Tarot cards have been used for centuries as a powerful tool for divination, self-reflection, and spiritual guidance. Despite their mystical reputation, anyone can learn to read tarot cards with patience and practice. In this article, we’ll explore the basics of tarot, including the history, structure of a tarot deck, and the steps to start reading tarot cards for yourself and others.

Tarot cards were first used in Europe during the 14th century as playing cards. It wasn’t until the 18th century that they became associated with divination and the occult. Today, tarot is a popular method of self-discovery, and many people find it a useful way to tap into their intuition and gain insight into their lives.

Tarot Deck Structure

A standard tarot deck consists of 78 cards, divided into two main groups: the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana.

  • Major Arcana: The 22 Major Arcana cards are the most significant cards in the deck, representing deep spiritual and life lessons. These cards often symbolize major events, spiritual awakenings, or significant transitions in a person’s life.
  • Minor Arcana: The 56 Minor Arcana cards are divided into four suits: Cups, Wands, Swords, and Pentacles. Each suit has 14 cards, numbered Ace to 10, and four court cards: Page, Knight, Queen, and King. The Minor Arcana cards represent everyday situations and practical aspects of life.

Preparing for a Tarot Reading

Proper preparation is key to ensuring a successful tarot reading. By creating a calm and focused environment, you’ll be able to tap into your intuition and connect more deeply with the cards. Here are some tips to help you prepare for a tarot reading:

  1. Choose a quiet space: Find a place where you won’t be interrupted or distracted. This could be a dedicated room in your home, a spot in your garden, or any area where you feel comfortable and at ease. The space should be clean, clutter-free, and ideally used only for your tarot readings and spiritual practices.
  2. Set the mood: Creating a serene atmosphere can help you focus your energy and tune into your intuition. You may want to dim the lights or use candles to create a soft, warm glow. Some people also like to play soothing music or nature sounds in the background to aid relaxation.
  3. Clear your energy: Before starting a tarot reading, it’s essential to cleanse your energy and set your intentions. You can do this through meditation, deep breathing exercises, or visualization techniques. Take a few moments to center yourself, clear your mind, and focus on your question or topic.
  4. Cleanse your tarot deck: Just as it’s important to clear your own energy, it’s also essential to cleanse your tarot deck. This helps to remove any lingering energies from previous readings or other people who may have handled the cards. You can cleanse your deck by smudging it with sage, palo santo, or incense, or by placing it on a windowsill to absorb the sunlight or moonlight. Some tarot readers also like to store their decks with a piece of clear quartz or selenite to maintain their energetic purity.
  5. Set your intention: Once your space is prepared, take a moment to set a clear intention for your reading. This could be a specific question you’d like to explore or a general area of your life where you seek guidance. Focusing on your intention will help you draw the most relevant cards and gain deeper insights from your reading.
  6. Ground yourself: Grounding is the process of connecting with the earth’s energy to stabilize and balance your own energy. To ground yourself, you can try a simple visualization exercise. Close your eyes and imagine roots growing from the soles of your feet, reaching deep into the earth. Feel the earth’s energy flowing up through these roots and into your body, filling you with a sense of stability and calm.
  7. Invite spiritual guidance: If you work with spiritual guides, angels, or other beings, you may want to invite their presence and assistance during your tarot reading. Say a prayer, affirmation, or invocation to welcome their guidance and support as you interpret the cards.

How to Read Tarot Cards: Steps for Beginners

1. Choose a spread

A spread is a specific layout of tarot cards that provides a structure for your reading. For beginners, it’s best to start with simple spreads to familiarize yourself with the process of interpreting cards in different positions. Some common beginner-friendly spreads include:

  • The Three-Card Spread: This spread is perfect for beginners as it only uses three cards, representing the past, present, and future. It’s ideal for quick insights and general guidance.
  • The Celtic Cross Spread: This spread consists of 10 cards and offers a more comprehensive overview of a situation. It covers various aspects of the querent’s life, such as their past, present, and potential future, as well as external influences and advice.

2. Shuffle the deck

While focusing on your question or topic, shuffle the cards in a way that feels comfortable to you. Shuffling helps to clear the deck’s energy and infuse it with your intentions. Some readers like to knock on the deck or pass it through incense smoke to cleanse it further.

