Learn to Read Tarot 

5 Quick, Easy Tips for Learning to Read the Tarot

After I read for a client, many of them express to me that they want to learn how to read the tarot cards for themselves. The two most frequent questions I hear are, “How do you learn to read the tarot cards?” and “How long did it take you to learn to read tarot?

I have compiled my top five tips on learning to read the tarot. Other readers may have different opinions, but this is my blog, so I’m offering my opinion. I welcome the feedback of other readers in the comments.

Tip 1 – Purchase the Rider Waite Tarot Deck (this includes the Radiant Rider Waite or Universal Rider Waite). 

I believe that this is the ideal deck for anyone who is learning to read the tarot. My reasons for this are numerous. One, almost every book you read when learning the meanings of the cards will feature images from the Rider Waite. This makes it very simple to transfer the knowledge from the book to the cards you are working with. Two, almost all tarot decks available for sale are based on the imagery found in the Rider Waite. If you can learn to read with this deck, you can learn to read with nearly any deck you want to work with. Sometimes when I read with an art deck (like the Wild Unknown), I close my eyes and see the images from the Rider Waite to help me determine the meaning of a card. I am very glad this was the first deck I learned.

Here is a comparison between the Rider Waite and some other popular decks. Can you guess the meaning of the card? Do you see how the card on the right doesn’t convey quite the same meaning? The meaning is the same, but it is harder to intuitively pick up on it.

Tip 2 – Purchase books on the meaning of the tarot cards and read, read, read. 

There are a growing number of readers who identify as intuitive readers (meaning they use their intuition alone to determine the meaning of the tarot cards), but I think it is critical to learn the traditional meanings. This will enable you to work with more decks if you choose to expand your collection. It is relatively easy to read the Rider Waite intuitively, especially the minors. But when you work with more abstract decks like the Thoth or the Wild Unknown, it is great to have an index of symbols and meanings associated with each card.

I also suggest you seek out information from the best and brightest in the field of tarot. My personal favorites include Benebell Wen, Marcus Katz, Rachel Pollack, Mary Greer, Eden Grey, and Joan Bunning. Here are a list of some of my favorite tarot books.

Holistic Tarot by Benebell Wen (I just got this, but I know it’s going to be one of my favorites. It’s thicker than the Bible.)

Llewelyn’s Complete Book of Tarot by Anthony Louis

78 Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack

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Tip 3 – Commit to drawing at least one card daily.

Each and every day, draw a card in the morning. Write it down in a journal along with the date. Write down everything you know about the card. As the day progresses, be sure to pay attention to how the energy of that card plays out in your life. At the end of the day, write down any notes from what you observed. Then, look up the meaning in one of your books and jot down any meanings or symbols you may have missed. The best way to truly learn the meaning of a card is to experience it on your own. Journaling is an excellent way to record your personal experiences with each card in the deck.

Tip 4 – Study!

You aren’t going to learn tarot without commitment to studying regularly. When I was learning I didn’t go a day without reading, listening, or talking about the tarot. Podcasts, audiobooks, regular books, blogs… Consume them all.

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BE LIKE THIS GUY
Personally, I would recommend tackling the meaning of the cards in the following order.

The Major Arcana (you must understand the Fool’s Journey)

The Wands

The Cups

The Swords

The Pentacles

The Court Cards

For some reason, court cards were the most challenging for me to master. I suppose that is why I saved them for last. You may wish to tackle them first. The choice is yours.

I also recommend sticking to the upright meaning of each card at first. Reversals can be very confusing for a beginning reader.

Tip 5 – Join the tarot community.

The tarot community is alive and thriving. Where I live, I am lucky to have an entire “fortune-telling family” that supports and encourages each other. If you live in the Tallahassee area, there is a fantastic FREE tarot class held every Sunday by one of Tallahassee’s best and most experienced readers, Leah. Please contact me for details. These are the people you need in your life!

Sadly, this isn’t a possibility for many people throughout the world. Fear not, because as long as you have Facebook, you are among friends. Reach out and join some tarot groups. Here are the Facebook groups I couldn’t live without.

  • Tarot Tarot Tarot (this is definitely aimed at beginners, and provides new tarot readers a place to exchange readings and get feedback in a public forum)
  • Tarot Professionals (over 24,000 members and counting!)
  • Tarot Rebels (just don’t post pictures from Rider Waite here – this is for other decks only)
  • Tarot Nerds

If I follow these tips, how long until I’m proficient with tarot?

I would say that with six months to a year of devoted daily practice and study you can learn to read for yourself, as well as friends and family, rather fluently.

*SOAPBOX ALERT*

Under no circumstances do I feel it is ethical to charge for readings until you have completed at least 50 free readings for your friends, family, and strangers. Once you are comfortable with several spreads and can ascertain the meaning of the cards without using a guidebook, you may be ready to charge for a reading. You may decide never to charge for a reading. Whatever floats your boat!

