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Starting Tarot Reading

To: alt.magick,alt.magick.tyagi,alt.pagan.magick,alt.occult
From: (nagasiva)
Subject: (O) Starting Tarot Reading (fwd)
Date: 28 Feb 1998 03:53:32 -0500

49980214 aa2 Hail Satan!  Lovers' Day!

Beginning Tarot Readings

as with learning anything, tarot reading can be gleaned from a
variety of exposures to sources of experience and technique and
communicated in diverse ways as is most comfortable to the
student.  some learn best through active experimentation, for
example, some by reading and then doing, others through
demonstration, others by talking with someone more familiar with
the subject matter, or while being guided by others.  so the
first step can be to reflect on how one best learns any subject,
then setting off to see if resources are available to facilitate
the discovery.

the term 'reading' has many connotations to those who study,
meditate upon and interpret cards.  to some it means that there
are certain key ideas surrounding each of the tarot cards one
is using, possibly associated with the graphics and symbolism
of each card's design.  for others it means assimilating some set
of meanings of one's *own* designation, and different decks make
these different ways of reading more or less difficult depending
on the needs of the reader.

however, in order to become exposed to cards one needs to have a
deck with which to *become* familiar.  borrowing decks from
friends, purchasing them, stealing them from enemies, receiving
one as a gift or as part of organized tarotic studies are all
possible means of acquisition.

selecting a deck to read with is a very personal affair,
especially when choosing a ritual or personal item that may
become integral to one's initial tarot or divination experiences
and/or to symbolic manipulation as a whole.  as with a pair of
shoes it is important that the deck both feel comfortable and
allow the deck handler room to grow into new and different
usages, understandings, and reading styles.

so as to have the most numerous options available, it is
beneficial when possible to visit an occult emporium, bookshop
or deck collector and browse through sample tarot decks.
typically, urban occult chain or stock stores will have many
decks open and accessible for customer handling.

alternatively, borrowing a deck from a friend and getting to
know it through several examination sessions can be helpful, as
can interviewing a number of tarot readers (in person, by phone,
or online in elists or Usenet) as to which deck they use and how
they use it.

resources of signification
in accordance with the desires of the reader, one may wish to
obtain some definitive or variety of description for the cards
as to their interpretative (general) meaning.  these are usually
heavily influenced by the context of the reading (the way the
card falls, how it relates to the other cards of the layout,
what position it may have in any formulaic layouts, whether it
appears at a synchronistic time as just having asked a question
pertaining to a specific issue, etc.).

there are many different qualities of text relating to tarot
interpretation -- from the fragmentary and simplistic framework
provided by writers like Eden Gray (e.g. _Mastering the Tarot_)
to the poetic and esoterically complex such as Aleister Crowley
(e.g. _The Book of Thoth_).

there are also entire organizations and traditions (e.g. the
various offshoots of the Golden Dawn or GD and the Builders
of the Adytum or BOTA) which are quite happy to offer their
preferred interpretations of the cards through correspondence
courses, written texts by members, or within the context of
direct training (typically offered local to the admin offices).

individuals (such as psychics and witches) will also sometimes
have developed their own specific set of interpretations of
the cards they use, and just as may be found surrounding certain
religious symbols, those which appear in tarot cards are
sometimes presumed to have eternal or "true" symbolic meanings
by individuals and organizations who find such things valuable.

once any desired descriptive sources have been tapped, eventually
experimenting -- doing readings -- will become the focus of activity.
the first step, therefore, is to repeat or sustain exposure and
become familiar with the cards.  this can be accomplshed through a
number of means -- almost anything one can imagine which makes
use of visual observation of the faces of the cards qualifies.

card games (we played a French version of tarocci recently!),
intentional meditation, leisurely examination, coloring black/white
reproductions of the cards, examining and exploring the symbolic
or graphic content of the cards, talking about them with friends,
and even having them located near to where one spends the majority
of one's time can all be ways to 'get familiar' with one's deck,
those displaying a single card at a time taking longer to achieve.

once familiarity has begun through whatever means, then the actual
reading process can be explored, either within free-form sessions
or through more structured exercises.

one of the most simple exercises is the single-card reading,
provided in reflection of an individual (e.g. oneself or one's
kin), situation (e.g. surrounding a relationship, event or
environment), or question (usually best avoiding a strict
'yes/no' response and requesting input, advice or reflection).

a common procedure for the single-card reading is to think of
the issue in question for a moment while the Querent (or person
for whom the reading is designated) is shuffling and cutting
the deck.  one can do this oneself or practice with a friend.

the card is drawn, the issue is considered, and, using whatever
resources with which one feels comfortable (e.g. imagination,
memory, notes, guidance from others, books or other written
documentation) a response is interpreted.  generally the cards
of a reading are presumed or 'read' as if they constitute a
discernable and consistent communication from some intelligence,
whether or not that resides internal to oneself.

some people enjoy using formulaic layouts, containing deligated
significance built into the card configuration and sequence.
others find value in following only an intuitive layout scheme
and watching how the cards relate to one another symbolically,
interpreting as well the significance of the sequence and

there are very excellent resources on tarot layout schemes
available at the Hollyfeld Text Archive accessible through the
alt.magick FAQ in its REFerence cache:


one other element of import in learning how to read tarot
cards is the scene and mindstate within which it takes place.
some prefer to set up ritual triggers so as to effect the
trance of reading (e.g. by lighting incense, a candle,
using a specific deck and layout cloth or room, reciting some
invocation prior to commencing, or proceeding through a quite
specific sequence of habitual behaviors prior to and during
the reading itself).

generally for beginners a quiet and more dimly lit environ
is better for the imaginative and reflective faculties to
be engaged, though reading textual sources without some
light source is impossible.

also the mood or attitude of those around one can be a very
big influence on first-time readers.  skepticism, criticism,
cynicism surrounding the process and phenomena of reading
can severely hamper personal reading skills and any natural
abilities and preference of operation to which one may
become attuned early in the learning process.

as with all disciplines and fields of inquiry or reflection,
there are a great many techniques which are used and created
through innovative exploration.  sometimes these techniques
are surrounded by a kind of fanaticism or certainty regarding
their value and 'effectiveness'.

knowledge is as much a tool as it is a limitation -- a kind
of restrictive support that facilitates the results we may
be seeking.  certainty in association with any arcane knowledge
can be a symptom of restricted exposure and attachment to form,
especially when it arises without the understanding of the
diversity of options available and the virtues and limitations
of each of them as they may be employed.

in the world of tarot there are many claimants for 'the proper
way to read cards', 'the proper meaning of tarot cards', 'the
proper deck to use for serious readers', etc., etc.  the
beginner need not be dissuaded from considering these claims
as they sometimes contain valuable kernels of information
about the process of tarot reading as a whole or a specific
insight into a given card's significance.  yet a healthy
diversity of opinion does exist on these topics and second
and third opinions from other sources are often valuably
compared and contrasted.

blessed beast!
nagasiva --;

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