You have your Tarot deck. Has it been sitting on the book shelf for aeons gathering dust? Is it a brand new, shiny, cellophane wrapped purchase that you’re breathless about owning, and the potential this tool may have for you?
Often the toughest part of learning a new skill is starting out. There’s so much to learn, a plethora of conflicting information, and it looks as if it’s going to take years.
The good news is, that with Tarot, you can get a feel for the cards and begin using them in a day. Folks who know me will sigh when I say –
THE ONLY WAY TO LEARN TO READ THE CARDS, IS TO READ THE CARDS…..
The bad news is, that as with anything, depth and ease comes with time and practice. You’ll find that there’s always something new to see in the cards.
So. Take your cards out of the box, and let’s get cracking!
There are 78 cards in a standard Tarot deck. Any less and it isn’t Tarot, any more, then it probably is, but you can put those extra cards to one side for now, and add them in when you find your Tarot mojo.
What to take note of in the Tarot cards: The images – what stands out? The colours, how the image makes you feel, what’s happening in the image. The suit/element – does the image relate to cups/water, wands/fire, coins/earth or swords/air? The number of the card or is it a Court card or a Major Arcana card
‘But what about the meanings of the cards?’
Meanings are funny little chaps. Imposed on cards by various people and organisations over the years. Useful when getting started (a peg for your coat), but a very real hindrance whe you learn to see the cards in a spread for what they are showing you rather than as a bunch of pieces of cardboard that might as well only have a key word or sentence printed on it.
So just to get you started, I’ve included a kind of formula – Image + suit + number = meaning. Remember, the ‘meaning’ changes when the card is looked at in relation to a question. Sometimes subtly, sometimes drastically.
The Minor Arcana or Pip Cards – The little secrets (but lets forget secrets – we’re talking the every day stuff here). The everyday situations/actions in our life that affect us and take us on a certain path.
The Suits (with the usual associated elements – older decks had no elements associated to suits)
Cups – Water – emotions, creativity, relationships, spirituality
Pentacles/coins/discs – Earth – money, possessions, health, home
Wands – Fire – ambitions, passions, career, spirituality, motivation, sex
Swords – Air – thoughts, logic, communication, mental, learning, your truth, words
The numbers start at ‘the essence’, the idea, the beginning. They work gradually through the process of something happening, being completed, and moving onto the next phase. You could think of it like this:
Ace – a lightbulb moment – I think I’d like to make a cake
Two – The decision – shall I do it today? Should I leave it until tomorrow? Do I Have all of the ingredients? Can I afford that one ingredient I don’t have? – I’M GOING TO MAKE THE CAKE
Three – the first stage is completed – I have all of my ingredients out on the bench and I’mready to get started
Four – the foundations are laid – I am making this cake – woohoo. I can either not go any further now, or I can go ahead. Either way – everything is ready to get started.
Five – cracking eggs to make an omelette – in order to make this cake, I need to make a bit of a mess – most of my ingredients are in the bowl, there is packaging all over the bench, and I’ve slopped a bit of milk on the floor. It feels quite chaotic, but I’m going to carry on regardless
Six – a little victory – my batter is made, I’ve cleared up the mess, the oven is at the correct temperature. I’m on my game here!
Seven – readjustment/finding the right thing amongst the mayhem – hmmm. Is my cake batter quite right? I think I may have forgotten the vanilla essence. I’ll have a rummage through my cupboard until I find it, and then add it to the cake
Eight – consistent effort – my batter is in the oven. I need to keep a check on it and mustn’t forget about it or it’s game over
Nine – the final stages – Oh yes, my cake is cooked and on the bench cooling. As soon as it’s cool, I’ll decorate it
Ten – completion of this stage, ready to move onto the next – I’m eating my cake and it’s delicious! I wonder what I’ll bake tomorrow…..
In time, you’ll come to your own conclusions on number. There are many, many systems of looking at numbers and what they mean. This is your springboard.
Court Cards – The personalities of the Tarot
The Court cards can signify people, more often though, they highlight areas of our personalities in a spread. Where we are competent, where we are fresh and ready to learn, where we may be being a wee bit too hasty or halting. Think of the court plus the element plus the image and put the picture together.
Pages – Pages are young. They’re fresh in a new journey. Sometimes a little naive, confused, unsure and tentative. Often idealistic and they sometimes bring a message (literally).
Knights – Knights are the adolescents and early 20s of the Tarot. Brash and speedy, sometimes rushing headlong into situations, and sometimes just gently exploring. They’re often questing – off to find something valuable to them. Knights still need some direction and they have a good deal of maturing still to do.
