Everyone’s tarot journey is different. I am quite lucky in that I found good guidance early one in the form of a couple of tarot mentors and good books, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t make some “mistakes” (read: learning opportunities). Here are a few things I wish I knew back then when I started learning tarot.
Tarot is as Much a Skill as a Gift
I very much believe that intuition and insight is real. I also acknowledge that some people are more readily able to access their intuition than others. Even so, tarot is accessible to everyone. Why? Well, because we all have intuition and tarot is about using a tool to develop it. Tarot is as much a skill as it is an art. And, anyone can learn a skill with enough work. The idea that people are just “born” psychic is really only partly true. Sure, some people have that gift, but many (most) have to put in the work to develop it. Tarot is a great way of doing that. So, study those card meanings. Read up on different spreads. And, practice, practice, practice! After a while, the work helps unlock the intuition.
One Deck is Enough
Obviously, I love tarot decks. I review decks on this blog. When I started, I bought two decks right off the bat, and the collection grew from there. That’s fine. It’s good even, as some decks connect differently for me than others. But, when I was just getting started, it may have been helpful for me to stick with just one deck that I really liked. That way, I would have learned it deeply, instead of jumping around a bit and confusing myself over the minor differences in symbolism.
Of course I was going to get more decks. I’m me! But, this is something I’d suggest to anyone: When you’ve bought a deck, stick with it a while to really give yourself a chance to connect with it. This is especially true when your learning, and it is doubly true with decks from different systems. Look, taking French 1 and Spanish 1 in the same semester of school is going to lead to confusing the vocabulary words. Well, so is learning with both Thoth and Marseille decks at the exact same time. With that in mind . . .
Tarot Takes Time
On the face of it, 78 cards isn’t really that many. Anyone with a decent memory might say, “Sheesh, I can learn the card meanings in a week!” I know I did! Well, in truth, it’s yes and no. Really internalizing the meanings of the cards and developing a feel for you you interpret them takes time. It may even take a lifetime. So, be gentle with yourself and don’t push yourself too hard to be a “professional-level” reader in the first few weeks. Even more, as you change, your relationship with the cards will change–and usually for the better. But, in order for that to happen you will have to remain flexible and in a learning mindset for a long time after you have memorized 78 basic keywords.
There is No Typical Tarot Reader
For better or worse, tarot comes with a lot of preconceptions about who can use the cards. The truth is that anyone can and does. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, black or white, old or young. It also doesn’t matter if you have a particular set of spiritual views and practices. There are fantastic Pagan and Wiccan tarot readers. There are also highly skilled Christian, Muslim, agnostic and atheist readers.
In that same vein, every reader will have a different approach to tarot. Some readers may meditate beforehand. Some may invoke ancestors or spirits. Others may pray to God. Some . . . just shuffle the cards. While I like to go into readings with protection and feeling centered, I don’t think that there is only one way of achieving that. Quite simply, you don’t have to have a certain elaborate, ritualistic way of using tarot. You can create the method of using tarot that works for you and makes you feel grounded and comfortable. I wish I would have realized that when I first started.
Personal Readings are Hard
I started out using tarot to do readings for myself. In fact, the whole reason I got into tarot was to read for myself! However, I found out fairly quickly that reading for myself is surprisingly hard, especially if it was on a topic with which I had a strong emotional connection. While it is useful to do daily personal readings, I quickly felt I was at a plateau with them. The answer really is to read for others. It help develop intuition without the emotional attachment.
Granted, not everyone has a gaggle of friends and family to read tarot for. Well, that’s where the internet was incredibly helpful to me. I learned that doing exchange readings on a tarot forum was a much better way of developing my skills than reading for myself incessantly. I also got good feedback and a critical eye on my readings. More than that, the “distance” of the internet was actually an excellent challenge for my intuitive skills. Once I was further along, I was able to return to reading for myself, but with better tools and also better boundaries (like learning when my energy was right for reading, and when it wasn’t).
We are all different
These are just my lessons. If you survey twelve tarot readers about what they wish they knew early on, you’d get way more than twelve different answers. The same is true of how we all differently interpret the cards, even within the same system and framework. That’s the beauty of tarot. So, that begs the question: What do you wish you’d known when you started reading tarot? Answer in the comments!
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