Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tarot Lessons 1 & 2 -- Demystification and Where To Begin

There are some excellent websites that teach tarot for free, see below, but if you find you could use some one on one guidance, drop me a line. I really enjoy teaching tarot and it keeps my feet wet with the cards. I live in a remote community and don't get to use my cards much here. Getting to teach tarot online is a real treat for me and I won't hit you up for money or donations or any of that mess. I'm not adept enough with the cards to be taking people's money for tarot lessons!

Farther down are tarot lessons that you may use if you like. If you'd prefer to have someone take you by the hand and teach you, just let me know. If you'd like to work with the lessons I have here and with me personally via email and/or comment, that's okay too. I'm all for helping you learn tarot in a way that most suits you.

Free Tarot Courses Online: Learn Tarot at Lotustarot.com and Learntarot.com.

Lesson 1: What tarot isn't... it's not magical. It's not a tool of Satan. It's not occult. A tarot deck is a set of 78 cards, usually, with illustrations on them. It's really very similar to a playing card deck. And, by the way, a playing card deck can be used just like a tarot deck, but it's not nearly as pretty or as fun. The illustrations on a tarot card are archetypal (like the image of a woman with a blue cloth draped over her head and holding a baby is the archetypal image of the Virgin Mother, no one wonders who she is, we all know) and have no hidden power from dark sources.

When it comes down to it, tarot artwork are simply images, their significance is really up to you. I like to use this analogy: A tarot deck is like a set of mirrors, each mirror reflecting back just a small aspect of the human experience. Cards in a tarot deck can also be compared to lenses, each one allowing a different view.

Drawing random cards and looking at your life or specific issues of your life through these "lenses" can allow you a perspective you might not have been able to achieve otherwise. For this reason ANYONE can read tarot cards. You don't have to be psychic to use the cards. You can invoke whatever deity or power you like when shuffling and drawing tarot cards, if any. If you are looking for divine inspiration or answers, you can invoke the god or higher power of your own understanding to speak to you through the cards... or through weather patterns, or through chicken guts, or through numbers, or through other signs that are significant to you.

So, you see, tarot cards do not hold their own power or magic. They are just paper with colorful pictures on them. The only power a tarot deck has is the power you permit it to have.

Lesson 2: Where to begin. If it's not too late and you are really really really new to tarot, don't crack open your tarot books yet! And don't look at your LWB. LWB = Little White Book. The LWB is the companion book that comes with nearly every tarot deck. This book may be very small--a literal LWB, or it might be a larger book.

There are two halves to a tarot deck. They are not equal. There is the major arcana, which are usually numbered from 0 to 21 and tend to have more to do with the karmic aspects of life. This is a guideline, not a rule.

The minor arcana is just like any poker deck except the cards have pictures. There are four suits and they are numbered from 1/Ace to 14/King. After 10, it's usually Page, Knight, Queen, King but this does vary in some decks. Sometimes it's Princess, Prince, Queen, King, and sometimes it's even more different from that. Either way, there are still 56 of them.

Minor Arcana tend to have more to do with every day life, but this too is only a guideline. If you apply the rest of this lesson to your tarotcation, you will really surprise yourself. Get a notebook. Open it up and write down the first card you want to work on. Let's say it's 0/The Fool. If you like, you can tape a photocopy of The Fool into your notebook. Some people buy an extra tarot deck for this purpose. Underneath the image (if you've taped one in) write down what you think of the card. Write your initial impressions. Then start looking at the different symbols in the card. What do they mean to you, if anything? What does your intuition whisper to you about this card? What does it remind you of? Do the people on the card seem happy, sad, wistful, mournful? Are the colors positive, tranquil, angry, dark, negative? How many living things are on the card? What do these living things seem to be doing? How does it compare to the card that came before it (if it was in the same suit/arcana/sequential order)? How do you feel about the number of the card? In other words, do you like 0's? Or Sevens or whatever number the card may be?

Now, turn it upside down and look at it as if you haven't seen it before. Ask yourself all the same questions. You might notice things about this card reversed that you didn't notice about it when it was upright (a.k.a. "dignified"). Write all this stuff down. Then leave plenty of room for future notes. Go on to the next card. Do the entire deck this way, relying only on your intuition and feelings about the cards you are looking at. If the card doesn't speak to you and all you can write about it is, "There are three coins floating in the air above a stupid looking guy," that's okay. But don't cheat! Leave the books alone! Only when you have gone through all the cards this way do you crack open a tarot book.

This is when it gets interesting! You'll be so proud of yourself for how close your descriptions come to what's in the books. And every book differs, by the way. But we'll get to that in a bit. On other things you may feel silly because you didn't recognize some symbol for what it was meant to be, yet you may notice things that the books never mention. And if you had known what it was "supposed" to be, you might have missed out on something!

Now and forever more whenever you see that card you'll remember what You thought of it first, not what someone else said about it. And your impressions are always going to be the most important. Once you've corrupted your vision of the cards with what someone else has said, you can never go back. Doing this exercise before you get too "tainted" by the opinions of others is a golden lesson in learning tarot. It's a lovely gift you can give yourself.

I'm working on a New Tarot Journal l right now, perhaps you'll find it useful. It's been awhile since I created one. I feel that it's important to keep updating my tarot journal because the longer I continue reading, the more I learn. And what I thought I understood about tarot two years ago may be very different today.

2 comments:

Max said...

Hello again,

This is most useful information! And the tip of getting a notebook is actually very good: thanks!

I suspected that cards could mean something apart from what the manual, says...but a friend of mine kept saying that no: I should, perhaps, read the manual and follow its instructions.

I have subscribed to your blog, I'll definitely return :)!

Cheers

Tarot Reader said...

Hi Max! Jeez. I had no idea you were posting. Ugh. We could have been chatting tarot for two and a half months!

Manuals later, journals now! At least that's my vote. You have to do what works for you. But, no, there are no rules. Look forward to talking to you soon!