Tarot, an intricate and mystic tool, carries a rich history that dates back to the 15th century. Originating in Europe, it initially served as a card game before evolving into a method for divination in the late 18th century. Today, tarot reading is widely recognized as a profound instrument for self-reflection, personal growth, and spiritual exploration. In this article, LotusBuddhas will provides a comprehensive guide for beginners on understanding, preparing for, and conducting a Tarot reading.
What is Tarot reading?
Tarot reading is a practice steeped in antiquity, utilizing a set of cards known as Tarot cards for the purpose of divination or exploring mental and spiritual pathways. Originating in the mid-15th century, Tarot cards were initially used for games, only being associated with mystical divination in the late 18th century.
Each Tarot deck consists of 78 cards, divided into two primary categories: Major Arcana and Minor Arcana. The 22 Major Arcana cards, such as The Fool, The Magician, and The Lovers, represent life’s spiritual and karmic lessons. The 56 Minor Arcana cards are split among four suits (Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles) and mirror the structure of a traditional deck of playing cards, embodying the trials and tribulations of everyday life.
In a Tarot reading, an individual, known as the querent, often seeks answers to personal or spiritual questions. The reader, or Tarot practitioner, then shuffles the deck and arranges the cards in a specific pattern or spread. Each position within the spread corresponds to different facets of the query, such as past influences, present circumstances, and future possibilities.
The interpretation of the cards in their respective positions is a complex art and depends on the reader’s intuition and familiarity with Tarot symbology. Each card carries its unique meaning, influenced by its imagery, numerology, suit, and position in the spread, all intertwined with the querent’s unique circumstances. Tarot reading is both an intuitive and intellectual exercise, serving as a tool for introspection, reflection, and decision-making. However, Tarot reading does not predict the future in a deterministic sense, but rather provides a nuanced perspective on potential outcomes based on current paths and choices.
Understanding Tarot cards
The structure of a Tarot deck
A standard Tarot deck consists of 78 cards divided into two sections: the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana.
Major Arcana: Comprising 22 cards, the Major Arcana represent significant life events, spiritual lessons, and overarching themes in our life journey. Cards such as The Fool, The Magician, and The Lovers belong to this category. Each card holds a number from 0 to 21, and their meanings can be deep and complex, pointing towards major life shifts or spiritual insights.
Minor Arcana: The Minor Arcana contains 56 cards and represents the day-to-day aspects of life. This section is further divided into four suits – Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles, each containing ten numbered cards and four court cards (Page, Knight, Queen, and King). Each suit corresponds to a particular element and focuses on different dimensions of human experience: Wands (Fire) symbolize creativity and action, Cups (Water) emotions and relationships, Swords (Air) thought and conflict, and Pentacles (Earth) material aspects and practicalities.
Symbolism in Tarot
Importance of symbolism: In Tarot, symbolism acts as the language through which the cards communicate their messages. Each color, figure, number, and element carries its symbolism, contributing to the overall meaning of a card. Understanding symbolism enhances one’s ability to interpret the cards accurately and intuitively.
Basic symbolism in Tarot: The symbolism in Tarot is vast and varied, drawing from numerous sources like mythology, religion and astrology. For example, numbers hold special meaning in Tarot. The number two often symbolizes balance or partnership, while the number ten signifies completion. Similarly, elements (fire, water, air, earth) associated with the four suits of the Minor Arcana represent different aspects of life and human nature.
Selecting your first Tarot deck
Choosing your first Tarot deck is an important milestone on your Tarot journey. The deck you choose serves as a medium through which you connect with your intuition, making it crucial to select one that resonates with you. Here are some essential factors to consider when selecting your first Tarot deck.
Factors to consider
- Visual appeal: Tarot is a highly visual tool; the images and symbolism within a deck are integral to the reading process. Choose a deck with artwork that captivates you and invites you to delve deeper into the cards. Pay attention to the colors, the style, and the intricacy of the artwork. Remember that your deck should be pleasing to your eye and draw you into a space of contemplation and intuition.
- Alignment with personal beliefs: Tarot decks often incorporate a variety of themes and philosophies, ranging from pagan, Wiccan, Christian symbolism to Eastern philosophies, feminism, and more. It can be beneficial to select a deck that aligns with your personal beliefs or values, as this can facilitate a deeper connection with the cards.
- Ease of understanding: As a beginner, it can be beneficial to select a deck that is easy to understand. Some decks follow traditional Tarot symbolism closely (like the Rider-Waite Tarot), making it easier to learn and interpret the cards. Other decks might contain unique or non-traditional symbolism, which can be more challenging for a beginner to decipher.
