Tips on learning to read Tarot cards

You find yourself with a deck of Tarot cards, wondering where to start …
78 cards are looking back at you from the pile, waiting, watching …
How will you read them?

Which is the best way? What questions should you ask? How will you become a good reader? Will the cards take offence if you stumble on their meanings …?

The Tarot reader

This post includes a few tips for discovering ways you might enjoy and become more familiar with your Tarot cards.

I believe anyone can learn to read and enjoy Tarot cards.
You do not have to be a psychic to read Tarot cardsnor do you have to read every book under the sun before you grasp the meanings of the cards and learn to interpret them. There are many ways to read and interpret the Tarot; through practice you will discover what works best for you.

Relax

Take a deep breath – Tarot cards are fascinating, interesting, meaningful, wondrous & often beautiful to look at … they will never jump out of the pack to hurt you or scream at you. The more time you spend with your cards, the more the pictures and meanings will make sense to you. Above all: Enjoy getting to know your cards!

Look

The Tarot is a visual aid; to understand and get to know your cards better, look at each card, think about what you see, and then look again to see what else may be hiding in the picture. If you think about how learning to draw is largely about learning to see, it makes sense that learning to read a picture involves spending time looking at it :)

Lay the cards face up and arrange them into groups; major arcana cards in one group and each of the four minor arcana suits in their own group. Look at the characters, their faces, the detail, symbols, colours and mood in each card – think about how each card makes you feel.

With the cards ordered in groups you can see the patterns and symbols more clearly, you can also study how the cards relate to one another and connect as a whole. As you become more familiar with your cards, you will find that your own visual associations will play a big part in your readings.

Listen

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak”. – Epictetus

The art of listening is somewhat forgotten in today’s society, where people speak louder and louder in the race to be noticed. It is quite amazing how much you pick up when you take the time to stop and just listen …

Reading Tarot cards is a lot about listening to the cards and the person you are reading for. As you study the interpretative meanings of the cards, practice listening to the voices of the characters, which may mingle with your thoughts as you read …  If you don’t hear anything – don’t worry, just listen to the silence & your thoughts will follow :)

Try reading with a friend, where you can practice listening to the cards and your friend as you work through the reading together.

Questions to ask?
I find that questions based around What and How can be a good place to start… most answers dwell in your sub-conscious and will pop out if you are ready to hear them :)

The Tarot can be used to help clarify issues currently affecting you; it is not an oracle, and should therefore not be used to ask questions about things which you have no control over or should seek professional help for (life-span, medical issues, legal matters etc).
A few suggestions:

  • What is at the core of how I am feeling?
  • What do I need to pay attention to?
  • What am I afraid of or avoiding?
  • What is the underlying cause of this situation?
  • How can I make the most of this situation?
  • How can I deal with this issue?

Feel

Learn to trust your own intuition and thoughts. What springs to mind, often does so for a reason. If you feel something when reading for a friend, don’t be afraid to ask if your feeling resonates with their situation.

When reading your own cards, relax and let your thoughts and feelings flow; the more open-minded you are, the easier it is to see the cards as a pathway to the intuitive (or sub-conscious) mind.

Read

Many Tarot decks come with a little white booklet (LWB), with descriptive meanings of each card in the deck – this can be a great starting point as you get to know your cards. Once you have devoured the booklet, there is a world of information to be discovered on the Tarot in books and online resources.

While it may be tempting to dash out and get every book you can find on Tarot (especially if you are an avid reader), it may still be wise to limit your reading intake to one or a few resources at a time (to avoid becoming  overwhelmed by too much too soon) … Read, absorb and evaluate before broadening your scope. If you like writing, you may want to keep a journal for card-readings, quotes from books, your own ideas and more. Below are a few links to book lists and online resources:

Some people like to read a lot, others prefer to approach cards from a more visual/intuitive angle. By learning about your cards in a way that reflects the way you approach life, you are already leaping ahead on the road to intuitively becoming familiar with your cards and how to interpret them.

Summing up:

  • Start with a few simple 3 card readings
  • Focus on questions based around What & How 
  • Relax and enjoy getting to know your cards
  • Look at your cards & become familiar with the images
  • Learn to listen and trust your intuition
  • Read more to help you form your understanding of the Tarot