Basic Tarot for Beginners

Jacqueline Dautaj
Tarot reading in progress
A tarot reading needn't be complicated.

Learning simple spreads is a great way for beginning tarot enthusiasts to get started. The three card spread and the famed Celtic spread are two of the easiest.

Understanding Tarot

Although some enthusiasts over-hype the tarot as a means of predicting the future, most true aficionados understand that a tarot reading really only provides a guideline to help you make informed choices as your future unfolds.

Reading the tarot is an art that every seeker must develop, but as you do, your powers of discernment and intuition will grow stronger. You'll learn to perceive how the meaning of each card relates to your real life situations, and how an entire layout or "spread" tells a story about the current path you're on. You can use this information to stay the present course, or make the kind of necessary choices to ensure the outcome you hope for.

Tarot for Beginners

Bear in mind that listening to your intuition is integral throughout every step in the art of tarot.

Choosing Your Deck

Your first challenge is choosing just the right tarot deck. You can't simply grab one off a bookstore shelf and hope to have immediate success. You need to take some time with your selection.

  • Study the look of different decks. Do one deck's images appeal to you more than the others? If so, it's a good candidate.
  • Concentrate on the way different decks feel in your hands. You're looking for a sense of comfort, as though you've found the right "fit".
  • Most decks come with instructions about card meanings and ways to use the tarot. Try to find a deck that feels easiest to understand.

Although this will be your first deck, it will probably be the first of many you'll own. That's because there are literally thousands of tarot decks, each with their own particular style and feel. What is right for you now won't necessarily remain the same as you progress in skills.

Card Meanings and Relationships

Once you have your selected deck in hand, you must familiarize yourself with it and learn to understand the deck in it's entirety. This means learning the way the deck is broken into divisions, as well as the individual meaning of each card.

This part of the process can't be rushed. You must spend time contemplating the image of each card, as well as memorize it's meaning. Until you do, your initial readings will only scratch the surface of what the cards in a given spread truly reveal. Additionally, note that the cards have specific meanings when they are right side up or upside down.

Finally, you must learn to look at the relationship of neighboring cards to help you interpret the reading as a whole.

Simple Spreads

Once you've done your homework, it's time to give the deck a try. First, spend some time handling and shuffling the deck. This "charges" the deck with your personal energy so the reading pertains to your own life. Later, other seekers will charge a deck when you provide readings for them.

Here are two simple spreads that are usually taught as basic tarot for beginners.

Three Card Spread

Consider this a mini reading to divine answers to simple questions. After shuffling, divide your deck into three piles while concentrating on the question you want to ask.

Now, choose one card from each pile, lay them out one by one in front of you, and turn them face up.

  • The card on the left pertains to any past history associated with the topic you are enquiring about.
  • The middle card represents the situation as it stands at present.
  • The card on the right indicates the most likely future outcome.

Although the cards don't provide a simple yes/no answer, you will be able to divine some guidance if you relax and contemplate them deeply.

Celtic Cross Spread

This spread only requires that ten cards be drawn from the deck, but there is a specific layout you must follow. From your first draw to your tenth, lay the cards out in the following pattern.

  • Row one: Draws four and ten
  • Row two: Draws five, one (with draw two laid cross-wise on top), six and nine
  • Row three: Draw number eight
  • Row four: Draws three and seven

Interpret the card positions:

  • Card one: This is your foundation card. When reading for yourself, it represents you and the basic theme of this particular reading.
  • Card two: This card represents the obstacles currently standing in your way.
  • Card three: This card stands for your subconscious. Spend some extra time contemplating this card to unlock the door on issues you might rather keep buried but still need to address.
  • Card four: This card is all about your potential depending on the choices you've already made regarding the matter in question.
  • Card five: This card is all about what has happened in the past.
  • Card six: This card relates to events that will unfold in the very near future.
  • Card seven: This card reveals the kind of influences surrounding the issue at hand. Here is where you confront your fears.
  • Card eight: This card gives you insight about how others perceive you.
  • Card nine: This cards also relates to your fears, as well as how they might affect your hopes for the future.
  • Card ten: This final card suggests an answer to your original question or how things will turn out.

Helpful Books

You might enjoy the following books to acquire more insight about the tarot.

Create a Personal Space to Conduct Readings

Once you have the deck of your choice and feel ready to conduct your reading, consider creating a personal space in your living quarters to conduct that reading. This space can hold any objects or flowers that have personal meaning for you, or it can be a relatively simple area in your home. The key factor to keep in mind with this area is that it should be quiet and allow you the time you'll need to meditate on your cards. This way, you'll have the opportunity to truly understand and integrate what the tarot is trying to tell you.

Basic Tarot for Beginners