Do you want to learn to read tarot? Intrigued by the magical relationship that tarot readers seem to have with their cards?
The art (and magic) of reading cards comes when you develop an intuitive relationship with your deck, as well as learning the traditional archetypal meanings. Keeping a journal of your readings, insights, and questions as YOU use them in your life is the best way to stimulate and expand your intuitive knowledge.
Choosing A Journal
If you are an old journaling hand, you’ll likely get really excited about the excuse to go out and buy a new Moleskine or fresh old-school composition book. The journal can be any kind, it just needs to have big enough pages to draw out your spreads and have room to write notes. You can use the notebook you already have for daily reflection—though I’ve found that can be cumbersome when I want to go back and annotate or look at old spreads. You can create artwork in your journal, print out images of the cards involved, make notes with colored pens and pencils—whatever gets you jazzed about recording your readings. I have a preference for rollerball pens and softcover journals, and it’s always a self-care treat to go out and get a new box of pens and notebook.
If you just can’t imagine writing longhand, create a file on your computer to organize your readings and notes. Then it’s easy to take pictures of your readings to include them and add notes in different font colors. I do always encourage people to try the longhand approach because of the body connection to the super and sub conscious minds. It can be easier to deactivate the conscious mind when writing by hand. But choose the method that will be the most interesting to you, so that you will do it.
Draw a Card a Day
I started learning tarot by drawing a card a day and doing one larger spread every Sunday for the week. I still draw a card daily after I meditate or spend time in the Akashic Records. I usually just ask for guidance for the day, what I might need to think about or a quality I need to cultivate.
At first, you will want to have a good tarot book on hand to help you learn the traditional meanings. I like Jana Riley’s Tarot Dictionary and Compendium but there are many good books out there. I also like learntarot.com as an online reference site. Your deck probably came with a little book, but these are rarely complete enough to be very useful—though if you have purchased a non-traditional deck you’ll want to keep it to understand the creator’s insights into their deck.
Though you do want to learn the traditional meanings, the real magic of tarot is developing your relationship with the cards, as I’ve said. So to do this, when you draw your card, before looking up the meaning, take some time to record your own impressions of the image and colors in your journal. What were your first reactions when you saw the card? What part of the card are you drawn to? What images or colors? What feelings did the card stimulate in you? Make notes in your journal.
Recall your card into your mind at different points throughout the day. Notice if any of the themes of the archetype are coming up or being called for. At the end of the day, spend a few minutes recording how the energy of the card showed up in your life. Write down anything that feels relevant, even if it isn’t obviously related. Trust intuitive insights you have about the card and it’s energy.
You’ll also want to keep track of cards that show up often. And they will. I had one year in which I pulled the Strength card all the time. It was appropriate; I was being asked to develop inner strength and reconnect to my desire nature on all levels. At another time it was the Ten of Swords. As one of the “scary” cards in the tarot, it was such a gift to have the opportunity to approach my fear of this card and to begin to understand what it really meant in the context of my life and in readings.
Practice and Track Your Readings
In order to get comfortable doing readings—even if you only ever read for yourself—you have to practice. I recommend you work with smaller readings first, such as three card spreads. As you get comfortable integrating the meanings of three cards, you can play with the Celtic Cross or the myriad of other large readings that exist.
Keep notes on each reading as you do it, and then go back and make notes about how the spread manifested for you or how you implemented the wisdom. I go back to readings that seem especially significant many times, annotating with colored pens for different dates and new insights. You’d be surprised at how revealing a spread may seem after six months, for example.
Watch for recurring pairs or sequences of cards as well as single cards. Notice if your spreads are often deficient in one suit, or if the court cards always/never come up—things like that. Does the Death card show up every time you need to make a change? How about numbers—are there lots of sevens or fives? As you keep your journal, you will be amazed by how your confidence and fluidity in reading the cards begins to evolve with your intuition.
If you do find yourself coming up with themes or cards that you can’t make sense of, please reach out for a reading from a professional. Or if you need objectivity on a big issue in your life. I still get readings from other tarot peeps—it’s illuminating and fun! I’m here if you need me—you can order a one or two question tarot reading here, or contact me to find out what type of reading is best for you.