How to Start Reading Tarot – An Exciting Journey Begins!

So you’ve decided to learn how to start reading tarot cards. Yay! Congratulations! This is exciting stuff! You’ve begun on what has the potential to become a life-long journey of self-exploration and discovery!

But before you can become a master, you have to start your journey as a beginner. What should be your first steps to doing your first tarot reading?

Here are some tips to help you get started.

Tarot cards

Find Your Deck

There are quite a few different traditions of tarot, but the most common one that most readers use in the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith. This deck contains the tarot images you are probably most familiar with. For instance, the Hermit on the famous Led Zeppelin album cover comes from this tradition.

You will have no problem finding a copy of this deck as it is by far the most widely used one out there! But there are also many versions derived from this tradition, so feel free to choose any one of these creative offshoots.

The Rider-Waite-Smith is often considered the easiest to interpret because of its lovely imagery and plethora of resources available to aid you in your research.

When it comes down to it, you should choose a deck that feels right to you, that calls out to you, or that you just really like.

Create Time For Yourself

If this is your first time doing a reading, it is important to give yourself and your experience the attention it deserves. It will help you get in a routine, distinguish it from your other mundane, everyday happenings, or just get your head in the game if you establish some structure.

Here are some ideas for making your reading time special:

  • Find a time of day, especially in the morning or at night, when the house is most quiet.
  • Make a dedicated “tarot place” where you will keep coming back to do your readings. This will help create an intentional energy about it that will help guide and focus your thinking.

    Tarot and sage

  • Keep a journal or dedicated notebook for your tarot thoughts and ideas. This will help you develop your tarot knowledge in the long-term and help get your thoughts straight in the moment.
  • Light a candle. This will help you set intention and draw in your focus to what you are doing.
  • Burn some sage or palo santo. This will help clarify the air as well as your mind and help you relax mentally.
  • Set your phone on silent or “do not disturb.” You don’t want a ringtone or vibration causing unnecessary distraction.

Keep it Simple

Don’t start off your first reading with a detailed spread like the famous Celtic Cross or even the three card Past-Present-Future. Start off with just one card, and one question.

Start with asking, “What is the energy of the day?” or “What will help me out today?” or “What do I need to keep in mind as I go about my day?”

Ask whatever you want, but keep it simple and light. That way you’re not putting too much pressure and expectation on yourself or the cards.

Keep it Fun!

It’s true that tarot is an age-old system that has been around for thousands of years and there’s so much to learn about the 78 cards and ways to read them. All of this can be overwhelming at first.

Right now, however, you’re not concerned with becoming an expert. No – you’re just having fun.

Telling yourself you’re just doing this just for fun (even if you are actually feeling quite serious) will help relax your mind, and therefore your intuition, and thus help the messages and meanings come to you more naturally and fluidly.

It may also help you to remind yourself that nobody’s watching – nobody’s going to judge you! This is time for yourself to do something you want to do. The pressure is off!

Pay Attention to the Card Art

Have the first thing you do when flipping the card over be to just observe what’s going on in the image. Ask these questions:

  • What are the people in the card doing? What does it look like they’re doing to me?
  • What other objects are in the image? How are they arranged or set up in relation to the big picture?
  • What else is in this image that I maybe didn’t notice at first?
  • (And most importantly) What does this image make me feel?

Go With Your Gut

You’re likely going to get lots of ideas, lots of messages from the card. Or maybe not, and that’s okay too! Sometimes only a few words might come to mind.

If you’re keeping a tarot journal, write down any ideas or thoughts that pop in your head.

No matter how simple, lengthy, ridiculous, or far-fetched they might seem, go ahead and write them down.

Remember, it doesn’t matter if you’re “right” or what the card “really” means. Right now you’re accessing your own intuitive power that, with practice, can become surprisingly accurate.

Keeping a Journal

Look it Up

You have written down your ideas and now it’s time to expound upon them. If your deck comes with a guidebook, you can look up your card meaning there. If it doesn’t, you can search the name of your card on the internet and see what comes up.

There are some “set” meanings for each card, but there are a plethora of nuanced expressions of each one. This means that if you have some observations or keywords that don’t match the guidebook, that’s okay!

In fact, that’s great!

It means that you have tapped into your own subconscious and interpretive power.

Looking up the card meanings will help add to your database of meanings for each card and hone in on particularities you may not have known or noticed about it previously.

There Is No Wrong Way to Read the Tarot

No matter what your approach to how to start reading tarot cards, you will be learning with every step you take. Go with a deck you like, that makes you feel excited and like you want to sit down and read with it often. Carve out some special time to do your reading and get your mind focused. Keep it light, keep it simple, and remind yourself that you’re doing this for you, so have fun! Write down all your ideas and thoughts!

There is ultimately to wrong way to read the cards.

You can check your initial impressions against a guidebook or pages on the internet, but ultimately YOU are going to be your best guide when it comes to your tarot journey.

Are there anymore tips I should add to the list? Have you tried any of these yet? Let me know in the comments below!

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