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A few comments/questions about beginning to learn the Tarot and self-teaching

Thread originally posted on the Aeclectic Tarot Forum on 16 May 2003, and now archived in the Forum Library.



joszefja  16 May 2003 
Hi everybody! I'm new to the forum and to Tarot, and I look forward to getting to know you all.

I got my first deck about a week ago-- a RW that I'm quite happy with, although I'm already feeling incipient tarot-collecting fever!;) I also have a copy of Joan Bunning's _Learning the Tarot_, which is suiting my needs pretty well, I think. I'm also using the resources of Aeclectic Tarot and a few other webpages.

Right now I'm doing a couple of things to study the tarot. I'm doing a daily one card draw and meditating/journaling on it, and going through the various "interpretations" I've found to synthesize them and correlate them to my own feelings and understandings about the card. I'm also typing up Bunning's lists of keywords and action phrases and sticking them to the backs of the cards (with removable, non-residue glue, of course!:)), so that I can use them as "flash cards" until I become more familiar with them.

The problem I'm anticipating is that I fear I'll become bored with doing just these things for the 3 1/2 months it will take me to go through the whole deck doing one-card draws. How did you all get through the initial period of just becoming familiar enough with the cards to begin using them in a truly valuable way? What other things might I be doing to diversify my study?

Also, now that the initial "glow" of seeing the cards for the first time is wearing off and I'm settling into the long-term day-to-day study of the cards, I'm starting to question what my purpose in getting involved in such a long-term learning process is-- what I really intend to get out of it. Did any of you have this kind of low-level discouragement when you started? How did you pull yourself out of it? And, if this isn't a terribly rude and presumptous (and off-topic) question, what made you start the Tarot in the first place?

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my post. I'm excited to be a part of this group!

Josie 


rota  16 May 2003 
Well, I'll leap in, and I'm sure everyone here has their own tale to tell. This was years back (enough that I'm not going to write down a number) but I still remember well the phase you're describing -- the 'glow' has worn off, but the need to learn overrides everything else.
I'm the sort of person who does well enough in school when I study for the exam, so I took that tack with Tarot. I took each Major singly and in order and used them as you described: as flash cards. I'd pull a card, then recite a list of keywords I associated with it. With the Minors, I'd divide each suit in groups of 3 and do the same thing. It's repetition with me, to the point where I could yank out any card and recite a list of keywords.

Then after that's done, the problem becomes one of interpretations for combinations of cards, with all the subtleties and options that will entail...

But basically, it's a question of slogging through it. Work is involved. "There's no royal road to mastery", as the saying has it. Sure there are down days, and days when your memory decides not to work, and days when you don't feel all that plugged in to the cosmos, but if this sort of thing were easy, it would be next to the crossword section in the newspaper...

(And, come to think of it -- why not...?) 


firemaiden  16 May 2003 


These are wonderful questions Josie. Don't force anything, it will all come.

This period of not knowing the cards' prescribed meanings, is a very special time. You will only not know the meanings once. Now you have like a virgin blank slate upon which to receive impressions. This period allows you to look at the cards without prejudice and just see what YOU see, irrespective of tradition.

One of the most exciting card reads I ever did was one of my first. I had a dream. I divided the events of the dream into three stages, and pulled three cards from the Fairies deck. I had absolutely no idea of their meanings, but the pictures on the deck perfectly imitated the events in my dream. It was like receiving a reflection from beyond the veil!

If I were you, I would just
  • be with the cards, enjoy the pictures, notice whatever thoughts happen to pop into your head, and write them down.
  • do readings without memorizing: look up the meanings each time until you are familiar with them
  • (use a variety of sources -- not just Joan Bunning).
  • post your readings on the "Your Readings" Forum; you will get a variety of interpretations from some truly gifted readers.
  • (Just remember to thank them, and to give feedback).




Yes, I certainly felt discouraged at first. I even decided never to read with the cards and just fondle them instead. I am still fondling the cards, but little by little I am finding they speak to me more and more. Confession time: it is buying new decks that revives my interest every time. Hence the addiction!



