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5 Easy Ways to Learn the Tarot

Welcome to Thursday! It’s a miracle we’re here. After all, everywhere you go, there are terrible Christmas songs playing, and old ladies who need help and nobody but you will help them, and then you drive home on the verge of tears wondering whether that will, one day, be you… oh, just me? Never mind.

So I asked over on Instagram whether you’d rather see one of two posts today: Magic Under the Influence, or Easy Ways to Learn the Tarot. Door No. 2 won with an overwhelming majority. So here we are, everyone – and I shall assume that nobody else does magic after a whisky or two…

A green caravan with two signs reading ‘TAROT’ sits on a wooden jetty over the sea.

The Tarot is one of those things that we’re almost all familiar with visually. If you’re like me, you’ve got the old Smith-Waite Tarot deck (sometimes known as the Ryder-Waite, but that’s a whole other story of one woman’s erasure right there). Anyway. I have that deck, which is basically the most well-known of all the decks, and that is why I currently have just that one: I am re-learning.

I’ve mentioned before that I was a lot more fluent in the Tarot when I was younger. This is probably because, as a 16 year old, I had time, no money to do anything else that required leaving the house, and no responsibilities apart from homework and practising musical instruments. Also, my brain was young and had not yet experienced the booze-bashing of my 20s. So I guess my recall was better.

However, today, at 33, I feel more in tune with myself, and I decided a few months ago that it was time to re-introduce myself to my favourite pastime of years gone by. And then I realised that I could barely remember a single card. So I started looking for ‘easy’ ways to learn the meanings of the cards.

A person spreads some tarot cards in their hand.

PSYCH – GUESS WHAT? There is no one easy way. There are just easi-ER ways. Or at least, ways in which we can train our brains and souls to reconnect or connect for the first time with the cards. Here are my 5 top tips for learning the Tarot.

ONE: Get Acquainted with those Babies

Okay, so you’re faced with a full deck of cards. What do you do? You get to know them, of course. That means it’s time to look (like, really look) at each card. With a new deck, I like to do this while I cleanse them in incense smoke. So basically, I take the deck, I shuffle it to get a feel for it, and then I study each individual card before passing it through the smoke, and saying something along the lines of, ‘thank you for being in this deck; may you now be free of all former energies.’ Spend this time connecting with them and looking at the pictures in each card – what does each one say to you? What do you feel from it? This way you can kill two birds with one stone – cleanse them and introduce yourself.

TWO: A Card a Day

The cover of “The Modern Witchcraft Book of Tarot” by Skye Alexander.

I’ve mentioned before that I use the Modern Witchcraft Guide to Tarot, and I suggest you get a book, either that one, or a similar style, that has no-bullsh*t, clear information about the meanings of each card. You don’t have to go with every word in your book – but it will help you when you can reference a card after you’ve looked at it yourself and felt what you can from it. The card a day thing serves many purposes, but there are a few I want to mention in particular:

  1. It moves your energy into the deck by touching it every day

  2. It gives you a one-card reading before you start your day (or the evening before the next day) that can help guide you

  3. It teaches you to recognise cards ON THEIR OWN, so your vision isn’t clouded by others,

  4. It gets you into a healthy reading practice.

Use the card-a-day to get into the swing of things, so to speak.

THREE: Suit Studies

Tarot Suit Chart of Associations by Tarot Teachings.

Not a study of suits in the clothing sense, although I do applaud that. I’m talking, pick a suit (Pentacles, Swords, Wands, Cups, etc depending on the deck) and get to know it. Read about it in your book. Read about it on the internet. Each suit refers to a certain part of the human psyche. This handy chart can be found over on Tarot Teachings (click for link) and has been super helpful for me, personally. It explains which suits match up to which elements, parts of our lives, and so forth.

By printing this (or making your own!) and placing it where you are looking at it a lot, you will kind of beat it into your brain what each suit means, which will break the back of learning the Minor Arcana.

FOUR: Break the Major Arcana Down

The ‘Temperance’ car held up above another two cards in a spread.

Perhaps the easiest place to begin is to learn the Majors. There are 22 of these goodies, and each one has specific meanings, both upright and reversed, although, as everything with Tarot, open to your own interpretation and intuition. This super helpful website over at Biddy Tarot has a click-and-reveal for each of the Majors, which can be great if you want a quick-look reference. Learn the Majors, and maybe, for a little while, practise with just those 22 cards until you get a feel for them. Then introduce the rest of the deck, if you feel more comfortable.

FIVE: Do Simple Readings, and What Not to Ask

A deck of Tarot cards spread out face-down on a red embroidered cloth.

There is just one question you shouldn’t ask the Tarot, and that is: the question you literally just asked it. There is no point. You’re going to confuse yourself. The Tarot say what they say; sometimes they’re gentle and sometimes they kick you in the shins and laugh at you. There’s no way around that. So ask your question, listen, and then move on.

But to begin with, stick to easy spreads. Three or four-card spreads are my favourites for quickies, the three-card being one of the easiest:

  1. What is the Past that is relevant

  2. What is the Present situation?

  3. What is the Future of this situation?

  4. (Optional) What can I do to help me to get there?

See? Simple, clear. Don’t ask what your future wife’s name is, or what breed of dog you’re going to get. The Tarot have more to offer than that. What is in my soul? What am I hiding myself from? What do I need to let go of? Do these readings for yourself and for close friends or family – people who will forgive you if you need to check the book. Don’t be charging for this sh*t, okay? You’re only learning. It’s like reading a medical textbook once and then charging money for diagnoses.

The ‘Justice’ Card.

There are so many amazing spreads, and I find a lot of mine on Instagram. There are readers who are MUCH more knowledgeable than I am, and you can learn a lot from listening to them and watching them do a reading. Paige Ferris over at Catalyst Healer does a great regular video reading which is open to everyone, as well as Instagram lives. So head on over there and learn something. There are also a bunch more readers on Insta who are generous enough to read live, so find them and follow them, watch their videos, and then practise.

So I hope this has been helpful – now, go and read your cards, Witches. One day at a time. And I’ve love to know who your favourite readers are!



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