7 Tips for Tarot Beginners
So you’ve taken an interest in Tarot and are wondering where to start. Well, you’re in the right place! I know that Tarot may seem overwhelming at first. I mean, there are 78 cards in most decks, each with a different meaning, and you have to learn all of them? And then you’re supposed to interpret patterns?
While it may seem daunting, trust in the voice within that tells you, “Yes, this is it. This is the right path.” Walk slowly but surely and learn to have fluid conversations with the cards because, if you listen closely enough, they can give you invaluable insight and priceless advice.
The question remains, though, where do you start?
Fret not. I've compiled seven helpful tips to get you started on your tarot-loving journey and also included a few easy beginner spreads to get you started! Read on for more.
1. Research Possible Decks
Not all decks are for all Tarot readers. Most of the decks you’ll find on the market are based on the traditional Rider-Waite Smith deck. This is a pretty friendly deck for beginners because each of the cards in the deck depict a specific lesson in a greater journey (i.e. the "Hero's Journey").
In other decks (known as pip decks), only the major arcana cards present detailed symbolism while the other cards resembled a deck of playing cards as opposed to illustrations and scenes. However, some interpretations of the deck may be more obscure than others, adding to the confusion and overwhelm for beginner readers.
If no Rider-Waite Smith deck tickles your fancy, you may look elsewhere -- and there are many, many options nowadays. The Marseilles Tarot deck, for instance, is pretty popular in French- and Spanish-speaking countries. There are some easily available (and gorgeous!) reinterpretations of this deck, such as the Mystic Mondays Tarot. The Marseilles deck may pose a bit of a steeper learning curve than the Rider-Waite Smith, but readers everywhere who have been spellbound by it, swear by it. Other alternatives include the Thoth Tarot and the Egyptian Tarot, if you're willing to venture out a bit and explore the more occult side of tarot. (Here's a list of some of the best beginner tarot decks to also consider.)
Regardless of which deck you chose, the one you do choose must resonate with you and your personal values -- and trust me, you'll know "the one" when you see it. Tarot was designed to be read intuitively, so choosing a deck should be the same. The cards by themselves tell a story and are quite forthcoming about what they mean. Sure, other more advanced readers may prefer more abstract representations of the cards, but for now, settle on one that feels good and right to you and you alone.
"Regardless of which deck you chose, the one you do choose must resonate iwth you and your personal values..."
2. Buy a Deck
The act of buying the deck is important. Not only are you choosing it, it’s choosing you. Some of you will want to wait until the next new moon to make the purchase so it’s filled with the energy of a fresh start, while others of you simply can’t wait to just get your hands on a deck already.
Honor whatever feels best, but remember to make the purchase with intention. And, don't buy into the myth that you can't buy your own tarot deck! That's simply not true.
Trust that, by buying a deck, you’re earning far more than you’re spending. Even if you never charge anyone for a reading, the insight and guidance you'll receive from the cards is priceless. Remember, not all value comes in the form of money, it may also come as guidance, insight into your own self, or something as simple as learning to trust your own intuition. All of this has the potential to be priceless.
"Trust that, by buying this deck, you're earning far more than you're spending."
3. Cleanse the Deck and Let It Get to Know Your Energy
Decks, like all objects, hold onto the energy of the places they’ve been. They also hold onto the energy of the people that have handled them and the objects within their vicinity. You know nothing about this energy, so it’s best to play it safe and make sure to neutralize the energy whenever you feel called to.
An easy way to do this is to fill a glass with water and place the deck on top. Imagine that the water inside the glass absorbing all the energy that does not serve its highest good. Make sure not to drink the water. Dispose of it by pouring it down the toilet, saying a statement of gratitude for the work that it has performed.
You can also place a cleansing crystal like selenite, amethyst, or black tourmaline on top of the deck to reset its energy. You can also use high vibrational sounds or music, tap or knock on it three times, or simply shuffle the deck until you feel its good and ready.
My method of choice, however, is to use fumigators such as sage, palo santo, or incense to cleanse my decks of any negative, stagnant, or lingering energy before and after I work with them (notice I said "work with them" as opposed to "use them"). I simply light the fumigator and circle the smoke clockwise three times around my deck, holding the intent that the smoke is cleansing, recharging, and resetting the deck's energy.
After you feel the deck is good and ready, now it's time for the deck to get to know you. It needs to get to know who you are as a person and your unique energy in order for it to know how to work with you. Some options to help imprint your energy onto your deck is to try:
- blowing on the cards fanned out in your hands,
- sleeping with the deck on your bedside table,
- carrying it in your purse or backpack or pocket,
- placing it alongside an object you wear a lot,
- shuffling the deck,
- or simply playing with the cards.
The point is to allow your energy to imprint on the deck in a manner that feels organic and intuitive. Get to know the cards and allow them to get to know your energy.
"...the deck has to get to know you. It needs to get to know who you are as a person..."
