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The Four Aces of RWS

Learn Tarot – Introduction

On the many Facebook groups and forums you’ll regularly see people recommending the study of each individual card, using a mix of artwork interpretation and other references, over many, many months.  With 78 cards this is a considerable challenge;  if others learnt the hard way then you should too!  Right?

Wrong!  Let us show you not only the easy way – but the best way to learn the underlying associations.

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The Purpose of a Tarot Atmosphere

When learning how to read tarot, it is important to have the right mindset. You should be focused and relaxed, and building a good tarot atmosphere during your reading can help you achieve the mindset necessary to get the most out of your reading. This means choosing to include things like candles, incense, and dim lights in your atmosphere if you find it helpful. All of these things can serve as a reminder to your brain and subconscious that you are getting ready to do something important.

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tarot cards

Buying your first deck – Which deck should you chose?

One of the most glorious things about tarot, is the huge number of beautiful decks available and the wonderful artists that create them. If you’re not careful, you could spend an awful lot of money collecting all the ones you love best!

However, when you’ve just decided to learn tarot and your browsing for your first deck, the choice can seem truly overwhelming. It’s not unusual for people get analysis paralysis and put off buying a deck because they just don’t know which to choose. For some people, this means they never buy one at all.
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Learn Tarot – The Hermetic Qabalah (Tree of Life)

This is a difficult topic to cover as the terminology used can be unfamiliar and discouraging to newcomers. However, here I try to present this in an accessible form. If like me you struggle with the terminology, ignore the unfamiliar names and instead view the tree, numbers, associations and card positions. This will enable anyone to start drawing on the Hermetic Qabalah to deepen their understanding of Tarot.

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The Best Tarot Podcasts

Podcasts are incredibly popular nowadays. The ability to be heard has never been so accessible; anyone can become podcast star with little more than a mobile phone and an internet connection.

As a podcaster this accessibility is very welcome. However, as a listener it can be difficult to know where to begin and a challenge to find the gems amongst the sea of mediocrity.

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To Cleanse or Not to Cleanse

A question commonly asked online:-

“My tarot cards are no longer working.  I’ve been told I need to cleanse them – how do I do this?”

Answers typically range from smudging, to bathing in moonlight, covering in salt, covering in crystals, tapping (typically 3 times), ‘resetting’ (placing the cards back in original order) and even burying in the garden for several days.

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Tarot and the Planets

When Arthur Waite and Pamela Coleman-Smith designed the Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) deck, between them they managed to include symbology from pretty much every esoteric system available. Therefore it should come as no surprise that astrology and the planets play a large part in the design of the RWS deck.

If you’ve been reading the other posts on this page, you should know by now that the minor arcana cards represent the astrological elements of air (Swords), Earth (Pentacles), fire (Wands) and water (Cups). The major arcana also has specific cards for each astrological sign and therefore, that signs ruling planet as well.

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Learn Tarot – Example Reading

I considered constructing a spread with chosen cards to demonstrate how a reading may work in practice.  However, I then had a question of my own and the resultant cards seem so perfect I thought it a great opportunity to not only perform a simple reading but relate the cards to the querent/question.

Ready?  First some personal background…

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Learn Tarot – Reversals

Reading reversals (when cards are drawn from the deck inverted) can be traced back as far as the earliest days of Tarot’s use as a divinatory system.  The earliest reference to reversals I can find is from Antoine Court de Gebelin in 1781.  Antoine’s writings formed the basis of Eliphas Levi’s system, later adopted with modification by the Golden Dawn which ultimately led to Waite’s re-interpretation with Pamela Coleman-Smith (the RWS deck).

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Learn Tarot – The Numbers (Revisited)

In a previous article we listed the basic number associations of the minor arcana.

To keep things simple we used the traditional RWS associations as reference.  It’s important to note that this is not the only system in use and it can be useful to cross reference the RWS and Tarot De Marseilles in order to gain further insight.   Additionally, the associated card from the major arcana is also worthy of study in reference to the minors.

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What the F*** is a Thoth Deck?

I have to admit to being a bit conflicted about writing this post. On the one hand, the idea was immensely exciting and I was really looking forward to writing this piece. On the other hand, I knew that I would only be able to scratch the surface of what is a very deep and convoluted rabbit hole. The more I read, the less I know, the less I know, the more there is to research and the bigger and windier the road becomes. Therefore, this is designed as an introduction to what I have learned so far. There are undoubtedly many people who know much more about this that I do and I’m sure as time goes on, there will be other posts from this blogging collective around the subject and the key concepts behind the creation of the tarot.
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My Experience of Learning Tarot

It’s funny how different people come to tarot. For some people it’s been something their family has always done, others are simply drawn to it, but for people like me who grew up in very ‘no nonsense’ households where anything esoteric was poo-pooed, it is something odd and mysterious that requires a ‘happening’ to be brought into your life.

