Tarot 101: Introduction

cropped-banner32.jpgHave you ever wished you could take a look at your life from a larger perspective? See things more clearly, get an idea of where you’ve been and where you’re headed?

For ages, people have turned to the tarot for guidance in times of trouble and for wisdom in times of change. Kings and peasants alike found answers in the images on a simple deck of 78 cards, each possessed of a trove of information available to those who could decipher them.

For too long tarot has been shrouded in mystery and farce, with overdramatic representation in popular culture and media. From the New Age ditz to the scary carnival reader to the ever-present Death card in horror films, the tarot has been misrepresented for too long.

This mini-course will give you a common sense understanding of the tarot, how it’s designed, and how to use it to draw on your own inner wisdom. By the end of the course, you should be able to give yourself a quick reading – or at least have a clue what the reader you’ve chosen is looking at!

So please read on, and join us on a journey into the world of the tarot.

What is Tarot?

A tarot deck is a series of cards used by skilled readers to answer questions. Based on which version you believe, the tarot originated as a simple card game in the mid-15th century either in Italy, France, or Austria, but around the 18th century started being used for divinatory purposes. Some historians claim origins in Egypt or the Kabbalah, but those claims have not been substantiated.

For our purpose, it’s good enough to know that the tarot exists and can be used to clarify your perspective on various different topics.

How Does Tarot Work?

The tarot, unlike oracle cards, has a uniform structure that applies to most decks. The deck consists of 78 cards divided into arcanas and suits. Once a question is asked, the cards are shuffled and laid down in a spread in order to divine meaning. We will learn more about arcanas, suits, and spreads in future lessons. At this time, all you need to know is your answer is determined by which card, in which suit or arcana, falls in which place on the spread.

What Deck Should I Choose?

If you’re in the market for a tarot deck of your very own, choosing your first deck can be a bit intimidating. Even the most casual stroll through the New Age section of your local bookstore may reveal a daunting selection of decks, books, and sets. The most well-known deck is the Rider Tarot Deck. The deck was drawn in 1909 and is the often the first deck a reader uses.

My personal choice is The Enchanted Tarot by Amy Zerner and Monte Warner. I bought this deck in 1993, and it has been my only deck since.

When faced with a multitude of decks, what is a novice reader to do?

First, most bookstores and shops will keep a few decks open as sample decks. If this is the case, go through the cards. Shuffle them, look at the images, maybe pull a card or two. If the deck comes with a book, read the description in the book for the card you’ve pulled. You may have to go through several decks before connecting with one that resonates. Don’t buy the first deck you find unless it just smacks you over the head and says, “MINE!” (That’s what my cards did….)

A quick hint for the novice: the prettiest deck may not always be the one for you. I’ve purchased more than one absolutely gorgeous tarot decks simply because I loved the imagery. In each case, I purchased them online without ever having touched or used the deck. And as lovely as the decks were, not one of them actually worked for me. When I tried to use them, I saw pretty pictures and nothing else.

If it’s at all possible, buy your deck in person rather than online. Get a feel for the cards, and let your intuition lead you to the deck that’s right for you.

(A note about superstitions: There is a superstition floating around that one must never buy their first deck; rather they should be gifted the deck by another reader. I’ve never subscribed to that particular superstition, but if you do and you have a friend who will gift you a deck—more power to you!)

In summary, the deck you choose is a very personal thing. It will help you connect to your deepest intuition, so choose carefully. And don’t be surprised if your first deck is not your last.

In our next lesson, we will delve deeper into the Major and Minor Arcana.

Until then, if you liked this post and would like to follow us on social media, please visit our Facebook page. We are also available to readings in person, over the phone, or online. As always, comments and shares are greatly appreciated.

Peace and Love,


P.S. If you like the image on this post, please check out The Enchanted Tarot by Amy Zerner and Monte Warner.  To access the entire Tarot 101 series, click here.

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