The Tarot can be a very daunting and mysterious thing for those who do not understand what it is. The 78 cards in the Rider-Waite Tarot deck have some very scary pictures, symbolisms from hundreds of years ago. And what does one learn from reading the Tarot anyway?
Most people learn with the Rider-Waite Deck because it is the most beloved deck. The millions of people who have read with it over the years, and the spreads they use, have given the cards their power. Once a person can understand Rider-Waite, they can go on to read most other decks with ease, as they will have enough background. And there are literally hundreds of decks on the market, for people with all kinds of interests. There is an Arthurian Deck with pictures and symbolisms drawn from the myths of the Knights of the Round Table and the Priestesses of Avalon. There is a Russian Deck of St. Petersburg with those lovely onion domed buildings and ornate period dress. The Round Motherpeace deck was and remains popular as a deck made by women in the height of the Feminist movement of the 1970’s. Many Vampire decks have been popular in response to the Twilight series. The list is long, and one can view all the cards in any tarot deck by viewing them on this excellent site: http://www.aeclectictarot.net.
The Rider-Waite tarot begins with 21 cards called the Major Arcana, or Soul Cards. They begin with the Fool, young and inexperienced about life, just as we are born. Each card is a rite of passage that many will master, but some can be considered successful people in life and only have mastered 7 of the 21 important lessons. In the last twenty years or so, the Major Arcana cards have become known as “The Fool’s Journey.” These cards carry more weight in a reading.
The remaining 56 cards are called the Minor Arcana. They are split into four elements or suits, water has cups, air has swords, fire has wands, and earth has pentacles. Cards Ace-10 have different meanings depending on the scene, number of the card, and whether it is upright or reversed. Then there are the Court Cards, or People cards, which unnecessarily confuse people. The Page is young and curious, having much to learn, and the sense of adventure to want to learn. This can be a child, but also an enthusiastic older person excited by a new interest. The Knight is on a mission to accomplish a task, and always rides a horse, so it means action will take place when he “rides” into a reading. The Queen is the most at home in her element, and comfortable in her role, wise and maternal. The King is the most powerful figure, a Fatherly one, or someone who has mastered many life lessons and has time to teach others.
So how should one approach a study of the Tarot? One card could be drawn each morning. The reader should study it well, then go about their day, but try to keep the card in mind. See if there is anything that happens which seems to have something to do with the scene or type of person in that card. If you are more ambitious, perhaps you would like to keep a Tarot journal, and chose your card, then write an entry about your day in it each evening. At first you may not see a correlation between your journal entry and the card. But now you have a written record, and when you become more experienced, you may go back and see more information, gaining great insight into the meaning of that card. There are many kinds of symbols and colors in the cards, and they all have meaning. So make sure you give your study the serious and quiet attention it deserves.
A spreadsheet made on your computer would also be a great aid in keeping track of which cards have been drawn and how often. As I used to work in an Accounting firm, and am very organized, I liked this method. You could make a spreadsheet for each of the four suits of Minor Arcana Cards, Ace-Ten, and the four Court Cards of that suit. Also, make one spreadsheet for the 21 Major Arcana cards. List the names of the cards vertically down the sheet. Make headings at the top for the days of the week, and keep a separate sheet for each month. Continue doing this for one year. Then you will have enough data to notice definite trends happening in your life, some cards will come up over and over again, almost screaming out for your attention! Try to notice if certain cards keep appearing, as this will be the case, since you are learning something new. The Page of Pentacles will come up when you are learning something new, or the Ace of Wands appears when you have new energies in your life, and are growing as a person. I believe we grow whenever we learn something new, so don’t be surprised if you see both!
No matter which method you choose, try to tally them up and review them at the end of each month. Write a brief summary at the end so when you return to the journal or spreadsheet at the end of the year, you want to recall details of the happenings in your life. With a year’s worth of information, you will have a lot of material to work with, and will notice a definite pattern of some sort. This will teach you the meanings of certain cards, because by now several of them will have been drawn by you at least 5-10 times in the course of the year. When you consult your tarot reference books, you will read about those, and with the help of the books and the information you kept, you will have definite opinions and ideas about the meanings of specific cards. If you see a meaning based on your actions, and the book does not agree, go with your gut, and forget the books! Tarot is an intuitive art. I actually kept journals for five years, and was amazed at how many changes my life had gone through during that time period. So you aren’t only learning to become a Tarot reader, now you have a journal of what was happening in your life for as long as you decide to keep these journals. You may surprise yourself when you go back to read them, as time passes quickly, So will Tarot cards predict your future? I believe that our subconscious mind “picks” the cards we need to see at a particular juncture in our lives. Also, we see what it is necessary for us to see when we are drawn to a certain card’s image. I have been a reader for ten years now, and have learned a lot. I have read for complete strangers in Metaphysical shops, and been told my readings were “amazing.” There is no better feeling than knowing your reading has helped your querent in some way. Good readers must draw up a set of ethics before they are ready to read for a fee. You must decide what you will and will not do or say. It is also possible to meditate on a certain card to try to soak up some of the energies you need. So I believe a Tarot reading is a useful tool to help us understand ourselves and motivations better.
There are always naysayers, but usually they are the people who are most afraid of their lives and situations, so they try to knock what they do not understand. Not everyone wants to dig deeper to understand why they are having the same problems over and over, or why they attract negative relationships. One must do some difficult inner work to uncover these things. But the rewards are many, if we can make positive changes in our behaviors, and sometimes realize we wrote about dreams we have, but did not try to do enough to make them come true. That’s the real tragedy, because we have the power to make our dreams real, if only we plan seriously and pay attention to the path we are on. It can be so easy to be misled onto the wrong path, and being a Tarot card reader can be a great aid in helping you to avoid that. I hope you think about trying this new interest, to become a tarot card reader is very rewarding, and there are many lovely decks, so there is a perfect one for everyone. Start with the Rider-Waite, and then go on to see if there are other decks that you relate to better. Most readers have several decks. Metaphysical (I despise the words New Age, this is all ancient wisdom we are rediscovering) shops usually have open decks hanging freely so the customer can take a good look at the 78 cards in them and decide if they are interested or if the deck “speaks” to them in some way. Go for it! You’ll be the life of the party, and also notice that becoming a tarot reader will bring out the more introspective side of your personality.