fortune teller holding sun card

    What Is a Tarot Card?

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    What’s a tarot card, you ask? Tarot is a deck of 78 uniquely designed cards. Most people understand Tarot as a form of cartomancy, which tells the future through cards. However, Tarot is also useful for gaining insight into our past and present — much like how astrology birth charts can reveal deeper facets of our personalities. Though there’s no exact origin date for the practice, many believe that some form of Tarot reading has been around since the 15th century. 

    Over time, different types of decks have been created, and many artists now even create their own unique designs for the specific cards included in a Tarot deck. Oracle decks are a cousin of the Tarot and completely unique- from the images, names, to number of cards, but Tarot always has at least the standard 78.  If you’re unfamiliar with Tarot cards, buying a deck you intuitively connect with  is the best way to learn. You can also get your Tarot cards read by a professional to get a sense of the experience. 

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    How Are Tarot Cards Used?

    As mentioned, Tarot cards are often used as a method of predicting future events. However, many Tarot card readers will tell you the future the cards depict is not set in stone. It merely represents the current path you’re on. So, if you read Tarot or get your Tarot read often, you can use it as a tool to assess your choices, emotions, and current path and implement changes if you don’t like the direction the path is taking you. It’s helpful to think about Tarot as a means of insight rather than fortune telling. It can reveal things to you that you may not realize about your life in your everyday thinking.

    When performing or participating in a Tarot reading, the reader typically hands the other person the deck of cards (but every reader has a unique style). The person receiving the reading is asked to shuffle the cards while thinking of a particular question or topic they want answers to. Then, they  will split the deck in three and rearrange the piles back into one in whatever order they would like.

    The cards are then handed back to the reader. 

    The reader places the cards upright  on the table in a specific placement and begins to interpret what they mean. Part of the skill required to properly read Tarot is to understand how the cards interact with each other. Each card symbolizes different emotions and experiences, but reading Tarot is like taking each of those individual components and making sense of it into one comprehensive story. It takes a good deal of practice, but it’s a skill anyone can learn- always improved by a developed connection to intuition. 

    tarot reader picking cards face down

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    Card Formations

    Depending on what answers you’re seeking and how skilled you are as a reader, you can use different card formations. The most basic formation that beginners tend to use is three cards lying face up in a row. These represent the past, present, and future. This is a simple way to get started and practice your interpretation skills. 

    However, as you hone your skills, you can experiment with different formations that reveal deeper insights and more intricate details to the questions at hand. 

    When starting out, it helps to get into a mystical space that will help you better interpret the information. Light your favorite incense and a Tarot card candle for the right ambiance. You can also incorporate crystals and other mystical objects in your spiritual practice.

    How to Learn to Read Tarot

    Get a Deck That Speaks to You

    Finding the right deck is important. If you’re a beginner, you might want to start with the traditional Rider Waite deck or another beginner deck that’s easier to interpret- but this is by no means required. The connection you feel with the deck matters more than which you decide to start with. Many unique decks exist but reading the card and the image is important, and symbolism in specific decks can vary. Find a deck you connect with and grow your collection as you grow your skills.

    deck of tarot cards on white background

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    Study Individual Cards

    Learning the cards is essential to mastering Tarot. The 78-card deck is broken down into 22 Major Arcana cards and 56 Minor Arcana cards. 

    Think of Major Arcana cards like face cards in a traditional playing deck — King, Queen, Jack. However, Major Arcana cards are much different — The Fool, The Magician, The Moon, Death. These cards represent major moments in life. They are big, important lessons or karmic influences that can shape several experiences. 

    The Minor Arcana are broken down into suits — again, much like playing cards. But in a deck of tarot, the suits are: pentacles, cups, wands, and swords. These cards represent daily life experiences — small things that can impact your overall experience. There is lots of overlap between Tarot and astrology. Pentacles represent earth signs, cups represent water signs, wands represent fire signs, and swords represent air signs.

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    Find a good book that details the meaning and symbolism behind these cards and practice, practice, practice. When starting out, you can reference your book during a reading as you begin to recognize cards and patterns. Another helpful practice is to begin drawing two cards each morning and making note of what happens during the day. You will begin to build a psychic library with your own life experience as associations for the cards. 

    Now, it’s time to find the perfect deck, stock up on tarot card candles, and start learning Tarot!

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