Learning Tarot can feel daunting, not surpringly, what with 78 cards to learn, and many different voices out there telling you the ‘correct’ way to learn. Search the web and you’ll see that this is a commonly asked question for beginners. It can be confusing to learn and use tarot from one person and then be told something different from someone else.
So who is correct? What is the correct way to learn and use Tarot? Well first off I have to say there isn’t one!
There are various techniques for learning the meanings of the cards, how to shuffle them, different speads, how to begin or end a reading, how to look after your cards etc. What I think is a helpful first step is to try and understand what we are actually doing when reading tarot cards, or engaging in any other sortilege or casting divination.
There are of course differing opinions as to what is happening when we read the cards, depending on one’s personal beliefs or spriritual practises. But I think in essence we are making some kind of connection either with our own subconsious which in some way picks up the information, or with some greater source of information outside of us that we tap into that has yet to be defined. Either way, that information flows through our mind and is intepreted using our own natural or learned symbology and associations. That means that how you use and interpret tarot cards, and your experience with them can be very subjective.
My Experience in learning Tarot
I started learning Tarot in my teens, but didn’t go very far with it. So when I began learning again many years later I wanted to really gain a solid understand the card meanings and have clear, insightful readings. So like many beginners I searched for information related to learning tarot, in the web, in books, on Youtube etc. However, I soon realised that there is a fair amount of dogma out there. I’ve come across a number of comments, articles and tutorials where techniques or styles have been put forward as the only ‘correct’ way.
I’m not saying all the knowledge or advice out there is bad. Certainly not. But beware of being told you have to do tarot in a certain way as it can get you into a rut. Take what you learn with the knowledge that it is just ‘one’ of the ways of approaching the art. Explore the options. Learning common basic meanings is valuable, but they are not the only ones that may arise for you. And that’s fine, it’s a natural progression of learning tarot. You do not have to stick exclusively to given or traditional meanings.
So what to do?
It’s about finding your own path in your own personal journey with the cards. This probably won’t be the same as someone else’s. After all the goal is to get insightful, meaningful, helpful readings. It doesn’t matter what style or method you use to get there.
To use any divinatory tool I believe you have to give yourself space to find your own style and method. That comes with practise, but also by giving yourself permission to find it. Allow yourself space in your practise to explore and develop your own associations, symbology, style, skill, and interractions with the cards (and to keep developing). Even if this means that ultimately your style is unconventional or doesn’t align with the latest trends. It’s not about trying to be quirky or different or just throwing the whole tradition out of the window. And it doesn’t mean you can’t learn something from others – we need to start somewhere and start with some basics.
This radically changed my tarot practise. I stopped feeling I had to use this or that particular spread because that’s the spread people said you ‘should’ use, or doing certain rituals before or after, or trying to stick to certain definitions because that’s what people said it had to mean, when clearly the cards were saying something else…
It resulted in clearer more intuitive readings for me. And it’s an on-going process, as you never stop learning something. Your style or how you use and interract with tarot may change as you develop and grow with tarot. That’s okay!
By all means seek out infomation, read books, watch videos, read blog articles etc. You need to start somewhere. But don’t feel you ‘should’ do it this way or that way. Avoid dogma, explore techniques, methods, styles, and go with what you are comfortable with and ultimately what works for you!! Because at the end of the day that’s what will produce better readings.
There is no one ‘correct’ way to learn and use tarot.
If you would like to read about some of the various techniques that might help you find your way see my post ‘5 Ways to Learn Tarot Card Meanings’
Image by keithgonzalez at Pixabay