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BTP40: Ask Brigit – How to Start Learning Tarot

By August 23, 2016 September 2nd, 2021

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Every day of every week, I get asked for my advice, knowledge and opinion about Tarot. From how to learn the Tarot card meanings, to reading for friends and family, all the way to how to start a successful Tarot business. You name it!

While I would love to be able to answer each and every question personally, due to the volume it's sadly impossible. So, I've created a special Ask Brigit series on the Biddy Tarot Podcast to respond to some of the most commonly asked questions about Tarot.

In this Ask Brigit podcast, we're going right back to basics and talking about how to start learning Tarot. I'll answer your questions about where to begin, what deck to use, how to focus on the right things and my personal journey with learning to read Tarot.

Additional Resources

  • Start learning Tarot with the Biddy Tarot Community. Get the low-down on Tarot with my Tarot 101 course, ask questions in the forums and join me every month in our training webinars. Join now!

Podcast Transcript

Brigit:  You’re listening to the Biddy Tarot Podcast, and this is Episode 40: Ask Brigit – How to Start Learning Tarot.

Voice-Over

Welcome to the Biddy Tarot podcast, where you will learn how to connect more deeply with your intuition and live an empowered and enlightened life with the Tarot cards as your guide.

Listen as Brigit and her guests share their very best tips and strategies to help you read Tarot with confidence. And now, here is your host Brigit Esselmont.

Introduction

Brigit: Hello and welcome back to the Biddy Tarot Podcast.

Every day of every week, I get asked for my advice, knowledge and opinion about Tarot. From how to learn the Tarot card meanings, to reading for friends and family, all the way to how to start a successful Tarot business. You name it, I get asked it!

While I would love to be able to answer each and every question personally, due to the volume of questions that we get, unfortunately it's impossible. So, I've created a special Ask Brigit series on the Biddy Tarot Podcast so that I can respond to some of the most commonly asked questions about Tarot.

Today, we're going right back to basics and talking about how to start learning Tarot. I'll answer your questions about where to begin, what deck to use, how to focus on the right things and my personal journey with learning to read Tarot.

And remember, you can view the show notes and the transcript for this episode over at biddytarot.com/40, plus you can share your comments and questions on the blog.

So, without further ado, let's get into it!

I'm going to start with a question from Chelsey. Chelsey says, “As a beginner, what advice would you give to me to take steps forward in my learning?”

Well, I've got four little tips for you, Chelsey.

Number one is keep it simple. Tarot is on the edge of being something that's so complex and so overwhelming. There's so many different things to learn about Tarot: the symbolism, the different meanings, the different layers behind the cards, how to read, trusting the dynamics of a reading and so on. It can get kind of out of control.

But, it's so important that you just keep it simple, especially when you're just starting out.

Instead of overwhelming yourself with a ten-card spread, just do a one-card spread. Instead of overwhelming yourself with trying to understand Kabbalah or understand astrology when it's completely new to you, just stick with the basics. It might just be the simple keywords associated with each card. Just keep it simple.

Number two is take it slow. Don't put that extra pressure on yourself to suddenly master 78 Tarot cards in a week. It's probably not going to happen that quickly unless you've got some amazing brain that can store lots and lots of information.

Just be kind to yourself and give yourself that space to enjoy the process of learning.

This isn't necessarily about you arriving in that place of being a master of Tarot because, truth be told, it doesn't really happen that way. There's never a point at which you go, “Ah, I'm done. I know everything about Tarot.”

Just be patient with yourself and take it slow.

Tip number three is integrate Tarot into your daily life. Tarot doesn't have to be this thing where you go, “Oh, okay. Clear the decks. I'm doing a Tarot reading.” You have to bring out your Tarot cards. You've got to put all your incense and candles and all that sort of stuff.

If you want to do that, that's fine, but it does make it so much easier to really move forward with your Tarot practice if you integrate it into daily life.

One thing I always recommend doing for beginners, for experts, for professionals, you name it, is do a daily Tarot card reading.

At the start of your day just take a couple of moments for a few deep breaths and just ask your cards what do I need to know for today. Then draw your card and just pay attention to what message that card has for you.

As you proceed through your day, just think, “Okay. Well, this card told me this kind of message or maybe I can harness this energy in order to create a more positive experience throughout the day.” Just integrate that daily card into your life.

Number four is start reading sooner rather than later. I know when you've just started learning something you might think, but how could I possibly read the cards. I don't even know what the first card means let alone all 78 of them.

What I recommend is just start doing some reading for yourself and if you have to look it up in a book, don't worry, I won't tell anyone. It's okay to use your books every now and then, particularly if you're in that learning phase.

What's more important is that you're getting experience just reading the cards and you're starting to really explore and experience the actual Tarot cards and see what's possible for you.

