learn the tarot

LESSON THREE: How do I use the Tarot?

Now that you know all about the Major and Minor Arcanas and their cards, how do you go about using the Tarot to benefit from its wisdom? Here are some simple methods for beginners.

Meditate on a card

The easiest way to work with the Tarot is to meditate upon a chosen card. Use its images and symbols as a starting point for self-examination, the same way you would a dream and its symbolism. What do they mean to you? Before you begin a simple ritual, such as lighting a candle or closing your eyes for a moment, can create a receptive atmosphere to the wisdom about to be shared.

Gestalt a card

Try this technique adapted from Gestalt therapy. After you choose a card, try to experience it from the point of view of the card itself by creating a first person narrative.

For example, if your card is The High Priestess (numbered II in the Major Arcana), what do you view from your throne? How does your throne feel against your back? What's on the scroll that you're holding? What wisdom can you offer to someone like yourself? Remember to write your answers down—don't be surprised to find parallels to your own life!

high priestess
The High Priestess from the Rider-Waite Tarot

Choose a card

If you have an issue that requires guidance, try choosing a tarot card at random. Spread the deck face down on a table. Close your eyes and place your hand over the cards. Allow a card to pull your hand toward it. This card can also be used as a tool for meditation or self-examination, as described earlier in this lesson.

Have a conversation

Another useful technique is to have a conversation with the cards. Just as you would speak with a friend to clarify an issue, tarot cards can be used in a similar back-and-forth manner. Shuffle the cards while keeping the issue at hand. When you are ready to begin your conversation, start by posing a single question to the cards. Your question may be as simple as "Is it in my best interest to change my job?" or as complex as "What is the meaning of my life?" Then randomly choose one card in answer.

Depending on the card chosen in reply, new questions may arise. For example, one answer to a query about life meaning may bring up considerations about personal satisfaction A card chosen in response to this subject may lead to realted issues. As you would in a conversation, continue choosing cards until a satisfying closure has been met.

Tarot reading spreads

Most popularly, the Tarot is used by placing a set number of cards into a pattern called a tarot spread. These will be covered in our next lesson.

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The Learn Tarot online course was adapted by permission from The Goddess Tarot Workbook by Kris Waldherr, published by US Games Systems, © 2000, all rights reserved. (The Goddess Tarot is available as an app here.) Permission is granted to print out this lesson for personal use only. Sharing or selling this content in any form is strictly forbidden by law.