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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

From the Unified Esoteric Tarot

Esoteric and Divinatory Tarot by Attila Kárpáthy

  • These Magic decks and their operating systems
    by Admin on September 26, 2022 at 6:27 am

    I have often heard people saying about one or another Tarot deck, “oh, that’s so beautiful, I need to have it!” Although aesthetics are an important component of any product, when it comes to Tarot, it’s not how beautiful it…Read more These Magic decks and their operating systems ›

  • The Awakening
    by Admin on September 9, 2022 at 4:11 am

    It became a common phenomenon that people have a sudden glimpse of consciousness which changes their life course. ‘My life was shallow and meaningless,’ they say, ‘I woke up one day feeling empty and realised something was missing. I had…Read more The Awakening ›

  • Unified Esoteric Tarot t-shirts and accessories
    by Admin on September 2, 2022 at 5:55 am

    A large variety of t-shirts, home decor objects and accessories of the new Unified Esoteric Tarot are available exclusively at Threadless. Apparel includes Men’s, Women’s, and kids’ styles ranging from T-shirts, long sleeves, tanks, sweatshirts, pullover hoodies, and more, all…Read more Unified Esoteric Tarot t-shirts and accessories ›

  • Dematerialisation – physical death
    by Admin on August 31, 2022 at 4:13 am

    Let’s talk about… death. When am I going to die? Some schools of thought believe that the moment of death is predetermined; as a result, it is also predictable. We tend to think that even eternity has a beginning and…Read more Dematerialisation – physical death ›

From Theresa’s Tarot Lady Blog

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

  • The Hit List – On being immortal
    by Theresa Reed on September 24, 2022 at 1:14 pm

    I was interviewed by Joanna DeVoe (love her!) this week when she asked me this question (paraphrased): “If you were bit by a vampire and had to choose between dying or becoming a vampire and living forever without having to bite anyone else, which would you choose?” As images of a shirtless Eric Northman danced The post The Hit List – On being immortal appeared first on The Tarot Lady.

  • Astrology Bytes Episode 165 – Mars Transits Through the Signs
    by Theresa Reed on September 23, 2022 at 1:02 pm

    ASTROLOGY BYTES: THE PODCAST Bite-sized astrology lessons for total astrology newbies. Created by Theresa Reed, The Tarot Lady (psst…I am known for tarot but I’m also an astrology geek!). Welcome to Astrology Bytes, the astrology podcast for people who want to learn astrology… but don’t have all day! Short, bite-sized astrology lessons. Episode 165 – Mars Transits The post Astrology Bytes Episode 165 – Mars Transits Through the Signs appeared first on The Tarot Lady.

  • New Moon in Libra 2022 – and Tarot Readings for Each Zodiac Sign
    by Theresa Reed on September 22, 2022 at 2:06 pm

    The New Moon in Libra 2022 shows up on September 25th at 5:55 PM EDT, putting the focus on balance, justice, and relationships. If your life has felt out of whack lately (thank you very much, Mercury retrograde!), you can begin to see what needs to happen to bring things back to center. Instead of The post New Moon in Libra 2022 – and Tarot Readings for Each Zodiac Sign appeared first on The Tarot Lady.

  • Tarot Bytes Episode 236 – Tarot and Meditation with Keziah Gibbons
    by Theresa Reed on September 19, 2022 at 2:05 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 236 – Tarot and Meditation with Keziah Gibbons Did you know meditation can help your The post Tarot Bytes Episode 236 – Tarot and Meditation with Keziah Gibbons 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