Tarot Tips #3

Readings/Layouts for Beginners

So, you’ve got your deck and you got your good vibes — what’s next?

Looking at tarot guidebooks or blogs can be confusing when it comes to the actual layouts, or readings. That’s because you’ve just tried to absorb information about 78 unique cards and are now being tasked with doing something about them.

There’s no need to hop right into doing readings for your friends. Sit with your book for a while and get familiar with your cards. I encourage new readers to start by giving readings to themselves; not too long ago, it was thought to be “bad luck” to give yourself a reading, but like…you’re practicing, and it’s fine.

Not only are you interpreting the descriptions of the cards, you’re now balancing them with specific locations within a reading. Each card location has its own meaning that you then combine with the card that lands in that location.

Here are some brief descriptions of three easy readings you can do for yourself, and eventually for friends, when you’re just starting out.

  1. Card of the Day:
    Yes, just shuffle your deck as you would before any reading. Shuffling is a time to imbue the cards with your energy as well as with the energy of the question you’re asking the universe. With Card of the Day pulls, your question might be something like: “What should I focus on today?” or “What’s in store for me today?” or “What would be good for me to remember/meditate on?”
    When you’re done shuffling, flip the top card over and interpret its meaning for yourself.
    This one card reading could also be used for quick decision making, or to re-center/align yourself.
    (Note: In general, tarot readings are never going to give you straight answers or extremely clear directions. They’re mostly going to give you lots to think about in hopefully relatable ways.)

  2. Three Card Spread:
    This is typically used as a past-present-future spread.
    Shuffle your deck, put in your energy, and put in the energy of your question. When you feel you’ve shuffled enough, lay down the top three cards in this order:
    1st card — 2nd card — 3rd card
    These represent the past, present and future themes relating to your question/problem.
    Some example questions might be: “What’s up with my career?” or “Where is my love life headed?”
    Again, tarot won’t give you a direct answer, but think of it like a forecast: this is how things are right now based on current conditions, but those conditions could change at any point thanks to your actions.

  3. Star Spread:
    A little more advanced than the previous two, the Star Spread is a five card spread that will help give you an outlook on a situation.
    Same beginning steps apply: Shuffle, energy, deal the cards.
    Here is the order of the card locations as you deal them (PLEASE IGNORE MY INABILITY TO DRAW WELL and also my inability to crop photos within Substack):
    Regardless of which five-card alignment you choose for your reading, here are the meanings of each card location:
    - 1. The current mood/energy of the person asking the question
    - 2. The task at hand (i.e. the verb of what needs to be done)
    - 3. The challenge surrounding this situation (i.e. what needs to be overcome)
    - 4. The strength of the question asker (i.e. what they should remember they’re good at)
    - 5. The goal/end result here (i.e. the noun of what you want out of this)

These three “starter” readings will hopefully inspire you to dip your toe into doing tarot readings once you feel ready to do so. Again, there’s certainly nothing wrong in practicing on yourself, or a willing partner, before you start telling people you do this now.

Over time, your interpretation of the meanings of the cards and the meanings of the readings may change/deepen/become simplified/become more complex, and that’s all totally fine! Everything’s changing constantly, so why shouldn’t tarot?

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Tarot Tips #2

How to choose a deck

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One of the FAQs I get a lot from folks starting their tarot practice is:

~*~ How do I find a deck?
~*~ How do I pick a deck that’s right for me?

If you’ve been looking online, or just have no idea where to start, I’ll briefly share how I first picked mine.

A while before I started seriously practicing and studying tarot, I bought a Rider-Waite deck and guidebook off Amazon.

It’s a pretty good deck for beginners, but the art and tone of the guidebook felt very outdated to me. It did teach me about numerology in tarot, as well as more traditional interpretations about color theories. I used this deck for about a year before I decided it wasn’t really for me. It started to feel a little too old school and ultimately unrelatable. But a la Marie Kondo, it was time to thank it and move on to something that would actually work.

Through some online searching, I found an up-and-coming deck: The Wild Unknown.

To me, this deck was mystical and beautifully colorful. The artist designed it because she wasn’t connecting to any of the available decks out there. These cards have themes related to nature and animals, and I found that magical in a way that the Rider-Waite deck never reached for me personally.

There are lots of gorgeous decks out there, and some have more playful themes than others. (I was once gifted a deck called “Pagan Cats” and it’s so adorable/quirky/different — would I recommend it for beginners? Probably not, as it’s a bit too stylized for someone just starting out.)

Because it can be confusing, here’s my advice for people selecting their first deck:

  1. Try not to be too distracted by the art on the cards. Feel free to select a simple deck in order to just focus on the meanings at first. I recommend the Rider-Waite deck I mentioned above, but if you’re looking for a more modern/minimalist design, check out OK Tarot by Adam J. Kurtz. To browse other options from indie artists, check out Little Red Tarot’s shop to see what’s available around the world.

  2. Keep your new deck close by when you’re first starting to use it. Most tarot teachers will tell you to get a small wooden box to store them in, and keep it next to your bed. This is so your cards will pick up on your vibes and energy.

  3. It’s okay to try multiple decks before finding one that works for you! Tarot is an ever-changing process that takes time. Just as you’ll constantly learn more about the cards as you study, your deck choice may evolve over time.

  4. You may have heard that it’s “good luck” to have someone give you a deck, instead of you choosing a deck for yourself. This isn’t tooootally true, but if you’re feeling fun and superstitious, just pick out a deck and convince a friend to buy it for you. This is the Age of Venmo, after all.

And that’s it!

Once you get a deck, treat it with respect and see how you connect with it. I recommend keeping your cards in the same direction when you shuffle so you can avoid reverse/upside-down cards in your readings (more on that in another Tarot Tips). Otherwise, start studying the nuances of your cards + how they relate to the readings. Get to know them, and make them a part of your life.

As always, if you want some of these tips in a physical form plus interpretations of card meanings, check out my book How to Deal: Tarot for Everyday Life.

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