If you haven’t come across someone using tarot cards in person, you may have at least seen tarot readers in films and movies or on TikTok.
Although tarot card reading is now popular in different countries, these cards have long been associated with negative superstition thanks to horror movies.
For the most part, however, tarot lovers have used these cards for personal guidance and self-development.
For instance, those who feel confused on what decisions to make or path to follow, these cards come in handy in helping make these tough choices.
To understand tarot cards better, let’s get into a brief history of tarot cards, the best tarot cards for beginners and how to start reading these cards.
Let’s learn to read tarot right now.
Table of Contents
What are Tarot Cards?
The tarot is a pack of cards that are used in either gaming or future prediction. Tarot cards were common in the 15th century but they are still used today in various countries.
The tarot pack comes with 78 major and minor arcana cards, each having a different meaning.
These tarot packs are usually accompanied by a book that explains the meaning of each card. You can also get detailed information about each card on various websites online.
Tarot cards were originally used as card games in the 15th century. The popularity of the tarot cards continued to grow and were used for divination purposes in the 18th and 19th century.
It is believed that reading the tarot cards aid in understanding specific areas in one’s life including love life, career or relationship.
They also provide answers to questions that you would like to know about yourself.
Although people believe that tarot cards only predict the future, researchers think that tarot cards can also help you to connect with your inner wisdom.
The tarot cards offer you guidance and spiritual growth that enables you to open up and understand who you really are.
Let us now learn how the tarot cards came into being by looking at their history.
A Brief History of Tarot Cards
The history of tarot cards goes way back to the 15th century. During that time, European artists created the first deck of tarot cards used for games and divination.
In the early years, tarot cards were associated with supernatural powers and magic.
People believed that these cards could enable you to see your future.
Horror movies also contributed to this perception as the cards were mainly associated with evil acts.
The history of tarot cards is different for the various types of cards.
The Origins of Rider-Waite-Smith
The Rider-Waite-Smith deck was created by Arthur Edward Waite and Colman Smith and published as the first deck in 1909.
These were the first artists to incorporate images and symbolism in the lower cards. The artists were creative and included human figures in the cards rather than simply having cups or swords in the cards.
The cards were named after the two artists whose work has inspired the creation of many other tarot cards. It is now more than one hundred years later but the cards are still widely used.
However, a few modifications have been done to ensure the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot cards are attractive.
To date, more than 100 million different copies of Rider-Waite-Smith tarot cards are still in circulation thanks to illustrator Pamela Colman Smith.
French and Italian Tarot
The first artists to come up with the tarot cards came from Europe. These artists created the first suits similar to what we still use today.
Later, in the 16th century, Italian artists began advancing the original tarot cards by painting additional cards while maintaining the concept of the tarot cards.
The Italian artists added the triumph cards, which were mainly painting from wealthy families. One of the earliest Italian creation that is still in existence is the Visconti-sforza deck.
Since not everyone could afford to pay an artist to create a set of cards, more tarot cards were customized to meet the needs of the majority.
Tarot and Divination
The majority of tarot lovers in the 15th century used the cards for gaming.
As time went by, psychics began assigning meaning to every card which led to the use of tarot cards for divination purposes.
By the 18th century, people were convinced that somehow tarot cards had supernatural powers that would help in predicting the future.
As a result, tarot cards are used significantly today for divination purposes.
Common uses of Tarot cards
Tarot cards are used for mental and emotional healing, although the majority of tarot card readers are spiritual rather than religious.
They believe that tarot connects deeply with their souls and can get rid of anxiety and depression.
Tarot reading is not a replacement for therapy but it could totally be used to complement it.
Fun fact: therapists have used tarot cards to help patients open up about their fears and current situations.
Reading and understanding tarot may open up thoughts or subjects that would otherwise never come up otherwise.
Like, pulling up a death card may help you talk about your greatest fears.
Tarot cards also play a significant role in creating positive changes within yourself.
It helps you understand your intuition better by paying attention to how you feel rather than what you think something should be.
You develop a relationship between your subconscious mind and self-conscious self. The subconscious mind works with images and the tarot cards could help you strengthen your intuition.
Tarot cards are mainly used by psychics to predict the future.
Choosing a Tarot Deck
When choosing a deck of tarot cards, you need to choose one that speaks to you.
You should use your intuition for the cards to understand your past, present and future.
Other than predicting the future, you can purchase tarot cards for gaming.
Although, today the tarot cards used by psychics are a bit different from those used in card games.
