Tarot has long been met with superstition and was once seen as the preserve of hippies with a fondness for the occult and chintzy fortune-teller stereotypes. Now, the art of reading the tarot is back in style.
Although Tarot is becoming more mainstream, learning Tarot can still seem intangible and confusing.
What is tarot, where does it come from and what do the cards mean? I still remember I felt so overwhelmed when I started my Tarot journey.
But, don’t panic! Tarot fundamentals are easy to understand. I’ve broken down everything tarot beginners should know in this simple Tarot for beginner’s guide to learn Tarot fast so you can hopefully do your first reading next week.
To start, make sure to subscribe to my free 7-day Tarot mini-course below for daily teachings on the Tarot sent straight to your inbox. Guaranteed, after reading this ultimate guide to Tarot and completing the Tarot mini-course, you are surely no beginner anymore.
So, if you didn’t know where to start with Tarot card reading, you came to the right place!
Table of Contents
What Is Tarot?
The Tarot is not just a deck of cards. It’s a profound tool that unveils the story of our lives, reflects our soul’s journey, and unlocks our inner wisdom. Its 78 cards, divided into the Major and Minor Arcana, hold rich symbolism and depict life’s spiritual lessons and everyday challenges.
You might have met people in your life who see Tarot as just ink on paper. But there are also those, like me, who really understand its power. They know that it serves as a guidebook for self-discovery and personal growth.
It helps us gain access to our subconscious mind and tap into the universal wisdom that resides within each of us. Additionally, it also reveals the lessons that we need to learn based on our unique situations to live a fulfilling and happy life.
So, in simple words, Tarot guides you on different aspects of life to help you connect with your intuition, unlock inner wisdom, and receive answers. It is a powerful tool for self-discovery, expanding consciousness, and transformation.
A Brief History of Tarot
Though tarot cards are used extensively around the world today, research indicates that the cards date back to the 1400s when they were originally used for a card game rather than prediction.
Here are some key points, explaining a brief history of Tarot.
- The oldest tarot cards that survived the age of time are the Visconti-Sforza cards you see here, which were painted for the Dukes of the Duchy of Milan around 1440.
- The game spread quickly to all parts of Europe and people began referring to it as Tarocchi which is an Italian version of the French word tarot, around 1530.
- Not until the 1800s the cards were used as a divination tool and comprehensive links were created between illustrated cards, astrology, and ancient Egyptian lore. By that time occult writers started to write about “the tarot” and that’s how tarot became a part of occult philosophy.
- Over the next centuries, mystics and philosophers continued to expand the role of tarot. The current methodology of tarot interpretation started in the 1970s and along with a growing interest in psychoanalysis, the use of Tarot cards grew exponentially.
- The New Age movement furthered the spread of this form of fortune-telling, with thousands of new decks being produced annually.
How Does the Tarot Work?
Tarot, the mystical tool of ancient wisdom, works in intriguing ways that surpass mere fortune-telling and predictions. Rather than seeking a crystal ball glimpse into the future, Tarot invites you to embark on a transformative journey of self-discovery and intuition.
Unlocking the secrets of Tarot requires delving into the rich symbolism and imagery of the cards, tapping into your subconscious mind and intuitive faculties. It allows you to unlock hidden insights and access your inner wisdom, which helps you shape your own destiny.
Through this powerful process, you gain clarity, make conscious choices, and take inspired actions to manifest your deepest desires and create a fulfilling life.
Getting Started with Tarot as a Beginner
As mentioned already, there common belief that tarot cards are meant to tell the future or reveal someone’s fortune is far from true.
In contrast to this belief, I consider tarot as a valuable form of meditation and reflection on the present moment. It gives me valuable insights, helps me to understand what I need to do in a particular situation. and enables me to connect with my inner wisdom.
It gives me insight into past, current, and future events based on my current path at the time of the reading. The cards will determine the best course of action based on what is known and what the cards show.
To help you get started with your Tarot journey as a beginner, I’ve created a step-by-step guide. Read each step carefully and follow the instructions to become a pro-Tarot reader.
1. Buy Your First Tarot Deck
One of the main things that stop tarot enthusiasts from diving into Tarot reading is the old wives’ tale that says you shouldn’t buy your first tarot deck, but that it must be given to you.
