Can You Teach Yourself Tarot?

teach yourself tarot

Wondering if you can teach yourself to read Tarot effectively?

The short answer to this question is “yes”. I believe that teaching yourself Tarot can be the best way to learn because it helps you to form a personal connection with your cards and learn to trust your own instincts.

Tarot is different than learning a language where there are set meanings and a specific way you must say things. Tarot is a language of sorts, but one that is highly subjective.

Think about it like this – what is ultimately going to be the most logical and make the most sense? Trying to memorize a bunch of definitions for each card written by someone else? Or taking time with your cards, looking at them, deciding what the stories in the cards mean to you and learning to use that to connect with your cards?

Many new Tarot readers attempt to learn Tarot the way you would Mathematics or a language. They want specific meanings and set answers. When they find conflicting information or different people who claim their ideas are “right” so other peoples are “wrong” it can understandably cause frustration.

Is Tarot Hard to Learn?

This depends on how you define hard. If hard means does it take a lot of time, patience, and repetitive practice? Then yes – it’s hard. If hard means is it difficult to do? No – it’s not. Developing a Tarot journal is very easy and the best way to get started.

If you go into Tarot immediately buying multiple books and trying to memorize everyone’s interpretations it will probably be so difficult and frustrating you’ll give up. If, on the other hand, you trust yourself enough to learn to use Tarot and develop your own base interpretations (which you can expand on later), then you’ll find the way much easier. When something is meaningful to you, when it triggers your own memories and feelings, it will “stick” and be more enjoyable to learn than rote memorization and second guessing.

What Tarot Deck Should I Learn With?

You can learn with any deck you like, however, I recommend starting with a Waite deck or one based on the more traditional deck. The reason is that there is typically more information available on those decks than more specialized or obscure decks.

Go through your deck using your Tarot journal once. After you have done that, take some time to read a book or two or look at the interpretations of others. You will often find things that expand your understanding of your cards. Other times you may read someone,s interpretations and they won’t resonate with you and that’s OK too. The point of teaching yourself Tarot is to develop your own Tarot language and then learn build upon it later on.

If you are looking for a deck; please consider visiting the Tarot Shop on this site.  I feature all of my favorite decks here.  Still not sure? or looking for some suggestions? Shoot me an email via the contact link above and I’ll be happy to help you find some decks that may be right for you.  With over 1500 in existence; the task can be daunting :).

How Does Tarot Work?

intro to Tarot how does Tarot work

This is my original article “Understanding Tarot Beyond the Myths” that has been featured in many places.  I thought I would revisit it here with a few updates.

There are many misconceptions surrounding the Tarot that I hope to clear up by explaining what Tarot is and is not. For the past 27 years, I have used the Tarot as an instrument to gain understanding and insight.

During this time I have had to grow into this tool also, learning through experience what it can and cannot do. Tarot is not a magic wand that lays out an easy future by providing all the answers in advance. The future is not set in stone, our use of free will ultimately determines our path.

Simply put, Tarot is an instrument used to gain deeper insight & understanding, which then leads to empowered decisions. It is a tool for personal transformation through the combined use of psychology and spirituality. It enhances awareness and expands horizons. When we have the pictorial wisdom of the Tarot laid out before us, it can illuminate choices, show us things we may have avoided seeing honestly and also impart wisdom allowing for more informed decisions.

Living an empowered life means understanding that the future is not entirely predestined. We come here knowing and allowing ourselves to have certain experiences, but we also shape those experiences through integration of what we have learned. Just like a grade in school, you have certain objectives and lessons that are part of the goal plan. Some students will succeed while others will not make the goal, but each student shapes his/her own learning experience through effort and application.

Tarot, when used properly, was never intended to be “magic”, just a tool for insight and knowledge. The ultimate outcome is entirely in the hands of the one seeking the guidance. No one and no oracle can ever tell you what is going to happen, merely point to likely scenarios based on current understanding.

As with anything else misunderstood, it is human nature to fear and label things that can be viewed as a potential threat. Things that are different are frightening and often labeled as evil outright or ridiculed, rather than explored. Remember, we lived in a society that burned people alive only a few hundred years ago because of fears of evil.

I use the cards for many purposes: inspiration for writing, meditation, reflection, asking for guidance when I feel confused, etc. The possibilities are limitless, as are the many different types of decks available. There are decks that represent many different spiritual paths, cultures, styles of art, and more making it easy to find one that fits right with the individual.

How to do Accurate Tarot Readings for Yourself

tips for accurate self tarot readings

Can you read Tarot accurately for yourself? The answer may surprise you, but with the right mindset and application – yes you can.

Reading Tarot for Yourself

Can you read Tarot for yourself accurately and should you do your own Tarot readings? I believe this answer is entirely dependent on individuals and their ability to step back and be objective. I have done my own readings with great success, however, there are times where I find the objectivity of another reader helpful.

Simple spreads for general reflection or “what surrounds me” I find I can do easily for myself, however, there are times in life when we look to the cards for guidance of a higher order. Perhaps we are facing a life altering event or are under a period of higher stress than usual.  In those instances, you can do readings for yourself, but it’s important to develop the right state of mind first.

