When I first started reading Tarot I was completely overwhelmed. There were so many decks, so many systems, so many spreads and card meanings and books and opinions and did I mention the number of decks there are? It took me a while to find my footing, and while I eventually found a practice that worked for me, I had wished that there was a solid Tarot “starter kit” to help me get my bearings and act as a simple but helpful guide to picking up the cards for the first time.
While there are several starting points out there for novice readers, below are a few that I wish I had known when I fist picked up a deck:
While there are literally THOUSANDS of decks out there, and while many are far superior in quality, card stock, and overall aesthetic, there’s a reason the Rider-Waite-Smith is a classic. With it’s beautifully illustrated cards chock-full of symbolism, the RWS is incidentally free of royalties. What does that mean for you? It means that almost every book, website, article, and other Tarot-related teaching tool will use those cards to discuss the suits, the elements, and the card meanings.
If you pick up books such as Holistic Tarot by Benebell Wen or 78 Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollock, or watch the videos of Kelly-Ann Maddox ,or read the articles of The Tarot Lady Theresa Reed, images of the classic RWS are plastered everywhere. With theses illustrations a consistent variable in the vast world of Tarot teachings, it’s helpful to have this common denominator when you’re working to understand the classic meanings as well as develop your own intuitive interpretations.
You don’t need to be married to the deck forever, but if you’re just starting out, the RWS is a surefire way to help ease you into what can feel like an overwhelming world of symbols, colors, and numbers. I recommend The Original Rider-Waite Tarot Pack. The colors are punchy without being too neon and the card stock is perfection, something you’ll want if you plan to start delving into the world of Tarot!
Learn the Basics First
The suits of the cards each correspond to an element with specific meaning, and each number in the Tarot signifies a specific point in a journey; understand and know those first basic tips, and you on you’re way to reading the Tarot.
Yes, the Tarot is a complex system with much more to it than numbers and suits. However, these two components are perfect jumping off points for beginners; they aren’t difficult to memorize, they lay a firm foundation for deeper meanings and interpretations, and with the universally known illustrations of the RWS, the simple combination of numbers and suits comes to life and helps add an additional layer to the drawings without you having to study for years and years.
While this may seem like an elementary way to start reading, it’s simple and effective and helps open the flood gates into a world rich in esoteric symbolism, intuitive messages, and endless possibilities.
Keep Spreads Simple
It’s common for newbies to tackle complex spreads like The Celtic Cross; it’s the most well-known and the one that comes up the most when Googling “Tarot spread.” While this 10-card layout is well-known and can can be extremely effective, with those new to Tarot the rule “less is more” is golden.
Instead of laying down ten, eleven, or twelve cards and attempting to remember the position and meaning of each card, try asking a simple, empowering question, shuffling the deck, and pulling just one card. It’s not as fancy looking as some of the more popular spreads, but that one card can give you just as much information and insight as some of the most complex spreads can.
Once you feel comfortable knowing how to interpret the one card and what kind of questions to ask it, try pulling two, then maybe three, and so on. Build a firm foundation of understanding and then move on from there; soon you’ll be able to tackle any spread you’d like.
Leaning Tarot takes dedication and a willingness to practice, read, interpret, and practice some more, but these three simple tricks and tips will hopefully get you started. If you’re looking for something a little more in-depth, I’m offering a two-hour crash-course workshop on the Tarot via Google Hangouts, Saturday 3/26. Open to all levels, this workshop is geared toward beginners who want to start their own Tarot practice but are having a hard time finding a solid jumping off point.
Until next time!