What is the best way to start learning Tarot?
There are many ways to learn to read tarot cards, probably as many different ways as there are different people. I don’t know if there is a best way. I’m going to tell you the way that worked for me.
First, let me tell you about my learning style. I like to dive right in to new subjects, immerse myself if you will. And, I like to know all the facts. All of them. I get lost in learning.
When I was learning Spanish, I couldn’t travel to a Spanish country, but I had Spanish in my life all day:
- Post-it notes on objects around my home with their Spanish names on them,
- Spanish podcasts playing while I cooked,
- my Netflix was set to Spanish as the default language. And of course,
- studied with books and
- met with other learners to get a good foundation in Spanish.
You might notice that I didn’t mention anything about having a Spanish teacher. That’s because I didn’t.
What I did do, however was spend time making connections, finding patterns, internalizing the information, making mistakes, and having a-ha moments. In a matter of months I was able to express myself in Spanish, and today I’m fluent.
This is very similar to the way that I learned the Tarot. Turns out, learning Tarot is a lot like learning a language!
How I began learning Tarot.
When I began learning Tarot, I
- watched lots of tarot videos,
- read tarot books,
- read tarot blogs,
- listened to tarot podcasts,
- joined online tarot communities
- and got readings from local Tarot readers.
- And of course I shuffled and threw cards and kept a tarot journal and did some readings for myself.
At first, my readings were very basic, which matched my experience and understanding of the cards. But over time, my readings went to the next level and then the next.
Tarot cards were becoming an extension of my intuition, or my intuition was becoming an extension of the cards, it’s easy to be unsure of how best to describe that. It’s rather chicken/egg.
The Fool’s Journey.
It’s easy to be a Fool, heading out for adventure. But the journey is not always easy. It’s good to get some help along the way, channeling your inner magician, high priestess, empress, emperor, hermit and hierophant.
Allow me to act as a hierophant and suggest an ‘order’ of things to study.
A suggested order of study.
These instructions can be followed for any tarot deck, and in fact it’s a good exercise to walk through these any time you are learning a new deck.
- Find the Fool card. This card represents you, in all of your green excitement, getting set to learn. Study the card, how does The Fool feel? How can you tell?
- Sort your cards. Make 5 piles of cards: 1 pile for each suit or element (swords, wands, pentacles and cups,) and 1 pile for the Major Arcana (cards with no suit or element.)
- Start with the suit cards. (Set aside the court cards for now: Page, Knight, Queen and King.) Take each suit and place the cards in order from Ace to Ten. Look at the progression of the story each of them tells. What overall aspect of life does each suit represent?
- Line all 4 suits up one above the other. Examine the numbers of each suit and see how the numbers have similar meaning across each suit.
- Learn the meaning of the first 10 Major Arcana (Magician through Wheel of Fortune.) Notice that this is the first time I’m suggesting you learn some facts. Find the relationships between these 10 Cards and the 10 numbered Pips of the suits. 1- Magician as it relates to Aces. 2 – High Priestess as she relates to the Twos, etc. At this point, you have a general sense of 50 of the 78 cards. 10 Major Arcana, plus 10 cards from each of the 4 suits.
- Place the first 10 Major Arcana in a row. Below that in a row of it’s own, place Justice in the centre. And then make a row of 10 using cards 12 through 21. Familiarize yourself with the meanings of the remaining 11 Major Arcana (cards 11 through 21)
- Now rearrange the Major Arcana into 3 rows. Cards 1-7, 8-14 and 15-21. See how this order can represents 3 cycles of a life or journey. Some say this is a life – death – life cycle. The first row depicts a young, debutant, making it’s way with the help of many teachers. The second row might tell of the student using it’s newfound skill, in some effective and some less effective ways. And the last row tells of the true, and sometimes painful, maturation of the master.
- Last of all, we have the court cards. What is your gut feeling about what these cards could mean? The Court cards are the most debated cards of the tarot. There are many philosophies on what they may mean, or when they were added to the decks. They are very useful cards. I’ll tell you my theories on these cards in another post. There is no ‘right’ answer, so if you formulate or resonate with a different way of understanding these cards, that’s great!
- That’s enough learning. Deal yourself a couple of cards and let them have a conversation!
You don’t have to do all of these things in one day, in fact it would probably be ridiculous to try. But, this will give you a good start.
Are you just starting out with Tarot cards? What is sparking your excitement about learning Tarot?