Chelsey, those are my four tips:

  • Keep it simple
  • Take it slow
  • Integrate Tarot into your life
  • Start reading sooner rather than later

I hope that's been helpful for you.

Let's move to our second question. This comes from Mary. Mary asks,  “What are some simple ways in which I can develop my ‘reading' skills or knowledge of the cards and build my confidence?”

Okay, well I've got three tips for you, Mary. Really this builds off from the four tips that I shared for Chelsey as well.

Tip number one for how you can develop your reading skills and knowledge of the cards is practice, practice, practice.

If you want to be a Tarot reader, you've got to be able to read Tarot. Really that starts from day one.

To develop those Tarot reading skills, you've got to be practicing your readings. Do readings for yourself on a daily basis as a learning activity. Offer readings to family and friends so that you can start to build up that confidence and practice.

As you're doing that practice, you'll start to explore how you can use the Tarot cards for different questions or different topics. You'll start to see how different cards come up for these different topics and how you might interpret those differently.

It allows you more space to really experience the Tarot beyond simply rote learning what the cards mean.

Number two is then read Tarot for strangers. It's one thing to read the cards for yourself and family and friends and then it's another thing to read Tarot for strangers.

I definitely know where the safest place to start is and that is with yourself and with your friends and family who are often a lot more forgiving and are okay with you flicking open your book and having a little pause every now and then to think, “Oh gosh, what does that card mean?”

But where the rubber hits the road is really when you start reading Tarot for strangers. The reason for this is that you start to get exposure to all kinds of questions and all kinds of life scenarios and situations. You start to see how Tarot sort of takes on a life of its own for different people. It's so, so important in terms of building your reading skills.

Obviously, when you're reading Tarot for strangers and you're in a learning phase, I really do recommend that you offer those readings for free in exchange for feedback. I think it can sometimes be a bit premature if you're trying to do paid readings and you're still in a very much learning phase.

The best thing to do, in my opinion, is just start to offer free readings, but with that energy exchange of having a feedback or testimonial as an acknowledgment of the energy you put into that reading.

You might be thinking, “Well goodness me, how do I start reading for Tarot for strangers?” A great place to start is with our free Tarot readings platform, which is part of the Biddy Tarot Community.

What we offer is to be able to connect you to the general public, literally hundreds and hundreds of people every day who would love to have a free Tarot reading with you and who understand that this is a learning experience for you.

They're ready and willing to give you feedback and constructive feedback to help improve your skills. Plus, they give you a little bit of wiggle room because they know that you're learning. They're not going to expect that you're going to nail it the first time. Sometimes just knowing that as a reader, that just relieves some of that pressure.

If that sounds like something you'd be interested in, head on over to Biddytarot.com/community and you can find out all about it.

Okay, tip number three for how to develop your reading skills is keep a log book.

Every time you do a reading, whether it's for yourself or somebody else, I really recommend writing down that reading, so what question did you ask, what spread did you use, what cards did you draw and how do you interpret those cards. What are some of the key messages in your reading?

Sorry, I have to giggle because there's a bird outside the window and he's quite a noisy bird. I think he also wants to let you know that keeping a log book is a good idea.

In this log book, you're keeping track of the different readings you're doing as well as the key messages. But, to really add to it, come back to that log book in a month's time and discover did I get it right, did my Tarot reading give me that extra insight that helped me understand what was going on?

As events unfolded, what else can you add to your Tarot reading? What did you discover as time passed? This is what will really give you that greater depth to your Tarot readings and will help you see how Tarot really comes to life.

Mary, there you have it. There are three tips for how you can develop your reading skills:

  • Tip number one is practice, practice, practice
  • Tip number two is read Tarot for strangers. Remember that you can do that inside of the Biddy Tarot Community.
  • Tip number three is keep a log book. That way you're really building your confidence because you're seeing over time what an impact you're having and there's kind of intuitive hits that you're also having.

Let's move on to Katrin. Katrin asks, “What's the most crucial thing to know about Tarot?”

I love it because there are so many things to know about Tarot, but Katrin is like, “No, I just want to know tip number one. What is it? What's that one thing?”

I thought long and hard about this and you know what, here is my one crucial thing, that is breathe and relax.

It's not like memorize the cards, memorize the system, talk to these people, read this book. It is breathe and relax.

You've got to remember when you're reading Tarot, it's all about connecting with your intuition. You can't connect with your intuition if you're feeling tense, under pressure, stressed or anxious.

The most crucial thing before you start reading Tarot is taking a few deep breaths and allow yourself just to really relax and clear your mind because when you're in that more relaxed state, you're much more receptive to your intuition.

That's all you need to do. Breathe. Believe it or not, we can all do that.

I hope that helps, Katrin.

Christina asks, “What deck do you think is best to use while learning?”

