So, you’ve taken up Tarot and are filled with excitement about your new passion. That’s amazing! New readers being excited about Tarot excites me so much! In fact, there’s little in my life that excites me more! That said, I always warn new Tarot readers to be cautious and take their time. Excitement is good, but like any new discipline or hobby, you need to make sure you are taking time to learn it properly before jumping in and declaring yourself an expert. In this post I’m going to cover four common mistakes I see beginning Tarot readers make frequently. Not only will I cover it and why it’s a mistake, I will also talk about how to avoid this mistake and pitfall. If you are the new Tarot reader, don’t get defensive or frustrated, learn from mistakes made by those of us who have gone before! I’ll be the first to admit I’ve DEFINITELY made mistakes! If you can avoid these pitfalls you’ll be in an even better position whether you ever intend to be a Tarot professional or not!
1. Taking one single sources as the Gospel Truth.
Tarot is a big world and there is a lot of information out there. Yes, I include this blog as part of that. Here’s the thing, though, just like everything there are many schools of thought in Tarot as well as many different approaches to interpreting the cards. On top of that, there are many out there passing themselves off as experts who either are wholesale making things up or are simply plagiarizing what they’ve seen elsewhere. This can make learning Tarot a more intimidating prospect than it already is.
Many times I’ve seen new Tarot readers make the mistake of believing that there is a single way to think about Tarot, a single way to approach Tarot, and a single set of beliefs and superstitions surrounding the cards. This is simply not accurate. It always is a bit amusing when someone new to Tarot tells me about an “ancient belief” of Tarot that dates back to the Egyptians or something like that. Or they tell me about the personality of their deck and how it’s their best friend and how it is sassy with them or gets jealous when they don’t handle them. When I ask where they heard this it’s typically from the likes of TV infomercial personalities trying to sell cheap Tarot decks, or it’s from a friend who just recently started Tarot, or it’s something that the cards told them (which always confuses me) or it’s from some random blog on the internet that is the only source for this bit of information. I understand wanting to believe these amazing things about the cards, but it’s important to do actual study before just accepting something that’s been read. If you can’t only find one source for any piece of information, it’s probably something that you should question. You’ll find many differing opinions about some parts of Tarot, but you’ll find common threads among those reputable sources.
Not only this, but begging readers sometimes believe that the book they have or the website they use as a reference has the single be-all-end-all meanings of all cards. This isn’t true. Every card of the Tarot has an insane number of possible meanings dependent upon the Querant (one for whom you are reading), the reader, the spread, the question, etc.
The way to avoid this common pitfall is to read multiple sources. Use multiple books and websites and talk to those who have studied at length and read for a period of time. You will find many common strands of truth through them all, even though each is likely to have their own approach to Tarot. Through both that and your own study you will begin to find your personal approach to the Tarot rather than simply adopting wholesale someone else’s.
2. Immediately jumping into advanced spreads
I totally understand the allure of the many spreads out there for the cards. There are spreads for nearly everything! Some of them are useful, others not so much. All of them, though, require an understanding, not only of the cards, but of the spreads and how the card positions relate to one another and how the meaning of one card can influence another in the spread and how the question itself influences all of it. Tarot cards don’t have absolutely set in stone meanings. It’s very common that I get questions from beginner readings along the lines of, “This position is supposed to be a challenge, but the card is the Sun. My book says that means happiness, growth and fulfillment. It says it’s a positive card. That can’t be a challenge. That doesn’t make sense!” Or, “The Ten of Swords showed up as what I need to do. That’s all pain and things, how does that make sense?” A favorite of mine is this one, “None of the cards in the spread make sense together. They have conflicting messages. This can’t be right.”
To all of these questions I would say this, “Take your time and slow down.” I know that’s probably not what you want to hear, but it’s the truth. If you were a child who discovered a love for the natural world and basic biology it would be absurd to jump straight to molecular biology without taking the years of study to get there. You have to understand everything that comes before in order to understand the advanced levels. Tarot is the same. You can’t start putting it all together and really digging deep until you learn the basics first. The good news here: this is decidedly not molecular biology! If it was I would be running far far away! The bad news: this still takes study, dedication, and time. The images of the Tarot, as descriptive and evocative as they can be, are still esoteric and take time to learn. Even more it takes time to really understand and see the deeper meanings in the cards.