Although this is a mistaken belief that almost all tarot readers have heard of, it is nothing more than silly superstition.
Most readers believe that this myth comes from a time when tarot decks were not difficult to find, in some places, it was a crime to use them. Because they were sold on the ‘black market’ of the time, you would need to know the right person to get your hands on a set.
Buying or attempting to purchase from the wrong person was dangerous. Thankfully, times have changed. So, drop that notion right now and shop your heart out.
How to Choose Your Tarot Deck
Getting your first deck is a super exciting process! However, it can also be extremely overwhelming because of the sheer number of tarot decks available nowadays. There are literally thousands of them!
When you add in the fact that each option has its own energy and artwork, the process of picking just one can become anxiety-producing.
So, where should you begin? Here are 8 of the best ways to select a tarot deck that will take your readings to the next level.
- Go with your intuition!
- Explore the imagery of each tarot deck.
- Keep in mind your current tarot level.
- Do you want to go traditional or modern?
- How does the deck depict your favorite card?
- Find a size that fits.
- How are you going to use the tarot deck?
- Check for quality.
In my article about tarot decks, you can find a more in-depth explanation of these 8 tips to consider when buying your first deck. One easy way to get started without having to purchase (and wait for) a printed deck, is to buy a printable tarot deck.
And this is exactly why I’ve created my first-ever printable Tarot deck! I’m so excited to share this with you, so here’s a little sneak peek:
Interested in getting the Spark of Joy printable deck? Click here to buy and print it right away!
Best Beginners Deck
If you’re completely new to tarot I recommend starting with the Rider Waite Tarot deck because most of the tarot card meaning descriptions are based on this deck.
The deck offers vibrant and classic interpretations of each major and minor arcana card which allows for both classical and unique interpretations for a deep understanding of the subconscious.
If you absolutely don’t resonate with the Rider Waite deck or are unsure which deck to work with, consider reading my tarot decks article, as it contains the top ten decks for beginners.
2. Familiarize Yourself with the Arcanas
After purchasing your deck, the next step is to familiarize yourself with the cards. This probably will take some time, as the deck has 78 cards, divided into two groups.
The Major Arcana
The Major Arcana consists of 22 cards. These cards represent the life lessons and the big archetypal themes that are influencing your life and your soul’s journey to enlightenment.
If you place the Major Arcana cards in numeric order from the Fool Tarot Card (0) to the World Tarot card (21), they form a symbolic story. This story is also known as “The Fool’s Journey”, learning a lesson from each of the Major Arcana archetypes.
The Fool’s journey depicts and explains our individual journey of self-development leading from the earliest awareness (the Fool), to integration (the cards in between) and finally fulfillment (the World).
You can look at it as a general life path or use it to examine a certain area or period in your life.
The Minor Arcana
The Minor Arcana is divided into 4 suits of 14 cards each, including Cups, Pentacles, Swords, and Wands.
Starting with the Ace, the cards go up from the 2 towards the 10, then closing with four Court cards: Page, Knight, Queen, and lastly, the King (making it 14 cards).
Each of the suits has a ruling element, corresponding to specific areas in life.
Suit of Cups: Element of Water – Emotions & Relationships
The Suit of Cups is related to the water element and deals with matters of the heart. The primary aspects that surround this suit are love, emotions, and relationships.
Cards of this suit can also bring attention to how you react to your environment. If mostly Cups cards appear in a reading, it is indicative of emotional dealings such as problems in a relationship.
Suit of Pentacles: Element of Earth – Property & Achievement
Pentacles are ruled by the element of earth and deal with finances, career, and achievement. These cards are known as “money cards” since they are often associated with money-related decisions and financial windfalls.
Most of the time when a Pentacles card comes up in your reading, you are likely seeking answers to the material things in your life.
Suit of Swords: Element of Air – Wisdom & Communication
Ruled by the element of air, the Swords in a tarot reading stand for communication and action. Their strengths provide us with wisdom and clarity. The cards of this suit encourage you to use your head when making decisions.
They can also serve as a warning to pay closer attention to your surroundings – there could be a conflict or an argument on the horizon.
Suit of Wands: Element of Fire – Passion & Inspiration
Like a magic rod, the Suit of Wands represents creativity, intuition, and new ideas. Associated with the element of fire, Wands aren’t passive cards. On the contrary, this suit represents determination and strength.
