Tarotists are always learning tarot. There will never be a time when you know all you need or want to know about tarot. You will never say “Ok, I got it now, I don’t need to learn anything else.”
But the time between picking up your first deck and being able to do a competent reading can be frustrating.
Here are some ideas to make it easier.
- Unless you feel truly drawn to a Marseilles-style deck or an art deck, consider learning with a fully-illustrated deck that shows simple pictures of people doing things.
- If you are going to use a more complex deck make sure you have a comprehensive book that goes with that specific deck.
- Tarot is both interpretive and intuitive. If you use only one of those, rather than both, you are missing a lot of what tarot has to offer.
- Anxiety is the enemy of both interpretation and intuition. Develop a playful and inquisitive attitude rather than being anxious about what you will see in the cards or whether you will “get it right.”
- Keep a tarot journal. Record your readings and notes from study and classes. Spend time musing on the cards in your journal. Each day pick a card and write about it.
- Learn the Minor Arcana in terms of numbers and elements. If you learn what the numbers indicate and what the elements mean it is easy to put them together.
- Learn the Major Arcana as the Fool’s Journey. If you see an obvious progression of one card to the next the cards become easier to remember.
- Memorize key words to help you get a handle on each card.
- Don’t be confused that different books and different teachers have different interpretations for the cards. Look at the images, pay attention to what you see and feel. Choose to use the interpretations that makes sense to you.
- Know that each card can have many possible meanings. As you learn more your understanding of each card will be more complete. Even with a rudimentary understanding you will be able to find insight in the cards.
- Enjoy the spiritual journey of tarot. I had a student who learned the cards cold in six weeks. The rest of us generally take longer. Be patient with the process. Understand that in addition to having divinatory meanings and key words each card bears a spiritual lesson. As you study the cards you can learn their lessons. See your studies not only as preparing you to do readings but also as enhancing your own spiritual growth.
- Take advantage of classes, webinars and videos. Sometimes things make more sense in an audio-visual learning environment. There are so many opportunities to learn tarot on-line, through video and at in-person classes. You should have no problem finding what you need.
- Don’t plan on being a professional right away. Many tarotists never go pro but still have lives that are thoroughly enhanced by tarot. If you do want to read professionally take your time in getting there. The most successful professionals are often the ones who are most prepared.
- Have many teachers. Ultimately, you need to learn how the cards work for you. The more teachers you observe the more you will be able to discern the methods and ideas that resonate for you.
- Listen to your intuition. What do you see in a card’s image? How does it make you feel? What does it remind you of? What do you experience when you look at the card? These insights are just as valid as your key words and memorized interpretations.
- Practice with yourself, and with people you know. See how cards come up to describe situations of which you are already aware. Then you will begin to have an idea of how the cards speak to you.
- Don’t be superstitious. Tarot is very spiritual, and is uncanny in the way it works. But don’t get superstitious about your tarot deck. Yes, it is a pack of magickal tools. It is also simply seventy-eight pieces of cardboard.
- Beware of ego. Be careful when you start doing readings and your friends tell you how very right you are and how amazing it is. If you catch yourself saying “I can see the future” or I knew that” overly often, stop yourself. Yes, the cards give us amazing knowledge and insight. But don’t make it be about what you know and what you can do. Be part of the spiritual process and stay grounded.
- Don’t assume your interpretations will always be correct. The cards never lie, but humans can always get it wrong.
- Develop your own style. Each reader has a specific reading style. There is no one correct way to read tarot. Figure out the way you like to read, and go for it!
Whether tarot for you will be a professional path, a hobby, a tool for spiritual growth or all of the above, learning tarot can be fun, joyful and insightful. Like all things worthwhile it can also be hard work, but the rewards are immeasurable.