For me, I take a few minutes to clear my mind and focus on a mantra I developed.  I use the world “TWILIGHT” and each letter stands for something:  Truth, wisdom, inspiration, love, insight, guidance, highest good, trust.  My symbolism here is that I want all answers to be surrounded by Truth.  Twilight is the time of day where there is a transition taking place – not day, not night, but the period between.  It symbolizes neutrality, potential, and faith in the natural cycles of life and order.  Focusing and meditating on this before any reading (for myself or others) gives me the distance I need to be objective.

When emotions are high, or there is a lot of anxiety around a question, there can be a tendency towards tunnel vision or seeing what one wants or expects to see, rather than the truth. Tarot reading is a highly intuitive process and difficult emotions can cloud our judgment and inhibit our ability to truly connect with our intuition.

Other times, perhaps an answer is not clear or you want more insight into a situation. It may be best at those times to allow a third party to read for you because they may be able to see things that you are not allowing yourself to see.

My advice is if you are feeling compelled to ask the same questions again and again, it is a good indication that your emotions are blocking your ability to accurately interpret and intuit your own cards. Ask yourself, am I asking this question repeatedly because I truly do not understand the results being drawn? Or am I doing it because I am not hearing the message I want to hear? To do accurate readings for yourself, you have to be able to know when you are approaching your readings incorrectly.

In addition, if you are new to the Tarot and are not fully comfortable with interpretations you may find that doing your own readings yields inaccurate results. Perhaps seek a second opinion from a more knowledgeable reader or have a professional reading done with a reputable Tarot reader.

When doing your own readings be sure that you have a clear and focused question for the best results. It can be easier when we are drawing cards for ourselves to become distracted or let our minds wander away from the question at hand, which may yield inaccurate or unclear results in a spread as well.

Simple Exercises for Learning Tarot

simple tarot exercises learn tarot

What follows are some simple exercises for learning Tarot in an intuitive, personal and meaningful way.

What works and what doesn’t?

Tarot is not about memorizing a bunch of other people’s definitions. If you approach learning Tarot in this manner you will end up frustrated and will probably give up altogether. There are many books by many authors with many interpretations, but rather than memorizing their interpretations what you want to do is learn from them while at the same time developing your own tarot language. Each of us will connect with the cards a little differently. Although there is some “universal’ symbolism to each card, the deeper meanings and subtleties are very individual.

In order to be an effective reader, you have to connect with your cards. You need to know what they say to you, how they make you feel, how they tie into one another from your frame of reference. The best way to do this is through a Tarot journal.

Tarot Journal

I suggest using a 3 ring binder for this so you can add, subtract, move around etc as needed. Choose the deck you want to learn with. For beginners, I recommend a Waite deck or one based on that since they have the most learning material available.

You will need a place to do your journaling that is very quiet so that you can concentrate, undisturbed for at least fifteen minutes or so.

Work on one or two cards per day until you complete the entire deck. You don’t want to do more than that because you don’t want the exercises to blend into each other or to try to do too much at once. Doing no more than a couple per day allows time for the information to ‘sink in” and for your meanings to develop.

The idea is to take your card of the day and place it in front of you. Look at it for 30 seconds and record in your journal your first reactions to the card. Answer the following questions.

  • What is the first thing you noticed?
  • How does the card make you feel initially?
  • What is the mood of the character(s) depicted in the card?
  • What is happening?
  • What is going on in the background?

After this initial observation, spend several solid moments looking into your card. Noticed different shapes, symbols, and colors; make note of what they are and what you think of when you see them. This doesn’t have to be perfect this is just the observation phase and notes help you make more careful/detailed observations.

The last step is to write a story about the card. What is going on, who are the character(s), where are they, what are they feeling etc. What lessons does this story teach?

This helps to personalize the card for you. As you learn to read the cards you will see how the stories begin to blend into each other, and how these card stories coincide with real life events in a querrent’s life.

Start at the beginning of your deck with the Major Arcana. Do the above exercises for at least fifteen minutes per card. Once you have worked through the entire deck start back at the beginning by re-reviewing the cards. Add any extra insights or notes you want to your journal entry for that card.

After you have done the Tarot journal you should find that spreads and readings begin to come naturally.

Tarot Lesson Justice

Remember do your own journal entries before reading mine to achieve the best results! The goal is teaching you how to connect with your own cards in your own style. Just reading and memorizing other people’s ideas/interpretations is not going to give you the intuitive, connected feeling you require to attach the imagery appropriately.

major arcana justiceTarot Lesson Justice

In this card, the woman sits on the throne. There are justice scales in one hand and an upright sword in the other. This card has an aura of strength – clear vision. She is facing us head on from a seat of authority. The sword upright suggests someone ready to take action. It also speaks of “sharpness” or an idea that is on target.

She has a clarity of vision and perspective that allows her to balance that scale.

Justice scales speak of being well balanced, next to the sword of action it tells me that the woman has carefully weighed all options and is contemplating and about to take action that is both swift, but fair.

When I see this card I think of someone who detaches emotionally and approaches problems with logic and analysis in an effort to be unbiased.  Looking at all sides of an issue through the lens of objectivity and emotional restraint, in an effort to find a fair and equitable solution to a challenge.