FAQ for the Beginning Tarot Class
In thinking how to structure my online tarot class for greatest "ease of handling," I have decided to use the Web's own FAQ format to handle the considerable preliminary information that needs to be part of any new course of study.
FAQS for the Beginning Tarot Class at Enchanted Spirit
Can "just anyone" learn to read and interpret the Tarot?
Of course. The Tarot is a marvelous mystical tool for creating a practical, coherent channel between the outside, conscious world of everyday reality, and the inner world of hunches, feelings and intuitions. One, of course, is a way of knowing life through the five physical senses: sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste. The other is a way of knowing life through "inner processes" which are less easily demonstrated and defined ... but while are just as valid. The "sixth sense" ... or ESP (extra-sensory perception) to some people ... is not mysterious at all. Absolutely everyone has it. Everyone uses it to some degree. Some just do so more confidently, more consciously, more directly, more regularly, and, yes, more skillfully than others.
In choosing to learn to read and interpret the Tarot, you are choosing to exercise this "other way of knowing the world," to strengthen and refine your own intuitive abilities, and to open yourself up to new ways of trusting your feelings and inner guidance. I believe this is one of the most beneficial and self-loving things anyone can choose to do.
I'm interested in learning Tarot, but it seems kind of mysterious and I don't really understand it. Can it really help me?
Life is not always easy, and it is sure not always fun. It can be extremely challenging. For me, part of every challenge was to find "meaning" ... reasons "why," information on what this experience was trying to accomplish, what I needed to do differently (or in some cases, do at all) to get through it to more comfortable ground again, and sometimes for sure I looked for possible information on what I could expect next.
There are plenty of ways to accomplish this: journal-keeping, psychotherapy, meditation, even prayer. Tarot is simply a tool that provides another avenue of information -- and one I related to rather well, being an astrologer for decades and a mystic in perhaps more lives than this one.
When life turns to that oh-so-familiar "Gooey Brown Stuff" in your hands (and right before your eyes) as it does to all of us at different times, it helps to have an anchor, "another perspective" on the situation, and an avenue into finding the meaning that can help things "make sense again."
There was one extended period in my life (so far) when the Tarot provided all that for me. I think it is not exaggeration to say it kept me sane. (Yes, it actually did.) I know there were multiple times when it helped me get from one day, through the night, and into the day beyond -- when "other choices" looked mighty tempting. In that way, therefore, I guess I can also credit it with helping keep me alive.
Carl Jung, whose fabulous body of work and perspectives on psychoanalytic theory have proved invaluable for millions through the years said, "The only unbearable suffering is suffering that we do not understand." For me, "understanding" is an essential part of the learning process, an indispensable part of life. Suffering without the gains of insight, wisdom and meaning as part of the eventual result is hideously cruel and random in a way I do not believe is actually true. And so, indeed, when my life turns to "Gooey Brown Stuff" ... I simply will not rest until I find some answers and come to some conclusions about "what it all meant" ... and why it happened.
Doing that, sometimes over and over and over, helped me grow and evolve into the person I am now. I would not be "who I am" without my history. Of course, you can say the very same thing. But I can also testify that in the thick and heavy moments of greatest crisis, it helped tremendously to have some sense of "what life was asking of me" by the events that were landing with painful, monotonous and stunning regularity into what had once been my fairly peaceful and satisfying world. There were times when I was using every one of the techniques I knew and have mentioned here for "finding answers and getting through the GBS."
My knowledge of and ability to work with Tarot was certainly one such technique. In fact, it is one of the more accessible and easily used of the available strategies. It is certainly a joy to think I can offer this gift, this knowledge, this ability, this potential path of greater peace to you. I can certainly say this -- while at the same time hoping none of you go through moments of extraordinary trauma ... but chances are, you will. Chances are ... you have already.
Ok, but in just matters of "daily life," are there any practical reasons for learning Tarot?
It is simply a fact that knowledge, experience and understanding combine to create greater dimensions of character and a more available compassion for ourselves and others in this grand expression of human experience. What Tarot offers can be one more important tile in the overall mosaic of your growth.
Consulting the Tarot about a troubling or perplexing situation usually gives, at the very least, an objective, insightful moment of perspective on the matter -- tremendous food for thought -- and usually much more in terms of information, advice, comment, impressions and implications, if you take the time to really work with what is being revealed to you. Consulting the Tarot can be like getting advice from an extraordinarily wise and truthful friend. (Notice I did not say "tactful." The Tarot can often be stunningly blunt in its answers -- not necessarily unsympathetic, but certainly very factual, without much regard for tender prejudices or raw feelings.)
I have seen Tarot readings that reflected tremendous compassion, as well as ones that were equally impatient and no-nonsense in their responses, while still not compromising the "truth of the situation" it was describing.
People can sometimes distort the most well-intentioned advice while trying to soft pedal an unpleasant fact or other potentially sensitive issue. We can be deeply reluctant to "say it like it is" when hurt feelings or some other confrontation might result. The Tarot seems far less handicapped by such social considerations. I do counsel clients to be fortified enough to hear potentially very unpleasant and forthright information when they come to a reading with obviously touchy issues to examine. I've never had reason to regret the advice.
I don't know the first thing about buying a Tarot deck ... and they all look different and bewildering. What should I do?
