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Tips for Starting to Read Tarot by Maddy Elruna

My top 5 tips for starting to read Tarot.

How to start and succeed.

I read a lot of Facebook posts about how to memorise the Tarot cards, yet in my experience memorizing the cards is a laborious, and not particularly helpful way to learn to read the Tarot.

Before I was a tarot teacher I was an early years teacher, and my passion was teaching kids not only to read, but to love to read.

Teaching children the names of the letters is a fairly laborious & very boring way to teach reading.

Much better to teach the sounds of the letters, some basic words, and to engage the kids in reading really great books.

Simple books at first, perhaps they don’t even read all the words- but the story, pictures, and basic reading skills mean they pretty much get the idea of the story- before they can quite read.

They are learning to read whilst enjoying reading.

I teach tarot with the same approach. I do teach a basic overview of the cards- key symbolism, suits, a little numerology. But I get my students reading from day 1, for each other & for themselves.

Because memorizing individual cards, even understanding individual cards is only the very beginning of your Tarot journey.

There are only 78 Tarot cards. Not many cards to reflect every experience known to the human race.

But when you start to read in Tarot spreads- suddenly you have an infinite variety of meanings. Each card is subtly influencing the meanings of every other card in the spread.

And that is when Tarot really becomes interesting. Not when you read a tarot card, when you can see the dialogue & drama between the cards.


So here is my step by step advice to reading the Tarot cards.

*1 Choose a deck you love. Don’t be persuaded by tales of a deck must be “gifted”, go out and find one you love.

There are some great starter decks out there. But in the end I think learning with a deck whose pictures seem to talk directly to you, a deck whose art you simply love, is a very important step.

*2 Understand the different parts of the Tarot deck. Rather than starting with the Fool and working all the way through every card. Start to understand each suit, how the Major Arcana tell a story, how the court-cards work as a group.

I think the single, most fundamental skill is not how to read one card, but how to read the story between the cards in a spread.

By learning about groups of cards you are starting with this skill that is often left to the end.

*3 Feel free to use books, blogs, online resources & look cards up as you go. It is not a memory test! If you are reading to learn, learn as you read. If you get to a card you don’t understand- explore it, meditate on it, look it up.

*4 Read for yourself (daily, weekly, for planning, reflection). The only real way to learn tarot is through practice.

A great way to structure your daily read is to do a three card spread for advice. Write down what you think the cards are telling you.

Then at the end of the day (week/project) compare your thoughts on what would happen, to what actually did happen.

You’ll be amazed at how much you learn!

*5 Don’t ever expect absolutes or a definite definition of any card. As soon as you see Tarot as a living book, the cards subtly changing each time you read them- you release yourself from the idea of “memorizing” or even “learning” the tarot.

And open yourself up to the concept of reading them.

I am still surprised by Tarot combinations, and the subtle meanings that can come through in a reading. That is why I love Tarot so much.

It always surprises me.

And three final thoughts of advice;

Just keep going! Slowly learn individual cards as they catch your eye, become important in a reading. Enjoy the process, take your time, it is a lifetime of learning.

Don’t become rule bound! There are plenty of people who will tell you that you must shuffle, or sort, or order, or cleanse the cards in this way or that.

Whilst these things may be very important to one person, they are not “rules”.

Try things out and see what works for you.

Most of all – remember the Tarot is there to help and guide, not to scare and control.

Nine years ago the Tarot said my marriage was over. Big-time finished.

I used the Tarot spread to change my communication within the marriage, to find why we were splitting and try to mend our marriage. We are still happily married.

If a reading looks bad, look for the advice.

It is always there somewhere.

Maddy Elruna is a tarot reader and Norse Shaman based in East Sussex in the U.K.

Maddy’s first book “Tarot – A Life Guided by Cards” was published in April 2022.

This blog and more can be found on her website:

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