It’s about pushing the limits to reach your goals and dreams. Spirituality and consciousness are also allies of this suit. The cards address what is truly meaningful to you and tell you more about who you are, your core values, and your beliefs.
It’s important to consider these elements and areas when working with the minor arcana cards, making it much easier for an intuitive reading to happen (after a bit of practice of course)!
All the cards have different meanings. In addition, you have to learn how the cards interact with each other. According to Holistic Shop, learning to read tarot cards is like learning a new language.
“You begin by studying individual cards, as you would learn individual words. You then become aware of how the cards in a spread interact, which can be compared with learning to put words together to form sentences. As you practice speaking a new language you become familiar with its nuances and notice how different inflections can change the mood of a sentence”.
The most given advice to beginners is to do a daily card pull where you pull one card from the deck. Before pulling the card, it’s good to have a question in mind.
You have to avoid questions that can be answered with a yes or no. Instead, use questions that will put the responsibility back on you. What can I do? How can I take personal action?
Want to try it out? Follow these steps and pick your card:
- Think of your question
- Close your eyes and for a few moments really think about your question
- Open your eyes and click on the cards below (this will guide you directly to the card you’ve picked, providing you with the answers you need).
Which card did you get? How did it align with your worries or thoughts? Did it help you self-reflect to gain more control of your situation?
Look at the imagery and think about the meaning of the card. Decide what the card would mean when you pull it in a spread. If you do this in the morning, you can keep it in mind as you go through your day. That’s a nice way to get to know the cards on a deeper level, which will result in better readings.
3. Sleep with a Card Under Your Pillow
According to the celebrity tarot reader, Angie Banicki sleeping with a card under your pillow will also help you to get to know the cards.
“Pull a card and put it under your pillow at night. Let the energy of that card seep into your dreams”, she said in the interview with Insider. “Wake up in the morning; observe the card. Read about what its different meanings are.
Then notice during the day what happens that might have been a sign from the cards. It’s pretty cool when you start connecting the messages. Once you start connecting the messages, she said, you’ll soon realize that things are not happening by coincidence”.
4. Learn Some Basic Spreads
A tarot spread is a layout of cards that will give you a structure in which you can explore your questions. Each position in the spread reflects an aspect of your question to consider.
You don’t have to use them for every reading. It is, however, a nice way to get started while you learn about the cards.
One of the most popular spreads is the Celtic Cross Tarot Spread, which consists of 10 cards. Although the Celtic Cross is a beautiful spread, it’s not a great place to start for the tarot beginner, because of its 10 cards.
Instead, you can better use a 3-card spread that represents the past, present, and future or the mind, body, and spirit of the person being read. Even a 3-card spread can give you the insights needed.
Besides, it’s a great and simple way to see how the cards create stories when they’re placed together. In this tarot spread article, you find 11 of the most commonly used tarot spreads for beginners to use when learning how to read the tarot.
5. Good Energy
The space in which you conduct your tarot readings is incredibly important. It is what creates trust and allows us to open up. Therefore, you should think about the energy of the space before starting your reading.
But do not only think of the physical space that needs to be in sort before starting a reading. Your mental, emotional, and spiritual spaces matter too! Make sure you create a sacred space within each one of these elements.
6. Find a Tarot Buddy
Finding a Tarot buddy can be an enriching experience on your journey with the cards. By connecting with someone who shares your interest, you can benefit from diverse interpretations and insights.
Through mutual practice and discussion, you can deepen your understanding, expand your perspectives, and enhance your Tarot skills.
Having a Tarot buddy will also provide you with a supportive environment where you can learn from one another, exchange ideas, and foster personal growth in your Tarot practice.
Together, you can embark on an exciting exploration of the Tarot, building confidence and nurturing a lasting friendship along the way.
7. Read Tarot Books
Growing and developing your tarot skills often means reading anything and everything you can get your hands on. This, however, can be a bit overwhelming. Especially when you first start out, as there are thousands of tarot books to choose from.
Where to start with so many options available, how do you know what to choose and what resonated with you? To help you, I made a list of my favorite tarot books that helped me to deepen my relationship with the cards and the tarot system.
