Learning Tarot on your own can be intimidating. Rooting out what is most integral from walls of books, decks, websites: in the best order of comprehension, stacking aspects to memorize or extract intuitively… Tarot and Astrology, Tarot and the Kabbalah, Tarot and Numerology. So many interesting paths to delve down that it can get a little overwhelming. I have done my time carrying around more sources than a college student (as a glutton for punishment, I still prefer to wear the cuffs.) Basking in a Tarot book is bliss for a reader, but it takes so much time and there are so many paths to explore; as a once new and determined Tarot “initiate,” I was glued to Joan Bunning’s Learning the Tarot for a year or more before I felt comfortable enough to give a reading to a friend without it. Once that book was pressed into my brain folds I moved onto spreads, and from there explored the world of Tarot associations. There are a few key concepts that can help save you from the maze of mystery. Methods that require no memorization skills and will get you reading rather than reading (cards in place of books.) Hands on learning is the fast pass to learning.
Begin with a deck that has figures doing things. I really like the Ryder Waite and recommend it to all beginners as a staple deck (in my huge collection, the Ryder Waite is the deck I continuously return to and use for my core readings.) The cards each have their own unique personality, energy, or “attitude,” as Crowley says. Let the cards speak to you. Leave your intuition and pre-conceived ideas out of it for a moment and pretend that you are glimpsing into a scene from the middle of a movie. I saw one blogger phrase a similar method as, “seeing the cards move like Harry Potter images.” So you are in a theater and walk into the wrong film… first, what kind of movie is it? Describe the lay out of cards like a scene you just popped in on. “Dude, there was this tower, and people were dying, but then there was this Queen and I think some kind of horror love story involved…” There are so many different ways to see the four suits. In creating a Tarot movie summary, I like to associate the following suits with the following genres:
This is a great method for spreads. It’s fun to look at the interaction between the cards. Tell the story by looking at how the cards literally relate to each other. Look at the expressions, who they are looking at, and why. Maybe you have three cards laid out: The Two of Wands, The Four of Pentacles, and the Seven of Swords. If these are Ryder Waite cards, none of them would be looking at each other. I see a story of selfish betrayal forming. Re-order them so that it’s the Seven of Swords, the Four of Pentacles and the Two of Wands and now the center figure is drawing the attention of the other two cards, making the story in this split second screen shot look a little more interesting. Instead of using a spread with exact meaning in each of the placements, try out card pairs. Practice (using card couples) figuring out whose looking at who and why. How does your movie scene look? By taking a quick once over you can pretty much tell, right away, if this movie’s ending is going to be a happy one or not.