Tarot Basics and How to Get Started

If you’ve been in the witchcraft community for more than a day, chances are you’ve heard of tarot. For many people it is their first step into this world of witchcraft and magic.

For me personally, I avoided it for a while but have grown to love it!

Let’s talk a bit about what tarot is, some common misconceptions, and how to get started!

Tarot basics title

What is Tarot?

Tarot is a form of cartomancy, which is divination using cards. It is one of the most well known forms of divination and many people’s entry point into witchcraft and the occult.

The tarot system has 78 cards in total. 22 make up what is called the major arcana and the rest make up the minor arcana which are four suits of pentacles, swords, wands, and cups

Tarot has roots as a card game! Cards started out much like our current day playing cards, with four suits. It became especially popular among wealthy families and eventually morphed into what we know today.

The basic deck often used as a reference point and recommended to beginners was created in 1910 by A.E. Waite and Pamela Coleman-Smith. Waite established the meaning and symbolism used in the cards and commissioned Smith to illustrate them. This version of tarot has become the modern standard.

Misconceptions

Tarot may be one of the most popular ways to come into contact with witchcraft and the occult, it might be because of this that there are a lot of misconceptions about it. Let’s talk about some of them!

"Tarot is Evil"

It’s probably safe to assume that if you’re reading this post, you don’t believe this one. But it’s still interesting to talk about.

There are people out there who believe tarot is evil/a way to connect with the devil. It just isn’t true.

It is, however, a great way to connect to your higher self and divine energies!

"Tarot is fortune telling"

This one isn’t entirely false. But in the way it is often intended, it is.

Tarot is commonly believed to be a way to tell your future – what the cards have in store for you.

This isn’t entirely untrue because we can use it as a tool to look at how patterns may play out in our life. It’s less of a window into your future and more of a way to see how your current actions will influence what is to come.

"The Death card means you're going to die"

“The tower means your entire life is going to crumble and burn”

“The Devil means you’re going straight to Hell”

Have you ever heard of symbolism?

That’s what tarot uses.

The death card doesn’t usually refer to actual death, it more often refers to endings in general. Which also happen to mark the beginning of something new.

The death card can actually be extremely positive. It marks the end of one cycle, and the start of something better.

The tower means you’re likely going through something rough, the devil is a warning to not overindulge and a reminder that you can break free from what is holding you back.

Of course there are cards that have more “negative” meanings, but it is all symbolic and dependent on the other cards in a reading.

Your first deck must be a gift

I’ve never actually seen where this one comes from, but I don’t believe it.

If you want a deck, go get one!

I promise, the energy will be fine. There won’t be any karmic consequences to pay for purchasing your own first tarot deck

The bottom line...

A lot of what you find about tarot is not true. Superstitions are out there, information gets mixed up, and some people just have bad intentions.

Hopefully debunking some of these makes you more comfortable with tarot, if so read on to how to get started!

getting started

If you’re curious about tarot and want to know how to start, you’re in the right place!

Is Tarot right for you?

If you’re asking that question (or didn’t even think to ask that question and just wanted to dive in) it probably is!

The way I look at things, curiosity is one of many ways our intuition speaks to us and guides us to what we need in our life. If you’re curious about tarot, jump on in!

Anyone can learn tarot, and there are many ways to learn it!

Choosing a Deck

You can of course start learning the meanings of the cards without having a deck (I did), but having a deck in your hands makes it much more tangible.

Most people recommend you start with the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, or one with artwork closely based on it, since that’s the standard deck when it comes to modern day tarot. Most resources written about tarot reference this decks, it’s sort of the common language among tarot readers.

Others recommend starting with a deck that you are drawn to. It is much easier to intuitively read a deck when you feel connected to the artwork.

Basically, go with what feels best for you. I don’t think either way is better or wrong, but one may work out better for you!

For me personally, I started out with the Linestrider Tarot, a beautiful watercolor deck with lots of nature and astrological symbolism. This deck was actually gifted to me in an exchange, my partner chose the perfect deck!

This was a wonderful deck for me to start out with. I didn’t feel connected to the images of the RWS deck or the ones based on it. I think starting out with it would have made learning tarot feel too forced and stuffy (not that the deck is either one of those things, that’s just how I felt about it).

Starting with the Linestrider allowed me to connect with tarot in a visual language that better suited me.

I did end up purchasing a RWS deck and enjoy reading with it. I’m doing a bit more of a deep dive with my tarot studies lately so it is nice to have this deck to really pull apart all the details!

Learning the cards

Most decks will come with a guidebook of some sort. Some are small and brief, like the one that came with my Radiant RWS, others are larger, more detailed, and even printed in color, like the Linestrider. Guidebooks are especially helpful when you have artwork that is different from the RWS. The Author will often have additional insights about the cards that they chose to include in their version.

For tarot in general, not specific to a deck, there are many resources out there. I would suggest looking for something published in a format you prefer to learn from. If you like reading, find a book. If you prefer videos there are plenty of YouTube channels. Want an online course? Those exist too! There are even apps you can get on your phone!

Find a resource you connect with and dig in!

Some of my favorites are:

Readings

Yet another common misconception about tarot is that you have to know all of the cards without using your book before you start reading. Not true!

One of the best ways to learn is actually through doing readings. That way not only do you gain a better understanding of the cards on their own, you get to know how they interact with each other.

Start with doing readings for yourself, it could even be as simple as drawing one card a day.

Once you feel more comfortable you can start offering readings for other people.

One of the most important things to remember when doing readings is to follow your intuition. If you learned a card one way, but in a reading you get the feeling it means something slightly different, it probably does! Trust your gut, what comes to you intuitively is the message that’s meant to come through.

If you’re curious about tarot but not quite ready to learn yourself yet, consider getting a reading! There are many talented readers out there, look around and find someone you connect with.

You can even head here to get a reading from me! I’ll be updating what I offer soon, including a year ahead reading!

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Choosing a tarot deck
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