TABI member Wynford Davies takes us through a little of their own experiences in discovering tarot and talks us over some great tips when it comes to learning tarot.
Although it was over 40 years ago, I can still vividly remember strolling into a bargain bookshop one lunch hour. I hadn’t gone into the shop with the intention of buying anything, I just wanted to idle away the remaining minutes of my lunch break.
Then my eye caught a book, The Rational Tarot by, I believe, Bernard Spencer Le Gette. And that’s where it all started. After dipping into the book I started to do some readings, including a few for others. I still remember some of the reactions to those early readings including remarks such as ‘How could you possibly know that?’
In the following years, I had a stop-start relationship with the Tarot, but as I grew older and life became more complex and challenging, I found myself frequently returning to it, especially in times of crisis. The results have always been the same. Helpful and informed. It’s very much like having a trusted friend or mentor that is always there to give you wise advice.
I’ve reached the point now in life where I just want to focus on what I really enjoy doing. One of these activities is helping others through life’s challenges and I thought that the Tarot would map neatly into and support that activity. That’s why I joined TABI and over the past months I’ve really made the effort to learn and understand the Tarot more deeply.
What I’d like to do now is to share with you some of my experiences and key learnings from my Tarot journey, in case you’re just starting out.
So here we go!
1. It’s not a memory game. I lost my copy of The Rational Tarot many years ago. The first couple of books that I purchased three or four years back gave me the feeling that reading the Tarot was a memory game, you just had to memorise the meaning of all 78 cards. OMG! That nearly put me off, but, reflecting on my what I had learnt over the last decades, I remembered that the Tarot isn’t about robotically memorising 78 cards. True, you have to understand the meaning of the most important cards (The Major Arcana) and the meaning of the four suits, but reading the Tarot is really about using your intuition to uncover the messages in each card that answer the question you’re exploring. Reading the Tarot is about intuition, not robotically reeling off memorised meanings.
2. The Cycles of Life. Everything started to fall into place for me when I realised that the Tarot was about managing the cycles of life. This is quite clear in the Major Arcana, but it also applies as we go through the cards in the four suits (the Minor Arcana). Try to get into numerology too, that really helped me understand the cards in the four suits.
3. Your first deck. I’ve collected quite a few decks and it’s important, because of the intuition aspect, to get one that you can feel a bond with and you can engage with, including on a visual level. I use the
traditional Rider-Waite pack as a lot of books are based on interpreting these cards. It’s also a good place to start learning about imagery.
4. Love the cards you fear. OK, some of the cards are a bit grim! Especially the Death card and The Tower. I can remember when my stomach would turn right over when The Tower came up in a reading! Do get to know the cards you fear. You’ll find that even with these cards, the message, whilst hard, is constructive and if the message is heeded, there’s light at the end of the journey! The Tarot is, after all, about helping us to get the most out of life.
5. Your daily life. Try to build the Tarot into your daily life, just say by drawing a card for each day and reflecting on what it means for you that day. This is a great way of learning the messages in each card. I keep a daily reading journal too. If you look back over past daily cards it can be illuminating to look for patterns – this can add another dimension to interpreting what the cards have to say.
So these are just five points that I’ve learned and I hope that you will find them useful if you’re beginning your Tarot journey. Most importantly, I hope that you get as much out of your journey as I have.