Aha! we will all love answering this question, I think. What led me to the Tarot was pure intellectual curiousity! which I didn't know at the time was the beginning of a kind of spiritual search. I wrote the trail that led me to tarot in one of my first posts


littleneptune  16 May 2003 
joszefja--I remember reading a book on psychic powers where they talked about scientific tests they did on people with telepathic skills. The scientists would secretly pick cards, and the 'psychic' would have to guess the symbol on it. These psychics had amazing luck with their first guesses, but as the test went on, their scores got lower. Seems that the psychic/intuitive/creative side of our brain loves randomness and freedom, and hates discipline and boring routine. I agree that studying the cards in an organized way is useful, but I think it's also important to keep it 'free' and exciting and fun. There's nothing more exciting than doing a reading to answer a burning question. You'll learn the meanings fast enough because you really need to know! (but keep to a simple one, two or three card reading). 


dadsnook2000  16 May 2003 
Years ago I was told by a psychic to avoid Tarot cards as my imagination was overly strong and I could cause myself trouble and pain. Several years later a close friend, who was a member of the Theosophist Society, told me that his group and several other groups had received a vision -- they were to go on a retreat to the wilds of Canada. While they were on retreat I was at the seashore. I decided to do some wood carving, a coastal scene with a lighthouse. As I started my carving, the thought came to me to instead carve a Tarot card for my friend. I chose the Nine of Wands. However, the illustration wasn't right, so I created a total different scene. Weeks later I attended a gathering at which my friend was telling of his adventures in the wilds of Canada. As he finished, I presented him with the carved Tarot card -- it pictured the story that he had just told the group. This may have been telepathy or anything, but it certainly got my attention in terms of Tarot cards. While I'm still very active in Astrology (30 years) I have now taken a deep interest in Tarot.
***
What do I do when I feel like I'm stale? I do a few readings. I am also relatively "new" and not a professional-level reader, most likely not even a reasonably good reader. But I read because the "wonder" of trusting your intuition and seeing the light in another's face as they interpret your words into their experience is awsome! They share, you learn, they have new things to think about, you have a new understanding. The magic within each of us grows when we let it out. Read. Play, Use the forum area for sharing readings -- when you have a question or a problem ASK SOMEONE TO DO A READING FOR YOU and offer to do one in return. The magic will be doubled. You can't stay "stale" for very long. Dave. 


Keslynn  16 May 2003 
I read voraciously - any book I could get my hands on. *lol* That's actually how I learn a lot of things. I'm one of those lucky people who can pick things up sometimes only from using books. However, different books do help as long as you don't use them as a crutch. They're important to show you how everyone puts their own nuances on the cards. Intuition should be a large part of how you read (so I think). Don't be afraid to step away from Joan Bunning's interpretations if something else feels more right to you. Using someone else's definitions entirely, it's easy to become stale. When you're reading more intuitively, you can get a much more vibrant connection with the cards.

Also, volunteer to do readings for others. Make sure you tell them that you're new at it and practicing. I've found that most people don't mind that at all, and they enjoy the reading and take it to heart anyway. However, perhaps you should stick to friends at the beginning. Also, you can do larger spreads for yourself rather than just the daily card draw. Perhaps a 3 card draw when you need insight into a situation. That sort of thing...

Hope that helps, and it's great to have you on board.

:) Kes 


Thirteen  17 May 2003 
Quote:
Originally posted by joszefja The problem I'm anticipating is that I fear I'll become bored with doing just these things for the 3 1/2 months it will take me to go through the whole deck doing one-card draws.


I'm a little confused. Why do you think you have to do one-card daily draws to get through the deck? If you have the energy, inclination, inspairation and motivation, you can learn that deck in a month. I did.

1) I memorized the majors--just what they were Fool to World. I made sure I could see them in my head--I kept forgetting Temperance--I suppose that was apt given the intemperant way I decided to teach myself the tarot ;)

2) I got to know the meanings of the majors, read up on them, found key words for them, and solitified image with basic meaning (I left deeper, detailed meanings for later).

3) I got to know the minors by going through them in groups--all aces, all 2's, all 3's, relating them to each other, seeing similarities and differences. I examined meanings and the similarites of meaning between all the 5's and 7's and such.

4) I began to do small, 3-card lay outs to see connections between cards, how they might be read.

That was the first month, and by the end, I KNEW that deck. It was AFTER that, that I began to delve into individual cards, writing up thoughts on them in my journal, scouring through books for other interpetations, examinging and researching all the little bits--the colors, the numbers, the symbols. I'm still doing that to this day--but I can tell you that given the way *I* work--I would have tossed the tarot out in boredom if I'd had to learn it a card at a time, a day at a time. That kind of learning is NOT, not, not, not! for me. I like to race ahead, learn the entire course, and THEN examine the details on my way back.