Queens – self assured, competent and happy to pass on their skills. Experienced in their area of life. Often the teachers and servers of the court.
Kings – have a deep command and mastery of their suit’s area of life. They direct, take charge and are proactive. Mature outlook.
The Major Arcana or Trumps – The big secrets (again, lets forget secrets – they aren’t secrets, they’re situations/lessons/parts of us all – we don’t need to be initiated). The situations/events/qualities that are in play or needed in order to move on in areas of our life. These tend to be life lessons, and if not learned this time around they will keep on popping up until we ‘get it’, learn and move on.
The Fool is the hero of the piece. The fool is the part of us that is willing to learn and move on and adventure and experience new things. The Fool in us is brave, and sometimes foolhardy – but the Fool is special because in every Major Arcana card, the Fool is the one learning the lesson of that card.
Below are a list of attributes of each trump card. It’s just to get you started. You will expand on these, and perhaps dump them completely in favour of your own take on the cards over time.
Some decks have different titles for the individual trump cards. As a general rule of thumb, refer to the number of the trump card, and it’ll have a simillar vibe to that of the same numbered card in this list.
0 The Fool – new beginnings, it’s the brave mouse gets the cheese
I The Magician – focus! You can do this, you have everything you need at your disposal.
II The High Priestess – Inner knowledge, intuition, look beyond the obvious
III The Empress – Create. From the germ of an idea, nurture and care all the way through to completion and the whole ‘thing’ being materialised. Patience.
IV – The Emperor – Clear sighted, organised strategist. Tough and direct in order to serve the greater good.
V – Hierophant/High Priest – a teacher of spiritual knowledge who can help the learner move onto the next spiritual level. Ritual, ceremonial, tradition.
VI – The Lovers – a choice with huge consequence. A deep romantic relationship (which is of course, a choice and a consequence of that choice).
VII – The Chariot – You’re in charge. Move forward, steer your path making adjustments move onto the next spiritual level. Ritual, ceremonial, tradition.
VIII – Strength (in some decks Justice) – true strength comes from within. Usually it is not force, but a gentle taming of your inner beasts. The same tactic is indicated in your wider life by this card.
IX – Hermit – Look within and light up your hidden corners. Examine what you find. Shine your light for others to see. You are valuable to them. Alone time.
X – The Wheel – Seasons, cycles, changes. An upturn in luck. The one saying true in every situation ‘and this too shall pass’.
XI – Justice (in some decks Strength) – A balanced view. Justice or mercy. Fairness (on self and others), truth. Consequences, legal affairs.
XII – The Hanged Man – A time of stillness – mindfulness A rite of passage. This time of non movement is likely to bring a new view on a situation, a revelation or a shift in ideals.
XIII – Death – The end of a phase. Sometimes it’s difficult to allow one door to shut to allow another to open. What approach will you take to change?
XIV – Temperance – Mixing, balancing, moderation. The cake analogy – a mix of the right ingredients in the right quantities can create something wonderful. Take the time to get the measurements right.
XV – The Devil – What are you tied to? What’s holding you back? Materialism? An unhappy relationship? Too much of a fondness for the finer things in life? An addiction? Perhaps it’s time to unfetter yourself
XVI – The Tower – an event or person that shakes your very foundations. Scary? Perhaps. But when tower walls crumble it gives freedom for expansion and growth.
XVII – The Star – Healing, hope, signs and omens. A time of recuperation and rejuvenation.
XVIII –The Moon– Fears, fantasies, dreams. An urge to take the pass less trodden, the way less familiar. Gut instinct and secrets.
XIX – The Sun – Gratitude, enjoyment and recognition.
XX – Judgement – A time of evaluation of what was, and of following the call to move onwards and upwards.
XXI – The World/Universe – You’ve come as far as you can on this journey. A completion and a moving to the next phase. Level up and be The Fool. 0 – The Fool – and so it begins again.
So there you have it – a key to unlock the cards. But remember, after the cards are unlocked, the process of discovery is an adventure that goes on ad infinitum
Now, shuffle the cards, whilst asking an open ended question such as ‘How is this situation likely to pan out?’
Choose a card to outline what factors have led to the situation being what it is (Position 1). A card to outline the situation as it is now (Position 2), and a card to outline how this situation is likely to pan out (Position 3) and say what you see.
Congratulations. You’ve just read your first Tarot spread!
Now it’s over to you. Explore, read, join face book groups, watch you tube videos. Find out about the ways that this wonderful tool can help you explore your life, plan for the future and help you examine choices.
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