Many people feel the call of the Tarot deck, perhaps starting off by visiting a professional reader, but eventually deciding that they would like to read the cards for themselves. But once you have decided that you would like to start reading Tarot, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Tarot cards aren’t magical, and if you aren’t already clairvoyant, they won’t help you see the future. Tarot cards are a tool that help you access your intuition so that you can better understand what is happening both in the physical world and in our inner worlds.
What exactly is intuition? I find it useful to think of it as insights developed by the subconscious. We all have a conscious mind and a subconscious mind. Our conscious mind is responsible for our daily thought processes and the constant chatter that often occupies our heads. In order to make this conscious thinking manageable, the conscious mind can’t process all of the vast amounts of data collected by our senses, so it filters that data, only sending us what it thinks is important, largely based on past experience, societal norms, and the innate drive to protect.
The subconscious mind on the other hand can manage and process all the data gathered by our senses, allowing it to develop much deeper and more accurate insights about the reality of life. The subconscious mind will sometimes send us these insights, which manifest as a gut feeling or a "light bulb" moment, so intuition.
Tarot is about actively gaining access to the insights produced by the subconscious, rather than just waiting for them to be pushed up. As such, anyone can work with Tarot cards, you do not need psychic or clairvoyant abilities, we all have intuition. Read more on Tarot at some of my favorite websites such as Numerology Sign and The Tarot Lady.
Since Tarot reading is about accessing your intuition, it is your intuition, rather than the Tarot cards themselves, that is the most important thing you should bring to a reading, so it is good to prepare your mind for a reading. This should take the form both as a long-term commitment to exercising this part of the brain, and a pre-game warm up!
First, you want to develop your ability to gain access to your intuition in general. I have found that meditation is a very effective way to do this. While there are many different ways to meditate, the essence of the practice is recognizing the constant chatter in your conscious mind for what it is and put those thoughts to one side. Over time this will quiet the conscious mind in general, giving it more space and capacity to receive important messages from the subconscious mind.
As well as creating this capacity, I find it useful to give my intuition opportunities to rise to the surface in daily life. Practicing presence is an excellent way to do this. Presence is simply being in a given moment, minimizing distractions about the past and future, or what might be happening elsewhere. Whenever I have the chance I try to practice presence, putting distractions like my phone to one side, and really focusing on what is happening where I am, thinking about what I can see, hear and smell, and pushing distracting thoughts that try and draw me elsewhere to the back of my mind. I find that during these moments I often get insights from my subconscious mind bubbling to the surface.
Over time exercises like this will strengthen your access to your intuition, and you also want to actively strengthen that access directly before a Tarot reading, the pre-game warm up. I always precede a Tarot reading with a quick 10-minute meditation. I then wait five minutes holding my Tarot deck in my hands, being in the moment and focusing on what the cards feel and smell like.
While the Tarot deck may only be a tool to access you intuition, they are an incredibly important tool, and it is important that you have the right deck, and learn how to use it.
The first step is selecting your deck. Buying your own Tarot deck is okay as it means as it means I can get a deck that suits me best, however someone buying one for you as a gift is best. There are many different decks out there with different symbolism and different histories. The best way to find the right deck is to pass time looking at the different decks, researching them online, looking at pictures, reading what is available about the meaning of the cards and how it is recommended to use a particular deck. Eventually your intuition should draw you to a deck that inspires you and speaks to your sensibilities. Since the role of the deck is to access your intuition, trust your intuition when selecting your deck.
Once you have your cards you need to build the connection between your intuition and the deck. This basically means spending time with the cards so that your subconscious mind can absorb the information they hold and integrate this with the other data it is processing. So pass time with your deck in your hands, shuffling the cards, moving them around, and learning how they feel. The draw individual cards from the deck and study them. Read what the guidebook has to say about the card, and then focus your attention on the card and see what parts of the meaning defined in the guide speak most strongly to you, and what other ideas the card brings to your head. These will be the most important meanings of this card for you and should come mind when you see the card again.
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Before you do a reading, you need to decide where you are going to do it. Few of us have the luxury of a dedicated Tarot space, and you do not always need to read the Tarot in the same spot, but you do need a place that is quiet, safe, and free of distractions and connotations.
To focus on your intuition, you need to find a space where your mind won’t be pulled by other things, whether that is people entering the space, or ideas that are associated with the space. For example, if you have just had a stressful day at work, you won’t want to do the reading at your work desk. If you are doing the reading for another person this is even more important as a Tarot reading often requires talking about difficult and private things, and the person will want a safe and private space to do that.
At this stage you are ready to start reading. You don not have to wait until you have memorized by heart the meaning of all the different cards, these will stick better once you start reading and using the cards.
Look up a number of different spreads and try them out. If you are just starting out, begin with simple three card spreads and work your way up, rather than jumping right into to a complex 10 card spread. Ten cards is a lot of cards to keep track of, especially since it is not just the individual cards, but how they relate to one another that is important.
How you frame your question in your reading is important. You should avoid simple yes and no questions, for example will this new business venture succeed of fail. Instead you should focus on open ended questions, and also questions that also focus on things that you can be actively doing to make changes for the better in your life. For example, ask what you could be doing at this time to bring success into your life. Not only will this give your intuition scope to make connection that your conscious mind can’t imagine, but as with many things, life is largely what we make of it, so a positive mindset goes a long way.