- Quality and design: Consider the physical aspects of the deck, such as the size of the cards, the quality of the card stock, and the design of the card backs. Choose a deck with a size and material that feels comfortable in your hands. The design of the card backs can also enhance your reading experience, as they set the aesthetic tone for your reading space.
Popular Tarot decks for beginners
- Rider-Waite Tarot Deck: The Rider-Waite Tarot, created by Arthur Edward Waite and Pamela Colman Smith, is one of the most popular and recommended decks for beginners. Its clear and straightforward symbolism based on traditional Christian, astrological, and kabbalistic symbols makes it easy for beginners to understand and interpret.
- The Universal Waite Tarot Deck: This deck is a recolored version of the Rider-Waite deck. It maintains the clarity of symbolism of the original while presenting it with softer colors and a more contemporary aesthetic.
- Morgan Greer Tarot Deck: The Morgan Greer deck is another deck based on the Rider-Waite system, but it presents the symbolism with a modern perspective. It is characterized by its vibrant colors and close-up imagery, which brings a sense of immediacy and intimacy to the readings.
Remember, the “right” Tarot deck for you is the one that you feel drawn to and connected with. Take your time exploring different options, and trust your intuition as you select your first Tarot deck. This is the beginning of a fascinating journey of self-discovery and personal growth.
Preparing for a Tarot Reading
The preparation process for a Tarot reading is as critical as the reading itself. It sets the tone for the entire session, ensuring that the reader is in the right mental and emotional state to receive the messages from the cards.
Creating a conducive environment
- Physical space: Choose a quiet and comfortable place where you will not be disturbed during the reading. The area should be clean and clutter-free to allow energy to flow freely. Consider adding elements such as candles, crystals, or incense to create a serene and sacred atmosphere.
- Ambience: The mood of the space contributes significantly to the reading’s effectiveness. Soft lighting and tranquil music can facilitate a meditative state, while a pleasing aesthetic can contribute to a sense of calm and focus.
Grounding and centering yourself
- Relaxation: Before starting a reading, take a few moments to relax your body. You might choose to do some light stretches or deep-breathing exercises. Releasing physical tension aids in opening your mind and tuning into your intuition.
- Grounding: Grounding is the process of connecting with the earth’s energy to achieve a balanced state. This practice can involve visualization techniques, such as imagining roots extending from your feet into the earth, or physical methods like walking barefoot outside.
- Centering: Centering refers to aligning your consciousness with your core to achieve a state of calm and focus. Techniques for centering can include mindful breathing, meditation, or simply focusing your attention inward.
Shuffling and cutting the deck
- Shuffling: Shuffling the cards serves several purposes. It randomizes the cards, ensuring a unique and unbiased reading. It also allows you to impart your energy into the deck, creating a connection between you and the cards. As you shuffle, hold your question or intention for the reading in your mind.
- Cutting the deck: After shuffling, it’s customary to cut the deck. This act signifies the end of the shuffling process and the readiness to begin the reading. There are various methods to cut the deck, but the most common involves dividing the deck into three piles with your left hand and then reassembling them.
LotusBuddhas also notes that the process of preparing for a Tarot reading should not be rushed. Taking the time to create a conducive environment, laying the groundwork and focusing on yourself, and carefully shuffling and cutting the deck, sets the foundation for a meaningful and insightful Tarot reading.
Conducting a Tarot reading
The act of conducting a Tarot reading involves drawing cards from a Tarot deck and interpreting their meanings within the context of a specific question or situation. Here are some crucial steps to follow when conducting a Tarot reading:
Drawing the cards
Once you’ve formulated your question and shuffled the deck, you’re ready to draw the cards. As you pull each card from the deck, focus on your question or intention. Depending on the spread you’re using, you will draw a specific number of cards and place them in particular positions. Each position in the spread represents a different aspect of the question.
Understanding Tarot spreads
A Tarot spread is a specific arrangement of cards used in a reading. The spread you choose depends on the complexity of your question and the kind of insight you’re seeking.
- The Three-Card spread: This spread is one of the simplest and most versatile. The three cards can represent a variety of triads, such as Past-Present-Future, Mind-Body-Spirit, or Situation-Action-Outcome.
- The Celtic Cross spread: This ten-card spread provides a more detailed view of a situation. It explores the present situation, challenges, past influences, immediate future and potential outcomes.
Reading the cards
Once the cards are laid out in your chosen spread, it’s time to interpret their meanings.
- Interpreting individual cards: Start by examining each card individually. Consider its imagery, symbolism, and traditional meaning. However, also pay attention to your initial reactions and thoughts, as these can provide valuable intuitive insights.
- Considering interactions between cards: After interpreting individual cards, examine how they interact with each other within the spread. A card’s meaning can be influenced by the cards surrounding it. Looking at the reading as a whole can reveal broader themes and messages.
