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

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.

Coming Out of the Broom Closet 

This is me.

At 36 years of age, I just began to live an authentic life. I am no longer afraid to risk rejection, humiliation, or scorn. I am not easily embarrassed. I do not fear what people think of me.

For the first 35 years of my life, I existed in two worlds simultaneously. The contrast was so glaring that I feared I would never be able to bring the two parts together and still be loved by my family or respected by my peers.

Part One: I am what mainstream society expects of me.

 I excel in school and begin taking college classes at 16. I marry and have my first child at 18, and finish college with my Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education at 21. I begin working at an exhibit company that focused on environmental and cultural sites of interest throughout the world. With the birth of my second child I begin teaching students with disabilities at an elementary school to be closer to my children. Six years later I take a position with the Florida Department of Education where I support students on a statewide level. I earn a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership, and advance to the University of South Florida where I expand my skills to include web development. I provide for my family, pay my bills, vote, serve as a member of my homeowner’s association, and try to be an upstanding citizen.

Part Two: I am rejected by mainstream society.

I am a mystic. I read constantly and my library includes books on psychic development, philosophy, astrology, Buddhism, and tarot. I am drawn to religion and spirituality but have lost faith in organized religion. I accept Jesus as a profound teacher and role model but do not believe he is the only messenger of God. I sit in nature for extended periods of time trying to connect to the earth and my spirit guides. I believe in spirit guides. I read tarot cards and I believe that they provide insight and guidance into our daily lives. I surround myself with crystals that I believe contain positive energy and vibrations. I bathe in salt and essential oils when I feel down to cleanse my aura. I believe some people have gifts that allow them to see auras, communicate with spirits, and see the future. I track the phases of the moon and align my intentions accordingly, and will complete certain rituals that I believe manifest my desires. Some would call me a witch, but I don’t really believe in the Devil.

Fear

For many years I kept the two parts of myself separate and few knew the whole truth of who I was. Only my closest friends knew the “real” me. I was afraid and ashamed to reveal my interests and beliefs for fear of people thinking I was crazy or just plain stupid. How could an intellectual believe this crap? I feared that this side of myself would open me up to public scorn or potentially hurt my chances of getting a job in the future.

Mostly, I was afraid of hurting my dear grandmother that I loved deeply. She was the best grandmother that anyone could ever wish for. She was deeply afraid of anything “new age” or “spiritual” as she believed it was from the Devil. She was in her eighties and I didn’t want to do anything that would stress her already fragile heart. A couple of our family members were struggling with addiction to narcotics, stealing and lying to support their habits, and she was deeply hurt and stressed out about this. I would never have forgiven myself for causing her any more stress or risking her health further.

Breakdown

Beginning in February of this year, most of my readings began featuring the Three of Swords in the future position. This card represents deep sorrow, grief, and heartbreak. Naturally, this scared the shit out of me. What it could mean? Would my husband betray me? Was someone going to be hurt? What awful thing lurked around the corner? As a result, I loved deeper, I hugged longer, and I made sure to tell everyone how much I cared about him or her every time we were together.

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Three of Swords, Wild Unknown Tarot deck (Kim Krans)
The Three of Swords came to fruition on May 12th, 2016, and it is a day I will never forget. My beloved grandmother had been in a rehab facility due to an ankle injury for which she required physical therapy. I was going to see her as often as I could, rubbing lavender oil on her bruises and bringing her food that I knew she enjoyed. That afternoon, my mother had visited her after work and found that she was quite ill. She didn’t look right, and she was so weak she couldn’t lift her arms. The staff had not noticed this, but my mother was alarmed and insisted a doctor check her out. The physician was called and he agreed it would be prudent to have her taken to the hospital. My mom was scared, so I decided to join my mother and grandmother just to make sure everything was okay. My grandmother was loaded into an ambulance, and mom and I followed her to the hospital.

Upon arriving at the hospital it became apparent that everything was not okay. The moment we arrived at the Emergency Room, a team of people rushed in. It was determined that her pacemaker had stopped working and her heart was failing. We were immediately barraged with questions about her DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) orders. We were told it was serious and she could die very soon. We had to make frantic calls to try to determine her wishes. After several insane, tear-filled hours, the doctors were able to get her pacemaker working again. It turns out that the rehab facility she was in was not making sure she drank fluids or taking her to the bathroom regularly, and her kidneys failed. It caused her blood levels to become toxic and force her heart out of rhythm. When she was stabilized that night, I told her that her sister and my sister were so worried that they were on their way to see her. She laughed and said, “Well, I ain’t dead yet!” Those were the last words she ever said to me, and it was the last time I saw her smile.

