Your Tarot Deck: Getting to Know the Cards

You’ve got your first tarot deck and you’ve cleansed and charged your cards. Now it is time to get to know your cards! It is important for you to familiarize yourself with each tarot card. Now, don’t panic if you cannot memorize the meaning of each card in the beginning. It is okay! Learning tarot takes time and pacing yourself is key. This post will discuss two methods for getting to know the cards.

First and foremost, I recommend keeping a tarot journal so that you can thoroughly document your journey.

First Method for Getting to Know Your Cards 

Step 1: Start by going through your deck, looking at the imagery on each card, as well as the name of each card. Allow yourself to connect with each card during this process.

Step 2: Now that you’ve established that initial connection, you want to go through them again and this time you want to study the details of each card. You may end up going through your deck several times before you get a more intuitive connection, which is not uncommon. An intuitive connection is key to accurate and powerful readings.

Step 3: Learn the basic meanings of the cards. As you may know, tarot decks are traditionally comprised of a total of 78 cards, 22 Major Arcana cards and 56 Minor Arcana cards. The Major Arcana cards have a storyline structure, often referred to as the “Fool’s Journey.” The Minor Arcana cards are split between four suits: Cups, Pentacles, Wands, and Swords.

The Major Arcana 

As previously mentioned, the storyline structure of the Major Arcana is commonly referred to as the Fool’s Journey, which is known to be a metaphor for one’s journey through life. And as such, each Major Arcana card signifies a stage in this journey.

The Minor Arcana 

While the Major Arcana cards represent the stages in one’s life journey, the Minor Arcana cards, more often than not, refer to things pertaining to day-to-day life, for example: a specific situation or event. As previously mentioned, the Minor Arcana cards are split into four suits (Cups, Pentacles, Wands, and Swords). Each suit is comprised of ten numbered cards (Ace through Ten) and four court cards (Page, Knight, Queen and King).

Let’s discuss a little bit about the basic meanings of each suit.

  • Cups – The element associated with this suit is Water. As such, cups cards are tied to things like emotions, feelings, relationships, and creativity. Overall, you will find that this suit represents aspects of the emotional self.
  • Pentacles – The element associated with this suit is Earth. As such, pentacles cards are tied to physical/material things, for example: your physical health, finances (i.e. money), possessions, careers, and the physical world in general. Overall, you will find that this suit represents aspects of the physical self.
  • Wands – The element associated with this suit is Fire. As such, wands cards are tied to things like inspiration, spirituality, ideas and the flow of energy. Overall, you will find that this suit represents aspects of the spiritual self.
  • Swords – The element associated with this suit is Air. As such, swords cards are tied to things like power, rationality, intellect, and one’s thoughts. Overall, you will find that this suit represents aspects of the mental self.

Second Method for Getting to Know Your Cards 

Step 1: Separate the Major Arcana from the Minor Arcana.

Step 2: Lay the Major Arcana cards out in front of you. Look at the imagery on each card and allow yourself to connect with the cards. Do any of the cards bring out strong feelings? If so, note how you feel.

Step 3: Take a moment to review the interpretation of each card.

Step 4: Study the details of each card, note the symbols, the colors, the overall feel of the card. What are your thoughts? What comes to your mind when looking at the details of each card? How does it make you feel?

Note: Some people choose to separate the Major Arcana based on which cards resonate with them most and study those cards first. 

Step 5: Now it is time to get to know the Minor Arcana a bit. Note the suits and what each suit represents.

Step 6: Study the details of the court cards, note the symbols, the colors and the overall feel of each card. Then study the details of the numbered cards. What comes to your mind when looking at each card? How does it make you feel?

As you move along in your tarot journey, you will establish and develop your own interpretation of the cards. And as your interpretations develop, they may change, however slight. That is your own intuition at work.


Next post in this series:
Your Tarot Deck: The Major Arcana

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