Typically, many Tarot decks on the market today only come with a small booklet providing a brief description or interpretation of each card, and offering the Celtic Cross layout and perhaps two or three simple spreads. Even if you purchase a deck that comes with an accompanying book, there seems little guidance on how to begin, and soon most people give up and relegate their decks to the back of their dresser drawer or a seldom visited shelf.
So if you’re one of those people who has a deck stashed away, or you’ve always been drawn to learn the Tarot, here are some great guidelines to get you started.
Selecting the Right Deck
There are many Tarot decks available on the market today, offering an endless selection. Many metaphysical stores will have a number of decks open for display, allowing you to sort through the individual images and get a feel for the card’s energies.
The are three basic criteria for selecting your deck; its visual properties, its energy qualities, and personal identification, or the level of connection you feel with the deck.
You’ll want to opt for a deck that you are drawn to visually, noting the characteristics of the images and the visuals they portray. For beginners, I recommend the Hanson Roberts or Robin Woods decks. They are smaller than most decks and easier to handle. If you are able to shuffle through a sample deck, you’ll be able to get a sense of the energy they emit. You may also be drawn to a “theme” deck, so trust your instincts and pick a deck you can identify with.
Purifying and Storing Your Deck
Once you get your Tarot deck home (or pull it out of that drawer), it’s important to cleanse and purify the deck before using it. There are a number of ways to purify the deck, and one of the easiest methods is with a sage smudge stick or incense. Open the deck and fan it out across your table or workspace. Then light the stick and let the smoke waft over the cards. Then turn the cards over and repeat. A second method of purification is to rub the deck with a silk or cotton cloth. If you choose to protect your cards by wrapping them in a silk cloth, you can use this cloth to purify them after each use.
The Tarot cards are a magnet for energy, so it’s very important that they are stored properly when not in use. Wrapping them in a silk or wool cloth or scarf is a great way to insulate them, or you can find a box or container with a lid to house them in.
Preparing Your Space
Make sure you practice your reading sessions in a quiet and calm place, with no distractions. Use a flat surface with plenty of room to lay the cards out on. Light some candles or incense and clear your head with some deep breathing or a brief meditation. Then say a simple prayer that you be guided to receive the answers you are seeking, from the highest source possible.
Formulating Your Question
The way you phrase your question is one of the most important aspects in reading the Tarot. For example, if you ask, “Am I going to get some money”, you are leaving the time frame and method that money will come to you wide open. Be as specific as possible with your questions. For example, “Will the money I am waiting for arrive this week?” Or, “I need $300 before next Friday, will I get it and how will I get it?”
Shuffling the Cards
There is no right or wrong way to shuffle the cards. You can pick a method that is comfortable to you, whether it involves traditional shuffling, cutting the cards repeatedly, or fanning them out on the table and shuffling them in a circular manner. As you shuffle, concentrate on your question and then trust your instincts to indicate when they have been shuffled long enough.
Laying Out the Cards
You can lay the cards out on the table either face up or face down. For beginners it may be easier to pull the cards and lay them out face down, turning them over as you read each one. Then when you become more proficient, you may find that laying them out face up will give you a better overall picture of the reading. Either way is acceptable, so go with your instincts, or try both ways to see which one works best for you.
Reading the Cards
Pay close attention to the images of the cards while you are reading, as well as the number of major and minor arcana that appear in a spread. The more major arcana cards you have, the more prominent the messages a reading will contain.
The minor suits of the Tarot, the Rods, Cups, Swords and Pentacles, all correspond to different aspects of life, and different seasons:
Rods – Spiritual or Business Ventures/Spring
Cups – Emotions/Summer
Swords – Thoughts, Ideas and Communication/Autumn
Pentacles – Money, Objects, The Physical World/Winter
Using these guidelines will help you determine more clearly, what dimensions of a situation or question the cards are addressing.
Once you feel more confident with your readings, it’s a great idea to ask friends or relatives to let you read for them, to take your skills to the next level.
Susyn Blair-Hunt, MsD has been a professional metaphysical consultant for over 25 years and holds a Doctorate in Metaphysics, along with certification by The American Association of Professional Psychics and the American Tarot Association. This article contains excerpts from her book, “Tarot Prediction and Divination”, your complete guide for reading the Tarot. To contact Susyn and learn more about her private readings, daily horoscopes, books, radio show and other psychic services, visit her at SusynBlairHunt.com.