After a moment of hope that she would recover, I awoke the next morning to find out she had slipped into a coma. Various life-saving procedures were tried to revive her, but within the day she was gone. It was May 13, 2016. Friday the 13th.

Even now, months later, I feel a vast emptiness inside as I remember that she is dead. She is not at home in her recliner sitting with my grandpa. I can’t call her and tell about my day. Tears flood down my cheeks as I remember that last moment we had together, and I hope wherever she is that she feels my love for her from beyond the veil.

In my experience, the death of a loved one creates a vacuum in your life that I do not believe will ever be filled. It is such a void that when I allow myself, it swallows me whole and I swim in an ocean of grief and tears. It is a physical sensation of heaviness and emptiness simultaneously that I feel in my chest whenever my mind wanders and I think of her.

I recount this story of loss and grief for two reasons, I suppose. The first is that this is the first time I have written about it, and it is therapeutic to do so. The second is to return to where this story begins, and explain how it took the passing of my grandmother to bring the two sides of me together.

Integration

With my grandmother’s death, I no longer felt I had to conceal who I was. I would have hid it forever if I could have kept her in my life, but that was not possible. For the first time, I was free to be me and to integrate the two parts of myself without shame. I no longer feared what people would think of me if they knew what I did behind closed doors. Fearfully at first, I began to share my metaphysical interests with my family and my close professional colleagues. I then publicly shared information on my website and blog on my personal Facebook page. There was no more “hiding in the broom closet.” This is who I am – take it or leave it.

Death serves as a reminder that life is fleeting. With luck, we might have 100 years to experience all this existence has to offer. No one knows what comes next – NO ONE – and anyone who tells you with certainty that they do is full of shit.

We are not here just to get an education, work, fall in love, raise children, and accrue possessions. In fact many of these things distract us from our true purpose. We are here to be our authentic selves and live the life to which we are destined. We are here to help others and be our best selves. There is so much love and beauty to experience and share with others.

Forget what you think you know about life. In fact, don’t think at all. As Eckhart Tolle says, “You are not your mind.” For five minutes, don’t think. Just be you, in the moment, and be still and silent. Pretend your mind is a puppy and when it begins to think about the laundry, tell it to sit.

Be in the present. The only thing we truly have and are guaranteed is this present moment. Try to live in it and be as authentic as you can be. Every moment that passes is a moment lost. When we come out with confidence and lose the fear of judgment, we inspire others to do the same.

As soon as you are able – and it might not be now (you have your own reasons for holding back) – I encourage you to live without fear and be who you are. People might just surprise you.

*I am so thankful for my mother, for her unconditional love. Though I am not at all the person she would like for me to be, she loves me anyway and never makes me doubt it. I am so blessed to have her in my life.*

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Prep Work 

Preparing for a Tarot Reading

I am an intuitive reader who prides herself on honest and open readings, and I consider it an honor and privilege to connect with spirit and help people. I am committed to an ethical spiritual practice and ensuring that my clients are satisfied with their readings.

Tarot readings are a tool for providing you with divine guidance in life. I take my responsibility as a tarot reader very seriously. If I cannot establish a connection with you and spirit, I will end the reading and refund your money. Most of the time, however, spirit shows up and information will begin to flow.

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My office, encapsulated by the Florida sun.
A reading can greatly benefit people who are open and empowered to take control of their lives. I believe the future is predictable, but not predetermined. We have the power to change the future and that power lies in our day-to-day actions. In a tarot reading, we will analyze where you are. We can then look at your future and give you an idea of what you can expect if you stay on your current path. If you do not like what the cards predict, we can discuss strategies to change your outcome.

It’s easy to get a reading from me – even if you are across an ocean. Spirit doesn’t require that we be in the same place at the same time. I am able to connect energetically with only your name, though I find a photo and birthday to be very helpful in establishing a connection.

If you are on the fence, please check out testimonials from my clients. If you have questions you can always contact me here (it may take up to 24 hours for me to respond).

Visit my Book a Reading page and locate the kind of reading you want. Payment will be sent through PayPal. I will contact you within 24-48 hours to confirm that I have received your payment and verify the details of the reading you wish to receive.

Once you have ordered a reading please send me your name and date of birth. I also need you to send me your question and the method through which you wish to receive your reading. You may send any additional information or other necessary details about your situation if you wish. I find a photo can be helpful in connecting with a long-distance client, and the birthday allows me to delve more fully into astrology which complements the tarot.

