The origins of Tarot cards has its roots in ancient cultures. There are various theories as to the origin of the Tarot but nobody knows for sure where it originated. One thing that remains clear is that the symbolism and occult science of the Tarot have remained the same throughout the ages. Many people who want to learn the Tarot become overwhelmed and don’t know where to start; so we created this short guide to give beginners the steps and symbolism necessary to begin learning how to use the Tarot.
Selecting Your Tarot Deck
The first step is to find a good Tarot Deck, but this can be a daunting task as there are literally hundreds of different tarot decks to choose from. Each Different deck uses its own Art and interpretation of the symbolism of the tarot. For a beginner, your first deck should probably be the very popular Rider-Waite deck or one of its many clones. The Rider-Waite decks are the most popular tarot deck and most tarot books include a description of the symbolism of each card. This deck and many other decks usually come with a small book that describes all the cards; which can be a helpful quick reference for beginners to start learning the interpretations of the cards.
Understanding How The Tarot Deck Works
Tarot decks are composed of 78 cards: 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana. In the beginning, you will want to learn the symbolism and story of the major and the minor arcana. Trying to learn all the cards can be overwhelming in the beginning and a lot of people have found it helpful to just pick a card each day and learn its symbolism. We also have videos on our site explaining the cards that come up in your readings.
The 22 cards of the Major Arcana can best be learned by understanding that they tell a story of our human condition and our journey to spiritual self-awareness and wholeness; with each card representing a stage on that journey. The story is referred to as the Fool’s journey, and the Fool is represented by the number O, then the story unfolds as we move through the 21 numbered major arcana cards and the last card on this journey is the World, a card that symbolizes completion.
The Minor Arcana describes the people, events, feelings and circumstances we encounter on our personal “Fool’s Journey. The 56 cards of the Minor Arcana are divided into four suits or worlds: Wands, Swords, Cups, and Pentacles. Each suit contains 4 court cards, the King, Queen, Knight and Page and 10 numbered cards.
Getting Familiar with Tarot Card Spreads
A “spread” simply refers to the particular pattern or layout of your cards as you do a reading. There are many different types of spreads, with the 3 most popular being the Celtic Cross Spread, the Three Cards Spread, and the 5 Card Spread. Each type of spread forms a patterned framework for a tarot reading, with each position of the tarot cards in a spread having a meaning or reference towards the overall reading. Below you will find a quick summary of the 3 Card Spread and the Celtic Cross Spread. Further detailed descriptions are located above the card in each reading on our site.
The Three-Card Spread:
This spread is good for yes or no questions and is very easy to do.
Card #1 represents the past/issues affecting the problem.
Card #2 represents the present/problem.
Card #3 represents the future/outcome.
The Celtic Cross Spread
In this spread, ten cards are spread in the form of a cross. The overall pattern of the cards indicates the situation you are seeking to understand and predict.
Card #1 reflects the present position, your primary and main concerns.
Card #2 is influence and reflects the concern and situation that is soon to come.
Card #3 shows what your goals are.
Card #4 tells you about your past.
Card #5 represents the influences of your immediate past.
Card #6 represents your immediate future.
Card #7 represents the factors or inner feelings that affect the situation.
Card #8 represents your external influences and people or energies around the situation.
Card #9 represents your hopes and fears around the situation.
Card #10 represents the final outcome.
The 6 Steps to Doing a Tarot Reading
- Relax – Learning to relax before a reading helps connect you to your own intuition. You can start by taking a few slow deep breaths, visualize your stress leaving as you breath out; try to clear your mind and let go to the present moment in whatever way that works best for you.
- Clear Your Tarot Deck – Ritually cleansing your tarot deck from your last reading or from someone who has touched your deck is an important aspect of getting ready for a reading. Start by connecting to your cards and lightly shuffling them a bit, then imagine a white light enveloping and bathing your cards. This helps clear your cards while also helping you to connect more strongly with them.
- Ask Your Question – While holding your tarot deck, ask your Question silently in your mind or out loud. Feel free to shuffle the cards a bit more, you can shuffle in any way that feels right for you.
- Cut your Deck – Place your Tarot cards on the table in front of you. Then using your left hand cut the deck in half and place the top half on the left; then start taking cards from the top of the right-hand pile. Some people like to divide the deck into three piles, and then take the cards from the top of the center pile. Either way is fine, just do what feels right to you in the moment.
- Lay the Cards out in a Spread – Over time you will learn a variety of different Spreads. You will then use your understanding of the current question to determine the spread that you are going to use. Start taking the cards from the top of the deck and lay them out in the proper order for the tarot card spread that you are using.
- Interpret the Cards – When interpreting the cards it is best to use your intuition and trust your first impressions. When reading the cards be aware of the images, feelings, and sensations that arise as you start to interpret the card. Combine your intuition with your understanding of the tarot cards symbolism to complete the reading and to obtain the answer to the question at hand.
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