Independent study is a great way to learn tarot. You will need a tarot card deck to start. It can be any type of deck. The deck should have 78 cards divided into the Major Arcana or Minor Arcana. The Minors are further divided into four suit.
There are three main systems of tarot. They are the Tarot de Marseille (dating to 1440, give-or-take), the RiderWaite Smith (1909), and The Thoth (1969). However, scholars will differ in how they categorize the different systems and traditions. You might also hear terms such as Continental Tarot or English Tarot. My classification of Continental Tarot is Marseille, while English Tarots will be Rider-Waite Smith or Thoth. You’ll need to go deck-by-deck. French is generally Marseille but not all French must be checked deck by deck. Spanish is generally Marseille as well, with some notable exceptions deck-by-deck. Modern deck systems can be either a combination of three existing systems or a completely new symbol system.
Modern tarot students begin with the Rider-Waite Smith, which is generally the best system to start. There are exceptions to this generalization, however. Marseille might be a better choice if you are a history purist. The Marseille decks that are Etteilla or Oswald Wirth based may appeal to those who are interested in esoteric Tarot. Thoth is a good choice for those who are aware that they will be using the tarot to do energetic work.
The rest of this page assumes that you begin learning on the Rider-Waite-Smith because it is my approach. This is the only reason I can give. =)
LEARNING TAROT WITH
It’s my recommendation that you start your tarot study with Holistic Tarot (North Atlantic Books 2015). You might feel that this deck is right for you. Next, you can start the Study Guide for Beginner Tarot Student linked below.
By the way, you can find HT (Holistic Trot) here.
LEARNING TO TAROT WITHOUTHT
“Because, Benebell, your book is kinda pricy.”
“Because, Benebell, your book seems like a sham. I want to master tarot basics and not get a doctorate in it.
Okay. That’s fine. I don’t mind. quietly seethes and exhales steam from the ears:
It’s not a problem, I get it. Some people have suggested HT may be too daunting for beginners. It’s the book that I would want to learn beginner tarot from, but I’m also a huge nerd.
If you’re a beginner tarot reader and HT isn’t your cup, here’s what I would do:
Purchase a Rider-Waite Smith based tarot card deck. You don’t need to use RWS ,, but it is helpful to have one that is close to the RWS symbolism. This is what I call a RWS dupe (or RWS copy). I used The Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr to learn tarot. It was a mix of RWS/Thoth. The Robin Wood Tarot works well. The Llewellyn Tarot and Tarot Manya are also very good. You might also enjoy the Golden Universal Tarot or the SmithWaite Centennial versions of the RWS.
Make a set of tarot flashcards. This template (hyperlinked, MS Word DOCX) . However, delete the default card meanings and start writing your own. Scroll down to find many online resources that can help you understand tarot cards. You can incorporate card meanings from your tarot deck’s little white guidebook or book. Note regarding my template. While I was able to print double-sided and use a paper cutter for cutting these cards, some people have had formatting issues. So, make sure you do a few tests before printing everything.
Use your tarot flashcards daily. Make sure to read through your tarot flashcards at least once per day. The template I have provided has images of both the upright and reverse cards. You can simply delete images of reverse cards if you don’t want to read with reversals.
Keep an Tarot journal to log your readings . As a journal or lab book, keep track of your tarot readings and date them. Make diagrams of the spreads, each card position’s meaning, and the cards that resulted. Notes and reflections on the readings are encouraged. If you are interested, I discuss keeping an online tarot journal in this blog post.
Create a list of five tarot spreads. You can browse books, and even the internet to find a variety of tarot spreads. Keep track of the spreads that resonated with your heart and perform multiple readings using those spreads. You will gradually build up a list of five spreads you can use for both general readings (where no questions are asked) or specific question readings. The Celtic Cross is a must-know. Even if it isn’t something you use, it’s one of the most important spreads every tarot reader knows. This PDF reference can be used without the book. This is a selection of spreads that you may want to experiment with and decide which ones you like best to incorporate into your tarot deck. To help you create your own tarot spread , we have a PDF guide.
Practice, practice and practice. Do readings for friends, family, and, as I have been famously quoted as saying, for your stuffed bears. Keep track of your readings in your tarot notebook. Your tarot journal is your tool for learning tarot. You may also gain insight into card meanings by doing readings and gaining experience. Great! It’s time to get into your flash cards and make some edits! Keep your flash cards updated with your current understanding and relationships.
Join an internet tarot group. This is where Facebook excels. There are many great Facebook groups. I enjoy being a part of the Tarot Readers Academy and The Tarot Readers Development and Study Group. Holistic Tarot Study Group and Tarotholics Anonymous are also some that I like. Aeclectic.net is also available.
You might consider getting another tarot or oracle deck to enhance your readings. After you feel comfortable with your current deck, consider purchasing a second deck. This is a great way to gain a different perspective on the tarot and its meanings. You might also consider getting an oracle deck, which you can use to enhance your tarot divination practices.
That’s how I started my tarot study. However, I am biased and self-promotional in recommending Holistic Tarot, and then working through the study guide and supplements I’ve provided on my website. These are meant to help you learn the basics of the tarot and master it.