Recently, a friend of mine asked me for book recommendations and tips for learning Tarot.
I spent some time putting the information together and thought it might be of use to others.
First, here are two of my favorite books on the general topic of Tarot:
(I am providing these suggestions as Amazon links. If possible, buy them from a brick-and-mortar shop, bonus points for purchasing at an independent bookstore or metaphysical shop! Amazon just provides a lot of useful information like what the cover looks like, ISBN number, etc. I am not an affiliate, and I don't make money off your clicks!)
My Top Tarot Learning Tips
Use the Rider Waite Smith deck to start. It is the inspiration for many modern decks and the fully illustrated pip cards make learning them much easier. If you don’t want to work with a Rider Waite Smith deck, a basic Marseilles deck will work but you won’t have the advantage of illustrated pips.
Focus less on the individual meanings of cards and more on how to put cards together to craft a narrative. Also, don’t be afraid to look up the meaning of every single card as you go through a reading.
There are many different resources for card meanings both in books and online. Just remember that the traditional/book meanings of cards are a jumping off point. The more you work with them, the more you will start to associate your own meanings and interpret the symbols on the cards in your own style.
Early on, decide on your philosophy of card reading. It may change over time but having some idea at the beginning will guide how/what you study. Some basic questions to consider (there are several more):
Are you into predestination or free will?
Do you think the cards are nifty pieces of cardboard that you can use to spur your intuition and see new perspectives on things, or do you think they are imbued with magical power?
Suggested order of study:
Overall, always keep an eye toward building narrative with multiple cards. Start at the very beginning and it will come to you quickly. This is the most important skill to practice.
Deck components/construction. The trumps and the four suites of the minors. What are their components? What is “standard” and what is a variation “standard”? The elemental correspondences of each suite.
Trumps. General meanings. Get out those sharpies and write key words on your working/practice deck. Write them on the front to jog your memory or write them on the back and you can easily flip the card over during a reading to see the word and then use your deck as flash cards to practice. There are 22 trumps. You could focus on one card a day and have a good working knowledge of considerable depth in about 3 weeks. Once you have a working knowledge of the trumps, you can do full-fledged readings with just the trumps (and continue to practice building narratives).
Court cards – the four face cards of the minors. Pick a method to apply to the cards and stick with it until you know it. You may eventually work through several methods of interpretation before landing on one that works well for you. Some people use them to represent physical people or distinct entities, other people use them to represent different internal energies. Some folks use them to represent other forces. There are lots of methods out there in the literature.
The Pip cards or small cards – the numbered cards in the minor arcana. You know their elemental association now pick a way to attribute meaning to the numbers. Again, there are many different methods (numerology, the Naples arrangement, cartomancy).
Dignities and correspondences. Decide how you are going to use/if you are going to use dignities and if so, what method? What correspondences will you take into consideration (astrological, QBL, etc. — this depends on what systems you are already familiar with).
Have any questions or want me to elaborate on the information I've provided? Comment below or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.