Choosing your Tarot Deck

Now that I've whetted your appetite so that you will want to learn how to read tarot cards for yourself, it's time to talk about the actual card decks. The good news is that there are over 700 different decks, and probably more, to choose from.

While that may seem overwhelming, you will quickly be able to determine which decks appeal to you. Tarot lore says that you should find your deck, or that a deck should be given to you. Sometimes, if you have studied with a Tarot teacher, they might give you one of their "old" decks. If you wish to believe that your Tarot deck must come to you in some particular fashion, then you can go ahead and wait for that to happen.

Personally, I just went out and bought one I liked. I still "found" it, in a very nice store. I don't think how you get the deck is all that important. Remember, my personal philosophy of the Tarot is that it is less "spooky mystical" and more "symbolic meaningfulness". The deck will represent whatever you want it to represent, whether you bought it at a store, a flea market, or had it given to you for your birthday.

One of the first things I do recommend, however, when you get your deck is to cleanse it. By cleansing, I mean erasing any negative energies that may surround the deck. That may sound like a contradiction with my previous statement where I said mysticism didn't have a strong role to play in choosing your deck. What I mean is that your deck will pick up energies in the world around it, not otherworldly energy. If it has been bought at a store, it will have an aura of commercialism from the monetary transaction, and I think I needs to be cleansed of that. If you received it as a gift from someone who had used it before, it will be imbued with their energies, and you need to replace those with your own energies.

There are various ways of cleansing your tarot deck. You can put it in a sunny window and let the sun shine on it for a few hours. Some people will say that you should let it sit in moonlight, or in the dark. It's really up to you what you prefer, becuase if you think it is cleansing your deck, it probably is. If the thought of leaving your cards in the dark gives you a negative feeling, then that is the wrong thing to do. As you will learn, your intuition and subtle feelings about the Tarot and any readings you do will be extremely important in how successful you are at it.

Another way of cleansing the deck is to burn some sweetgrass, in the tradition of the aborigial peoples, and let the smoke from the sweetgrass flow over the deck. (Be careful doing this in the house!) You can get a quartz crystal, about 3 inches is a good size, and place this on the deck when you put the deck away. Leave the deck for between 24 to 72 hours, depending on how you feel, so that the quartz crystal can clear any lingering energies from the deck. Some people use quartz cleansing regularly on their decks.

Another method is to just wrap the deck in a natural fiber cloth, such as linen, wool, or silk. This is normally how you would store your deck when it is not being used, as well. I prefer using a beautiful pure silk scarf that uplifts my spirits every time I see it.

You may also choose to keep your Tarot deck in a special box or container. I have a lovely leather box that was given to me by someone special. I keep my Tarot deck in that box, wrapped in the vivid silk scarf.

The most important thing about any Tarot deck that you might choose, or the way you choose to obtain, cleanse and store it, is the way you think about it. If you send positive thoughts toward your deck, and treat it with respect, as a valuable tool (much like a carpenter would value a favorite hammer), your deck will become energized with your positive vibrations and it will perform well for you. You will develop a bond between the cards and your thoughts, so that you are able to easily interpret the symbols the cards are showing you.

Good tarot reading is more a matter of intuition, experience, and knowledge, not "psychic ability". When you choose and care for, and learn how to read tarot cards, they will provide you with many hours of enjoyment.

Tarot Readers are Not Psychic

When I first learned how to read tarot cards I thought I was just doing it for fun. As I did readings for myself, and then branched out into doing readings for other people, eventually getting paid for readings, I realized that "being psychic" has absolutely nothing to do with one's ability to give a meaningful reading.

We're not trying to guess the future, or calling upon some mystic forces to channel information to us when we read tarot cards. Indeed, it would be disturbing to think that we are opening ourselves to influence from some other-worldly entity or energy.

What is really going on is that we interpret the symbols that are laid out clearly before us. Every card has a specific set of meanings, and a reading is simply putting those meanings together in a way that is suggested by the placement of the cards in a spread.

That is why anyone at all can learn how to read tarot cards. You don't have to be psychic. I realize that a lot of the lore about the Tarot is based on gypsy fortune telling, and people doing readings at psychic fairs. That's a sales gimmick. People go to psychics for information that they think cannot be obtained by normal means. In religion, and in the occult, we look for someone with special powers, or a special connection to the unseen, and often take their advice more seriously than we would that of a trusted friend. Only because they appear to be able to do something we cannot do.

