Fancy learning how to read tarot cards?
Our mini series this week is here to help.
Yesterday we talked you through intuitive readings and choosing the right deck. Today’s lesson? Memorising the cards.
This is one of the hardest bits about learning tarot. It can take ages, and you might be wondering why you shoud bother.
You absolutely can continue to read intuitively – that’s fine – but here are some reasons it’s a good idea to learn and memorise the cards’ meanings:
- It will make doing readings a lot faster (as you stop checking the book every 10 seconds).
- You will feel more like a real tarot reader and more confident.
- You can do readings for other people, maybe even professionally (you can’t get the guidebook out if someone is paying you for a reading, they will not be best pleased).
- You will start to develop your own unique interpretations of the cards that mean so much more to you because they’re a blend of the official line plus your own life experience, words and advice. This is when tarot really becomes your own tool, your ally, your trusted confidant.
So that’s why you should memorise the cards. Now let’s get into the how.
Start with the major arcana
Most people start memorising with the major arcana, because they’re a neat set of 22 cards, they are the most powerful cards (representing major life milestones and turns of events, each is like its own drama), they have dramatic names (The Devil! The Fool! The Tower!) and usually vivid imagery.
Take one card each day (over three weeks) and read up on it, then make notes on a post-it and keep that card and post-it in your view all day, so you keep looking at it and re-reading your notes.
If the cards speaks to a particular life experience or memory of yours than embed that too. Put it next to your bed that night and meditate being ‘inside’ the card’s image before you go to sleep.
The minor arcana
The remaining 56 cards are the minor arcana, split into four suits – Swords, Coins, Wands and Cups.
Each suit goes from number one to ten, with four Court cards – King, Queen, Knight, Page.
Start by memorising the meaning of the suits themselves.
In terms of the four suits, Wands are about energy and inspiration; your roles, projects, lifestyle, travel ideals and creative endeavours; the beneficiaries of your talents and energy. They link to the Fire element.
Swords are about your intellect; mental concepts, thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes towards life; they often depict situations where we’re in conflict mentally with others / ourselves. They link to the Air element.
Cups are about your feelings, emotions, psychology, and therefore relationships (the ‘lover’ cards). They link to the Water element.
Coins are about your material world: money, home, career, health (the ‘money’ cards). They link to the Earth element.
Link court cards to people you know
The easiest way to get to know the 16 court cards (King, Queen, Knight and Page) is to associate them with people you know.
In the tarot, they represent people mostly so you can safely link them up to characters in your life who match their energy. If you can’t think of anyone then use celebrities or favourite fictional characters.
The minor arcana will take the longest to memorise
Next, think about the number cards. Very broadly, Aces always indicate new beginnings, Fives are usually about a midpoint twist or phase of change and challenge, Tens are completion and attainment.
The rest of the cards you can take a week at a time. My method was to zoom in on one suit and write the meanings out over and over, as I find writing implants information in my mind.
I also got a ‘dummy deck’ and put stickers on the cards with the meaning on and used that to practice and embed the interpretations.
You could also create a little spreadsheet or grid with all of the cards on and a one-liner meaning or prompt for each and keep that with you when you read. Over time, you will come to rely on it less and less.
Learning the minor arcana will take you the longest and be the hardest. There are so many of them!
They don’t have dramatic names and are more concerned with humdrum, everyday life matters and behaviours than the storming, drama queen major arcana.
Stick with it. Don’t give up, you’ll get there.
Kerry Ward is the creator of The Good Karma Tarot Deck, which you can buy through Amazon.
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