Tarot was something I was aware of but never paid much attention to. After all, it was just a load of nonsense and woo wasn’t it? Just a bunch of generalisations that could be applied to any situation, a bit like cold reading. Until I learned that my good friend, Steve, reads the cards.

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From James Ricklef’s Blog

James Ricklef's Tarot Blog Explore and learn about the Tarot ... and yourself!

From Mary K Greer’s Blog

Mary K. Greer's Tarot Blog "Tarot helps you meet whatever comes in the best possible way."

  • Pamela Colman Smith photo by Alice Boughton
    by Mary K. Greer on October 9, 2021 at 10:40 pm

    I just discovered this previously unknown photo of PCS by her friend, the well-known photographer, Alice Boughton. The source is The Literary Digest, July 4, 1908. Enjoy.

  • The Moon Card: Between a Dog and a Wolf
    by Mary K. Greer on September 17, 2021 at 9:11 pm

    Do you know what the expression “entre chien et loup” or “between a dog and a wolf” means?  It is a French description for twilight – either dusk or dawn – when the half light turns everything monochromatic and you can’t tell the difference between the wild and the tame. I’ve always loved this as

  • The Truth Untold, Lenormand Cards, Ashbless, and the Smeraldo Flower
    by Mary K. Greer on June 17, 2021 at 5:06 pm

    Recently, music producer for BigHit, PDogg, was asked what his favorite BTS song is and he answered “The Truth Untold,” sung by the four vocalists (live performance below). It seems there is a long, fascinating history behind it. I’ll try to make this short. (Check out these sites for details: The BTS Effect and the

  • Emperor/Death/Fool Birth Cards and Daechwita
    by Mary K. Greer on January 6, 2021 at 12:20 am

    Among the Tarot cards determined by adding the numbers in your birth date, I find most intriguing the Constellation of the Emperor, which consists of the Major Arcana cards whose numbers add up to four: the Emperor (4), Death (13 = 1+3=4), and the Fool (the un-numbered 22nd card of the Majors; 2+2=4). Many people

From Round the Cauldron’s Blog

‘Round the Cauldron Witchcraft, Polytheism, and the Intersection of Magic and Mundane

  • How to cleanse an object? || Four SIMPLE methods for easy cleansing!
    by Megan Black on August 14, 2022 at 6:15 pm

    I made a new tarot pouch recently and it needed a good cleansing. I wanted to bring you along with me to show you four SIMPLE ways you can cleanse an object and only one requires smoke! Don’t want to read the post? Why should you cleanse a new object? The the easy answer is … Read more

  • Can you use magic for personal gain? [Podcast Episode 122]
    by Megan Black on July 31, 2022 at 4:30 pm


  • Cleaning and Redecorating my Witchcraft Altar || It’s been too long… 😅
    by Megan Black on July 24, 2022 at 7:30 pm

    Join me in this ASMR-style video of an altar cleaning and cleansing 💖 Just as my garden went dormant, so too did my altar space. This happens and it’s okay. It had been a while since my altar saw any attention. Random objects had made their home on the surface, dust settled in, and so … Read more

  • What is a Super Moon?
    by Megan Black on July 14, 2022 at 2:15 pm

    Supermoons are everywhere lately. We see them talked about on social media by magical and non-magical people alike. Some people are enthralled by them and others don’t really care. But it seems like every full moon this year has been a “Supermoon”. So, I went on a minor mission to figure out what that phrase … Read more

  • Episode 121: Comparison is the Thief of Joy
    by Megan Black on June 30, 2022 at 2:00 pm

    Audio A friend of mine, Megs (Prairie), recently reminded me that I’m not alone when I have feelings of inadequacy in regard to my practice and my knowledge. She left me with the quote that is also the title of this episode: Comparison is the thief of joy. I wanted to share my thoughts with … Read more

From the Unified Esoteric Tarot

Esoteric and Divinatory Tarot by Attila Kárpáthy

  • The non-binary nature of the Tarot
    by Admin on August 8, 2022 at 6:29 am

    The dualistic point of view dominates our world and perception. Yet, no matter how hard they tried to alter reality, the triple character of things remained unchanged in nature and has been preserved in the forms of various concepts and…Read more The non-binary nature of the Tarot ›

  • June 2022 special offer
    by Admin on June 6, 2022 at 6:31 am

    Professional Tarot counselling and therapy – performed with one of a kind, specially designed deck of cards and over three decades of experience. June special offer: purchase a 5 card reading at only 49 USD and get a 10 card…Read more June 2022 special offer ›

