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So you’ve done it.  You’ve bought a deck of tarot cards, or maybe dusted off the ones in the attic.  You bought a tarot book, or borrowed one from the library.  You’ve started a tarot class at your local adult education program, New Age center or church.  Maybe you found a tarot webinar to attend online.

You attend your first tarot class.  At some point it dawns on you.  There is a lot here to learn!  Tarot is a complex body.  Seventy-eight cards represent a lot of work.

To make matters worse, everyone wants to tell you something different.  “Throw away the books!”  “Just say what you see in the cards!”  “Memorize everything!”

What’s a budding tarotist to do?

Too many throw their hands in the air, put their cards back in the attic, and retreat to a nice, safe angel oracle where nothing needs to be memorized, and there are no nuances.  But still tarot beckons.  Only tarot can offer time-honored archetypes, neat correspondences to metaphysical systems, reversals, trends, dignities and seventy eight secrets of the Universe.

So, for those who are starting down that Fool’s Path, or for those who are returning, here are some ideas to help you along the way.

First, choose a fully illustrated seventy eight card deck.  The most common deck for beginners is the Rider Waite Smith, or any deck inspired by it.  If you prefer though, there are the Crowley Harris Thoth images, or even more modern decks that pull from both traditions.  Once you’ve chosen your deck, get a book that corresponds with your specific deck.

The internet is a wealth of tarot information.  There are many websites designed to teach tarot, and many are free.  Take the time to explore, and find the ones that appeal to you.  There are tarot groups on every social networking site as well.

Don’t feel inhibited or intimidated by tarot experts.  A few of us are pompous fools.  Most of us are approachable and welcoming.

Don’t discount the ability tarot has to speak to you as soon as you encounter it.  Even knowing nothing about a card, you may receive astounding insight when you first look at it.  At the same time, if you let that be the only way you experience tarot, you are cheating yourself.  Therefore, do not discount the value of tarot study.

Don’t feel confused or frustrated by conflicting interpretations.  Every book and every reader will see the cards a bit differently.  Take what you like, and don’t worry about the rest.  Learning tarot is about figuring out what each card means to you.

People often ask me which tarot book is the best.  My answer is always the same.  The best tarot book for you will be your own tarot journal.  Dedicate a notebook to your tarot studies.  Include in it notes from classes, readings, key words, interpretations, and your own musings about the cards.

Pull a Card of the Day (COTD).  If you pull one card, at random, each day, and read about it, write about it, and meditate on it, two great things will happen.  One is you will receive powerful guidance and insight each day.  The other is you will learn the cards in no time!

Remember that tarot isn’t just about divination. Approach tarot the way you would any book of spiritual wisdom. Each tarot card offers a spiritual clue – a key to unlock the mysteries of the Universe.