It usually starts with a small purchase and a big giggle. "I did it! I bought a Tarot deck!" an excited Seeker texts to her friend.
"Congratulations. Now what?"
"I need to learn how to read them, that's what."
At first, studying the Tarot can seem soooo daunting. Seventy-eight cards. Four suits. And then those mysterious twenty-two cards of Major Arcana that start at zero and end at twenty-one. Ugh. Unfortunately, this is where many aspiring readers give up, and when most decks wind up in a drawer.
As a professional Tarot reader, I'm here to tell you that every step of learning this art can be enjoyable, enlightening and (most importantly) empowering. Practice will lead to competence. The wisdom of the Tarot will illuminate all areas of life, benefiting you in countless ways. So...unwrap your deck--or dig it out of that drawer--and let's get you on your way to becoming a crackerjack tarot reader.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Let's start at the basics. There are two divisions in the Tarot: The Minor and Major Arcana (or secrets).
The 22 cards of the Major Arcana describe the big picture, the God path, the aspects of our life that sometimes defy reason.
On a different level, the 56 cards of the Minor Arcana define situations and conditions that are within our control, such as the way we behave in relationships, how we manage our money, the degree to which we care for our health and vitality, and the quality of the decisions we make.
The Minor Arcana consists of four suits, just like regular playing cards. And, news flash: They aren't too hard to figure out.
- Cups, or Hearts, involve people and things we love, such as our spouses, family, pets, basketball, puppies, and a million other concepts that stir up strong emotions. In Tarot, emotion is represented by water. To hold or capture liquid, we need a "cup." The suit is named "Hearts" in today's playing cards for obvious reasons.
- Coins, or Diamonds, relate to how we make and manage money, such as career, banks, being a good steward and getting an education. Coins and Diamonds are obviously good names for this suit.
- Wands, or Clubs, describe our energy, health, and how we choose to manage our daily activities. Because this suit involves fire (energy), it is represented by a chunk of wood, hence the names Wands and Clubs.
- Swords, or Spades, require us to make smart decisions, employ logic and reason, and to speak the truth. In Latin, the word "decision" literally means "to cut off." When we make a choice between two things, one of the options is lost to the chopping block. Ouch! It takes a sharp Sword (mind) to make swift decisions, argue an important point or express a strong opinion. While tough decisions and difficult conversations are necessary for forward progress, the result usually causes pain. Ever wonder what the expression "call a Spade a Spade" is all about? Now you know.
Within the suits are numbered cards, Ace to King (sound familiar? Yes, just like today's playing cards.) Numerology describes progression of messages. To understand card meanings, take into consideration the general topics that involve the suit with the specific characteristics of the numerology.
Here's a quick summary with a few examples:
- Ace: A seed or new beginning, A chance meeting (Cups), a sudden promotion (Coins), a fresh idea (Swords)
- Two: The coming together. A planned date (Cups), dedication to excellence (Wands), a decision (Swords)
- Three: The result or offspring. A celebration of a child (Cups), the heartbreak after a difficult choice (Swords)
- Four: Stability. A happy home (Wands), financial security (Coins), taking a mental break (Swords)
- Five: Change and Growing Pains. Financial hardship (Coins), Debate (Swords), Struggle (Wands)
- Six: Nurturing. Revisiting childhood memories (Cups), applying cause and effect to choices (Swords)
- Seven: Assessment. Account of money and assets (Coins), daydreaming (Cups), achieving mastery (Wands)
- Eight: Management. Movement! (Wands), confronting limiting thoughts (Swords), gainful employment (Coins)
- Nine: Completion. Contentment (Cups), wealth (Coins), overcoming obsession (Swords)
- Ten: Conclusion. Legacy (Coins), family harmony (Cups), ability to carry a burden (Wands)
Court Cards involve aspects of ourselves and/or people in our lives, dead or alive.
- Page. Youthful and energetic. The Maiden (Cups), The Thinker (Swords), The Intern (Coins)
- Knight. Young-adult characteristics. Prince Charming (Cups), The Explorer (Wands)
- Queen. Mature feminine energy. The Nurturer (Cups), The Sage (Swords), The Champion (Wands)
- King. Mature masculine energy. The Arbitrator (Swords), The Gentleman (Cups), The Executive (Coins)
The Major Arcana describes the journey of our personal growth, starting with the Seeker's first step and progressing through trials, tribulations, self-discovery, joys and triumphs. To understand more about this subject, read my blog The Seeker's Journey: Kate's Story. http://prairiemagic.com/www.prairiemagic.com/blog/...
Tips for working with Hope's Heart Tarot Cards
Many features of Hope's Heart Tarot cards are helpful to beginning readers. Words around the exterior explain card meanings at 90-degree increments. Arrows direct clockwise card rotation and evolution of card messages. Color coded edges distinguishes suits:
- Purple - Major Arcana, the royal suit of divinity and God
- Red - Cups. the suit of love and passion
- Green - Coins, the suit of money and wealth
- Brown - Wands, the suit of fire, energy and vitality
- Blue - Swords, suit of clarity, reason and fairness
Shuffling: Whether working with Hope's Heart Tarot or any other brand of cards, shuffling is an important part of the process. The person whose cards are being read must personally handle the cards in order to place his or her energy into the read. It doesn't matter how the cards are shuffled. From professional dealer style to just swirling them around on a table--and any method in between--everything goes when reading Tarot. One thing to note: If you are using brand new cards or a deck that has been place in perfect order, shuffle at least a dozen times before proceeding.