When you really understand the Tarot and what it is, you can begin to achieve the same, or even better, results that any so-called psychic could get. You can read the cards yourself and understand what they are telling you. You're not connecting with mystic forces, but only to your own inner thoughts.

A Tarot card reading should be an interactive conversation between the Querent (the one asking the questions) and the Diviner (what the reader is called). There's nothing spooky or woo-woo about that at all. In many cases, the Diviner is indeed a person whose intuition is more highly developed than others'. (That's really how most psychics get along, as well.) And because of their experience doing readings, they are able to explain how the symbols seen in the cards apply to the querent's situation and address the querent's questions.

You can't do that properly if you are just stating what you see on the cards. That would provide only one superficial view of the messages the cards are suggesting. As we saw with the Card of the Day, there are many interpretations for each card, and these interpretations are affected by other things, such as the placement of the cards in the spread and the relationships between the cards.

As I share with you my knowledge of the Tarot and you learn how to read tarot cards for yourself, it will become evident to you as well that being psychic has nothing at all to do with proper interpretation of the cards. That's one of the reasons why I wanted to do this site, to share with you a tool that I have found to be useful in figuring out what was going on in my life so that I could make better decisions, and gain comfort and courage for whatever would come.

Why the Tarot?

There are lots of sites that will help you learn how to read tarot cards. What I want to do with this one is expose some of the misinformation about the Tarot and encourage you to think about what benefits you can get from using the Tarot to help with your personal life.

First, let me tell you a story. I had dabbled with the Tarot off and on for many years, from abut the age of 16. I was interested in various methods of divination, such as palmistry and automatic writing, and was searching for the method that seemed to be most valid. I was not looking at these things from the perspective of someone wanting quick fix advice, but more along the lines of earnest inquiry. I have always believed that there is more to heaven and earth than we currently know, and I was fascinated by the metaphysical.

As you can imagine, this was something that made my family and friends think I was deluded, crazy, dangerous, or all three. People fear or dismiss what they don't understand. Well, I wanted to understand it.

The experiences I had with the Tarot were so compelling that I could not let it alone. On the one hand, there were times when I didn't seem to get much out of a reading. At other times, it was sometimes so accurate that it frightened me.

One day, when I was struggling with a very difficult personal issue, as a young married woman, I got out my Tarot deck and did a Celtic Cross reading for myself. The ten cards laid out in the spread indicated that there was a serious decision that had to be made. Well, quite frankly, I didn't want to have to make that decision. Deep down, I knew it was the crux of the matter, and the cards just reinforced that fact. Perhaps I was looking for a way out, or another option.

Not satisfied with the cards telling me what I already knew, I repeated the reading. After a new shuffle and cut, holding the same question in my mind, 7 of the original 10 cards turned up again in almost the same positions in the spread.

That might be enough to freak someone out, and it almost did for me. But I'm stubborn, and I rationalized it away as a coincidence. Maybe I hadn't shuffled the cards that well, although I really knew I had.

So I shuffled again -- really shuffled them and mixed them up good -- and cut for the third time.

This time the spread included 8 of the original 10 cards and in positions that indicated the same thing.

Now I WAS frightened! The same cards three times in a row?? That was way beyond coincidence.

That day, the true power of the Tarot was revealed to me. I knew what I should do about this situation, I was just resistant to taking the action. Very clearly, the part of my mind that knew what needed to be done was speaking to me through the cards. My unconscious thoughts were directing the movements of my hands as I shuffled, cut, and laid out the cards.

This is what the Tarot can do for you as well. It cannot tell your future. Nor can it solve your problems for you. All it does is give you information, through symbols and interpretation. It allows you to marshal your thoughts and feelings, and gain some clarity on your current and possibly future situations. It can even help you understand the past.

Since that day, I have had other incredible experiences with the Tarot. I will share some of them with you as we go along. But please remember, even though the Tarot has been labeled occult and mysterious, it is no less a concrete and valid method of revealing your inner thoughts as psychiatry or hypnosis, just without the hefty price tag.

As you learn how to read tarot cards for yourself, you will see the power and potential it has in your own life for providing insight and enlightenment on those situations and issues that are of concern to you. I look forward to sharing that journey with you.

