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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!

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

  • Episode 125: Do you label your witchcraft? || The Help and Harm of Witchcraft Labels
    by Megan Black on November 24, 2022 at 5:36 pm

    In today’s episode, I give my perspective and opinion on the different ways labels can help and harm your witchcraft practice. As always, this episode is simply one witch’s thoughts! I don’t personally label my witchcraft, though I have labeled my polytheistic practice. Don’t forget that labels are community created and arbitrary — they only matter if they matter to you!

  • I’m more than a witch, you know!
    by Megan Black on November 20, 2022 at 6:10 pm

    Did you know I’m a real person? [cue shock and awe] I hate the idea of niching down my content fully so sometimes I like to post things that don’t have anything to do with witchcraft. That’s what today is!

  • Five Tips to Celebrate a Full Moon
    by Megan Black on November 7, 2022 at 11:31 am

    Many witches are drawn to the Moon, and sometimes for good reason! In my beliefs, the Moon holds a particular type of energy that can be used to help fuel my spellwork. This energy waxes and wanes, just like the phases of the Moon herself, and the associations of each phase are different. A Full Moon, though, has the most potent, all-encompassing energy of all the phases.

  • The Dullahan, The Good Woman, and The Death Coach [Podcast Episode 124]
    by Megan Black on October 31, 2022 at 12:33 pm

    Audio This month, I was inspired to give a more spooky episode for the podcast, something steeped in legend and folklore. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was written by Washington Irving, an American author that wrote the story detailing a Hessian soldier that was decapitated during a battle in the revolutionary war come back to … Read more

  • Morning Boost: A Recipe for an All-Purpose Coffee Syrup
    by Megan Black on October 17, 2022 at 10:35 am

    If you know me, you would know that I live on coffee. It is my magic potion in the morning, something that gets me out of bed and the one thing I look forward to as I walk around my house with sleepy eyes in the morning. But I was inspired by a weekly challenge … Read more

From the Unified Esoteric Tarot

Esoteric and Divinatory Tarot by Attila Kárpáthy

  • Unified Esoteric Tarot III Winter Solstice
    by Admin on October 19, 2022 at 7:46 am

    Too early for Christmas? The Unified Esoteric Tarot is back with a twist. An updated, revisited, and rectified edition, with a special livery, will be available exclusively till 10th December 2022. You can pre-order the deck, your name will be…Read more Unified Esoteric Tarot III Winter Solstice ›

  • Preserving and handling the cards
    by Admin on September 30, 2022 at 5:54 am

    Any relationship is based on respect. Someone’s relationship with the deck of Tarot cards is no different. You don’t have to consider your cards living beings to owe them respect and handle them properly. At least you should have the…Read more Preserving and handling the cards ›

  • These Magic decks and their operating systems
    by Admin on September 26, 2022 at 6:27 am

    I have often heard people saying about one or another Tarot deck, “oh, that’s so beautiful, I need to have it!” Although aesthetics are an important component of any product, when it comes to Tarot, it’s not how beautiful it…Read more These Magic decks and their operating systems ›

  • The Awakening
    by Admin on September 9, 2022 at 4:11 am

    It became a common phenomenon that people have a sudden glimpse of consciousness which changes their life course. ‘My life was shallow and meaningless,’ they say, ‘I woke up one day feeling empty and realised something was missing. I had…Read more The Awakening ›

From Theresa’s Tarot Lady Blog

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

  • The Hit List – The 2022 Tarot, Astrology, and Mystical Holiday Shopping Guide
    by Theresa Reed on November 26, 2022 at 2:17 pm

    It’s almost here. Yep, Christmas. Whether you celebrate or not, it’s likely you’ll be shopping. For kids, it’s easy to figure out what to get them (toys, duh). But what about the mystical folks on your list? Take a deep yogic breath and check out this compilation of gift ideas for the tarot-loving, astrology-obsessed, crystally-inclined The post The Hit List – The 2022 Tarot, Astrology, and Mystical Holiday Shopping Guide appeared first on The Tarot Lady.

  • New Moon in Sagittarius 2022 – and Tarot Readings for Each Zodiac Sign
    by Theresa Reed on November 21, 2022 at 3:25 pm

    The New Moon in Sagittarius 2022 is coming at ya on November 23rd at 5:57 PM EST – and it’s followed by Jupiter stationing direct at 6:02 PM EST. New Moons are a time for fresh beginnings and Jupiter is associated with expansion. Combine this with the optimistic nature of Sagittarius and you’ve got the The post New Moon in Sagittarius 2022 – and Tarot Readings for Each Zodiac Sign appeared first on The Tarot Lady.

  • The Hit List – The body knows it all
    by Theresa Reed on November 19, 2022 at 3:06 pm

    I’m made from hardy farm stock. My bloodline is not meant for the leisurely life – we’re built to work. This means I’m pretty good at long hours and pushing through, no matter how I feel. I’d like to think I’m immune to anything that gets in the way of my productivity. But this year The post The Hit List – The body knows it all appeared first on The Tarot Lady.

  • Astrology Bytes Episode 167 – New Moon Magic with Risa Dickens and Amy Torok
    by Theresa Reed on November 18, 2022 at 2:47 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 167 – New Moon Magic The post Astrology Bytes Episode 167 – New Moon Magic with Risa Dickens and Amy Torok appeared first on The Tarot Lady.

From Beth’s Little Red Tarot Blog

Little Red Tarot Alternative approaches to tarot, ritual, magic & more

  • What home means: Re-membering miracles, care & connection with Elia Fushi Bekene
    by Beth on October 31, 2022 at 7:55 am

    Home to me feels like a return. So much of the path to liberation is the coming home, the return to the full potential of what we are and I find that home is the container that allows us to unfold in this way. Whether it is the womb, a place, people or Spirit, home … The post What home means: Re-membering miracles, care & connection with Elia Fushi Bekene appeared first on Little Red Tarot by Beth

  • 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