The Best Tarot Card Decks for Beginners
You might be confused on which tarot card to purchase if you are a beginner.
But that shouldn’t be hard. You can always follow your gut and buy a deck that you like.
Purchasing a deck of tarot cards that you like increases the chances of understanding the different interpretations.
But if you’re not sure where to start, there are countless options of tarot card decks to choose from.
Here are a few really great tarot decks for beginners that I am obsessed with. As you get used to tarot card reading, you may advance to more complex decks. Below are the recommendations for beginners:
1. Rider-Waite-Smith Centennial Tarot (You can get it here.)
This is the most influential and recommended deck for beginners.
The first Rider-Waite-Smith deck was published in 1909. The deck has many visuals that helps beginners to get a glimpse of what tarot card reading entails.
This deck has inspired the creation of many other tarot decks.
2. The Good Karma Tarot (You can get it here.)
The Good Karma tarot is easy and practical. The deck comes with a guidebook by Cosmopolitan’s TarotBella, which makes it easy for beginners to interpret the meaning of different cards.
The illustrations from the Good Karma tarot cards are inviting, featuring diverse backgrounds.
You can easily interpret the meaning of each card without a lot of hustle.
This deck of tarot cards is made by Kerry Ward, an author of a weekly column at Cosmo.
It can be a great way to gift your friend and make him or her an enthusiast of playing and reading cards.
3. Mariselle Tarot (You can get it here.)
The tarot de Marseille was first published in the 16th century and mainly used for gaming.
The cards originated in Northern Italy.
The Marseille cards are smaller in size compared to the regular tarot cards, which makes them perfect for shuffling.
The colors and the characters lend themselves to personal interpretation especially to people who love poetry. The tarot de Marseille has refined images of traditional subjects and French titles.
4. True Heart Intuitive Tarot (You can get it here.)
Rachael True, an actress, makes the True Heart Intuitive Tarot.
True is well-known for reading tarot cards in the 90’s.
These tarot cards come with a guidebook that helps beginners in interpreting the cards.
Each card in the deck is beautifully and uniquely made, with a representation of women from diverse cultures.
The guidebook is also filled with personal and inspirational stories from True’s life experience. These aspects offer guidance to beginners.
How do I get my own tarot deck?
I know, a lot of times people think that you have to be given your first tarot deck, but that’s ridiculous! You can buy your own tarot. If you waited around instead of finding your own tarot deck, you would be waiting forever, right?
This is your destiny. Take charge of it.
You can buy a tarot deck from a local bookstore, a metaphysical shop (Bewitched is my favorite witch store in Denton, Texas) or even a mall. There are also online stores that sell tarot deck such as Amazon.
When getting started with tarot, you need to choose a good deck that resonates with you.
What next after buying your ideal tarot cards?
Here’s how you can start using your tarot cards after you get them.
How to get started with Tarot Cards
For centuries now, people have associated tarot cards with superstition and predicting the future.
Although there are people who believe in these predictions, there is no evidence that proves tarot cards can tell you what awaits you in future. This is one of those things you just need to have a little faith in and believe.
Besides the aspect of predicting the future, tarot cards have been used for gaming for the longest time.
There is a right or wrong way to read the tarot cards.
You need to understand simple guidelines and concepts about the tarot cards for them to be helpful.
Besides tarot cards, you can use oracle cards for intuition. But unlike tarot cards, oracle decks offer more room for flexibility and creativity.
To understand how to interpret tarot cards, here are simple steps to guide you.
Step 1: Choose the right deck
The first thing a tarot reader must do is to purchase a complete deck. There are different types of cards you can buy.
For beginners, the Rider-Waite-Smith deck could be an excellent starting point. It has visual images that enable you to easily find resources for best interpretation.
Some also come with a guidebook which is great for guiding beginners.
Besides the Rider-waite deck, you can consider purchasing other decks including;
- The Modern Witch tarot deck, which is a more advanced version with interesting twists.
- The Akamara tarot deck is a traditional deck that showcases African traditional and spiritual practices.
- The Tarot Illuminati is also recommended for beginners as it is highly visual with different artworks.
The most important thing is to select tarot cards that resonate with you.
I understand some people prefer having a friend buy the cards for them, which is totally understandable.
But it is better to visit a metaphysical shop or a local bookstore and choose the cards that fit you and your energy the best.
Step 2: Understand the basic Concepts of Tarot
After you purchase your tarot deck, you have to familiarize yourself with the cards.
Go through each card one at a time.
You don’t have to struggle to interpret how the different cards make you feel, but take note of what grabs your attention.
