The tarot is by far the most popular and well known method of Divination. You draw cards and interpret the cards. All tarot decks come with books and there are hundreds of tarot books and websites that teach tarot.
There is even an organization- The American Tarot Association for tarot readers. It costs 25 a year and you get special courses, access to joining their free tarot network and they have a newsletter that comes out every few months.
Even with all this information available, there are some main rules that the books and sites don’t teach. Even though the cards do have meanings, they aren’t always set in stone. When you do a reading, the cards tell a story- and it’s up to you to determine what they’re saying. The cards have generic meanings, but when you really start reading, your intuition will tell you what the real meaning of the card is for your specific reading.
Since you’re reading this, I’m going to assume you’re new to tarot, or interested in learning. Here are the basics
How to pick your deck
Now, they say the first deck needs to be gifted, but not everyone has a friend or family member who will gift them their deck. If you’re interested in learning, don’t let the gift rule keep you from going and getting a deck.
It’s best to go to a shop that sells a lot of decks and handle each deck that stands out. Find the one that gives you the energy that connects best with yours.
If you keep shopping in a store, and one deck is always jumping out at you, there is a good chance that deck has chosen you personally.
How to Prepare Your Deck for Use
Now that you found the deck that wanted to go home with you, it’s still not the right time exactly to start using it.
You will hear lots of opinions about timing, but even if the moon isn’t full or new, it will work.
You can place the cards at first in a circle of salt or run a smudge stick around the cards in order to cleanse them first but the three day “rule” is what I follow with new decks.
Carry the deck with you for three days and sleep with the deck under your pillow for three nights. Keeping the cards on you for so long helps link your energy to their energy and purifying can help cleanse any negative energy they may hold.
When you finish binding your energy to the deck, take the cards out and study them on your own without the book.
When you’re ready to use them, you’ll notice all the different cards- they have knave/knight, queen, king, ace (or 1), numbers 2-10, then 0-XXI. They also have cups (or chalices), wands, pentacles and swords. What do they all mean?
The minor arcana cards are the ones numbered like playing cards. They have 4 categories, for lack of a better term. The minor arcana show the day to day life. They are the mundane things that happen to us daily.
Chalices or cups- these are intuition, thoughts and feelings
Swords- action or conflict
Wands- your passions and what motivates you to do what you do
Pentacles- finances, successes, material possessions
The people cards (knave/knight, queen, king) tend to sometimes even represent actual people in your life. They don’t always, but when they don’t they do show masculine and feminine energies.
These are the special cards labelled 0 (the fool)-XXI
They show major life changes and also give special insight that should be considered slightly more important than the minor arcana.
Major Arcana meanings
0- The fool
I The Magician
II The Priestess
III The Empress
IV The Emperor
V The Hierophant
VI The lovers
VII The Chariot
IX The Hermit
X Wheel of Fortune
XII The Hanged man
XV The Devil
XVI The Tower
XVII The Star
XVIII The Moon
XIX The Sun
XXI The World
Since the cards can hold such importance, I will have separate posts going into detail with each of the major arcana.
These are the basics for people wanting to learn to read. The best way to practice is to get the book out to familiarize yourself with your deck and read for your friends, family and self. Once you have done some readings, you’ll find that meanings are general but specific “meanings” are useless- the whole story is what matters in a tarot reading.