8. Don’t Forget to Have Fun!
As you delve into the world of Tarot, it’s important to embrace the joy of learning and exploration. While it may feel daunting at first, approach it with a sense of fun and ease.
Instead of getting overwhelmed, try incorporating Tarot into your everyday experiences. For instance, when going out with friends, pull three cards to reveal insights about the evening ahead.
Let the cards guide your night and see how their advice unfolds.
By infusing Tarot into your social activities, you can enhance the element of surprise and enjoyment while sharpening your skills.
Remember, Tarot is an opportunity to embrace curiosity, spontaneity, and the thrill of discovery. So, relax, have fun, and let the magic of Tarot unfold in your life.
Ready to Start learning Tarot?
Learning how to read tarot cards is an incredible journey that gives you valuable insight and advice. While it’s a fun pastime, do not be fooled! You’ll discover that tarot is more than a parlor game.
Especially when you start to speak the tarot language fluently – including the nuances and different inflections – you’ll realize that things are not happening by coincidence.
So, let’s get started, buy a deck that resonates with you, and start to practice. Stick to simple spreads, simple meanings, and simple techniques. You’ll find your confidence grows immensely when you keep it simple.
The best way to get started with tarot as a beginner is to subscribe to my free 7-day Tarot mini-course here:
You can expect a daily email for one week with all the teachings you need to understand the Tarot in 7 days.
Can’t get enough of Tarot? Follow me on YouTube for videos of the Tarot card meanings, connect with me on Instagram, or follow my Facebook page or Pinterest account for more Tarot inspiration.
Interested in starting with my printable tarot deck or tarot journal pages right away? Click the image below to buy it from my Etsy store!
If you still have any questions after all this, please do not hesitate to reach out. I generally try to reply to my messages pretty fast so you don’t get stuck! Oh and especially…don’t forget to enjoy your Tarot journey!
Lyann Robin Moore, says
I wanted to let you know that I enjoyed how easy it was to understand your explanation of how to learn about reading and understanding tarot cards. I am going to read more of your teaching me how to go about learning my tarot cards. Thank you very much. I am having a really bad time dealing with the list of my 27-year-old Autistic son getting murdered by his caretaker at his group home and his dad getting the caretaker to do it. Then 6 days later my husband of 11 years died of a stroke. They were the only two family members that I had left that loved me and now I’m all alone to fight for my sons Justice. I’m scared all the time about making sure that the people that are around me now if they are doing me right or not. I have no other family left and it is hard to know what to do so I’m counting on the tarot cards to guide me and they have been pretty right on about people that I have and had in my life ever since they died which was 7-10-2021 my son and 7-16-2021 was my husband so I just want to thank you again on how easy it is to understand how you are telling people how to read and understand tarot cards. I will be ordering your workbook as son as I get paid again on the 3rd of November. Thanks Lyann
I am so sorry for what you have gone through this year, I am sending you so much love.
Loretta Bradshaw says
Was looking at your cards on pinterest. I am learning through Riade White but the strength card you posted really resonated with me. What cards are these and where can I buy them. Really loving your ability to explain the cards and I am enjoying learning from you. Stay safe in these scary times. Thanks
Hi Loretta, thank you so much???? Probably the Strength card was from my own deck, which you can buy in my Etsy store. Please note that it’s a printable deck that comes in a PDF file. You too stay safe and healthy✨ and have fun learning the Tarot! Love & light, Wille
Erin Jeffers says
I too very much enjoy your website, thank you. I have been experiencing a major pull to explore my gifts. I finally connected majorly with my new deck today however, I am confused at my reading. I pulled the Emperor, the Tower and the Wheel w Temperance as my guide as both my husband and I are Sag’s. It is so point on for our circumstances but I don’t know if my message is to move on or that the change was needed to form a new path. We love each other but circumstances keep us distanced physically. How do I know when it is my own wants/needs forming my interpretation as opposed to the message I need to hear? I guess I don’t know how to create the same distance in order to read for myself or those close to me without inserting my own needs. Can you help please? Thank you!
Hi Erin, thanks for your comment! It is a very good question and I found reading tarot for myself one of the hardest things. Especially because it is hard to be objective when the matter is important to us. What I do is I try to imagine that I am doing a spread for someone else and not for myself. I should be trying my best to be objective as I really want to help another person and not just give them my own opinions about the spread. I hope this will help you too ????