Here are tips to prepare for a phone, Skype, or Facebook Messenger reading:

  • I will call/contact you at our scheduled time. If you do not answer or respond, your payment will be forteited.
  • Make sure you are in a quiet space and will not be interrupted.
  • Prepare your questions in advance.
  • Refrain from asking the same question again and again – this will never produce a good reading.
  • The future is not predetermined! If you do not like something that comes up in a reading, know that you always have free will and can alter your life any way that you wish.
  • Timing is the hardest thing to predict. A tarot reading can only give a general outlook on timing.

 Here are tips for an email reading:

  • Make your question as specific as possible.
  • If you have requested a general reading, you may respond with three follow up questions. Once completed, your reading is done. If you want to continue to go deep on a question, it may be best for you to seek a phone reading instead.
  • You may ask between 1 – 3 follow up questions within several days of the reading and I will gladly respond.
  • Do not try to wrap more than one question into one. It may confuse the energy of the reading.  One thing at a time is always best and leads to a more focused answer.
  • Timing is the hardest thing to predict. A tarot reading can only give a general outlook on timing.

Final Notes:

  • Please refer to my ethics and business policies here. I will not perform readings on medical, health, pregnancy, or any other issues for which I am not qualified.
  • I do not “tarot stalk,” meaning I will not read to pry into someone else’s life except for how it may intersect with your own.
  • Once I receive payment and your information, all readings are usually completed within 24-48 hours. If you book a reading over the weekend or during holidays it may take longer but I will be in communication immediately as to timeline.
  • I reserve the right to refuse to read for any client and will refund any money paid.
  • I will not read for anyone under 18.

 

 

 

A Peek into the Psychic Capital of the World

The Importance of Ethics in the Psychic Realm: A Story from Cassadaga

Earlier this year I visited the mecca of the psychic world: Cassadaga, Florida. This quaint, sleepy town is the hub of the modern spiritualist movement. It has been termed, “the psychic capital of the world,” with more psychics and mediums per capita than anywhere else across the globe.

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A myriad of psychics located directly across the street from the Cassadaga Hotel.
How did this come to be? Were individuals with psychic abilities drawn to this region of Florida like a moth to a flame? I’m afraid it isn’t that interesting, but still notable.

In the early 20th century a group of people within the budding spiritualist movement left their home in upstate New York following their leader, George Colby. As a young man, Colby was told during a séance that he would someday be instrumental in founding a spiritualist community in the south. In 1875, that prophecy was fulfilled when he was led through the wilderness of Florida to an area surrounded with hills by a spirit guide named “Seneca.” There he established the Cassadaga Spiritualist camp, fondly named after the city of Cassadaga, New York, that he and the others had left behind.

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A photo beside Spirit Pond (which is said to have cured Colby of tuberculosis)
The first night there my husband and I enjoyed dinner at the historic (and haunted) Cassadaga Hotel, which hosts séances twice a month with one of their seasoned mediums. We did not attend the séance, though I did have a session with esteemed medium Rev. Judy Cooper while I was visiting. One night, 15-minute tarot “mini-readings” were being offered during dinner, and I encouraged my husband to get one.

It was disappointing to say the least. The reader was insistent that my husband, if not currently in the medical field, would work in the medical field soon. When he explained that he actually manages a very successful pest control office, she was insistent that he would go back to school and become a doctor.

Now I don’t claim to know the future, but this really missed the mark for us. The odds that my husband will quit his job, go to college for the next 8 years, and become a doctor are about as likely as winning the lottery. Nonetheless, he shelled out $20 for the reading and returned to dinner with me disappointed with the experience.

Later that night during our coming and going from the restaurant, we overheard the conversation of several readers in the lobby, one of which was my husband’s. They were discussing business as readers and we distinctly heard his reader say, “You have to fake it before you make it, right?!

When it comes to psychics and mediums, there are quite a few phonies out there who spoil it for the rest of us. These individuals bring shame upon us lightworkers who honor spirit and only operate from the highest good.

I have spent most of my life as a public servant and a teacher, and I am committed to working with the tarot with only the highest ethical standards. I will tell you what I see in the cards, honestly and clearly. If we do not connect during a reading and I cannot be certain of the message, I will not take your money.

Please take a moment to review my ethical principles and business policies that govern my work at Namaste Tarot Readings and let me your thoughts below.

Read here: http://www.namastetarotreadings.com/ethics-and-business-policies.html

Card #13

Make Friends with Death

 

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How many times has a tarot card reader had to explain the Death card to a frightened querent?

