing yourself to see the image, the action it’s taking, the energy it might suggest, and what kind of story it seems to be showing is enough.
Learn to trust in what you’re seeing. It’s equivalent to learning to trust in what you’re feeling. And isn’t that why we learn tarot in the first place?
If you want to learn more from me, you might enjoy my book, Going Beyond the Little White Book: A Contemporary Guide to Tarot. Buy it here.
Until next time,
Photo by Kristina Flour, via Unsplash