3. Draw your cards

Once you’ve shuffled the deck, select the appropriate number of cards for your chosen spread. As you draw each card, keep your focus on your question and trust your intuition to guide your selection. Lay the cards out face down in front of you in the order of the spread.

4. Turn over the cards

Starting with the first card, turn each card over one by one and take a moment to observe the imagery and symbolism. Pay attention to any immediate thoughts, feelings, or impressions that arise, as these can be valuable clues in your interpretation.

5. Interpret the cards

Study the meaning of each card in its position within the spread. A good place to start is by learning the basic meanings of the cards, which can be found in a tarot book or online resource. However, don’t feel confined by these definitions; let your intuition guide you in finding a personal interpretation that resonates with you. Some factors to consider when interpreting tarot cards include:

  • The card’s position in the spread: Each position in a spread has a specific meaning, which can influence how the card is interpreted. For example, a card in the “future” position may indicate potential outcomes or advice for moving forward.
  • The imagery and symbolism: Tarot cards are rich with symbolism, and each image can hold multiple meanings. Take note of the symbols, colors, and figures in each card, and consider how they relate to your question or situation.
  • Intuition: Trust your gut feelings and first impressions when interpreting the cards. Your intuition is a valuable tool in tarot reading, and it’s essential to develop a strong connection with your inner voice.

6. Reflect on your reading

After interpreting all the cards, take a moment to reflect on the overall message of your reading. Consider how this insight can be applied to your life or the situation in question. It can be helpful to journal about your reading, noting any important insights, themes, or advice that emerged.

Remember that tarot reading is an ongoing learning process, and it’s essential to be patient with yourself as you build your skills and deepen your understanding of the cards. With practice and dedication, you’ll become more confident in your ability to read tarot cards and gain valuable insights into your life and the lives of others.

Practice Makes Perfect: Tips for Improving Your Tarot Reading Skills

Becoming proficient in tarot reading requires dedication, patience, and consistent practice. As you continue to work with the cards, you’ll develop a deeper understanding of their meanings and symbolism, and learn to trust your intuition. Here are some tips to help you improve your tarot reading skills:

  1. Daily readings: One of the most effective ways to practice tarot is by performing daily readings for yourself. Draw a single card each day and reflect on its meaning and relevance to your life. This will help you become more familiar with the cards, their meanings, and how they relate to your own experiences.
  2. Keep a tarot journal: Documenting your tarot readings in a journal is an excellent way to track your progress and reflect on your interpretations. Write down the date, the question or topic, the spread used, and the cards drawn. Record your initial impressions and interpretations, as well as any insights or messages you receive. Reviewing your journal entries over time can help you identify patterns, themes, and areas for improvement.
  3. Study the cards: To become proficient in tarot, it’s crucial to have a strong foundation in the meanings and symbolism of the cards. Study each card individually, paying attention to the imagery, colors, and symbols. Familiarize yourself with the meanings of each card, but also allow yourself to develop your interpretations based on your intuition and personal experiences.
  4. Learn from others: Connecting with other tarot readers can provide valuable insights and perspectives on the cards. Join online forums, social media groups, or local tarot meetups to share your experiences, ask questions, and learn from the wisdom of others. You can also read tarot books, attend workshops, or watch instructional videos to expand your knowledge and understanding.
  5. Experiment with different spreads: As you become more comfortable with tarot, try experimenting with different spreads to explore various aspects of a situation or question. This will help you gain a more comprehensive understanding of the cards and their relationships to one another.
  6. Trust your intuition: Tarot reading is an intuitive practice, and learning to trust your inner voice is crucial for accurate and insightful readings. Pay attention to your first impressions, gut feelings, and any thoughts or emotions that arise during your readings. With practice, your intuition will become a more reliable and powerful guide.
  7. Be patient with yourself: Becoming proficient in tarot reading takes time and dedication. It’s natural to make mistakes or feel uncertain about your interpretations, especially when you’re first starting out. Remember that tarot is a journey of self-discovery and growth, and each reading offers an opportunity to learn and improve.
  8. Seek feedback: If you’re comfortable, practice reading for friends or family members and ask for their feedback. This can help you build confidence in your skills and provide valuable insights into how your interpretations resonate with others.

By consistently practicing and refining your tarot reading skills, you’ll become more confident, accurate, and insightful in your readings. Embrace the learning process, trust your intuition, and enjoy the journey of self-discovery and growth that tarot offers.