A tarot deck has 78 different cards.
The cards are divided into two main sections: the major arcana and the minor arcana tarot cards.
The major arcana tarot cards are 22 in number and are associated with big events in one’s life such as love life, career, family and relationship.
The remaining 56 cards are the minor arcana cards.
These minor arcana cards are associated with small changes in one’s life such as day to day events. The minor arcana are further divided into four sections known as suits.
The different tarot suits include: pentacles, cups, cards, swords, and wands.
The four suits from the minor arcana have numbered cards (1-10).
Additionally, they have four court cards which are: queen, king, knight and page.
You have to understand these categories as it will help you in interpretation.
To understand how the cards work, first pull out the 22 major arcana cards.
Lay them out in order and observe them carefully. Look at the different patterns and themes and note what they might symbolize.
If you place the cards correctly, you will notice some patterns that give a story.
You will also notice that the cards flow from one to another, which helps you to interpret what the cards mean to you.
Now take the numbered cards and lay them in order (from ace to 10).
Organize these cards in suits from cups, pentacles, swords and wands.
Again, observe these patterns and take note of any story that the cards tell.
Make sure to also take note of your trump card from the suit.
In most traditional decks, the high priestess is the second trump, which is also the major arcana card while hanged man (XII) is the twelfth trump.
You can also arrange the tarot cards in numerological groups.
For example, put all the 7s together and note how different they are from the 2s. Carefully observe the kind of patterns they have.
Lastly, arrange the court cards (pages, knights, queens and kings) and make the same observations as other cards and take note of the patterns. Contrast them with one another and note the differences.
Step 3: Connect with the Tarot Cards
Remember, you bought your deck of cards to help you explore questions about yourself.
You need to consider your intuition and interpret how you feel when observing each card.
When you pick a card, ask yourself how you feel about the card.
What is the story behind this tarot card?
How am I feeling while holding this tarot card?
What type of energy do I have while holding this tarot card?
Questions like these will help you understand how you relate to the cards.
Be sure to write down all the answers in the Tarot journal.
Once you have the answers, look up for more information about the card from the tarot guideline or from the internet.
Note any new information you get about each particular card.
Step 4: Prepare your area
We all have different approaches to set our moods right.
Before you read your cards, you have to prepare your area where you will feel comfortable.
Some people use essential oils for fragrance, others use candles to prepare the mood while others go to an extent of performing some form of ritual.
Do whatever you need to set the mood right.
For instance a tarot card reader can burn incense to prepare their area before reading cards.
And finally before you begin, take deep breaths to help calm your nerves and cast a circle for protection.
Step 5: Shuffling and Cutting
Think about the question you want answered while shuffling through your cards.
When you feel like the time is right and you are ready for an answer, stop shuffling and place your deck facedown.
Cut your deck into smaller multiple decks without minding the size.
Restack all the decks back randomly and pull out a random card.
Take individual cards from the deck and place them on your table facing upwards.
Step 6: Pull the Cards
Use your intuition to pull the cards and place them where each card is assigned to its meaning.
For beginners, pull a single card at a time because it is less overwhelming.
You can pull one card in the morning and take note of the events that happen to you and then pull another in the evening so you can set your intention for tomorrow.
You can arrange the cards to represent your life.
For example, you can pick three cards and place them on your table. The first card can represent your past, the second your present and the third your future.
The process of arranging the three cards is known as the tarot card spread.
For beginners, you can do a tarot spread of only a three card spread or the Celtic cross.
In both the Celtic cross spread and the three card spread each card has an assigned position and meaning.
Step 7: Read the Tarot Deck
What do the different tarot card suits mean?
You have to understand what each card represents to have the correct reading.
For example, the cups cards from the minor arcana are associated with water.
They represent all things to do with emotions, imagination and openness.
Wands are associated with fire and passion, giving the energy of creative forces.
Swords represent your mind and how you deal with different situations.
Pentacles are associated with the physical world like wealth.
The court cards are also interpreted differently.
The king and queen represent the act of leadership, maturity and mastery while page and knight represent inexperience.
Major arcanas signify essential and big events in your life.
You need to take your time to understand what each of them represent.
There are numerous resources that will guide you in the process.
Here’s the deal with reading tarot cards…
It may be difficult and intimidating for a beginner to read tarot cards at first. But, with a little bit of research and a whole lot of practice, you will overcome these challenges.
You have to remember to follow your instincts throughout the process.
Trust your gut. It’s always right.
Tarot cards could give you daily guidelines and help you understand yourself better.