17 Tarot Tips Every Beginner Reader Should Know
Including "dos" and "definitely don'ts."
If you've just started tarot, congratulations! You're on the path to complete enlightenment. From picking a tarot deck (we've rounded up the best tarot decks of 2020 here for you!) to learning the card meanings to finally reading for friends and strangers, the entire journey is a whirlwind adventure.
Even so, it can be a little daunting to start—especially when you have no idea what to do. So here are a couple easy guidelines to make sure you're covering all your bases.
1) Pick a deck you like.
You may feel inclined to start out with the ride-or-die of tarot decks: the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck. Trust me, I started with it too! You may be wondering, "Why wouldn't you start with the oldest, most widely-known deck out there?" While that thinking may be true, tarot is a bit different than that.
2) Pull a daily card.
Instead of trying to learn the whole deck at once, pull one card every day to slowly integrate their meanings into everyday life. It’ll also help you create your own interpretations, based on how you feel or what happens that day.
3) Start small.
Do 1- to 3-card readings when you’re just getting started—instead of the 10-card Celtic Cross.
4) Look at the pictures.
A great way to understand tarot meanings for yourself is to figure out what you're looking at when you look at cards. Before you even try to remember the card meanings (don't check that guidebook!), look first at the imagery on the card.
Pick a card from your deck. Pull it out, put it in front of you, and ask yourselves these questions: What is the character doing? How many people are in the card? What does the scenery look like? Are there animals? What colors are present in the card? But most of all: How does the card make you feel when you look at it?
Take all those questions into consideration, and journal them out... card by card.
5) Read, read, read—then toss all the books away.
You read that right. Read it ALL. Contain it. And then, forget about it.
The books aren't there to tell you how to read tarot, they're there to show you how to interpret the cards for yourselves. The best part about tarot is that every tarot reader sees the cards differently. And thanks to that, there's no ONE way to read cards. Take that as an opportunity for you to learn freely!
If you'd like a recommendation about where to start, two of my favorite books while learning tarot were The Ultimate Guide to Tarot by Liz Dean and Tarot 101 by Kim Higgens. Both were quite detailed and easy to understand—and I just soaked up the knowledge! Then, when you get a little more advanced and you're moving on to tarot spreads, another favorite book of mine is 365 Tarot Spreads by Sasha Graham.
6) Try making real-life connections.
If you're bored in a meeting at work, ask yourself, "What kind of card would I pull to describe my mood right now?"
7) Ask questions you already know the answers to.
This may seem counter-intuitive, but when you're learning, this trick will help you make connections with the cards (and what they mean for you) even faster!
For instance, "How does my dog feel about my cat?" You may already know that the answer is going to be something smug, but when it comes out in a reading, you'll be able to make connections in a backwards kind of way. Sometimes, analyzing the answer first before thinking about the question is actually an easier way to connect meaning.
8) Stay away from health topics.
Honestly, just don't do it. It's not worth the hurt you could cause (or the lawsuit that you could get—even if you were right).
This leads into the next tip...
9) You are allowed to decline a reading or a customer.
If you ever feel uncomfortable—or like you aren't able to give the reading that the person deserves—you are allowed to say "no." Don't forget this!
While it's never fun to turn down or postpone readings, on very few occasions it may be necessary. I have a number of ways to turn down clients should I feel that I can't give them the best reading. The first, is to tell them that it's not "in my policy" to read on certain topics—like health, for instance. The second is to express that while I want to give them the best reading possible, my energy levels just aren't able to cooperate that day and I'll need some extra time. And lastly, when you're first starting out, if you don't feel completely comfortable reading for strangers, it's okay to say that you're still learning!
10) Associate every court card with a person you know.
This is how I first learned how to distinguish, say, the King of Cups from the Knight of Wands, and so on. This tactic is also how I learned to differentiate all the zodiac signs. Association really works!
11) Don't ask the same question again and again.
Well... you can, if you want. But just know that if you do, the cards are going to present the same (or a similar) answer over and over and over. This can be a good way to check yourself, if you got a reading that you're unsure about. If that happens, go ahead and pull it again and see what happens.
But for big questions, my general advice is to wait at least one week before asking the cards the same question.
12) Take up a tarot journal.
One of the best ways to learn each card is to write out everything you see, experience, and think about. A great tool then, is a tarot journal—filled with blank pages for your thoughts.
13) Treat your cards with respect.
Treat them like you would treat your best friend: playfully, but respectfully. Notice I don't advise to treat them like your grandmother (fragile, delicately, etc.).
My personal philosophy on handling tarot decks is that their services to you aren't going to exponentially get better if you gently place them in a silk bag after every use. You don't have to handle them as if they're going to break, or bow down to the cards every time you want to use them. Just keep them clean, respect them, and learn from them.
14) Don't consider reversed card meanings quite yet.
It already takes a while to learn the upright meanings. Be patient. Just stick to upright first and then go into reversed when you feel ready.
If you aren't interested in learning reversed meanings, you don't have to! Remember: It's not required to read tarot cards in reverse! I'm of the idea that you can get the same message reading solely upright.
15) Follow practiced tarot readers on social media.
This is similar to reading everything and throwing all the books away. When you get to know other people's tactics and opinions, it really does help you form your own. More than that, following these kinds of accounts will help you figure out what to do once you've learned how to read cards! If you want to get in the industry, you'll be acclimating as well as learning by following them.
Aside from my own account, here are a couple tarot readers I follow and admire:
16) Ask 5 different people how they feel about one card.
You might be surprised how similar (or not-so-similar) the answers are! This will help you figure out your own interpretation.
17) Read for yourself.
Really! It's not taboo to read for yourself. If you want to do it, go for it. It's really a personal decision. I, personally, stay away from it unless I have a pressing question. But if I have a really big question (like, "should I break up with my boyfriend?"), I put that in another reader's hands. I wouldn't trust myself to pull cards for that. I'm too involved!