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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!

  • Bibliomancy with The Soul’s Journey Book
    by jamesricklef on May 2, 2022 at 4:46 pm

    On the 5/7/22 Episode of “There's a Rock for That!”, host Mary Brown welcomes special guest James Ricklef to the show, and they will be discussing Bibliomancy with his book, The Soul’s Journey!

  • 21st Century Tarot de Marseilles — Ace through Six of Clubs
    by jamesricklef on January 18, 2022 at 3:34 am

    Here are the first 6 cards in the Wands / Clubs suit of my new 21st Century Tarot de Marseilles deck.

  • What does the Ace of Swords mean?
    by jamesricklef on December 5, 2021 at 3:51 am

    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 Ace of Swords.

  • What does the Devil card mean?
    by jamesricklef on November 22, 2021 at 10:26 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 the Devil card.

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

  • My Oracle Card Experience – Moving Away from Tarot [VIDEO]
    by Megan Black on May 16, 2022 at 1:38 pm

    Moving away from tarot was a nerve-wracking experience. It took me a while to admit the personal issues I was having with tarot. Though tarot will always have a place in my heart, and probably in my practice in the future, I’m really enjoying the more intuitive style of this oracle deck. Hello everyone. It’s … Read more

  • Podcast Ep. 119: Tools of the Trade || One Witch’s Thoughts
    by Megan Black on April 30, 2022 at 4:57 pm

    I’ve had the itch to talk about tools in witchcraft practices for a few weeks now and I finally just decided to sit down and record. In this episode, you’ll hear my thoughts on common tools, how we can reframe our views on what tools in witchcraft are, and some random thoughts I have about … Read more

  • An Incense for Bealtaine
    by Megan Black on April 29, 2022 at 4:00 pm

    I wanted to make this incense blend as sticks for easier burning but I guess the Gods have other plans. Either that, it’s because I’m way too forgetful and can’t remember where I put my makko powder! Anyway, if you want to know how I make incense sticks with makko powder, you can check out … Read more

  • Five FREE Ways to be an Eco-Friendly Witch
    by Megan Black on April 22, 2022 at 4:00 pm

    I may be a bit cynical about greenwashing, eco-friendly marketing, and how corporations deal with Earth Day. It’s the one day out of the year where everyone pretends to care about the planet, the one day where people pledge to use less single-use plastics, where people pledge to reduce their carbon footprint, and where companies … Read more

  • Are you an Art Witch? [Video]
    by Megan Black on April 10, 2022 at 11:40 am

    What kind of ways do you incorporate art into your practice? Need inspiration?! I have that! In my own practice, I like to incorporate painting, music, and crochet (of course!). Art is as versatile as you can make it, so if you haven’t already, take the plunge and add some art to your magic.

From the Unified Esoteric Tarot

Esoteric and Divinatory Tarot by Attila Kárpáthy

  • You are not a number
    by Admin on May 20, 2022 at 7:10 am

    There is a pattern, a scenario that is defined and one can mechanically follow, and there is free will that enables us to make our own choices. Only on exceptional occasions choice and change is not an option. Although change…Read more You are not a number ›

  • UET Numerolgy
    by Admin on May 19, 2022 at 5:18 am

    As I said, I’m rewriting and re-editing the Unified Esoteric Tarot handbook. Yesterday I was working on the Numerology section. Enjoy! “There is a common misconception that Earth, the physical realm, is the lowest level of manifestation, while Fire is…Read more UET Numerolgy ›

  • The learning process
    by Admin on May 12, 2022 at 5:52 am

    The learning process should begin with unlearning and discharging most of the ideas you have accumulated about Tarot, Astrology, Numerology, Alchemy, and Kabbalah. Most likely, at least some of the things you think you know are incomplete or inaccurate. If…Read more The learning process ›

  • UET3
    by Admin on May 2, 2022 at 5:19 am

    Never say never After almost three decades of Tarot practice, research and comprehensive study, in 2018, I created and self-published the Unified Esoteric Tarot deck. The Unified Esoteric Tarot offers a unique method of learning Tarot, Astrology, Numerology, Alchemy and…Read more UET3 ›

From Theresa’s Tarot Lady Blog

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

  • Tarot Bytes Episode 229 – Dream Interpretation with Tarot with Mimi Young
    by Theresa Reed on May 23, 2022 at 1:23 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 229 – Dream Interpretation with Tarot with Mimi Young Do you wonder what your dreams mean? The post Tarot Bytes Episode 229 – Dream Interpretation with Tarot with Mimi Young appeared first on The Tarot Lady.

  • The Hit List – White-knuckling the rough draft
    by Theresa Reed on May 21, 2022 at 1:29 pm

    I am in the midst of writing my ninth book. Perhaps you picture me sitting at a big oak desk, puffing on a pipe, a glass of Merlot nearby with a fluffy cat sleeping peacefully on a rug while I gallantly type away (with perfect posture, of course). In reality, there is nothing to smoke, The post The Hit List – White-knuckling the rough draft appeared first on The Tarot Lady.

  • Astrology Bytes Episode 159 – Chinese Astrology with Mimi Young
    by Theresa Reed on May 20, 2022 at 2:02 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 159 – Chinese Astrology The post Astrology Bytes Episode 159 – Chinese Astrology with Mimi Young appeared first on The Tarot Lady.

  • 50 Positive Things To Do During Mercury Retrograde
    by Theresa Reed on May 18, 2022 at 1:24 pm

    Mercury retrograde is here…again. You’ve probably heard people grumbling about this astrological bad boy. It comes around three times a year wreaking havoc on travel, communication, and technology – which means folks have plenty of time to bitch about it every year. BUT…it’s not all bad! There are actually plenty of smart things you can The post 50 Positive Things To Do During Mercury Retrograde 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