What follows are some simple exercises for learning Tarot in an intuitive, personal and meaningful way.
What works and what doesn’t?
Tarot is not about memorizing a bunch of other people’s definitions. If you approach learning Tarot in this manner you will end up frustrated and will probably give up altogether. There are many books by many authors with many interpretations, but rather than memorizing their interpretations what you want to do is learn from them while at the same time developing your own tarot language. Each of us will connect with the cards a little differently. Although there is some “universal’ symbolism to each card, the deeper meanings and subtleties are very individual.
In order to be an effective reader, you have to connect with your cards. You need to know what they say to you, how they make you feel, how they tie into one another from your frame of reference. The best way to do this is through a Tarot journal.
I suggest using a 3 ring binder for this so you can add, subtract, move around etc as needed. Choose the deck you want to learn with. For beginners, I recommend a Waite deck or one based on that since they have the most learning material available.
You will need a place to do your journaling that is very quiet so that you can concentrate, undisturbed for at least fifteen minutes or so.
Work on one or two cards per day until you complete the entire deck. You don’t want to do more than that because you don’t want the exercises to blend into each other or to try to do too much at once. Doing no more than a couple per day allows time for the information to ‘sink in” and for your meanings to develop.
The idea is to take your card of the day and place it in front of you. Look at it for 30 seconds and record in your journal your first reactions to the card. Answer the following questions.
- What is the first thing you noticed?
- How does the card make you feel initially?
- What is the mood of the character(s) depicted in the card?
- What is happening?
- What is going on in the background?
After this initial observation, spend several solid moments looking into your card. Noticed different shapes, symbols, and colors; make note of what they are and what you think of when you see them. This doesn’t have to be perfect this is just the observation phase and notes help you make more careful/detailed observations.
The last step is to write a story about the card. What is going on, who are the character(s), where are they, what are they feeling etc. What lessons does this story teach?
This helps to personalize the card for you. As you learn to read the cards you will see how the stories begin to blend into each other, and how these card stories coincide with real life events in a querrent’s life.
Start at the beginning of your deck with the Major Arcana. Do the above exercises for at least fifteen minutes per card. Once you have worked through the entire deck start back at the beginning by re-reviewing the cards. Add any extra insights or notes you want to your journal entry for that card.
After you have done the Tarot journal you should find that spreads and readings begin to come naturally.