 Also, I don’t believe there comes a point in the life of any tarot reader when you are finished learning the tarot.

The truth is, professional tarot readers never tire of discussing and learning about the tarot. As a tarot tribe we all learn from each other. The more we work with others who share our passion, the better we get at our craft. The task of learning about tarot is never done.

Have fun on your journey!

XO Bethany

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A Space for Tarot 

Sacred Space

All tarot readers need a place that enables them to pause their daily lives when reading and reflecting on the tarot. As my tarot journey evolved, so has my sacred space for this purpose.

I began in my bed, as this is one of the only places a mom of two girls can find peace and quiet. However, it soon became clear that this area would not suffice. It simply did not provide the kind of respite and sanctuary required for me to truly disconnect. Because there wasn’t a separate space, the lines between work and rest and study and play became blurred very quickly.

I now have two spaces within my home that I use solely for readings and meditation. The first is an altar in my bedroom. This consists of little more than a small wooden table and a meditation pad. Facing east, this cozy nook provides the perfect place to pause, meditate, and do my daily reading each morning. This is also where I sometimes conduct remote or online readings for my clients.

tarot-reading-altar

The other area where I conduct readings is outside at a private table on my covered porch. This area is particularly loved, as it comfortably seats two people. The fact that I live in the woods and am surrounded by nature adds to the aesthetics and charm of this sacred space. When I sit at the table alone or with a client, it reminds me that I have stepped into a different zone and a different frame of mind. In the past, I would shuffle the cards and fan them out on my bed or at the kitchen table. However, I have come to see that using the table outside lends itself to a better reading. I also find that it makes my clients more comfortable.

beautiful-office-with-light-and-spread

Regardless of the area I use, I have an established routine I use to cleanse the area and prepare myself to work with the tarot. First, I use a variety of crystals. I use several different kinds to ground myself, including black tourmaline and smoky quartz. These settle me down and remove any negative energy. Once this has been done, I use a variety of other crystals to amplify psychic energy and strengthen my intentions to work with spirit, including quartz, blue kyanite, and amethyst.

sacred-space

I then smudge the area with sage and light a candle. Frankincense oil is always used, as it promotes feelings of peace, relaxation, and satisfaction. I apply it to my pulse points and close my eyes, calming my mind. I then conduct a short meditation, and select the deck that I feel is best for the reading. I only begin a reading after I am thoroughly prepared.

If you don’t have an extra room or space for a table, finding a place to work with the cards may seem difficult. You can make do in any space if you have a few key objects to help transform your daily space into a sacred space. First, an altar cloth or special piece of fabric is essential. This protects your cards from stickiness and/or spills that may be lurking on the surface of your table. I also suggest having a candle and a particular oil or incense that relaxes you and helps your mind shift from its regular pace to one that is more relaxed and open. Finally, a small statue or icon that you can fix your eyes on while you meditate is also helpful. My first statue was a small statue of the Buddha that I acquired from World Market.

Working with the tarot is a huge commitment and it takes up a lot of time, and it’s important to have established boundaries within your home to help keep it from bleeding into personal time with your family and friends. Because I have separate spaces to work with the tarot, I can step out of my daily life and into my sacred space in a way that honors my personal life. When I’m in my sacred space, I do not answer my phone or think about what I am doing at work that day. When I leave my sacred space, the only thing I take with me is the peace from my meditation and the insight I received from the cards.

Do you have a sacred space for tarot? Tell me about it in the comments.

First Time for Everything 

Firsts

My name is Bethany, and I began my journey with tarot many years ago.

I received my first tarot card reading when I was seventeen years old and at a tremendous crossroads in my young adult life. Confused and frightened, I turned to my friend’s mother that had years of experience reading tarot cards. I watched, fascinated, as she unfolded a beautiful piece of crimson silk and took from it her trusted tarot deck. She laid the cards out in a cross and studied them with her piercing blue eyes.

A moment passed and she began to speak. I sat, stunned, as everything she said aligned perfectly to my current situation. Tears came to my eyes as she spoke about the recent challenges I had experienced, but alas, the future was bright. My life was about to change in a very big way – and for the better, she said. She assured me that if I continued on my current path I would be glad I did. I left her house that days feeling relieved and at peace knowing that everything was going to be okay.

A month later I was married to my high school sweetheart, and eight months later I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy little girl. In April my husband and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary. After that first reading, I was given my first Rider Waite tarot deck by a friend. I have been a student of the tarot ever since.

Years later, as a professional reader, I now sit beside clients with the same frightened expression I wore many years ago. It is my turn to comfort them when they cry, or to congratulate them when life promises the fresh new start they are seeking.

There is no greater honor than to assist people spiritually by providing divine guidance when they need it most.

If you are in need of such guidance, please reach out.