10 Essential Tips for Understanding Tarot

10 Essential Tips for Understanding Tarot

Before deciding to create Tarot of Flowers, I was an avid oracle deck user and fan, but I wasn't yet very versed in Tarot specifically. Tarot intrigued me, but it also intimidated me a little. I also had the impression that Tarot was a bit dark, more medieval and deterministic than I would like. However, once I started researching and diving into Tarot, I was thrilled to find a world of actually quite accessible and deeply human experience that has spanned thousands of years and still contains such relatable insights today for the soul's journey through life.

 

I love that Tarot instead of being about predicting your future is actually about offering you a mirror, one that you energetically selected, to show you the truth inside that is seeking to be heard and considered. I also love that Tarot can be of its time — there are countless tarot decks out there that interpret, build upon, and utilize the archetypes and traditional meanings for each card in a way that is aware of and connected with our current world.

 

Ultimately, the Tarot is a system of self-discovery that is able to carry the timelessness of human experience alongside the energies and nuances of our present world, interests, and needs. To help demystify Tarot and empower you to explore its wisdom and insightful guidance, I've compiled 10 essential tips for understanding Tarot for you here. May this be a happy and fascinating beginning for you as you explore and evolve on this beautiful path we know as life.

 

10 ESSENTIAL TIPS FOR UNDERSTANDING TAROT

 

1. TAROT IS A TOOL FOR SELF-DISCOVERY

Tarot is not divination, nor is it used to predict the future. Instead, it is a set of timeless human wisdom and experiences that offer you guidance and insights into your own inner wisdom at any stage or moment of life.

 

2. A BIT OF TAROT HISTORY

The first known Tarot decks emerged in Italy in the early 1400s, but Tarot has deep and highly nebulous roots in ancient Turkish and Middle Eastern card games as well as ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.

   

3. WHAT'S INSIDE A TAROT DECK

Tarot is made up of 78 cards, which exist in two main sections: the Major Arcana, and the Minor Arcana. "Arcana" translates to mean something close to "secrets" or "mysteries." Tarot decks also contain a guidebook to provide descriptions and meanings of each card, plus they often contain other essentials of Tarot to facilitate your readings and enrich your experience.

 

4. THE MAJOR ARCANA

The Major Arcana is made up of 22 powerful cards, numbered 0 to 21, that embody significant experiences along the soul's journey through life. They begin with "0 | The Fool" as we embark with innocence and courage into the unknown, and then proceed through many stages of growth, connection, trials, loss, learning, and hope until reaching "The World" when our experience comes full circle (after which we begin anew as "The Fool" again). Such are the cycles within cycles of the soul's journey. 

 

5. THE MINOR ARCANA

The Minor Arcana is made up of 56 cards that are broken into four suits, each containing 14 cards that correspond with and speak to more of our everyday needs, opportunities, and desires. The four suits are:

Wands — related to the Fire element and associated with matters of creativity and desire

Cups — related to Water element and associated with emotions and relationships

Swords — related to the Air element and associated with matters of consciousness and intellect

Pentacles — related to the Earth element and associated with home, hearth, and material possessions (Pentacles are coins!)

Bonus fun fact: The Minor Arcana suits are the original basis for the suits of a modern playing cards. The Wands became the Clubs, the Cups became the Hearts, the Swords became the Spades, and the Pentacles became the Diamonds.

 

6. HOW TO PREPARE YOUR CARDS

To prepare your cards for a reading, you will want to first set the scene. Choose a comfortable and peaceful setting where you can spread out your cards. You may also want to include crystals or stones for the energy they each bring. It's nice to burn a bit of palo santo or sage and smudge the space with the smoke to cleanse the energy in and around you. It's a nice ritual for grounding you in the present moment through these sense cues too.

 

7. HOW TO SHUFFLE YOUR CARDS

To shuffle your cards, it's important to shuffle your cards by cutting the deck repeatedly, rather than doing what is known as the "riffle" method of shuffling that we use with normal playing cards. Your cards contain deep wisdom and countless experiences of self-discovery, so you will want to handle them respectfully and and treat them with extra care by not bending .

 

8. HOW TO DO A TAROT CARD READING

A Tarot card reading provides guidance in the moment. You can draw a card or read a spread anytime, every day if you like. One card or spread is simply a window into your own soul and information to consider as you seek guidance in this moment. A "spread" is a selection and layout of cards for a reading. A few of my favorite Tarot spreads (card layouts) are:

1 Card — Single Card Reading — The card giving you the guidance you need in that moment, the food for thought to consider, or the intention for your day

2 Cards — "Path-Obstacle" Spread — The first card sits vertically as the path with the second card horizontally placed on top of it as the obstacle.

3 Cards — "Mind / Body / Spirit" (or) "Past / Present / Future" Spreads — Draw three cards and place them next to one another, with the first on the left, the second in the middle, and the third on the right, each corresponding to the trio of meanings above you have chosen.

 

9. HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR CARD(S)

The way to choose your cards is completely intuitive. After you shuffle and prepare your deck, spread the cards out in front of you and allow yourself to actually feel for which card is calling you. I often have people in readings hover their hands over the spread of cards to sense where they may sense a little bump of energy. Some people just visually notice and are called to a card. Whatever works for you, trust yourself. This is a completely intuitive process and experience, and it begins with trusting yourself and the card or cards you select.

 

10. HOW TO READ YOUR CARD(S)

When reading your card(s), take your time considering all details the card provides. What is the suit or character it represents? What does the artwork or image evoke? What associations or memories or connections do you have with what you see? Then read the card's meaning in the book and synthesize the messages you are receiving. 

 

With these tips in mind, you are well on your way to confidently explore and experience the endless garden of wisdom and guidance, support and delight, connection and learning that the Tarot provides.

 

To begin your journey, check out Tarot of Flowers, where the wisdom of Tarot meets the metaphoric guidance of flowers. Flowers are one of the most universally hopeful and accessible things to behold in life, and that's why I've allowed their language, behavior, wisdom, and folklore to be the path into Tarot wisdom in this deck. 

 

Enjoy!

 

XX

 

 

 

 

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