Reversals in Tarot
Reversed Tarot cards, those drawn from the deck upside down, add another layer of complexity to a reading.
- What are reversed Tarot cards?: A reversed card suggests an altered or intensified meaning of the upright card. It may signify blocked or repressed energies related to the upright meaning, or it could imply an internal manifestation of the card’s aspects rather than external.
- How to interpret reversed Tarot cards: Interpreting reversed cards depends on your comfort level and personal preference. Some readers interpret reversals as the opposite of the card’s upright meaning, while others see it as a weakened impact of the upright card. However, all interpretations should consider the context of the reading and the surrounding cards.
Conducting a Tarot reading requires focus, intuition, and a solid understanding of Tarot card meanings and symbolism. With practice and experience, you’ll be able to weave together the narratives of the cards into insightful and empowering readings.
Developing your Tarot reading skills
Mastering the art of Tarot reading takes time, patience, and consistent practice. As with any skill, the more effort you put into learning and understanding Tarot, the more adept you will become at using it as a tool for guidance and self-discovery. Here are some important strategies to consider when developing your Tarot reading skills.
Consistent practice is key to honing your Tarot reading skills. Aim to conduct daily or weekly readings to familiarize yourself with the cards and their meanings. You can start with simple one or three-card readings, gradually moving to more complex spreads as you gain confidence. Practice not only improves your understanding of the cards but also enhances your intuition, a crucial aspect of Tarot reading.
Recording your readings in a Tarot journal
Maintaining a Tarot journal is an excellent way to track your progress and deepen your understanding of the cards. After each reading, record the date, the question or intention, the cards drawn, and your interpretation. Over time, you can review your entries to identify patterns, reflect on your interpretations, and gauge your progress.
Learning from experienced readers
Books, online resources, and Tarot communities can be invaluable sources of knowledge and inspiration. Reading books on Tarot can deepen your understanding of its history, symbolism and interpretation techniques. Online resources such as blogs, forums, and video tutorials offer a wealth of information and perspectives. Joining Tarot communities allows you to connect with other Tarot enthusiasts, share your insights, ask questions, and learn from more experienced readers.
Trusting your intuition
While knowledge of the traditional Tarot card meanings is essential, trusting your intuition is equally important. Each Tarot reading is unique, and sometimes, the conventional card meaning may not fit the context of the reading. In such cases, trust your instincts and pay attention to any feelings, thoughts, or images that come up when you look at the cards. Over time, you’ll develop your unique style of reading and interpreting the Tarot. Be patient with yourself, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. With consistent practice, a curious mind, and an open heart, you’ll become an adept Tarot reader, capable of drawing deep insights from the cards.
Ethics in Tarot reading
Tarot reading, like any practice involving interpersonal dynamics and guidance, is bound by certain ethical considerations. These guidelines protect both the reader and the querent (the one asking the questions), ensuring that the reading is conducted in a respectful, compassionate and responsible manner.
Respecting privacy and boundaries
Respecting privacy and boundaries is fundamental in any Tarot reading. As a reader, you must always maintain confidentiality and never share information from a reading without the querent’s explicit consent. Furthermore, respect the querent’s personal boundaries by not pressing for information they are unwilling or uncomfortable to disclose.
If you are reading for someone else, remember that it’s unethical to read about a third party who hasn’t given their consent for the reading. For instance, questions about another person’s thoughts, feelings, or private matters are generally considered inappropriate. Encourage the querent to reframe their question to focus on their perspective or role in the situation.
Using Tarot for self-reflection and guidance, not deterministic predictions
It’s essential to approach and present Tarot as a tool for self-reflection, guidance, and personal growth, rather than a means to predict the future with certainty. The future is not set in stone; it is influenced by our current actions, decisions, and mindset. Therefore, a Tarot reading should focus on providing insights into the present moment and suggesting potential outcomes based on current circumstances, rather than making deterministic predictions.
As a Tarot reader, it’s your responsibility to manage expectations and ensure that the querent understands the purpose and limitations of a Tarot reading. Avoid making definitive statements about future events, particularly concerning health, life span, or legal matters. If a querent asks questions related to these areas, it’s best to advise them to seek professional help from a doctor, lawyer, or other relevant professional.
Learning to read Tarot cards enables us to tap into our intuition and explore the multifaceted nature of our lives, providing guidance, clarity, and a fresh perspective on our circumstances. It’s essential, however, to approach this practice with patience, respect and an open mind.
You can also refer more:
- How to Choose the Right Tarot Deck: https://lotusbuddhas.com/how-to-choose-the-right-tarot-deck.html
- The different types of Tarot decks: https://lotusbuddhas.com/the-different-types-of-tarot-decks.html