By Judy Jennings © Copyright 2015
Tarot is a system that emphasizes personal growth and self-realization. Cards make statements about energies and states of mind that are a part of the human condition. Learning to interpret these statements is a combination of memorization and a process not unlike dream interpretation.
The cards speak in the language of symbolism. Some of these symbols are drawn from astrology and various world religions, while others can be arbitrary and vary from deck to deck. The best deck for you is one whose images spark emotions and ideas when you look at the cards.
The Rider Waite deck is a good starting point because symboliosm there is deliberately clear, with a strong spititual side. People turn to Tarot out of a desire to connect, either with a higher power or with another person. The most meaningful reading to a person seeking connection is one in which the symbols on the cards provoke an emotional response.
Considering a card metaphorically is an excellent starting point when learning to interpret Tarot. When you look at a card, are there any cliches that come to mind? If you're doing a reading for someone else, involve them in that same process. Immediate reactions to a card offer a great deal of information about the current situation. Using this technique as you also read about the meanings of the cards will help to create a more personal connection than memorization alone can ever offer.
Once you've selected a deck, what's the best way to "charge" it for use? Here are some examples of the way people cleanse their cards: Pass them through the smoke of burning sage. Set the cards under moonlight. Rap them three times with your knuckles. Sleep with them under your pillow. Handle them as much as possible.
The idea is to personalize them and bring them close to you. Find a way to breathe your own sense of life into them. Tarot has the potential to becomne your animated companion and trusted guide on your journey through this world.
Should you let other people touch your cards? Good question , and the answer might vary. Do you have a strong feeling one way or another? If so, always go with that. Otherwise, let practical consideration be your guide. If you're reading for a friend you may want the cards to feel the energy directly. If you're doing readings at a party, you might feel protective of your deck and prefer to do the shuffling yourself. It's a matter of personal preference and common sense.
Many people like to wrap their cards in a cloth. This not only protects the deck, but provides a special place on which to lay out the cards.
Give consideration to the kind of environment you need in order to be most receptive to what the cards have to say. Some interpreters like to have a sacred space defined by candles and incense, while others are perfectly comfortable at a corner table in the local coffee shop. The important thing is to discover what kind of setting allows the energy in the cards to best resonate with you.
How you shuffle is another matter of personal preference. If you shuffle in a manner that results in upside-down cards, you'll need to make a decision about what to to with reversals. Read more about reversals in my previous post. Developing your own routines and rituals around the cards is an important part of the learning process. Have fun!