Let’s look a little deeper at the cards, shuffling and looking at the images is a good starting point. However, you need to start learning to interpret the language your deck is talking to you in, which is a language made up of symbols.
Let’s draw some cards
One of the most useful exercises I find for getting to know a new deck is a simple single card draw from the deck. This has many advantages for a novice reader and an experienced reader alike. As I have worked with a wide variety of decks and read a lot of books aimed at helping teach the cards, I’ve noticed that there is a lot of variation, both in what the books say and in how the cards display their meanings.
By using a single card draw, you can focus on that card by itself. You can keep a notebook handy to make notes about how you felt before you pulled the card, and after. When you look at the card did it evoke anything in you? Did you immediately think of someone, or think of an object? There’s no harm in recording your reactions and then comparing them with your guidebook’s interpretations.
When I started, I used the single card draw as a way to talk to my cards. By using myself as the subject it was easier to map out the meanings of the cards, and eventually, I was able to see the meanings more clearly. The predominant method I’ve come across in books is to do the reading in the morning, a bit like an alternative daily newspaper horoscope. At the end of the day, you would return to the card you drew, and work backwards to figure out and to pinpoint the prediction. Personally, I find this method flawed for one of the reasons I find reading your stars in the morning to be rather pointless.
The reason being that of the self-fulfilling prophecy; if you get a card that has a clear message you may be tempted to try and force its prediction to come true. Alternatively, you can draw the card at the end of the day, however, this can be rather repetitive. You don’t have much scope for the questions you can ask, and it can be easy to try and force the meaning to fit. For this reason, I chose an approach of asking mostly closed questions.
This, I found, worked rather well. I knew the answer, so I could map the symbology of the card to the correct response. Taking this approach forced me to really consider every aspect of the card’s meanings in the booklet, and what each symbol could stand for. Over time, I was able to build up a mutual understanding, or language with my cards and from this foundation, I built up to more open-ended questioning, and then into the most common multiple-card spreads. A past, present, and future reading.
When I moved onto readings with multiple cards, I tried to keep the questions relatively simple, and mainly focused on myself. Once you feel confident that you understand how your cards are communicating then there is no harm in reading for others. However, I would always remind anyone I read for, that a prediction is just that. A prediction, it’s simply guidance, and not a guarantee.
Helping yourself remember – Cheat Sheets
Before I talk about creating aids to help you remember all the meanings – as I appreciate 78 cards with contextual meanings can be daunting, especially when you have to take into account if they are upright or reversed – it’s worth remembering that you can start with just the Major Arcana and then add the rest of the deck when you feel ready to. From talking to others in the past, I’ve learned that I’m a bit of an anomaly because I started out with the full deck in my preteens. Now that’s out of the way, I’d like to talk about the idea of a cheat sheet.
Personally, I’ve never felt the need to make one, instead, I’ve always used the guidebook as mine and relied on my additional knowledge of astrology and the way the cards link up with the Zodiac. However, as I’ve been researching what is out there for novice readers, I’ve come across this idea fairly frequently and I think it could be a very useful tool.
If you feel it would aid your learning, then I would most definitely encourage you to create a cheat sheet of your own. For myself, if I was to create one, I’d break the deck into the major cards with two or three keywords for upright and again for reversed alongside its astrological equivalent. I wouldn’t break the minor arcana into suits, but instead into the numbers Aces through Tens as not only does the tarot link up to Astrology but also Numerology. Seeing two Aces, or three Eights is in itself a significant thing to look out for. For the remaining cards of the deck, the court cards I would split by suit, and by rank on a separate sheet. Again, seeing two Queens, or two of the court cards from the same suit is something to keep an eye out for.
At present, I do not have any cheat sheets written up, but I would be happy to make these available to my readers if I do find time to make them.
Interview your Cards – seriously
In my search for new ways to read Tarot, I was rather intrigued to come across the idea of a deck interview.
Personally, I find this idea rather intriguing, and a little bit wonderful but I would advise waiting until you are at least fairly confident that you understand how your deck ‘talks’.
A deck interview can be a simple spread with a few cards, or it can be more elaborate. It depends on how confident you feel, and how much you want to ask them.
The examples I’ve seen have included asking your deck what it wants to teach you – this is a great question if you’re only planning to read for yourself. Other questions include asking how the deck wants to be used – this fits with my personal view that each deck has its own personality and lends itself better towards certain types of readings than others. Think of the sort of things you’d get asked in an interview, we get asked about our strengths and weaknesses and our hobbies. True, you can’t ask your tarot what it likes to do in its spare time, but you can ask it how it wants to be read. Does it want to only read for you, or would it be happier being used in conjunction with an oracle deck perhaps? If you have a specific role in mind for your new deck, there is no harm in asking the cards how they feel about what you have planned.
In the future I am hoping to do some example deck interviews, to showcase some of my various Tarot decks. Doing so, I feel, would help to illustrate some of the points I’ve made previously about finding a deck whose style speaks to you as there is such a wide variety out there. I genuinely believe there is a tarot deck for everyone who wants to learn.
Until next time.