If you want to learn Tarot ... it is wise to buy a deck. (Just as it is wise to have access to a piano if you want to learn to play one.) There are many exquisitely beautiful decks available -- so choosing one should be a treat. One will cost usually between $15 and $20.
To follow the material in this course, unless you know what you are doing otherwise, you will need a deck that contains somewhat standard terminology and art. For the most part, you won't have a problem, but be aware that some decks have been "specialized" by their creators in ways that make them unique and not really suitable for our purposes. (Some of these include "peculiar" names for the suits and a variation in the number of cards the decks contain. Also, decks whose cards are overly large, stiff, hard to handle, or oddly shaped -- such as the round Motherpeace deck -- should be a "later acquisition" if you choose.)
The "old standard" that most teachers recommend is the Rider-Waite deck. It is certainly an adequate choice as a "first deck." (I personally own dozens of decks, but I do not like the art in the Rider-Waite deck. This is simply a matter of personal taste, but I do not own that deck and probably never will.)
Some decks that I would list for your consideration include:
The Morgan Greer Tarot
The Robin Wood Tarot
The Albano Waite Deck
The Hudes Tarot
The Tarot of a Moon Garden
The New Palladini Tarot
Do select a deck that appeals to you aesthetically. You should be able to select something that pleases you from this group. If, however, you really fall in love with another one make sure it is a traditional Tarot deck ... as opposed to a non-traditional one. The person selling you the cards should certainly be able to tell you one way or the other ... and advise you on a suitable choice. If not, take your business to a merchant who at least understands his wares enough to answer such basic questions.
Additionally, let me note that I prefer cards with symmetrical art on the backs so that you cannot tell which cards are upright and which reversed just from looking while the cards are face down. Not all the above listed decks meet that qualification, but indeed that's a personal quirk of mine ... which I pass along for what it's worth. As you get into the course, you'll probably come to understand the reasons why. If not ... no matter. If the deck you choose does not meet this criteria ... you're still fine.
Certainly once you have acquired your deck in hand, you can and should look through it to see and feel the cards both physically and intuitively. Those of you who understand the very real phenomenon of transferring your energy into your possessions by touch will understand my recommendation that you go through the entire deck and individually touch (stroke, rub, savor) each separate card. You are claiming this deck and its contents, imparting your energy and vibrations into it ... making it your own. Those of you who don't quite understand this -- or those who may be quite skeptical -- just humor me, if you would, at this point. Take my word, it's a good idea. (Ok, I didn't believe it either in the beginning. I've been converted. It's a good idea.)
There are some psychic readers who practice a discipline called psychometry, which is the art of intuitively reading the energy and information that resides in and surrounds personal objects -- energy and information donated to the object or absorbed by the object from its owner. Special fondness for or attachment to such an object enhances the quality and strength of this energy This is why such readings are possible and why those who are able to perform this "magic feat" will ask a client for a personal item to hold, like a consistently worn piece of jewelry.
Even if you feel silly doing it, at least consider touching your new cards, as a way of introducing yourself and making them your own. But if for now that sounds like just too much foolishness to deal with ... that's ok, too.
If possible, too, do keep them in the order they arrived from the box for the course of this class. Your cards will come out of the box already organized into the sequences we will use as we discuss the themes, the suits, the numbers and the meanings. If you scramble them, (and you can do that. They're your cards, after all.) be aware you'll need to put them back in order again for the class.
Sometimes this realignment is fairly easy -- but because the Tarot cards may not be as familiar to you as, say, a deck of playing cards would be, you may find it confusing to put them back in order, simply because you don't know what you're looking at yet. (I'm just trying to save you some trouble here as the class gets underway.)
Is there a lot of memorization involved with learning to read and interpret the Tarot?
There is certainly some of that required ... but that's the case in everything from learning to drive a car, to dance the tango, to operate a computer, or to speak a foreign language. In fact, all learning is about memorization and practice until you've acquired a certain "ease" with a new skill and can go on to invent or experiment with new, more customized and pertinent applications.
So, yes, you will need to memorize some things. Maybe you'll even think you need to memorize a lot of things. That's where your own desire and dedication to learning this art come in. I do sympathize, though, with your concern. I actually was interested in learning the Tarot decades before I did ... and was stymied by texts back then that were contradictory, uninformative, ambiguous (unnecessarily so, I think, looking back from a more mature and informed perspective), badly written, poorly organized, far too esoteric and "spiritually refined" to be practical, and sometimes just plain weird.
Disheartened, I gave up the effort and turned to studying astrology, where, for some reason, decent teaching materials were at least more available. Eventually, I tried Tarot again ... under the guidance of a wonderful teacher who was not invested in remaining the all-wise, all-seeing, ever-mysterious occult mistress and guru at my expense. And finally, finally, I was able to see how the progressions and meanings of the beautiful Tarot cards made sense to me.
There is a logic sequence and progression to this wonderful mystical tool, and I deeply believe I am a good enough teacher to help you see it, too. You should be able to relate to the cards and their meanings on your own with only a reasonable amount of study and effort. By taking matters slowly, methodically, and logically, the necessary memorization for mastery here may occur naturally on its own. I wouldn't offer that if I didn't think it entirely possible it might happen.
While all learning takes work, I also know it can be exciting and fun. That is certainly my goal as your guide in this class ... and if you're ready to move on with the project, so am I.