Updated: Sep 23, 2022
My students are not just new to Tarot, they’re new to the occult, and that can present some challenges. If you’ve grown up with occult symbolism and concepts, picking up a divination system won’t take too long because everything you learn is backed by a lifetime of study. If you’re new to the occult, however, learning Tarot will take longer. The following exercises are meant to immerse you into Tarot and its symbolism in the hopes that you will gain a deep understanding of all the cards.
1. Pick-a-Card + Journal Daily I recommend shuffling your deck and picking a card of the day. DO NOT use this card as a reading. If you’re brand new to Tarot, you don’t need to ruin your day by applying the Three of Swords or the Tower card to your life at breakfast. Tell yourself that every pull is for educational purposes only.
Look up the meaning of the card on various websites and books, if you have them. Write out the definition, copying word-for-word, straight from your sources. Again, this isn’t a reading and you’re not publishing this journal, so don’t worry about plagiarism. The point of this exercise is to study different interpretations and to internalize the meaning by writing them out. If you get the same card more than once, pick different sources the next time. I recommend doing this daily, but you know your own schedule better than I do. Just remember that consistency is key.
2. Count 1–10 At first, my students were intimidated by the idea of memorizing 72 cards. I remind them that I teach in sections. The first section is the Major Arcana, where they only have to worry about 22 cards. When we arrive at the Minor Arcana section, I tell them to only think of numbers 1–10. (The court cards are a separate lesson.)
Ace — beginnings, new opportunities, new ideas potential energy
Balance — partnerships, duality, pairs, two forces coming together
Creativity — expression, group effort, growing together,
Stability — foundation, manifestation, structure
Change — instability, conflict, reluctance, denial
Cooperation — communication, harmony, healing
Assessment — knowledge, reflection, control
Mastery — action, accomplishment (careful what you’re good at)
Fruition — attainment, fulfillment
Completion — end of a cycle, renewal
Cards do not exist in isolation. Each suit represents a journey, and putting them in numerical order and considering what each number represents will help you pick up the meaning faster. For example, five represents instability, conflict, change, reluctance, denial. Keeping that in mind…
Five of Swords: disagreements or conflict
Five of Wands: conflict, lack of cooperation, clashing personalities
Five of Cups: emotional instability, unwelcomed change
Five of Pentacles: financial instability, feeling like the world is against you, unwelcomed change
Are these the only meanings we can extract from each of these cards? No. The Five of Swords can also represent self-sacrifice, self-sabotaging, or abuse. But these are meanings that you can narrow down to when you start off from numerology.
3. Learn basic symbols (moon, water, earth, rose) It’s believed that the universe uses symbols to communicate with us. Learning recurring symbols helps us extract additional meaning from every single Tarot card. This doesn’t require memorization, just analysis.
Moon: subconscious, intuition, emotions Cat: magic, intuition Birds: communicating with high consciousness Pillar: balance, support Ocean: movement, emotions Fruits: fertility Dog: loyalty
There’s more to learning Tarot than journaling, learning 1–10, and some basic symbols. It’s a complex divination system with a rich history, of course there’s more. But we all start somewhere. Might as well start with a strong foundation and a dedicated practice.
Ready for a Tarot reading? Book online today. There are 30-minute and 60-minute options. While you wait for your appointment date to arrive, you can read about my favorite Tarot spread to use with clients.
Read more occult content on Medium