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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!

  • What does the Seven of Wands mean?
    by jamesricklef on October 15, 2021 at 10:35 pm

    Pithy Tarot card meanings are short, easy to remember meanings that may stimulate further insights when called to mind during a reading. They also make great "Card of the Day" messages. Here's one for the Seven of Wands.

  • What does the Sun card mean?
    by jamesricklef on October 9, 2021 at 7:06 pm

    Pithy Tarot card meanings are short, easy to remember meanings that may stimulate further insights when called to mind during a reading. They also make great "Card of the Day" messages. Here's one for the Sun card.

  • 21st Century Tarot de Marseilles — Majors deck
    by jamesricklef on October 4, 2021 at 9:23 pm

    My “21st Century Tarot de Marseilles” is a revamped version of the traditional Tarot de Marseilles decks from centuries past.

  • What does the Nine of Wands mean?
    by jamesricklef on October 3, 2021 at 6:36 pm

    Pithy Tarot card meanings are short, easy to remember meanings that may stimulate further insights when called to mind during a reading. They also make great "Card of the Day" messages. Here’s one for the Nine of Wands.

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 … … Continue reading →

  • 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 … … Continue reading →

  • 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 … … Continue reading →

From Round the Cauldron’s Blog

Round the Cauldron Everyday life as a modern witch!

  • Is your Ego blocking your growth? [Video]
    by Megan Black on October 24, 2021 at 5:57 am

    Being confronted with ego in witchcraft is interesting and you know what? The idea for me to talk about this actually comes from one of the first exercises in the first chapter of The Witch’s Path by Thorn Mooney. She talks about how when we are in our practice or we’ve been doing it for a while, we kind of get in a groove. Even if we end up in a rut or our practice kind of stagnates, we don’t tend to explore other options. The post Is your Ego blocking your growth? [Video] appeared first on Round the Cauldron.

  • What’s in the Darkness? || Shadow Work Tarot Spread + Free Printable!
    by Megan Black on October 17, 2021 at 6:00 pm

    We’re getting into the deeper part of the darkness in the northern hemisphere. It’s October, the start of spooky season for some and the darkest parts of the year for others. This is a great time to begin working with the Shadow Self. The Shadow part of you that is hidden away and runs (or at least tries to run) the conscious mind. Since we’re coming into that darkness, I created a simple tarot spread to help connect to your Shadow. This spread uses four cards laid out in the shape of stairs, symbolic of the descent into your own darkness. The post What’s in the Darkness? || Shadow Work Tarot Spread + Free Printable! appeared first on Round the Cauldron.

  • Ramblings on Neurodivergency and Online Relationships
    by Megan Black on October 5, 2021 at 5:20 pm

    As a neurodivergent person, I feel like there are things that I’m acutely aware of. I don’t know if these things also hold true for neurotypical people. I’m acutely aware of parasocial relationships and friendships in general. The post Ramblings on Neurodivergency and Online Relationships appeared first on Round the Cauldron.

  • Pagan Portals: Lugh || Book Review
    by Megan Black on August 9, 2021 at 2:42 pm

    For such a short book, Lugh is jam-packed with information any new seeker of Lugh would need. Morgan Daimler does a wonderful job sharing important information about the history of Lugh, His stories across different Celtic regions, and ways we as modern polytheists may connect with Him. I wanted to point out something I find very important. In the Author’s Note, Morgan Daimler makes it clear that she uses the Irish spelling whenever possible but that there was no standardized Irish spelling before the 20th century. This can make some names and words hard for an English speaker to grasp, but there is a pronunciation guide at the end of the book. The post Pagan Portals: Lugh || Book Review appeared first on Round the Cauldron.

