The Basics of Reading Tarot | Anyone not familiar with tarot might find themselves a little lost when they see something about the popular decks of cards in the news or on TV. Tarot cards have been around for hundreds of years, but there’s still a lot of mystery around what exactly they are, what the cards mean, and how to use them properly. Learning the meanings of the cards alone can be overwhelming if you’ve never studied tarot before. Luckily, there are more resources than ever available online to help anyone curious about tarot educate themselves and begin their own journey with their own deck of cards. If you’re interested in tarot cards or divination, keep reading to learn a little more about the basics of tarot.
What is tarot?
Tarot cards have been around since the mid-15th century, though tarot didn’t become commonly used for divination until closer to the 18th century. However, the idea of symbols or the elements as a way to interpret the past, present, and future is an art that’s been around since the dawn of time. The earliest tarot deck designed specifically for occult purposes was released in 1789 and contained imagery that was inspired by ancient Egypt. Since then, thousands of decks have been designed and manufactured worldwide, drawing inspiration from just about anything you can imagine.
One common misunderstanding is that tarot is intended to solve all of our minor questions and problems. Tarot cards primarily address larger themes and the people who come in and out of our lives, not questions about whether or not to splurge on nail stickers or a new purse (you can still totally splurge on those things, though).
While tarot readings aren’t for everyone, many people find that they provide valuable insight into what’s going on in their lives and help them see certain situations from a different perspective.
How can you learn to read tarot?
There’s no one way to learn how to read tarot cards, but the best way to get started is to find a simple deck for beginners and start to do readings for yourself. The Rider-Waite deck is a classic and highly recommended for those without much experience. That said, before you can start doing readings, you need to learn the meanings of the cards.
There are two types of cards within any tarot deck: the major arcana and the minor arcana. The cards within the major arcana are said to deal with important life events and larger themes, while the cards of the minor arcana are focused more on day-to-day events and people entering and leaving our lives. There are also four suits within a tarot deck, represented by wands, swords, pentacles, and cups, each representing the influence of an element. Wands are connected to the element of fire, swords to air, pentacles to earth, and cups to water.
Once you understand the different types of cards, you can begin to learn the specific meanings of each individual card within both the major and minor arcana and begin to explore different spreads so you can begin performing readings. The most traditional is a three-card spread, with one card representing the past, one representing the present, and one representing the future. There are thousands of different spreads you can use, and it’s easy to find collections of interesting ones online.
Tarot cards have a rich history, and it can be a fascinating process to learn about different decks and their imagery whether you’re interested in divination or not. You don’t have to have ambitions of becoming a professional tarot reader to get something out of doing readings for yourself every once in a while. Given the sheer number of themed decks out there, you’re likely to be able to find a set of cards that resonates with you or has artwork connected to a book or piece of culture that you love. While many people are skeptical, tarot cards have provided insight and comfort to millions of people over hundreds of years. If you have an interest in them, it’s worth taking the time to buy a deck and learn about the cards for yourself.