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Tarot Cards: A Beginner’s Guide

If you’ve always been interested in astrology and/or your horoscope but wished they would provide a little more insight, tarot just might be for you. Tarot can be applied to just about any situation and with tarot decks now being so easy to find, getting started with tarot can be a cinch. If you can turn over a card, you can turn over a new chapter in your life.

Tarot is a simple way to establish a connection between yourself and the universal forces as well as a great way to socialize and connect with like-minded people interested in group tarot readings. Although it may feel as though there is a great deal of learning and knowledge to absorb before you can effectively practice tarot, it’s surprisingly straightforward to learn. This guide will show how easy tarot can be for beginners and how to have fun tarot reading sessions with friends and fellow enthusiasts.

What Is Tarot?

Tarot is a practice that dates back to 15th century Italy when the hand-painted cards were first commissioned for the Duke of Milan to play card games with. They only began to be used by fortune tellers to make predictions in the 1800s.

From the 19th century onward the cards were used almost exclusively as a divination tool and developed connections with astrology and Egyptian lore. But the use of tarot cards in their current form really came into its own in the 1970s when psychoanalysis grew to popularity and interest in tarot decks boomed. Tarot cards are still used to play card games in Europe today but in the U.S. are used almost exclusively for card readings and divination.

How to Read Tarot Cards?

It’s a common assumption that tarot cards are used to predict the future but this is not their only function. Tarot is more a way of giving insight into the present moment or a particular situation. It provides wisdom and guidance to navigating life in the present as well as a way to deal with a current, possibly challenging situation.

Every card in a tarot deck refers to a specific person or potential outcome of a given situation. There are no hidden meanings or agendas in tarot. Discovering meaning in the cards depends on a person’s own interpretation, although every answer that we seek to any of life’s questions lies within the tarot deck.

There are many ways to do a tarot reading. One version is before any card reading, shuffle the deck and think about the cards in your hands, visualizing the question you would like to ask. Cut the tarot deck into three stacks and reorder the deck with all the cards facing downwards. Lay the cards down on a special cloth in your chosen spread and prepare to select cards from the deck.

Choosing A Tarot Deck

There is such a huge variety of tarot decks available that choosing just one can be an exciting but nerve-wracking experience. Each deck is imbued with its own particular style and energy and picking the right one for yourself can sometimes feel overwhelming.

The best way to proceed is to be aware of your emotional reaction to various decks of tarot cards as you’re looking through them. Trust your intuitive reaction to the different decks and carefully consider which deck resonates with you. These tips for selecting a tarot deck will help you make the best choice.

  • Examine the artwork and imagery of each tarot deck. Which pack do you automatically gravitate to?
  • Consider your tarot reading ability and choose a deck that’s in line with your current level.
  • Choose a card size that feels comfortable and that will be easy for you to work with.
  • Be aware of your emotions when you are looking at a specific tarot deck. Avoid the ones that make you feel uneasy or confused and embrace those that make you feel excited and comfortable.
  • Preferably choose a tarot deck that is of high quality as you’re going to be investing a lot of time working with them.

Basic Tarot Spreads

Starting with a tarot spread is the ideal place to begin tarot practice. It provides a structure for getting answers to your questions with the three-card spread the best and most effective starting point. You can use this spread to interpret any situation that you like and need guidance with such as past, present, and future; mind, body and spirit, relationships, and challenges. The cards and the positions they are in will expose all the dynamics of a given situation and provide the insight needed for you to proceed. A five-card spread delves a little deeper and interprets present situations, challenges, strengths, and the way forward.

While tarot provides rich imagery and an interpretive language to work within it’s no different than a game of chance or a roll of the dice. All items can be influenced by the power of our own spirit and require patience and practice to perfect. We all possess all of the interpretive skills necessary to produce accurate readings.

Major and Minor Arcanas

A tarot deck has 78 cards which are divided into two groups – the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana. The major arcana consists of 22 cards which when placed in numeric order from The Fool at the beginning through to the World at the end, form a symbolic representation of the soul’s journey. The Major Arcana cards represent life lessons and themes that influence the existence and which tell a symbolic story also known as the fool’s journey. These cards represent major influences in our lives and are significant messages symbolizing the beginnings and endings of life cycles. The cards’ numeric order signifies stages in life’s journey and the passage of time.

The Minor Arcana consists of 4 suites, each made up of 14 cards – Wands, Pentacles, Cups, and Swords. These cards depict people engaged in regular life activities such as drinking, sleeping, dancing, and arguing. The suits also have ruling elements of fire, water, earth, and air that correspond to a variety of life’s activities.

Positive Energy

Carefully consider the physical space that you are planning to perform your card readings in. It should be a positive space in which you feel safe, that allows you to be open and trusting. Your mental outlook and emotional state also need to be similar to your physical space to be conducive to productive readings. Be sure to create a sacred, comfortable space that allows you to get the most out of every reading.

While reading tarot cards is an incredibly diverting pastime, they are much more than just a fun way to spend an evening. Tarot cards offer insight and advice with life’s challenges and in navigating the road ahead. Starting with simple spreads and readings will allow your abilities to grow to the point where you will always have an invaluable guide for life’s journey.