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
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.
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 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.
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!