Managing Round Cards: Because Hope's Heart Tarot cards are round, and therefore spin and twirl, the person reading the cards must take great care to maintain the circular orientation of the shuffled cards. If you are reading for someone sitting across from you, turn the stack a half circle (180 degrees) to face you. Also, when revealing the cards, be sure to turn them over as you would a page in a book. Never flip the card from bottom to top. Remember...it is very important to keep the cards in the same orientation as the original shuffle because messages and meanings vary as the cards rotate.
Next, we'll explore three layouts. For simplicity sake, let's assume you're reading for yourself. If you are practicing with a friend, just add the step of turning the cards 180 degrees to face the reader.
One-derful One-Card Wisdom
The elegant simplicity of a one-card read. Nothing can beat it. A single spark shining light on a courageous and holy path. The chosen card glorified on a favorite table, its honored message adorned with flowers and crystals.
While beginners think they “settle” for a one-card read, experts revel in it. “What do I need to know to grow?” we dare to ask while shuffling the cards. Experienced Tarot readers would never sink to “What do I need to know to stay comfortable?” or “How can I remain at my present but unhappy job?” no. No. NO! Tarot messages demand the best of us, and therefore require daring inquiries.
So...take a deep breath, center yourself, and begin to shuffle the cards. Ask the brave question: "What do I need to know to grow?" As you work with the deck, connect with the Tarot. Trust its wisdom. When you are ready, place the cards in a neat stack, and knock once to seal the deal.
Turn over the top card (as you would a page in a book.) What does is say? What does it mean to you? Contemplate not only the message that appears at the top of the card, but the card as a whole. What suit is it? While Major Arcana cards refers to weighty subjects, Minor Arcana topics are more within our control.
How does the card make you feel? Does the image speak to you? What intuitive downloads are you receiving? Is Tarot delivering a positive message? Or are you receiving a warning?
Perhaps your card carries an uncomfortable message. For example, you might turn over the Three of Swords, or "Agony." How can that be what you need to know to grow? In this case, perhaps the first step of your journey would be to get out of denial about something that continues to cause anguish. Maybe your best medicine would be to experience pain and confront a situation. No matter how much time has passed since the breakup/funeral/betrayal/job loss, sometimes the lingering horror can freeze us in a perpetual state of unrest. In this case, the reader should consider what would it take to experience the flip side of the Three of Swords: Relief and enhanced joy. Doesn’t that seem better?
What if you turn over a court card? In this case, the card refers to an aspect of yourself, or a person who is or was in your life. Identify who this person is. Maybe it's time for gratitude and celebration? Or, if the card has negative meanings, maybe it’s time to make some changes.
Whatever you draw, in whatever orientation it lands, take the message to heart. Then, contemplate, meditate and illuminate!
A one-card read is extremely powerful and beneficial. Add it to your daily routine. You'll be amazed by the results.
The 3Rs – Release, Relax, Reclaim
Ah, the magic of threes. A simple 1-2-3 layout can help you deal with limitations, face challenges and gain confidence. The obvious math of "these two things equal that" will help you solve problems and move on.
As always, begin with a deep breath and calm mind. “What do I need to succeed?” you'll ask while shuffling the cards. When ready, divide into three stacks, give each a firm knock, and then reveal the cards, one at a time, reading and absorbing the message before moving to the next.
Card 1: Release. What person, event, struggle, faded glory, memory, belief system etc. can you release? Consider the words that appear at the top of the card, and then the message of the card as a whole. What if whatever it is looks like something good for you, such as the five of swords? How can “healthy debate” be a bad thing? It isn’t. But you’re already good at that. Or maybe debating isn’t helping you anymore? In any case, release.
Card 2: Relax. Something in your life, good or bad, is a bit too noisy. A debt, a struggle, a win…whatever the case, it is what it is. Accept it. Stop fighting with it or boasting about it. Just let the person, accomplishment, failure or event quietly climb in the back seat. Contemplate the card messages and identify how it relates to your life. Then, relax.
Card 3: Reclaim. After releasing that which no longer serves you and relaxing about something you can’t change, something wonderful will happen. You will reclaim a relationship, aspect of yourself, hope, dream, or opportunity.
Reading this card should be joyful. So, what happens if the orientation seems less than rosy? For example, what if the Reclaim card is the reversed Four of Wands, or Dysfunction.
The challenge of reading at a more advanced level is the necessity to properly interpret cards in relation to their position. If the reversed Four of Wands had been drawn first, and therefore as something to be released, the interpretation would be a no-brainer: “Release dysfunction.” However, in the “reclaim” position, a card with a negative connotation must be more carefully contemplated. An experienced reader would, therefore, advise their client to "Reclaim your happy home. You’ve experienced dysfunction and suffered from instability and infighting. Therefore, you have a great appreciation for peace and harmony. Restore your home, claim your happiness.”
