How To Read Tarot Cards

How To Read Tarot Cards

How to Read Tarot - From the Book vs. Intuitively

The Tarot is a fantastic tool for divination as well as personal development, however often times when people are first introduced to the Tarot, they are hesitant to try to read the Tarot themselves. Many individuals believe that you need to be “special” or “gifted” in order to read Tarot.

This could not be further from the truth.

The Tarot is a tool to access your own intuition. Yes, there may also be aspects of spiritual intervention through the Tarot, however these also come through your intuition.  So, if you have ever wanted to learn to read the tarot, it is as simple as buying a pack of cards and beginning your magickal journey.

Where To Begin When Reading Tarot Cards

Your first port of call when reading the Tarot is to begin with the deck. For this you can either choose a Tarot deck that you are drawn to or choose a well-known deck that is easy to start with. I personally recommend, as do many other people, the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot Deck (Also known as the Rider Tarot Deck). The Rider Waite decks are very easy to learn from as they have a

woman dealing Rider Waite Tarot Card- Wheel of Fortune

system that is widely taught and many of the modern decks are based on this deck.

The Rider Waite deck is the standard tarot deck which has 78 cards (56

minor arcana cards and 22 major arcana cards), so if you choose a modern deck that is not Rider-Waite, you can always choose one with a similar structure to make it easier to learn.

How to actually read the Tarot

Once you have chosen your deck, you can focus on learning to read the cards.

  1. From the book
  2. From your intuition.

Reading Tarot Cards From The book

When starting to read the cards, it is commonplace to try to learn the meanings of each individual card. Most Tarot decks come with either a book or pamphlet explaining their meanings, and if you purchase the Rider Waite deck, there are also plenty of online resources and books that you can read to further interpret the meaning of your cards.

When performing a reading from the book, you would ask your question, shuffle the cards, lay them out in your chosen spread and then read the meanings of each card in the order that they are interpreted in the spread (many of the books also have Tarot spread suggestions based on your questions).

What are the Pros and Cons of Learning Tarot From The Book

The pros of learning and reading tarot literally from the book are:

Advanced Tarot By Paul Fenton-Smith
  • Beginner friendly- beginners often need to refer to the book when learning the tarot, even if it is just to reassure themselves that their translation of the cards was correct.
  • Easy- anyone can pick up a Tarot deck and book and start reading their own cards. You do not need any special abilities to do this.

The cons of reading Tarot from the book

  • You are not working on your own intuition.
  • Inflexible- reading from the book solely is a very inflexible way of interpreting the cards and many people take the interpretations literally.
  • Old School- some people do not like the old-school translations of the Rider Waite Cards which were very male/female centric. These cards and books do not include the gender fluid ideals that we have today and depending on your beliefs, this may be a negative.
  • Promotes dependency- if you are only ever using the book to interpret your readings, you will likely develop a dependency on this way of working with the cards. The idea of the Tarot is to tap into your own intuition, not to be beholden to a book.

Reading Tarot Cards From Your Intuition

When you read the Tarot from your intuition, instead of drawing the cards and going straight to the book to find the meanings, you lay the cards in front of you and interpret them using your own intuition. To do this, hold the question in your mind’s eye and look at the imagery on the cards. What stands out the most to you? For example if you asked a question about your family and you get the Major Arcana card- Strength (8), the traditional book meaning may indicate that you need to have compassion and inner strength when dealing with people, however you may look at the card and see that the woman is in fact looking into the lions mouth and feel as though you need to take your dog to the vet to get it’s teeth checked. Intuitive reading is just that- it is intuitive. It is also harder to do and harder to believe sometimes than meanings that someone else has come up with.

The pros of learning and reading tarot from your intuition are:

  • Flexibility- you have one pack of cards, but there are literally hundreds of
    reading tarot intuitively- person holding tarot card
    ways to translate each card when you use your own intuition to translate the meanings.
  • Developing your own intuition- your intuition is like a muscle, if you don’t use it, you lose it. Reading the Tarot using your intuition is a good way to tap into this often-neglected part of ourselves.

The cons of learning and reading tarot from your intuition

  • It’s more difficult- as a society we have been led to believe that what other people say and think is more likely to be correct than our own judgement. This is why many of us find it difficult to tap into our own intuition, and why many people struggle to learn the cards without the book.
  • You only have yourself to blame if you are wrong- We all worry about being wrong. This is why we like to follow other people’s advice and leadership because if we fail, it’s not on us- right? This is why many choose to follow a book. If you do a reading and look back and none of it makes sense, you can always blame the book. However, if you do an intuitive reading and it doesn’t come to fruition, you’re left feeling useless.

Bridging the Gap: Combining Both Approaches

One of the best ways to read the Tarot is actually to try a combination of both methods. Start by asking your question and drawing the cards, then look at the cards you have laid out in front of you and spend a few minutes meditating on their pictures. This will help you tap into your own intuition. Write down your thoughts about the cards in your Tarot journal before moving onto the book to find out the meanings. This method is a good way to deepen you intuitive abilities and to learn the traditional structure and meanings of the cards, thereby accelerating your learning of cartomancy.

Our top practical tips for learning tarot

  1. Start with the book- At the beginning, it is probably best to start with the book. This lets you get a grip on the basic meanings and the structure of the cards and how they are meant to be read. Tarot is like any skill- once you know the foundation, you can choose to break the rules, but only once you know why they are there.
  2. Practice daily- As with all skills, the more you practice, the easier it becomes. We suggest a “card a day” habit. Ask a question each day and perform a mini tarot spread. Record your intuitive meaning as well as the book’s meaning in order to strengthen your own intuition as well as your skills in interpreting the basic meanings of the cards.
  3. Record your Tarot sessions- When you write down your sessions, you are
    The Complete Tarot & Oracle Journal
    often forced to think more deeply about what you are writing. You can record your sessions in a dedicated tarot journal, notebook or on your phone or computer. This way you can go back and look at your progress down the track.
  4. Meditate on the cards- Whether you do this as a part of your daily card pull, or you go through the deck, focusing on one card at a time, spend some time each day meditating on a card. Focus on the imagery and see what your intuition tells you about that card. Write this down in your Tarot journal. This will help to strengthen your intuition and aid in you better understanding the Tarot. And a better understanding equals more accurate readings!

As with all skills, the best way to learn the Tarot is the way that is most enjoyable to you. You know how you learn best. Just don’t let laziness or fear convince you that one way is better than the other!

Let us know if you read intuitively or by the book?

If you are looking for Tarot Cards and Oracle Cards, check out our collection here.

If you are looking for books on Tarot, check out our collection here

If you are looking for Tarot Journals, check them out here.

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