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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

  • Go back to your witchy beginnings! || Revisiting the Basics of your Practice is GOOD for you! [Episode 127]
    by Megan Black on February 4, 2023 at 1:46 pm

    Sometimes you just have to start over, ya know? Go back to the basics of your practice and really figure out what you enjoy, what matters the most to you, and how you can further deepen your connection to your faith and witchcraft! The last few years have seen tremendous growth in both my personal … Read more

  • Seed of Intention Guided Meditation
    by Megan Black on January 23, 2023 at 1:56 pm

    I put together this guided meditation for the New Moon recently. It’s perfect for setting new intentions, and you can use it with the New Moon or any other time you feel yourself needing to reset. Every day we wake up is an opportunity to plant new seeds of intention in our lives. Today, we … Read more

  • Episode 126: A Year in Review 2022
    by Megan Black on December 31, 2022 at 4:52 pm

    It’s the last day of 2022 and holy crap I am ready for it. It’s been chaos and unpredictability in both my personal life as well as my practice, and I’m glad to be starting over fresh with many things come 2023. Things have changed in my life and I’m getting back to why I started making content in the first place — for something I enjoy doing! 

  • We saw a pod of dolphins! || Weekend Vlog – Day in the Life
    by Megan Black on December 13, 2022 at 12:30 am

    We took a small trip one Saturday to go to Skyway Pier for a family fishing trip. I’m not a fishing person but I always come along. This time, we were graced with the presence of a pod of dolphins that played tug-of-war with the people fishing off the pier!

  • 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!

From the Unified Esoteric Tarot

Esoteric and Divinatory Tarot by Attila Kárpáthy

  • Spreads and diagrams
    by Admin on February 1, 2023 at 9:49 am

    Yearly, hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly spreads and diagrams “Lucrative dreaming” is a thing of mine. It goes back to my childhood, long before I had any involvement in esoteric matters. Often when I was stuck in some “unsolvable” issue…Read more Spreads and diagrams ›

  • New Patreon tiers
    by Admin on January 30, 2023 at 3:31 pm

    I just reconfigured my Patreon tiers into 6 levels of mentoring. More direct, one on one interaction, including regular Tarot reading sessions. You can choose from one monthly reading to daily communication and guidance. Select the one that fit your…Read more New Patreon tiers ›

  • Live YouTube session on 28 January 2023
    by Admin on January 27, 2023 at 10:03 am

    Saturday, 28 January, a new live session on YouTube. Discussions about the Tarot – answering your questions and free readings. Check the time on the YouTube video to know the exact time of the streaming. If my calculations are alright:…Read more Live YouTube session on 28 January 2023 ›

  • The Unified Esoteric System and the Magician card
    by Admin on January 16, 2023 at 7:03 am

    Esoteric is not a matter of public or common knowledge. Most people still don’t comprehend that occult and esoteric means secret, hidden and not accessible to the many. Therefore, what is common knowledge is pseudo-esoteric or false-esoteric. On the other…Read more The Unified Esoteric System and the Magician card ›

From Theresa’s Tarot Lady Blog

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

  • The Hit List – Let their fear go
    by Theresa Reed on February 4, 2023 at 2:36 pm

    The familiar ding signaled an email had arrived. I grabbed my favorite mug (with a delightful picture of a pug and the words “dragging ass”) and sat down in front of the computer, ready to see what delights might be in the ole inbox. Instead, I was greeted with a well-meaning fear-based email. I had recently The post The Hit List – Let their fear go appeared first on The Tarot Lady.

  • Full Moon in Leo 2023 – and Tarot Readings for Each Zodiac Sign
    by Theresa Reed on February 1, 2023 at 2:36 pm

    The Full Moon in Leo 2023 appears on Sunday, February 5th, at 1:29 PM ET. This is a dramatic lunation, so be ready for a few fireworks! A situation may come to a climax, leading to an exit. If that happens, trust that it will be for the best. Full Moons tend to endings, and The post Full Moon in Leo 2023 – and Tarot Readings for Each Zodiac Sign appeared first on The Tarot Lady.

  • The Hit List – Pizza and Patience
    by Theresa Reed on January 28, 2023 at 2:17 pm

    Maybe it’s because she’s named Pizza, and she knows I’m not fond of pizza (I know…weird). Or maybe she’s only interested in my son. Perhaps she smells my cat. Whatever the case, Pizza and I were not off to a great start this week. Pizza is my son’s cat. He was out of town, so The post The Hit List – Pizza and Patience appeared first on The Tarot Lady.

  • Astrology Bytes Episode 172 – Nodal Past Lives with Kim Woods
    by Theresa Reed on January 27, 2023 at 2:12 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 172 – Nodal Past Lives The post Astrology Bytes Episode 172 – Nodal Past Lives with Kim Woods appeared first on The Tarot Lady.

From Beth’s Little Red Tarot Blog

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

  • #Decklust | Liminal Season: January news
    by Beth on January 31, 2023 at 8:44 am

    Sweet new decks for easing into the year... Thea's Tarot pre-orders, 2020 Visions is finally here, and Companion Cards for dancers, movers and solo artists. The post #Decklust | Liminal Season: January news appeared first on Little Red Tarot by Beth

  • #Decklust | Winter Magic, Many Moons & a Living Altar
    by Beth on November 11, 2022 at 8:59 am

    It's freezing cold, our boiler's broken... Let’s talk about something that’s actually going well! And no I don’t mean my “drag career” (see below) – I’m talking about stocking our shelves with magical goodies for cosy winter nights in 🙂 The post #Decklust | Winter Magic, Many Moons & a Living Altar appeared first on Little Red Tarot by Beth

  • 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." 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