Well, I'll be very straightforward with this. I really do believe the Rider-Waite deck is an excellent deck to use when you're learning to read Tarot.

The reason I recommend this deck is, well there's quite a few reasons actually.

One, it's very visual. You can look at really any of the cards and there's a picture on that card and that picture tells a story. It's the stories that help you understand what that card means.

If you compare it to say the Marseilles deck, which is a beautiful deck, but you look at the Minor Arcana in the Marseilles deck and it doesn't really give you much. It's like some coins put on a piece of paper. There's nothing happening on the card. It's literally, just say, six coins or four swords or something like that.

I find that a lot more challenging, particularly if you're just starting to learn Tarot.

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The Rider-Waite is great for its visual element and the imagery.

The other reason I really recommend the Rider-Waite deck is because it is one of the most popular Tarot decks of now. It means that there are so many resources available about the Rider-Waite deck.

If you jump online and search for any Tarot card meaning, of course, you're going to find Biddy Tarot, but you're going to find also that most websites refer to the Rider-Waite deck. It's more challenging to find websites or other resources that refer to other decks.

For example, I really love say the Fountain Tarot or the Wild Unknown Tarot. But the thing that I struggle with these decks is that it's very hard to find other people's perspectives on these cards. You've really only got the little white book available, which when you're just starting out, sometimes you want to understand it from a number of different angles and not just a few keywords.

Being able to tap into the Rider-Waite deck and all of the different resources available on that, it does make it a lot easier to learn.

Now, of course, I don't think that you should just read with the Rider-Waite. As you start to build your confidence, then absolutely start to branch out and find other Tarot decks that you connect with.

Also, if you're listening to this and you're a Tarot beginner and you're going, “Ah, Brigit, I don't like the Rider-Waite. I much prefer my Faerie Tarot or something else.” That's okay too. Don't feel like you've got to change your strategy.

If you're just starting out and you're thinking where on earth do I begin, then I do recommend the Rider-Waite, but if there's another deck calling you, go for it.

Okay, Christina, I do hope that helps you.

I should just add, I really like the Radiant Rider-Waite because the colors are much nicer. It's much more radiant, go figure. It's brighter. I just find it a little bit more modern. You might like that one too.

Jane asks, “Is there an easy way to remember the meanings?”

If only we knew. I'm going to give you two techniques that you can use in order to remember the meanings more easily instead of having to memorize 78 Tarot cards.

Number one is just learn the basics of how the Tarot is structured.

We know that numerology is used a lot in the Tarot. If you learn what the numbers of 1 to 10 mean and then you also learn what the suits represent, the four suits, then you've pretty much covered 40 cards.

Whilst there are deeper meanings behind each of those cards, and numerology and suits will only take you so far, it does give you a basic understanding that you can start to apply as you're remembering the meanings.

That's a really good place to start.

In addition with learning the basics, just finding a few keywords per card and remembering those can be really helpful. You don't have to learn huge chunks of text about what each card means. You can simply learn some of the keywords.

Number two is personalize the meanings. Make them real for you. Base them on your personal experiences.

For example, if you're doing a card of the day and maybe you draw the Hermit card. Maybe you can remember that the Hermit is about some soul-seeking or spending time on your own. Then you draw that card and maybe you think, “Okay, I'm going to try and be like the Hermit today.”

Then you start to have a Hermit like experience that day. Maybe you go and write about what that Hermit day felt like for you.

Then once you've started to embody that energy, it takes on such a deeper meaning than if you were to just read it in a book.

I really do recommend personalizing the meanings of the cards for you and embodying their energy and making it real for you.

Moca asks, “Will it take me forever to learn this stuff?”

Oh, I want to give you a big, big hug.

Here's the thing with Tarot, it is a life-long learning journey. You can choose whether you are going to love that journey or whether that journey is going to completely tire you out.

I think it would be wonderful if you learned to love the learning journey with Tarot.

If I think about my own experience in learning with Tarot, I don't think there's ever going to be a point where I say, “Yeah, I've learned it. I'm done. I know exactly what all of the Tarot cards mean.”

I'm constantly discovering new things about the Tarot cards and this is after 20 years of intensive study and practice with the Tarot cards

Will it take you forever to learn this stuff? I kind of think yes in a way, but in a really positive way. I think it's a true blessing that it does take forever.

But, just remember that you can learn how to read the cards quickly and at least start doing some basic one, two or three-card spreads and get some great results from that.

That doesn't have to take you years and years. That can be done within a couple of months, even a couple of weeks, depending how open you are to working with your intuition.

These last couple of questions are from folks who are curious to understand about my personal journey with the Tarot. By sharing this I hope that it's also helpful for you as you're thinking about your journey with Tarot.

Saskia asks,  “What made you get into Tarot reading?”

