Tarot is one of the world’s most well known and popular divination systems. There are many theories about how and where it began, but it has certainly been around for the last few hundred years at least.
A tarot deck is composed of a total of 78 cards, which are then divided into two distinct sections – the 22 cards of the Major Arcana, and then 56 cards of the Minor Arcana, which is further divided into four suits. The suits of the Minor Arcana are very similar to the suits in a normal deck of playing cards. As a general rule, the Major Arcana reflects major turning points in our lives – our commitments, triumphs and tragedies, while the cards of the Minor Arcana deal with the more day-to-day aspects of life. When used together, they offer a guide to the potential incidents and issues that we have to handle.
Beginning to Read the Tarot
Tarot is a very user-friendly form of divination, which is perhaps the source of its constant popularity over time. This is due to the highly visual prompts each of the cards provide. By learning to interpret the Tarot, you are continuing the age-old practice of communicating through pictures and symbols.
When you feel ready to offer a reading to someone else, it is important to consider the environment you are using. While it is perfectly possible to give readings in a noisy bar (I have done this, so I know!), it is far better to have a space set aside, or at least quiet. Too much background noise can disrupt your concentration, not to mention the interruptions you are bound to get from people who are either highly skeptical or else simply curious of your readings.
At the beginning of a reading, the other person (also known as the ‘querent’) should shuffle the cards while focusing on the subject or issue they want the reading to illuminate for them. Once they feel they have done this for long enough, they should hand you the deck.
A Step-by-Step Guide
- Before your querent arrives, gently clear and focus your mind. Try to let go of your own personal issues. This gets easier with practice, although it can help to focus on a single image for a few minutes.
- Clear the deck of previous influences by making sure that all of the cards are upright. I find tapping each edge of the cards three times helps to clear them very effectively, but use whatever method works for you. Some readers pass the cards through sage smoke or incense. Experiment, and find a method of cleaning the deck that works well for you, and don’t be afraid to change this method as you grow into your abilities as a reader.
- Next, shuffle the cards yourself. Make sure that you keep your mind clear while doing this.
- Hand the deck to your querent. Ask them to concentrate as clearly as possible on the issues that they are currently concerned about, and ask them to shuffle the deck.
- Choose whichever spread you feel most comfortable with – future posts in this series will go deeper into the various possible spreads and how to interpret them.
- Read the cards. This does not have to make sense to you. You will find that readings which confuse you make perfect sense to your querents. Remember, you know nothing of the situation which has brought your querent to you, and try to avoid making assumptions about their life which could taint your reading.
- Finish by giving a summary of the reading and asking the querent if they understand what the reading has revealed.
Finishing a Reading
When you finish a reading, you should always ask the querent if they understand and accept the information you have given them. It is with this final step that you will be able to monitor your skill as a reader, and it is also a great way to boost your confidence.
Don’t be discouraged if your querent doesn’t understand anything the cards have said, particularly when you are still learning. Mistakes do happen, and they are always a learning experience.