The Mysteries of Tarot: A Guide to Getting Started

Photos by Magenta

Tarot cards have been used for centuries to help people unlock their inner wisdom and gain insight into their lives. We believe that tarot cards are a powerful tool for personal growth, understanding, and self-discovery. But they can also be used to divine.  

If you’re new to card reading, it can be overwhelming to know where to start learning tarot. This is a quick guide designed to give you a high level understanding of tarot and hopefully provide you with the information you need to get started. Let’s clear away some of the mystery of tarot and get you started on your journey!

A very very (very!) brief history of Tarot

The history of tarot dates back centuries and is believed to have originated in Italy as a kind of parlour game. The earliest surviving tarot deck dates back to the 15th century, although many believe that tarot cards are much older than this. 

In the 18th century, tarot cards became popular among the upper classes in Europe and were used for divination and spiritual guidance. By the 19th century, tarot cards had become associated with the occult and were used by mystics and occultists for fortune-telling and divination. 

Nowadays, tarot cards are used by people of all walks of life, from spiritual seekers to everyday people looking for guidance in their lives. We even believe tarot can be used in boardroom. The tarot is a powerful tool for gaining insight into your life and unlocking your inner strength. Its system of symbols and archetypes can be used to help make sense of the world so by understanding the tarot and its symbolism, you can gain valuable insight into your own life and your journey.

Understanding Tarot 

The tarot is a kind of symbolic language that can help you unlock the mysteries of your life by reflecting back. This is done through careful interpretation of the cards’ unique symbolism and meaning. It is by understanding the meaning of the cards, you can gain insight into your own life and gain clarity about a particular situation or problem.

The modern day tarot deck is divided into two sections: the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana consists of 22 cards and represents life’s karmic and spiritual lessons. The Minor Arcana consists of 56 cards and represents everyday life situations. 

Each card in the tarot has its own unique symbolism and a general, universally agreed meaning so it is important to understand the symbolism and this general meaning of each card as you start learning tarot. Luckily our friend the Internet has an abundance of resources on tarot card meanings to help you when you start.

Choosing the right tarot deck for you

When it comes to choosing a tarot deck, it is important to choose one that resonates with you. There are many different tarot decks available, and each one often has its own unique symbolism and artwork that connects to the universally agreed, generalised, meanings. 

When you are first starting to learn tarot, it might be a good idea to buy a tarot deck with simple imagery and symbolism or something like the Rider Waite Smith deck, where there are lots of free resources available on the meaning of the cards. 

But once you have a grasp of the basics, you can then explore other tarot decks with more intricate symbolism and artwork. It is important to take your time and find a deck that speaks to you and resonates with you. For example, look for one with artwork that you are drawn to and that speaks to you. 

You can also look for a deck that has imagery and symbolism that resonates with your own personal beliefs and values. Once you have chosen a deck, it is important to spend some time getting to know the cards and their meanings as part of your learning.

Learn to read tarot cards by not reading the cards

Learning the tarot is often described as an intuitive process, and works within the framework of their universally agreed meanings. This requires a bit of practise and patience. 

Start learning tarot by familiarising yourself with the symbolism and meaning of each card. The best way to do this is to spend time with the cards, without worrying too much about doing readings. So try and focus on one card at a time by looking at the card and tuning into the symbolism and imagery of the card. Then, take some time to think about the card, do a bit of research on what it might mean. Finally, you can use your intuition to interpret the card and draw your own conclusions.

Keep a journal of your learning as you go and remember to keep an open mind, allow yourself to interpret the cards in your own unique way by listening to your intuition. Although the cards do have those general, univserally agreed meanings, they are just symbols. This means the interpretation of the cards is subjective. 

Universally agreed tarot card meanings

When it comes to tarot card meanings, the cards do have a set of high level meanings. For example, for the minor arcana the meaning is connected to the suit and the number. There is also a story arc with the major arcana that can be drawn upon as part of your interpretation of the cards. 

Tarot card questions

Tarot cards are used as tools to give answers to the questions posed of them and because tarot cards can have so many layers, depending on the symbolism and imagery, it is better to ask open questions rather than closed questions of the tarot. 

Good questions to ask the tarot are questions that start with “How” or “What” rather than “Will” or “When”. When asking questions, it is important to know that the interpretation of the cards can become subjective and dependent on the question. Always try to interpret the cards in the context of the question being asked first, even if sometimes this might feel at odds with the universally agreed meanings.

Tarot card spreads

It is entirely possible to read single cards in order to answer questions but tarot card spreads are a great way to get more insight into a particular situation or question. A tarot card spread is the way a group of cards are laid out in a specific pattern, and each card in the spread is then given a specific attribute depending on where it is laid down. This attribute might be “The Past” or “Things To Be Aware Of”. The card’s own meaning is then interpreted within the context of this attribute. 

There are so many different tarot card spreads, and many readers create their own using their intuition. So when you are starting out, it is important to choose a spread that resonates with you, draws on the attributes you might want insight into and that speaks to the question or situation you are trying to understand.

Interpreting tarot cards

Tarot readings are the process of interpreting spreads, tarot card meanings and the connections between the cards relative to the positions they are laid down in. This can be a difficult process and requires practise and patience. When interpreting a tarot reading, it is important to keep an open mind and allow yourself to interpret the cards in your own unique way. 

Begin by looking again at the question being asked, then look at the cards as a whole and consider the overall message they are giving you. It is also important to look at the individual cards and consider the symbolism and meaning of each card and the position it has been placed in. Finally, you can use your intuition to interpret the reading and draw your own conclusions.

Remember that the cards can sometimes give you an answer that seems to not match its universally agreed meaning, this is OK! Just as long as you can interpret the cards in the context of the question being asked, the answer will be in there!

Just be open-minded and allow yourself to interpret the cards in your own unique way. If it helps, you can focus on one card at a time and take some time to think about the card and what it might mean in relation to another. And certainly while you start learning tarot, don’t be afraid to research or look at the book if you get stuck or don’t understand a card.

Key takeaways to start learning tarot

Tarot cards are a powerful tool for gaining insight into your life and unlocking your inner wisdom. Hopefully, some of the mystery of tarot has been cleared away. The main thing to remember is intuition used with the cards’ universally agreed meanings, in context with the question being asked, is the secret to interpreting your readings. That and spending time with your cards is the best way to familiarise yourself with them. So we hope you’re now ready to dive in and unlock the mysteries of tarot for yourself. 

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Published by Magenta School of Magick

We are a magick school for spiritually minded people who want advice and resources about, plus training on, using our ‘philosophy and art of affecting intended change through unseen causes’ (known as humanistic magick) in order to make changes that improve their work and lifestyle.