Learning One Card at a Time

   Posted by: David   in Uncategorized

Learning One Card at a Time

Learning the tarot can seem like a daunting task.
There are 78 cards in the deck divided into major and minor arcana.
Each card is rich with symbolism and meaning and that is before you factor in a reversal.
It would not be at all accurate to say that each card has two meanings – straight up and reversed because the meaning of the card is somewhat dependent on the situation.
Any given card can have an almost unlimited number of meanings but there are parameters and those parameters are established by the imagery of the individual card.

The almost infinite nature of the tarot can be a source of frustration but this is one of its most attractive features. The tarot is like dreams – universal and yet highly individual, often tangible and specific and yet murky and mystical.

It can also feel a daunting task to learn a complex spread like the Celtic cross – one of the most popular spreads. In addition, each deck has its own personality so now, not only are you dealing with the diversity of the tarot itself but also the diversity of interpretation that each deck represents.

When I began I studied each card individually and I started with the Hanson Roberts which is very similar to the Rider-Waite-Smith deck.

I meditated and reflected on the richness of the imagery in each card.
I took notes on my feelings as I reflected on the card and then I studied the books.
I studied the book that came with the deck and other books like
Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom: A Book of Tarot by Rachel Pollack.

I took one book – the text that accompanied the Hanson Roberts Tarot, and I kept notes in this one book. After a time when that book became worn and so full of notes it was confusing I created a digital diary of sorts in which I kept card images and notes.

I continually go back over the cards not to read or obtain divinatory insight but to meditate and reflect on the meaning of each card apart from any divinatory context.

As a carpenter learns to use his/her tools, a psychic must also learn his/her tools.
The more you study, reflect, and meditate the better your understanding of the cards will be and that understanding will free up, not restrict, your intuition.

I called this entry “Learning One Card at a Time” because, as with any complex task, it is best to break the task down into manageable pieces and master those pieces one at a time. In the rest of this entry I would like to suggest a guide for mediation upon the cards. This is only a suggestion not a dogmatic rule. Use what works, discard the rest.

You could start with a deck “in order” or you could randomly select cards.
Whichever method you select keep a notebook or journal.

As you look at your selection ask is this is a major or minor arcana card.
The major arcana generally speak to us of major life events or the deeper, more meaningful parts of life while the minor arcana shows us what is specifically happening now in the different aspects of day-to-day life. Remember these are general guidelines not rules. In the psychic realm there are very few rules, spiritual laws yes, but few rules.

Wands are usually associated with fire, passion, or inspiration. Wands generally but not always relate to spiritual issues or concerns. They inspire us to take action.

Cups are typically associated with water. Cups generally but not always relate to emotional states, our imagination, or our subconscious mind or impulse. Cups often speak to us about reflection, personal experiences, or relationships.

Swords are associated with air. Swords generally but not always relate to our thoughts or intellect but they can also speak to us about choice, volition, or discernment.

The pentacles are the practical, the material, the “down to earth” suit. They generally but not always speak to us of manifesting or of our material condition.

The king generally but not always represents social responsibility, power, influence, or success
The queen generally but not always stands for creativity
The knight generally but not always is a card of action and service to others
The page generally but not always calls us to exploration and study

Numbers may also have significance.
The significance of the number of a card may or may not be significant in your meditation or in practice as you read for yourself or others. Avoid dogmatism.

Here are some general guidelines about numbers:

10 is a number of completion
9 is a number of compromises or struggle but it might also represent achievement
8 often indicates movement or change
7 frequently represents a time of victory or reflection
6 often speaks to us about communication, problem solving, or cooperative effort
5 often represents conflict or instability, sometimes even loss.
4 speaks to us of structure and stability but also stagnation.
3 is the fullest expression of the suit. The three often represents an achievement.
2 is a number of union, balance, duality, or choice.

The ace represents the basic quality of the suit in its purest form. The ace might also speak to us of new beginning or new opportunities, or of a special divine endowment.

The colors in the card may also be rich with meaning.
What colors dominate in the card?
How do these colors make you feel?

Look at the people in the card.
I find it helpful when giving a reading to imagine my sitter as the person in the card.
What is the expression on the person’s face?
What emotional state is being conveyed by the image?
What is his/her body posture?
What gender is the person? Gender suggests attributes more than actually gender – sometimes.
What action is this person involved in?
What does his/her body language tell you?

Now look at the scenery depicted in the card.
What objects or buildings are in the background?
Is the card telling a story?
Where is this location?
What is the weather?
Is it sunny or cloudy, a hot day or a cold one?

Now look at the symbols within the card are.
You may not understand what each symbol means.
This is where text books and encyclopedias can help.
Symbols will be woven into the garments of the people in each card; they may be in the sky or on the ground. Look closely and investigate research until you understand the language of symbols for each card.

This process, by the way, is ongoing. As long as you read tarot it should be your habit.

Much love and many blessings,

This entry was posted on Sunday, October 6th, 2013 at 3:33 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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