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Answers to Your Questions about Tarot

Today’s questions comes from Jean-Phylipe, a new tarot student working with Tarot de Marseille, and definitely on a spiritual journey. His questions are:

1. Learning tarot is somewhat lengthy. I can’t seem to read the tarot if I don’t have the book with me. Do you have any tips on how to be able to use tarot, or learn it in a way that is simple and straightforward. I read for some friends and family, and pulling out the booklet seems to lose the tarot’s credibility for them.

2. While I love tarot, I’ve opened up to many different divinations. I was wondering if you use other tools during a tarot reading?  This is something I would love to do, since a book I translated is called Chinese Fortune Sticks, and I feel like I could adopt this as a second tool to enhance the reading. Is this something that is common with practitioners, or do most stick to one tool?

These are great questions. That you are asking these questions tells me you are really on a great path as a student of tarot and spirituality.

Yes, tarot is tough to learn. Heck, if it were easy, everyone would do it. Some may argue that your chosen deck, Tarot de Marseille, is harder to learn than a more fully illustrated deck would be.

I have four suggestions to help tarot students memorize the cards. The last suggestion is perhaps the most important, and addresses you comment about referring to the book during a reading.

Arguably, the hardest cards to memorize are the forty pip cards; the Minor Arcana.  Here is a hint to help with them.

First, think about numerology and the Four Elements. What does each number represent? What do each of the Four Elements represent? Then you can put it together. So, for example, if one, or Ace, is a new beginning, and Pentacles, or Earth, is about material matters, perhaps the Ace of Pentacles would be a new job or new money. If Cups, or Water, is about emotional matters, then the Ace of Cups might be about a new emotion, or a new relationship.

The second suggestion is to assign key words to each card, and create flash cards with the name of the card on one side, and the key words you’ve assigned to the card on the other. Memorizing key words to associate in your mind with a name of a card as well as a picture can be extremely helpful if you ever switch decks, or are caught without a deck and want to do a reading.

The third suggestion is to look at each image and associate the key words with the image by making specific connections. This is easier in a deck with fully illustrated pips, of course, but no matter how a card is illustrated you can look at shapes, colors and arrangements to draw a correlation to your card meaning.

The forth and most important suggestion is to do exactly what you have been doing, and refer to the book, or many books, or even “Google” the card on your smartphone.

If you are reading professionally, referring to the book is tacky. If you are a student, referring to the book is appropriate. But, how do you do this without, as you said, losing credibility?

The key to interpretive divination is interpretation. Each card has a variety of appropriate meanings. Cards are often placed in specific positions in spreads, or drawn to answer specific questions.

The books will only give you a jumping-off place. It is your job to take the possible card meanings, the position meanings, the context of the question, the trends within the cards as they appear in the spread and your own intuition to create an actual interpretation. Whether you get the card meanings portion of the interpretation from your memory, from a book or from several books doesn’t matter. What matters is how you take the book meanings and create a specific interpretation in the reading.

There are some methods of divination, such as I Ching, that always refer to a book. Still, the value of the divination is not just in reading the passage. The value is in discovering what enlightenment the passage brings when applied to the current question or situation.

By doing many practice readings where you refer to the written meanings and then perform the interpretation, you will learn the cards easily over time. You will remember the way the cards came up in previous readings, and learn how the cards speak to you.

To use the book in a reading without losing credibility, simply own it with confidence. Say, “The Five of Swords is in your past position, let’s see what the book says about the Five of Swords.”

Read the passage, and then allow your intuition and your understanding of the context to expand the written interpretation into an interpretation that really resonates.

Eventually, you will remember the cards and it will just be too much trouble to go to the book!

In answer to your second question, simply, yes! Most of us have other tools and other skills that we find ways to fit in to the structure of a reading. I sometimes like to incorporate some palmistry, pendulum, or maybe some oracle cards or even a second tarot deck!

It is fine to experiment, and allow intuition to lead you as you learn to integrate companion tools and skills into your tarot readings. Over time, the way you use companion tools and skills will help to define you unique tarot reading style.

Thanks for two great questions, enjoy the video, and blessings your tarot journey!

If you have a question about tarot, please send me an email

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