  • The Celtic Cross
    by Admin on June 2, 2022 at 8:22 am

    The Celtic cross is an important symbol of faith. The knowledge about Celtic tribes, peoples and their traditions is limited. Celts had not left any written records. It is not known exactly when Christians first reached Ireland, but Christian communities…Read more The Celtic Cross ›

  • You are not a number
    by Admin on May 20, 2022 at 7:10 am

    There is a pattern, a scenario that is defined and one can mechanically follow, and there is free will that enables us to make our own choices. Only on exceptional occasions choice and change is not an option. Although change…Read more You are not a number ›

From Theresa’s Tarot Lady Blog

The Tarot Lady The tarot cards tell a story...but you write the ending.

  • Tarot and Astrology Mandalas: Part One
    by Theresa Reed on August 17, 2022 at 1:59 pm

    I’m a visual person and an experiential learner. This means I learn best when I have something to look at or a hands-on activity. It’s partially because I’m hearing impaired but also: I’m a Gemini. So I like all the bells and whistles.  One of my favorite ways to absorb astrological information is by creating The post Tarot and Astrology Mandalas: Part One appeared first on The Tarot Lady.

  • Tarot Bytes Episode 235 – Misconceptions About Tarot Readers with Michael Herkes
    by Theresa Reed on August 15, 2022 at 1:39 pm

    Tarot Bytes: The Podcast Bite-sized lessons for Tarot beginners Created by Theresa Reed, The Tarot Lady Welcome to Tarot Bytes – the tarot podcast for people who want to learn tarot…but don’t have all day. Short, bite-sized tarot lessons. Episode 235 – Misconceptions About Tarot Readers with Michael Herkes You’ve probably seen the stereotypes portrayed The post Tarot Bytes Episode 235 – Misconceptions About Tarot Readers with Michael Herkes appeared first on The Tarot Lady.

  • The Hit List – The test drive
    by Theresa Reed on August 13, 2022 at 1:41 pm

    Last week, my husband and I hit the road for a mini-book tour to support my newest, Twist Your Fate: Manifest Success with Astrology and Tarot. We have not traveled for over two years due to the pandemic, so was going to be our “test drive” to see how we feel about leaving our bubble. The post The Hit List – The test drive appeared first on The Tarot Lady.

  • Full Moon in Aquarius 2022 – and Tarot Readings for Each Zodiac Sign
    by Theresa Reed on August 9, 2022 at 1:16 pm

    The Full Moon in Aquarius 2022 occurs on Thursday, August 11th, at 9:36 PM EDT. This is the ideal lunation to reflect on your role in communities, both online and off. Are you engaging in healthy dynamics – or should you move on? Do you have supportive collaborators – or are you surrounded by frenemies The post Full Moon in Aquarius 2022 – and Tarot Readings for Each Zodiac Sign appeared first on The Tarot Lady.

From Beth’s Little Red Tarot Blog

Little Red Tarot Alternative approaches to tarot, ritual, magic & more

  • Making old things new again: Jameson Hampton & the Tarot of Sorts
    by Jameson Hampton on April 30, 2022 at 4:27 pm

    "My love of tarot is related to this love of old things, this connection I feel with every printmaker and tarot reader that has come before me. So for me, letterpress and tarot go together quite naturally, and thus the Tarot of Sorts was born." The post Making old things new again: Jameson Hampton & the Tarot of Sorts appeared first on Little Red Tarot by Jameson Hampton

  • The Dimlit Tarot: A deck about power, community, & transformation
    by Niko ___ on March 14, 2022 at 12:43 pm

    "It is a deck that speaks softly, but strikes deep with its insight. It is a deck that acknowledges the politics that govern our lives, but remembers that we must fight to solve the problems they cause – and we do not have to fight alone." The post The Dimlit Tarot: A deck about power, community, & transformation appeared first on Little Red Tarot by Niko ___

  • Meet the Creator: Krystal Banner on colour, culture, & 2020 Visions
    by Beth on December 18, 2021 at 2:05 pm

    "I believe we are spiritual beings, but we can't bypass that whole 'having a human experience' part and everything that comes with it." The post Meet the Creator: Krystal Banner on colour, culture, & 2020 Visions appeared first on Little Red Tarot by Beth

  • Closed in protest of “Black Friday”
    by Beth on November 26, 2021 at 8:17 am

    Escape the shopocalypse! We're closed this weekend in protest of capitalism's most sacred festival. The post Closed in protest of “Black Friday” appeared first on Little Red Tarot by Beth