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Tarot 101: What You Need to Know

Updated: Feb 5

My tarot cards spread out in a circle around a blue metal table. A red plate with clear quartz and a red candle sits in the center of the circle.
Circle of Life

What is Tarot?

Tarot is a divination tool that can aid its user in tapping into the energy surrounding a person, place, object, or situation. Other times tarot can be used to receive messages from the soul's of passed loved ones, spirit guides, angels, and ancestors.

The standard tarot deck contains 78 cards which each have a unique meaning both in the upright position and the reversed position. These cards vary in meaning based on the question being asked and which cards show up around them. This means that for a simple 3 card spread, there are over 450,000 different combinations possible to interpret. A 5 card spread has over 2,500,000,000 combinations. It can seem pretty overwhelming when you look at it that way, but tarot is not about memorization as much as it is about intuition. A skilled reader must know each of the card's meanings and how to interpret the message within in an instant. The key is to associate the classic meaning of the card with the energy you pick up from the card's imagery and the personal situation you are reading on.

Think of tarot as a game of charades. Each card has a particular spiritual, cultural, and social meaning behind it that pairs with other cards to form a story. Our job as the reader is to interpret these signs and symbols and put the story together piece by piece.

What are the Major Arcana?

The Major Arcana consist of 22 cards that make up the major focal points for a particular reading. If a reading contains a large amount of Major Arcana cards, a major transformation is surely to follow. Major Arcana can also signal that the person being read has strong spiritual energy surrounding them. Major Arcana such as The Magician, The Hierophant, and The Moon may tell of a person's psychic abilities. The Tower and The Devil cards can speak of illusion, endings, and trouble. The Fool signals the beginning of a journey or starting over. After all, tarot is considered The Fool's journey.

What are the Minor Arcana?

The Minor Arcana consist of 56 cards that make up the Cups, Swords, Pentacles, and Wands suits. Within each respective suit is the King, Queen, Knight, Ace and Page. Think of these as the cards that fill in the who, when, where, why blanks between the Major Arcana's.

Is Tarot going to bring me trouble?

Unless you have received a severely haunted or cursed deck, I wouldn't worry about your cards plotting against you. From what I have experienced, tarot does not create a portal where negative energies come through and attach in ways that a Ouija board can. However, you might experience some pretty inexplicable things while working with tarot and communication with spirits is possible.

As with any tool, there is a right and wrong way to use tarot. If you do not know how to properly wield the power of tarot, you may end up hurting yourself or others. Before reading cards for yourself or another person, it is best to cleanse the deck, yourself, and your reading space of any residual energy. Make sure your reading is not feeding off of your own energy projections, ego, or fears. There are also certain ethical standards to uphold as a part of the professional psychic community. Before reading for others, it is best to have a firm grasp on the card meanings so as to not guide someone incorrectly.

As a professional medium, the only "trouble" I have with my cards are when spirits want to come through and communicate while I am trying to focus on a particular energy. If you have the ability to communicate with spirits, they are typically aware of this fact and may pester you after getting a tarot deck just because they have things to say. With time and practice you will be able to tell the difference between energies and it will become second nature to filter through them to find the one you are after.

Can I read tarot on anything?

From a physical standpoint, yes.

From an ethical standpoint, no.

Some Common Tarot 'Rules':

  1. Do not read into someone's life without their permission.

  2. Do not give tarot readings to others without being directly asked.

  3. Do not tell someone when, how, or where they are going to die.

  4. Do not claim someone has a particular illness/disease/disability/disorder.

  5. Do not assume that your interpretations are always correct.

  6. If you aren't sure about something, ask.

  7. Do not continue to ask your deck the same question over and over knowing the answer or they will get frustrated.

  8. Do not allow your personal opinions to override what Spirit is saying.

Furthermore, if you do not have experience working with tarot, I would not be quick to start reading for yourself or others right away. Really take the time to study and meditate on each card to get a good grasp on what you're working with. Listen to podcasts, read books, attend courses, join a community, or follow other readers on social media to see their point of view. If you didn't know any better, you might pull the Death card and assume someone is going to die. Before reading for yourself or others make sure you know the basics and establish some simple guidelines to abide by.

How do I make a connection with my deck?

As with any relationship, it takes time, dedication, and effort to establish a strong mutual understanding.

I have found that the cards are rarely, if ever, wrong. It is our interpretation of them that occasionally needs redirecting. It will take a bit of time to learn the language of tarot and the particular dialect that your deck speaks in. If you are having trouble interpreting, take a photo of your tarot spread and get researching. Sometimes it takes a little patience to see exactly what it is that a spread wants you to know. It may take a few days, weeks, or even months before you truly understand a spread fully.

A great first question to ask your deck is what it thinks of you and how your relationship is going to go. Begin each day by pulling a single card and getting very familiar with that card's unique energy, imagery, and interpretation. Think of ways to connect the image shown on your deck with the traditional meaning of the card. For example, images with bodies of water often indicate emotions and cards with fire indicate transformation.

Your deck may even tell you exactly how it wishes to be treated, where to keep it etc. For example, my decks prefer to be in a separate meditation room in my home next to my herb cabinet and bookshelf.

I hope that this helped explain some of the basics for tarot. If you have any further questions feel free to book a private coaching session or attend an in-person course!

With love,

Ashlyn Aquarius

© 2020 Ashlyn Aquarius. All rights reserved.

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