Throughout my teenage years, I was always interested in all things spiritual. I had read the Bible. I had understood about pagan culture. I was interested in Wicca, Buddhism and even general self-help and psychology and so on.

I had this really personal interest in all things spiritual.

It kind of all coincided because when I was 17, I had a Tarot reading about my upcoming trip to Germany where I was doing a high school exchange. In this reading, the lady was like, “Oh, you're going to meet this man or boy or somewhere in between, a teen.”

I thought okay, that's interesting, but I bet she tells this to everybody. But lo and behold I go to Germany and I meet my first boyfriend there. I thought, okay, I've got to try out this Tarot thing. It sounds really interesting.

The more I started to learn about Tarot and work with the Tarot cards, the more I realized that this was this beautiful web of spirituality in these 78 Tarot cards.

The more and more I work with the Tarot, even now 20 years later, the more I'm discovering just these interconnections and how the Tarot helps me to understand my own life and to help other people understand their life.

There's just so much to Tarot. It's fabulous.

Ruby asks, “How did you begin to read Tarot?'

I've got to be honest with you, I know I sometimes pooh-pooh memorizing all of the Tarot cards, but that was the first thing that I did.

I was studying at university at the time and the way that I knew how to master something was learn as much as possible, and read as much as possible, and try to commit as much as you can to your memory so that's what I did with Tarot. I really learned and read so many different books about the Tarot cards.

I think that was great in terms of giving me a good, solid foundation, but what it didn't give me was my connection to my intuition. I really had to learn how to put the books down and learn to trust my own inner knowing about the Tarot cards rather than relying solely on what other people were telling me what the cards meant.

I did start by memorizing, but I think it's very important to also learn how to connect with your intuition.

Another thing that I did to begin reading Tarot was draw the daily card. I've talked about this a few times already today, but the daily card was so important in my personal journey because it helped me personalize the Tarot cards. It also created the space for me to really dive deep into one card at a time.

I might wake up in the morning, draw the Hermit, go and look in my books, read up about what does the Hermit really mean, take some notes, and then go through my day and by the end of the day I'd come back to my little notebook and I'd write down everything that I had experienced that was related to the Hermit card.

I started to change and shift and explore what each of these cards really meant to me. It did become a really good balance between traditional meanings and personal meanings, which I think is absolutely key when it comes to learning Tarot.

Okay, I've got one more question here. It's from Chenoa. She asks, “Did you find it difficult to learn the Tarot and do you think learning the Tarot would be difficult for me?”

I've got to be honest, I've gone through a number of phases with learning Tarot, from feeling completely overwhelmed and completely over it, to being completely in love with Tarot in bliss and so on.

Here's the thing. You are going to go through phases I think when learning the Tarot. Particularly early on there will be those times where you just feel like giving up and going, “My goodness, how on earth am I supposed to learn these cards.”

But I really want you to have faith. I really want you to just give yourself that space to be part of this learning journey because over time you start to work with these cards and they start to become part of you. It's no longer about remembering, “Okay what does this card mean. I don't know what it means.”

But it's just allowing yourself to be part of this process and to be part of the Tarot cards so that its energy is sort of channeled through you and you really understand that energy.

It's such a process. I can't give you all the answers of how do you get exactly from A to B because that is also part of the process. You're discovering how you go from feeling that overwhelm to feeling intuitively connected with the cards.

But I want you to know that it is possible and I strongly believe that everyone can learn the Tarot. You don't need to have special skills or psychic abilities or be able to speak with dead people, whatever. You don't need all of that. If you've got it, great, but you don't need it.

You simply need to be open to the experience of learning Tarot and learning how to connect with your intuition.

I think that's a great place to wrap things up. I hope that that's been helpful for you. No doubt if you've been just starting out with Tarot, maybe some of these questions have also been on your mind, so I hope I've given you a little bit of extra confidence and guidance about how you can get started with learning how to read Tarot.

Wrap-Up

Now if this has been pressing your buttons and going, “Yeah, that's awesome. I can't wait to learn more about Tarot,” then I'd love for you to join us over in the Biddy Tarot Community.

I've made this space a really safe and welcoming space so that you can learn how to read Tarot surrounded by other people who love Tarot as much as you do and who want to support your learning journey.

Plus, I've added in the Tarot 101 course which will help you get started reading Tarot straightaway. It's all about combining your intuition with your knowledge of the cards and getting you to that place where you can start reading Tarot for yourself, for friends, for family.

And, of course, in the Biddy Tarot Community you can read Tarot for the general public and really expand your Tarot reading skills.

Head on over to Biddytarot.com/community to find out about it.

I would so love to be supporting your Tarot journey and I'm so, so glad that you've been listening today to this podcast. It's an honor to be in your ears talking about Tarot.

I wish you the very best and I can't wait to connect with you again very soon.

Thank you and goodbye.

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