3. Giving readings directly from a book
If you are still at the point where you have to hold a book to have any idea of what the cards could possibly be saying, you are likely not quite ready to be giving full readings to others. Please understand that there is nothing wrong with using a book as reference. However, if you need to read directly from the book and can’t trust your own intuition with the cards yet, then your readings will likely not resonate with the person for whom you are reading. The reason for this is that you are not giving a reading. You are simply laying out cards, then reading what the author of your book says about the cards. Their explanation of the cards are not a reading. They are simply their explanation of the cards as they understand them. They are a prompt to help you understand the nature of the card in question.
To give a reading it requires you to look at the spread and understand the interactions of the cards and understand the nature of the cards well enough to intuitively read what you see there. I’ve explained in private and group classes that reading card-by-card with a book in hand is quite similar to reading the word “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” in this way, “First there’s an S, that makes the sssssss sound. Then there’s a U and that makes the oo sound.” By the time you get to the last S it’s been entirely forgotten where you started and you don’t have a coherent word. You just have a collection of letters and an explanation of how to use each one.
Don’t let this discourage you, though. Like anything worth doing, Tarot takes time to study and learn. So, how do you do this? The way I recommend all of my students to do it is to learn by keeping a Tarot journal. Each day pull a card. Take time to ground and center yourself, ask the Universe to show you the card that you need to see that day. Once you have the card take five minutes, don’t cheat, take five solid minutes. Take in everything you see in the card. Take in every detail, there is nothing that is insignificant. While taking in the colors, symbols, and images of the card, take note of what comes to your mind. Don’t think about what it means, simply let meaning come to you. If you need to jot down a word or two that comes to you, then do that. Once the five minutes has passed record the card name and the date in your Tarot journal and write down everything that came to you during your meditation on the card. Don’t worry about being right or wrong. Just write what came to you. When writing it out, don’t embellish or add to or take away from what came to you just because you feel it isn’t correct. This is learning to trust your intuition and what it tells you about the card. The next step here is to pay attention to your day. Where do you see the influence of this card in your day? In what ways has it come to life during your day? At the end of the day record those events or moments in your day that align with the card. In this way you will begin to see how the cards come to life to you. You will begin to see deeper things in the cards than you ever imagined before. You will also begin to form your interpretation of the Tarot.
You can ask anyone I’ve taught in Tarot that this is the one thing that drives me absolutely batty! Don’t memorize meanings! That is absolutely not trusting your intuition. It’s rote memorization only and will always lead to very flat and sometimes quite inaccurate readings. In addition to this, you are only memorizing the meanings given to you by the particular source you are using. This includes if you use this site for your information! My blogs are not intended to be used in that way. They are daily readings that are shared to help people see more and more shades of the cards.
The other reason that memorizing isn’t a particularly good idea is that each Tarot deck is unique. The art of the deck matters as does the intention of the artist. I cover this is detail in this post about differences in Tarot decks. When giving a reading, the meaning should make sense with the art of the card you see before you. It’s amazing how dramatically different some illustrations are. If the Magician is an old wizened man teaching those around him, this gives a dramatically different message than a young person tentatively picking up the tools and discovering his power for the first time. Yes, they would have similar meanings, but the specifics would be quite different. This matters when giving a dynamic intuitive reading.
The other problem with memorizing is this: what happens if you draw a blank? When reading intuitively this isn’t a risk. You intuitively read what the card says to you in relation to the Querant, the spread, and the question asked. It also becomes much easier to adapt your reading of the cards depending on their location.
These are just a few of the common mistakes I see among new readers. There is nothing wrong with making mistakes, it’s part of learning something. Tarot is a discipline. It takes time and study. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been doing it, you still have more to learn! I’ve been studying Tarot for decades at this point and I still learn more, especially as I become more and more a part of the public Tarot world. For so long my own study and love of it was private. Again, there’s nothing wrong with this, but the more public you become and the wider a variety of people you read for and teach the more you learn as well.
If you have questions or comments, sound off in the comments below! If you are interested in studying with me, check out my private coaching here. If you are interested in a group class, fill out the contact form with GROUP CLASS in the message along with your contact information to be added to the waiting list. In addition to this, if you’ve never had a professional reading and would like one, or perhaps you need guidance and aren’t able to find the guidance you need from your own intuition and cards, schedule a reading with me here. Every reading I do is personal and directly related to what you want to talk about.
Good luck on your Tarot journey! I hope that it’s as enriching for you as it is for me!
Love and light,