When I cracked open my first tarot deck 23 years ago I had no idea how far my studies would go. A lot of trial and error have marked the journey. Here are a few things I wish I could tell my 19 year old self to help her sidestep a few insecurities and roadblocks on the way.
1. You do not need to leave your skepticism at the door.
There is no need for blind faith here. Bringing an open mind and heart allows room for your experiences to reveal what is truthful to you. You may find tarot is an entirely secular activity, invoking the subconscious or reflecting your dreams. You might also encounter a whole multiverse of spiritual creatures and psychic insights. I even recommend bringing your critical mind with you. Deep examination reveals more personal truths than just accepting other people’s philosophies.
2. It’s ok if you don’t connect with your deck.
Get another one. This is an inexpensive hobby. Don’t try to force a relationship with a deck if you just aren’t hitting it off. I didn’t understand my first deck. I still don’t. I felt like I wasn’t trying hard enough to connect with it but it just didn’t resonate. Try a few until you find one that touches the heart, then dig in and build a relationship.
3. You don’t have to know anything about tarot to do a useful reading.
Intuition. That’s all you need. If you have the first five senses then why not the sixth? It might take a while to recognize the voice and trust what it’s saying but it’s there. There are lots of exercises and approaches to bringing intuition into a tarot practice but you don’t need any of them to get started. Go with your gut. If thoughts, images or emotions emerge while you are reading the cards, follow them and see what happens. Comparing them to the traditional meanings of the cards may reveal synchronicity.
4. Tarot books are both your ally and your foe.
I love tarot books. They are invaluable sources of insight, but they can become a crutch. Try giving yourself time to let information rise from within for each card you draw before automatically flipping the pages to see what someone else has to say. Write down your own impressions as well as what you read. This builds your relationship with the cards which allows you to leave the books behind completely when you are ready.
5. You are entering a world of contradiction and paradox.
The tarot community is a diverse world of conflicting rules, creative history and incompatible interpretations. Many teachers say to pick one system and stick with it. I have developed the attention span of the internet age so I tend to study multiple threads at a time. I would definitely recommend sticking with one deck for a while, and using the system that connects to it as a home base. It becomes clear the deeper you go that the differences are irrelevant and not that discordant after all.
6. Studying with others speeds things up immensely.
Thousands of people around the world are studying tarot every day. Find them in person or online and play. Reading for each other is fun and enlightening. Reading for other people teaches you a lot more than just pulling cards about your own issues over and over.
7. Fear not the future. Nothing you read in the cards seals your fate.
Fate is not fixed. You will not uncover unavoidable disasters in the future. You may read about uncomfortable possible outcomes based on your current path. You may see potential negative outcomes based on different options. How you choose to move forward and how you approach the future is up to you. Intuitive reading gives you the freedom to follow your best possible path.
8. Don’t be afraid of the ‘scary’ cards.
Ominous Death and the Flaming Tower! The Bloody Pierced Heart! The Slain Warrior Alone and in Pain! Ack! Doom is not raining down upon you when you pull a frightful image. Each card presents a full spectrum of gifts and challenges. There are no ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cards. As in life, we have challenges and gifts and they are often in the same package. Interpreting these cards becomes easier the more you pull them. Once you see what they reflect in your daily life you see how normal they are. They can represent shadow strengths, hard-fought victories or transformative learning opportunities. Don’t jump to conclusions.
9. People LOVE having their cards read.
We love to hear about ourselves. Don’t be nervous about practicing on friends or worry about giving bad readings. If what you say resonates, they will take that piece away. Anything that misses the mark likely won’t be remembered. Trust people to know themselves. Besides, they get what they pay for.
10.This will take a long time.
Gaining a comfortable understanding of the cards can take years. Mastering the art of tarot takes a lifetime. It’s worth it. You can chip away at it over years, slowly integrating this tool your life or throw yourself in the deep end with dedication and focus. Either way, the rewards come quickly and consistently. Enjoy the long beautiful road ahead.
Anything questions or anything you would add to the list? Please comment below!