An interesting concept emerges when difficult messages are delivered to joyful positions: The reversed message makes the win even sweeter. If the Four of Wands had revealed itself in an upward orientation, the message would have been “enjoy your happy home.” In many ways, the redemption promised by the less fortunate message can be stronger, wiser and more prosperous. In this case, after surviving dysfunction, stability becomes even more precious.
Spend a few moments appreciating the three-card read. Acknowledge that which must be released. Make peace with that which is now quietly buckled in the back seat. With enthusiasm, WELCOME the reclaimed aspect of yourself. Success is in your future! Celebrate your good fortune!
Don't freak out. Don't shrink back. Yes, Tarot layouts with more than three variables certainly qualify in the “advanced” category. However, by understanding the value of a one-card read and the cause-and-effect of a three card draw, more complicated layouts DO become manageable. Combine that with the skill of interpreting card messages according to their position, such as the reversed Four of Wands in “reclaim” position of the 3Rs layout, and you’re ready to tackle the big stuff!
So...gather your strength, take a deep breath, shuffle the cards and ask, “How can I bloom and awesome blossom?” After five shuffles, divide the deck into two stacks. Pick the one that calls to you, knock once, and set the other one aside.
When you are ready, reveal the cards one at a time according to the above image.
Card 1—You. This card, in whatever orientation it naturally falls, represents your current situation. Much like a one-card draw, this message speaks to an important aspect of your life. Don’t try to fix it, re-interpret it or turn it into something it’s not. The meaning of the card should be taken to heart, for this event, person, belief, stance--or whatever it may be--is your current situation.
Remember, you asked “How can I bloom an awesome blossom.” No matter what the first card revealed, a wonderful outcome can be created.
Card 2: Your Deep Roots. This card represents a person, belief, event, etc. that makes you strong. Lurking deep in your subconscious are lessons learned, powerful instincts and a firm foundation on which you will build an empire. If the card naturally speaks to such things, great. If not, you must interpret an empowered message. For example, if your deep roots are described as the reversed Ace of Cups, your great strength is the ability to withstand loneliness and endure goodbyes. An advantage of this stance is the ability to leave behind unhealthy alliances and relationships. We should all be so lucky as to claim this level of discernment and detachment.
Card 3: Your Crowning Glory. The flower petal at the top signifies the positive traits you show others. Again, if this card seems negative or unflattering, convert the message into a glowing attribute. For example, if the crowning glory card is the Five of Cups, or Heartbreak, the meaning would be “you show compassion because you know pain.”
If this is a court card, the meaning should speak of your ability to relate to that type of person, especially if the individual is difficult. After all, if you can find harmony with unpleasant personalities, then nothing—selfishness, nastiness, rudeness—can cause you to have a ruined day or missed opportunity.
The first three cards should now be studied before proceeding. Whatever was described by Card 1 can be fostered or confronted by your deep roots in Card 2. And whatever you strive to achieve can be navigated by your crowning glory in Card 3.
Card 4 – Your Creative Genius. Expressed by the most positive aspect of this card’s orientation, Card 4 reveals your highest potential. If the message is difficult, such as the Two of Swords reversed, or No-win situations, the meaning should be something like “you have confidence in your power to create, even if the road ahead seems impossible.” This card represents, whether you are a man or a woman, your feminine energy. Study and embrace this message to nurture your dreams.
Card 5—Your Manifesting Skills. The highest and best use of your current situation, as defined by Card 1, is fostered by your deep roots and expressed by your crowning glory. Nurtured and encouraged by your creative genius, the card representing your manifesting skills (or masculine energy) will help you carry out the work required to materialize your potential. Therefore, read this card with wild enthusiasm! Find it’s best and most purposeful meaning! Empowered and inspired, go forth and make your dreams come true!
I hope by now it has dawned upon you that becoming a fantastic tarot reader is within reach. Practice all three of these layouts on your own or with a trusted friend. Soon, you’ll be hosting tarot parties or even building a client base of your own. From the bottom of my heart, I wish you every happiness and success. To learn more or purchase your own deck of Hope's Heart Tarot™, visit www.prairiemagic.com
Author Joan Kristin Haugan is a master of Tarot cards, Rune stones and Reiki energy healing. She is knowledgeable in the use and application of essential oils and is well-versed in their healing properties. A graduate of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology with a bachelor’s degree in the field of Geological Engineering, as well as a master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of South Dakota, she worked for a time as an environmental engineer before going into business with her beloved husband. Together, they own J&J Optical and the Sturgis Hitchin' Post in Sturgis, South Dakota.
The award-winning Adventure Seekers Saga incorporates ancient wisdom in the form of an entertaining story. Learn about Tarot cards, Rune stones, essential oils, juicing, positive thinking and astrology signs in these fun and exciting visionary fiction books.
Hope’s Heart Tarot Cards: Reap the benefits of Tarot wisdom with this easy-to-read deck! Meaningful figures reveal card messages while wording at 90-degree intervals denotes interpretations.
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