Card of the Day - Seven of Pentacles

As we go along, we'll be talking about the different cards that make up the 78 cards in the Tarot. Today, I wanted to start with a representative card, to illustrate how the symbols of the Tarot can be interpreted for your own personal situation. As you learn how to read tarot cards, you will gain a greater understanding of the nuances of each card, and that will enhance your ability to apply the messages of the Tarot to your own situation.

The suit of pentacles is one of four in the minor arcana of the Tarot. The four suits each concern an area of human life as follows:
  • Cups - emotional matters
  • Rods (also called staves or wands) - spiritual matters
  • Swords - power, position, or physical matters
  • Pentacles (also called coins) - monetary or financial matters
Everyone loves to see pentacles come up in a good position in a spread because of that relationship of pentacles to money, prosperity, and material gain. However, pentacles also have to do with industry, personal effort and application, work, career, skills and talents, and contribution to society. So you can see that the Tarot begins to be more complex than just reading symbols on a card.

Depending upon the location of the card in a spread, and its relationship to the cards surrounding it, your reading can be very different indeed.

The seven of pentacles is a good example. On its face, it shows a man, a farmer or gardener, holding a hoe or other implement. He is surrounded by leafy growth, against a beautiful landscape. The Rider-Waite (RW) version is a bit more spartan than the picture of the card from my Morgan-Greer (MG) deck. We'll be talking about decks in the near future. You can see the difference in tone between the two cards. In RW, the sense is of someone who has completed a tiring job, or someone who is contemplating what has grown there. In MG, you get a sense that he is satisfied with his labour, and perhaps also proud of his successful accomplishment.

The meanings of this card include the idea that one's hard labor is necessary to cultivate material gain. It speaks to individual and sustained effort as well as care and attention paid to that thing which is growing. The message includes the idea that time and effort are necessary in order to get reward, and that one can be satisfied with such an endeavour if good, honest effort has been expended. The symbols indicate that there will be a payoff for hard work, and that you can see and enjoy the fruits of your labors. It also indicates that it may be necessary to take time for assessment of one's work so far, and may herald a change in direction.

In the reversed position (which we will talk about soon) it could indicate some concern or anxiety regarding one's economic status, and uncertainty about whether one's labor will be rewarded, even about whether one is working in the right field, or whether cultivating this particular seed (or project) is worthwhile.

As you can see, the symbols of the Tarot offer multiple meanings and interpretations depending upon other factors such as position in the spread, surrounding cards, and the situation in which the question is asked. When you learn how to read tarot cards for yourself, you will develop an ability to know which of these meanings is the right one for your situation at the present time.

Introduction to the Tarot

I found this excellent video that gives you an introduction to the purpose of the Tarot, the most popular spreads, and all of the cards. Although it is a bit long, it is very comprehensive. Dr. Nathaniel Paluga knows his stuff. I recommend you watch about the first 5 minutes, to find out the background of the Tarot.

What I like about this video is the emphasis on the Tarot as a device for personal insight. That is exactly along the lines of how I use the tarot myself and how I teach others about it. So thanks Dr. Paluga for a great introduction!

How to Read Tarot Cards

Welcome to my blog! I am excited about the opportunity to share with you my ideas and expertise in reading Tarot cards. I boldly invite you to learn how to read tarot cards, because I think you will find them an interesting and rewarding addition to your library of knowledge. As we go through the various techniques of reading tarot cards, I will share with you the ways in which you can gain insight and enlightenment from this centuries-old technology.

When you learn how to read tarot cards, you open a new dimension of insight into your life. We all have day to day issues, problems, and questions. We often want to consult someone wise about what we should do. Maybe we attempt to confide in our friends and ask their advice. The trouble with those solutions is that we then have to deal with individual agendas and points of view that may muddy the waters.

That's why I like the Tarot so much. It is a tool that allows us to get a new perspective on our questions and issues, without having to filter through the mist that other people often inject into our situation. Oh, they may do it unintentionally, but it happens all the same.

The Tarot can be used to direct our thoughts to ideas we had not considered, or to confirm ideas that had surface din our minds. If you use the Tarot wisely, instead of relying upon it to the exclusion of other forms of information gathering, then it can be of great use to you.

In this blog, I will attempt to share my knowledge of the Tarot with you so that you can enjoy its symbolism and the benefits it provides. I do not rely upon it for "divination" or fortune-telling, so we'll separate that form of use from the enlightenment and insight use that I suggest, as we go along.

I hope you will stay with me on this interesting journey, and learn how to read tarot cards to enrich your thoughts and simplify your life.