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10 Tips for Learning the Basics of Tarot

Updated: Sep 14

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10 Tips for Learning the Basics of Tarot


Welcome back!


Ready to begin speaking the language of your soul? If you caught the blog last week, we discussed the seven benefits of reading tarot for yourself. Tarot is a beautiful practice that allows you to tap into your subconscious mind and grow and develop your intuition. So if you've decided to dabble in tarot for yourself, you're probably wondering how to learn tarot and interpret the cards.

Most tarot decks follow the traditional Rider-Waite format, typically consisting of 22 major and 56 minor arcana themes for a total of 78 cards. If you're new to tarot, learning how to interpret 78 cards can seem like a very overwhelming task. So before we dive in, let us put your mind at ease by letting you know that although tarot is a massive undertaking, it is also a skill that requires practice. The more you read, the more you uncover about this ancient art. In fact, tarot is such an in-depth subject that we'll center this post around learning the basics of tarot. Be sure to tune in next week, where we'll provide additional tips on mastering the art of interpretation. So let's dive in. Below are our ten tips for learning the basics and mechanics of tarot.


Learn the Meanings of Suits

Decks following the Rider-Waite format typically have four suits: swords, cups, wands, and pentacles. Modern decks may vary in suits but usually have the same general meanings. Swords are associated with the mind, thinking, and communication. Cups deal with the heart, feelings, and emotions. Wands represent ideas, purpose, and passions, with pentacles alluding to the material and physical realm. That was a general and quick overview of each suit. However, if you want to further your tarot practice, you will want to dive deep into everything each suit can represent.


Learn the Meanings of Numbers

Numerology has a significant bearing on the card meanings in tarot. Each suit in the minor arcana has ten cards numbered one through ten, not including the court cards. The major arcana are numbered zero through twenty-one. Therefore, learning the basics of what each number means will significantly aid you in deciphering the meanings of each card. Numbers typically signify the journey through each suit, with one being the beginning or inspiration and ten the end or completion of the cycle. Five is the midpoint where typically, there may be some instability or conflict. Getting familiar with what each number represents will do wonders in aiding your tarot interpretations.


Learn the Meanings of Colors

As you can see by now, every element in a tarot card will have a bearing on its meaning, including the colors used in each image. The suits are also typically associated with specific colors which allude to the energy represented by each. Red can express passion, action, and love, while white can mean peace, purity, and innocence. Having a good idea of the general meanings of the colors used in your decks will assist you when interpreting your cards. You don't have to be a color expert, but at least be aware that colors will affect your reading. You can always Google the meanings of the colors predominant in your spread.


Learn the Meanings of Elements/Associated Zodiac Signs

Part of learning the meanings of each suit is knowing that each represents a particular element as well as the zodiac signs related to said element. For example, swords are associated with air. So a sword appearing in a reading could also represent an air sign - Gemini, Libra, or Aquarius impacting the energy somehow. Knowing the characteristics associated with each element and their associated zodiac signs is another facet of tarot that will aid in your interpretations.

Learn the Meanings of Face Cards

Each suit typically has four face cards: a page, knight, queen, and king. Face cards will vary depending on the deck, as some include princes, princesses, or other variations of face cards. These cards could represent different people in your life, stages in your life journey, or a hierarchy in skills and mindset. For example, a page can represent a young child, an initial concept or idea, or the beginning stages of mastering a particular skill. As with all other tarot elements, mastering your practice will increase significantly with a thorough understanding of the face cards and how their energies translate in a reading.


Learn the Meanings of Scenery Elements

As mentioned earlier, every detail featured on a tarot card will impact the reading somehow. This also includes scenery elements such as mountains, clouds, water, the sun, etc. Learning to read tarot accurately will mean understanding how these elements affect the interpretation of the message. Mountains could mean blockages or obstacles that need overcoming. Water has different meanings depending on whether it's calm, flowing, or choppy. A good tarot reader looks at everything pictured in the cards to interpret meaning, including how any scenery elements come into play.


Learn the Meanings of Animals

The animals featured in tarot cards will add another level of nuance to your readings. The animals featured will most often be associated with a particular suit or element. For example, salamanders are often seen with the suit of wands and are related to the element of fire. Salamanders can withstand heat and are typically associated with adaptation and regeneration. As with all previously mentioned elements, an avid tarot enthusiast will also thoroughly understand any animals featured, what attributes they may represent, and what impact they may have on the reading.


Major Arcana Identifies Major Life Themes

The first 22 cards of the deck, known as the major arcana, allude to significant life events and overarching themes. These cards are archetypal energies and speak to the circumstances in life that we all face at one point or another. The major arcana highlights life lessons, challenges, or changes and the energies that may influence these events as you journey through life on the path to enlightenment. These cards provide a high-level view or perspective of life while providing guidance through these life lessons or significant life changes. Think of the major arcana as providing big-picture energy, while the minor arcana offers the details. These are life themes we've all experienced, so studying these cards and relating them to similar events in your life will assist you in interpreting them when they come out in a reading.


Minor Arcana Identifies Small Details

As previously mentioned, the minor arcana provides the smaller details and energies influencing a situation. These are the physical and tangible details, such as finances, thoughts, emotions, and ideas. You can consider these as the supporting details that either got you into or can get you out of a situation. The minor arcana speaks to the practical or little elements that influence life on a day-to-day basis. The minor cards also contain the court, or face cards, which could represent the people or players in your life who impact you daily. There could be someone coming into or out of your life that will have a significant impact. They could also signify a particular energy or personality trait you need to embody or release. The minor arcana provides the small details or advice that either contribute to or can remedy the situation.


Study the Fool's Journey Through the Major Arcana

Our last tip for learning the mechanics of tarot is to study the fool's journey through the major arcana. The energy of the first card is one of excitement and naivete as the fool starts on the journey through life. His story ends with the world card symbolizing the completion of his journey and mastery of the world. The cards in between speak to the themes and lessons he will encounter while on the path to self-mastery. Following the fool through the major arcana, you will see that he faces many ups and downs as he navigates his journey through life and attaining spiritual enlightenment. Studying his path through the cards will give you an idea of the significant life themes we all encounter in life and give you an intimate view of the archetypal energies each card represents.

Are you feeling overwhelmed yet? There is a lot to learn when it comes to tarot. These are our ten tips for learning the basic mechanics of this practice. Once you understand the above elements, you should have a solid foundation to begin interpreting cards. Make sure you tune in next week, where we will cover ten tips for working with and tapping into the cards intuitively.

As always, thank you for placing your eyeballs on our content.

The Rebellious Gem
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