Don’t worry! The Death card doesn’t mean death – it means change and transformation.” No doubt more than one of us has received a skeptical look as we try to assuage the fears of our client upon seeing this ominous card.

This is a much easier explanation if your deck featured a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis on the Death card, as I imagine some deck out there does (surely there is a butterfly-themed tarot deck out there). But in most decks, a skeletal being almost always represents Death. Also present is a sickle, reminiscent of the grim reaper. Traditional Rider Waite decks often portray this figure on horseback with dead and dying people left in its wake.

The Thoth deck is wrought with imagery and symbolism. In Crowley’s Death card, he portrays the figure busy at work with the sickle, slashing it back and forth, creating bubbles in its wake. A variety of figures in various stages of life are shown in the watery images. It also features a snake, a symbol of resurrection and reincarnation, and a scorpion that reminds us that this card is associated with the astrological sign Scorpio.

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The Death card is the sign that the butterfly needs to emerge from its chrysalis, and that it’s time for the snake to shed its skin. Like these creatures, we humans also metaphorically need to shed from time to time. On our path we must grow and change into the people we are meant to be.

We are fluid beings and every experience leaves us changed. And yet we all know of someone, perhaps ourselves even, who sometimes allows themselves to get stuck for too long. While some of us love change, others detest it.

I love change, and I applaud the Death card (hence the title). Recently the Death card worked its way through my life as I found the strength to work my way out of my own comfortable chrysalis. I spent much time hiding in the “broom closet” as most of my family members are devout Jehovah’s Witnesses. I was raised to believe that anything to do with the occult or spiritualism was simply communication with the Devil. I was terrified of what my family would think of me when they found out that not only was I not a practicing Jehovah’s Witness, but I was a practicing tarot reader and part-time Pagan!

Sadly, my last living grandmother passed away very suddenly this May. I never wanted to disappoint her, because she was so loving, gentle, and innocent. She was deeply afraid of the occult and I didn’t want to break her heart with my fascination with the topic. With her passing, I found the courage to be more transparent about who I am as a person. A new time had begun in my life and it, ironically, started with death.

The coming out was just the first part of my transformation, as this year has given me several personal challenges that are causing me to reconsider who I am as a person and how I want to live my life. At 36, I’m beginning to realize the importance of living for ourselves, and not to simply conform to what society expects of us.

Thank you, Death, for helping me to grow and change into the person I was born to become. I look forward to the next visit, dear friend.

Crashing and Burning 

Control is an Illusion: An Experience with the Tower

While you make decisions that help shape your life, you are not in control. Did you understand me clearly? You are NOT in control.

For some of us this can be hard to accept. And for some, it is just a fact of life. It really is a matter of our life experiences.

Childhood and Control

How we understand our power over the circumstances in our life stems from our childhood. Some people are raised in very unstable families where things are always changing. Perhaps they moved frequently, experienced the divorce of their parents, or they were abused. These individuals grow up in environments that remind them daily that they do not have control of their lives. Now, many people who grow up this way end up just fine. Others develop very controlling behaviors in their own lives to compensate for the lack of control they felt growing up. Others never gain control of their lives and move into adulthood with a sense of victimhood and powerlessness that never leaves them. It’s luck of the draw.

On the other end of the spectrum, some people grow up feeling very empowered and in control. These people have a solid family, make good grades, get the right degree, and land the right job. Perhaps they meet their soul mate and settle down, begin their family… They take all the right actions and believe that they are soundly in control of their life.

There enters the Tower.

the-tower

Sometimes, life has other plans for us. It comes in many forms, all equally terrible and upsetting, such as a cancer diagnosis, the loss of a job, a car accident, a school shooting, etc. You can never be prepared for the twists, turns, and tragedies of life that come up seemingly out of the blue. They will undoubtedly leave us in tears, shaken, frightened, and completely uneasy about life.

These events remind us that we are never 100% in control of our lives. There is always the element of fate and the wisps of karma intertwining their way through our daily lives. We must be prepared for them when they strike. This may mean putting aside money, drafting a will, being insured, and never leaving your loved one with a harsh word. You never know when it will be the last time you speak to someone.

The Tower reminds us to love harder, speak kindly, treasure the present, and be grateful for what we have. We need to thank the universe daily for what we have and the people we treasure because everything is fleeting.

And while the shock of the Tower leaves us shaken, we look forward to the next card in the major arcana, the Star, which promises us a new beginning and a renewed hope about life. We can always look forward to that moment when the world will seem hopeful again. And it will.

Blessed Samhain.