4. Don’t Get Overwhelmed
There are a lot of different avenues to explore with tarot cards but don’t let that overwhelm you! Slow, steady, and bit by bit goes a long way. Start out by learning the major arcana first. You can do readings using only this subset of the deck, then go suit by suit when it’s time to tackle the minor arcana cards.
If it's too overwhelming, then refrain from diving into reading reversals at first -- tackle those once you're comfortable with the upright meanings. Once you have divided everything into smaller chunks, the process won’t seem so daunting. Studying for 10 minutes every day or every other day goes longer than studying for two hours once a week.
If you're serious about learning tarot, then consider using a workbook or guide to help you out, such as Woo Woo Realm's Intro to Tarot Workbook. This 76-page workbook and guide walks you through various methods of learning the majors and the minors. There are also worksheets and tarot spreads to help you dive in gently to tarot reading. Take a closer look here.
You won't really feel comfortable offering tarot readings to others until you have a good enough grasp on all of the cards. This isn't to say that you can't practice with close friends and family until then -- in fact, it's encouraged!
If you have some open-minded friends/family who are willing to let you practice on them, take advantage of it. The same goes for fellow tarot beginners. A good tarot study partner is one who lets you practice with them and who is willing to return the favor. And, don't get so caught up in trying to get every reading to land, because it's the tougher, less clear readings that make you the reader you want to be!
A good tip for when you are ready to start practicing on others is to keep a journal. Consider documenting the following:
- the question you asked the cards
- who asked it
- on what day
- what spread you used, if any
- what cards came up
- some keywords for each card
- how you interpreted them
- the outcome/advice/guidance from the cards
Remember, learning tarot doesn't have to be an isolated journey, make it a social one and have some fun with it! This is an exploration of self, really -- be curious, ask questions, and trust that your intuition will guide the way.
6. Some Easy Spreads You Can Try As a Beginner
You have a deck, you’ve cleansed it, it has gotten to know your energy, you have a working knowledge of all the meanings... now what?
Well, try out some spreads, of course! All of the spreads listed below are very simple and perfect for beginners so give them a go!
With spreads, it’s important to center your energy and then clearly communicate to the deck what you’re about to do. You can do this silently in your head or out loud, whatever you feel called to do is just fine. When you're ready, ask your question(s) aloud either while holding the cards in your hands or while you're shuffling. Below are some options of what to ask the cards.
Words of Affirmation
A lot of beginner readers get daunted when challenging outcomes start to churn up. This is why this spread is great. It will only tell you positive things.
Draw three cards. They will each answer these questions:
- What do I give others that they value greatly?
- What is a quality I have a hard time seeing in myself?
- What is a hidden talent or a quality I have not expressed enough?
When you pull the cards, journal what comes up. You will be amazed at how accurate the cards truly are, especially as time goes on. Remember, there is light and shadow aspects to each and every card in a tarot deck, so look for the blessing and the lesson in each. There is always opportunity for growth and awareness in each reading, if you choose to see it.
Past, Present, & Future
Ask the Tarot to show you the most significant energies regarding the past, the present, and the future for your given inquiry. Remember that nothing the tarot cards say is set in stone, because we all have free will and the power to change the trajectory of our day or our lives. The future the cards can show you is highly influenced by the present energy. Energy shifts and changes all the time. If I were to find out I was pregnant tomorrow, for instance, my energy would be very different from today.
You, Me, & Our Joint Energy
If you’re asking about an interpersonal relationship, this spread could work. It doesn’t have to be a romantic relationship, it could apply to the relationship you have with a parent, a friend, a colleague, or a boss.
The first card will represent how you show up for that particular bond at present. The second card will represent how they show up in the dynamic. Finally, the third card will represent how your energies come together and work... or don't.
If you happen to get a more challenging energy/card for the third placement, then consider pulling a clarifier card to gain more insight into the challenging energy. There may be opportunity for you both to work through something and come out even stronger on the other side.
Expand your practice by downloading Woo Woo Realm's Beginner Tarot Spreads for FREE!
7. Make the Process Your Own
At the end of the day, tarot is a deeply intimate spiritual journey that is yours and yours alone. If a piece of advice you have read here or anywhere else doesn’t resonate for whatever reason, let it go. Take what resonates and leave the rest.
Keep reading, exploring, and practicing until you feel comfortable with the individual card meanings and intuitive interpretations -- and be flexible! Let your intuition guide you when reading the cards. This isn't a "one size fits all" type of deal. Talk to other readers and collect different points of view on the cards. Journal and reflect on what you've written in the past. This is the only way in which you can truly make tarot your own.
Free Resources & Downloads
If you'd love some FREE cheat sheets to help you on your tarot-learning journey, check out the downloads here. Or, if you're ready to take the leap and start learning the cards, download our Intro to Tarot Workbook today!
Don't forget to sign up WooWooRealm’s newsletter for tarot tips n' tricks, tarotscopes, and deep discounts. Who knows? The newsletter can also work as an accountability tool as well!
Do you have any other tips we haven’t shared? Tell us in the comments!