  • The Dabbler’s Guide to Witchcraft || Book Review
    by Megan Black on August 2, 2021 at 5:00 pm

    Fire Lyte’s new book, The Dabbler’s Guide to Witchcraft published by Simon and Schuster, is one of the better books on witchcraft that I have read in a very long time. In his book, Fire Lyte promises to deliver practical knowledge to help you build a better foundation in witchcraft whether you’re just getting started or you’ve been doing it for a while. In a book targeted at the average person with an interest in witchcraft, Fire Lyte manages to dispel many myths and misconceptions about witchcraft while offering different perspectives and food for thought. The post The Dabbler’s Guide to Witchcraft || Book Review appeared first on Round the Cauldron.

From the Unified Esoteric Tarot

Esoteric and Divinatory Tarot by Attila Kárpáthy

  • The Sidewayz Tarot by Roxi Sim-Hermsen and Jade Storm
    by Admin on September 21, 2021 at 8:12 pm

    Each Tarot deck has its own body, soul and spirit. While one may choose to purchase a particular deck instinctively, love at first sight, it takes time and patience to learn a deck and get into its groove. The body…Read more The Sidewayz Tarot by Roxi Sim-Hermsen and Jade Storm ›

  • The Moonatic series
    by Admin on September 5, 2021 at 9:54 am

    Now there are four similar but not identical versions of the Moonatic available: https://www.lulu.com/spotlight/karpathy I made the dots smaller, the colour is lighter, and they are denser as in the original edition. If you want to keep a diary or…Read more The Moonatic series ›

  • Esoteric Tarot a series of 29 books
    by Admin on August 16, 2021 at 4:18 am

    I have this insanely ambitious project to write and publish a series of 29 books about the Esoteric Tarot. After serious consideration, I concluded that the best size for these books is the standard US Trade, 6×9 inches, respectively 152×229…Read more Esoteric Tarot a series of 29 books ›

  • The good, the bad and the ugly
    by Admin on August 2, 2021 at 7:50 am

    Speaking about the “wickedness in the world”, Genesis 6 relates that “the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.” As a result of this unnatural union of angels…Read more The good, the bad and the ugly ›

From Theresa’s Tarot Lady Blog

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

  • Tarot Bytes Episode 213: How We Began Reading Tarot, Writing About It, and Creating Decks with Sarah Potter
    by Theresa Reed on October 24, 2021 at 1:43 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 213: How We Began Reading Tarot, Writing About It, and Creating Decks with Sarah Potter The post Tarot Bytes Episode 213: How We Began Reading Tarot, Writing About It, and Creating Decks with Sarah Potter appeared first on The Tarot Lady.

  • The Hit List – On Stephen King
    by Theresa Reed on October 23, 2021 at 2:04 pm

    A few weeks ago (or maybe a month – I can’t remember), I asked the Twitterverse for recommendations for books about writing. I’ve never had formal training so I thought it was about time I either take classes or read about the craft. When I want to learn something, I usually prefer to start with The post The Hit List – On Stephen King appeared first on The Tarot Lady.

  • The Tarot Lady’s Ultra-Deluxe Superfly Astrology Guide for 2022
    by Theresa Reed on October 22, 2021 at 1:17 pm

    It’s that time of the year again. Yep, the one you’ve been waiting for: my annual Ultra-Deluxe Superfly Astrology Guide! Yee-haw! Dates to watch out for. Mercury retrograde…three times the charm. Venus retrograde starting off the year with love or spending hangover. Happy Jupiter aspects. Eclipses in Taurus and Scorpio (so fixed!). A long-ass Mars The post The Tarot Lady’s Ultra-Deluxe Superfly Astrology Guide for 2022 appeared first on The Tarot Lady.

  • Full Moon in Aries 2021 – and Tarot Readings for Each Zodiac Sign
    by Theresa Reed on October 18, 2021 at 1:50 pm

    This week finds us all chomping at the bit to get something happening – or finished. It begins with Jupiter and Mercury stationing direct, followed by the Full Moon in Aries. We’re hot to trot and rarin’ to go – but caution is needed. Here’s why: it takes a minute before Mercury builds up speed. The post Full Moon in Aries 2021 – 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