Tarot for Beginners: Everything You Need to Know

Like most people, you’ve probably been curious about tarot cards in the past. Though decks of tarot cards are printed in a wide variety of styles with a wide variety of intentions, they’ve been used to help people make decisions (and tell fortunes) for hundreds of years. If you’re interested on getting a reading for yourself, whether you’re about to make a big decision or you’re just curious what it’s all about, you might be confused on where to start.

Tarot Basics

Let’s begin with a brief explanation of what tarot cards are, and how they work. To perform a reading, you’ll need a deck of tarot cards (or a professional with a deck, so they can read them for you). These decks generally have 4 suits of 14 cards, including 10 pip cards and 4 face cards (i.e., King, Queen, Knight, and Jack). Tarot decks also have a fifth, unique suit with 22 cards, featuring the Major Arcana. While this deck can be used to play trick-taking card games, it’s more frequently used to tell fortunes, provide spiritual guidance, or help people make decisions.

Where to Get a Tarot Reading

If you’re interested in getting a reading, you’ll have three main options:

  • Get a reading online. The best tarot card reading sites available online can help you make a big decision with a tarot reading, without you having to leave the house. Prices range from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars, depending on the service, and you can generally get a reading in under an hour. If you choose a professional who knows what they’re doing, this can be a preferred option due to its convenience.
  • Get a reading in person. You may also want to get a reading in person. Depending on where you live, there may be a physical storefront where you can have a reading done on your behalf. You may also have a friend who’s into tarot cards, and they may be able to provide a reading for you. This is a preferred option, but you won’t always have someone immediately available.
  • Do a reading yourself. If you’re feeling adventurous or if you want to learn more about tarot, you could also study how to give readings yourself. Your first few self-readings might feel clunky or amateurish, but with practice, you can get better at discerning the different cards.

Learning the Cards

Regardless of how you choose to get a reading, it’s a good idea to acquaint yourself with some of the cards in advance of the reading; that way, you’ll have more context for the results of the session. For example, each suit symbolizes a distinct range of elements, feelings, and characteristics. Wands symbolize passion, desires, creativity, and energy. Cups symbolize emotions, love, romance, intuition, and spirituality. Swords symbolize challenge, conflict, action, and change. Pentacles symbolize health, wealth, and material possessions.

Even more importantly, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with each of the 22 major arcana cards; these tend to be the densest cards in terms of meaning, and some of them can carry an opposite meaning if they appear upside-down.

Tips for Your First Reading

If you want your first reading to be successful, there are a few tips you’ll need to follow:

  • Keep an open mind. If you have expectations about your first reading, try to ditch them before you begin. If you’re a skeptic, try to give tarot cards the benefit of the doubt. If you’re convinced something bad is going to happen to you, try to cleanse your mind of those thoughts. Stay as neutral as possible.
  • Have a question or topic in mind. For your reading to be successful, you’ll need to focus on something in your mind. It could be an important question that doesn’t yet have an answer. It could be a general subject, like “my career” or “my relationship.” Either way, this needs to be the primary focal point of your reading.
  • Understand the different spreads. There are many different spreads you can use for a tarot reading, each with a different purpose and level of complexity. For example, 3-card spreads are good for amateur readers and for people who want a quick answer to a simple question. Celtic cross spreads, horseshoe spreads, and fan spreads all involve more cards and are inherently more complex, but also more insightful. Try to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each before choosing.

Ultimately, tarot cards are a wonderful tool for introspection and decision-making, even if you don’t believe in their mystic power. Just by learning more about the symbolism of the cards and applying them to your own life, you’ll end up equipped to make better changes and better decisions for yourself.