That's me. If that's you, also, then don't do it the way you're doing it. Do it in a way that will maintain your energy and enthuiasm--as fast or as slow as satisfies your thirsty interest. As for maintaining the glow--that's easy: First, tarot will do that for you with spreads and readings. You're at the tip of the iceberg just learning the cards--spreads is the next step and that will really open up the universe. Spreads are infinately diverse--not only in typse of spreads, but in the way the cards can appear and relate in spreads. I promise you, once you learn your first spread, you won't worry about ever growing bored.

In addition, you can become, as you say, a deck collector. New decks are a great way to expand and enliven your knowledge of the cards, as you see different creator's takes on the meanings. And, finally, keep coming here and participating in the discussions. People here never fail to make me see things I've missed--they expand my mind and keep the cards forever new and wonderous. 


joszefja  17 May 2003 
Thank you everyone for your insightful and interesting comments-- they've helped me a lot! On one level I knew there would be a lot of variety in responses, but I was still inspired by the many different ways people have come to learn the Tarot.

BTW, I didn't mean to imply (although I definitely did) that one one-card reading a day was all I was doing to learn-- I'm also just going through the deck a few cards at a time when I have a half-hour or so and doing a less in-depth study, doing the exercises in the Bunning book (which I've found quite helpful), and being sure to check a variety of resources on the meaning of the cards-- Thirteen, I find I respond to yours much better than Bunning's. :)

I think I have at least a vague notion of the meanings of all the cards now. But (sigh) I tend to be pretty anal, and so I feel a little uncomfortable flying by the seat of my pants-- although I did do my first "serious" reading yesterday, and I was *really* impressed by the insight I gained! I'm beginning to feel that disenchantment is not going to be as big a problem as I thought it would be.

And-- I just ordered two more decks. ;)

Thanks so much,
Josie 


blackmon487  17 May 2003 
Personally, I feel each individual who has responded to your question has offered great advice. But for me, I have purchased numerous books, visited loads of forums, and have also attended tarot classes. Whether your new to tarot or not, it never hurts to "broaden" your view. For me, the court cards are the one's which mystify me, therefore, I'm constantly looking for new interpretations from others, this allows me to see the cards in a different light. But taking all this advice into consideration remember, always go with your intuition, that will be the most accurate, and will constantly change the meaning of the cards depending on the querent, the lay out, the question, and you. I've been reading and studying the tarot for many years, and I never ceased to be amazed. 


Umbrae  18 May 2003 
http://www.aeclectic.net/articles/process_introduction.html 


Alex  18 May 2003 
You'll be hearing here so often, "trust your intuition", so I agree with blackmon487, trust your intuition.

People learn things in different ways. I can't stand keywords, can't learn by memorizing. Some people can. If you are visual-oriented, look up the pictures. Do whatever you wanna do with the cards.

Daily cards are all right but if you take them as an opportunity to reflect upon the card's meaning. Don't expect that in "the Tower" day your life will fall appart and next day is "The Sun" day and you will fell all optimistic etc.

I like to look for signs of the cards around me, in people's behaviours, in the news, movies, books. Every important event you make yourself aware of, thing, "there must be a card for that". It helps, you start "thinking Tarot".

Alex.



Alex.

Quote:
Originally posted by blackmon487

But taking all this advice into consideration remember, always go with your intuition, that will be the most accurate ...
 


xouroboros  19 May 2003 
Quote:
Originally posted by blackmon487
For me, the court cards are the one's which mystify me, therefore, I'm constantly looking for new interpretations from others, this allows me to see the cards in a different light.


Though this has little or nothing to do with the original question,my interest is piqued by this. I have also considered the Court Cards seperately from the balance of the deck and seem to have come to this thought.

I related them to the elements: Fire,Water,Air,Water
Kings->Fire
Queens->Water
Knights->Air
Pages/Princesses->Earth

...so then:
...the King of Wands would be the element of Fire within/immersed/manifesting in or through the element of Fire
...the Queen of Disks/Coins would be the element of Water within/immersed/manifesting in or through the element of Earth
...the Prince of Cups would be the element of Air within/immersed/manifesting in or through the element of Water
...and so on


Your thoughts on this? 


Keslynn  19 May 2003 
Another way to learn the courts better is to use a deck that has expressive ones. I find that the RWS ones don't really "speak" to me. However, I have to say that I can get almost instant impressions from the court cards in the Spiral and World Spirit decks. Also, even though I just got the Romani deck, it seems like those courts will speak to me as well.

Plus, having more than one deck will bring you that much closer to tarotholism. heehee

:) Kes 


WolfSpirit  19 May 2003 
You have been given lots of good advice here :)
But when you get a bit tired of the studying and you want something a bit more light-hearted, you might check out the game threads people have started here: what card am I, guess the missing card etc. You may learn new insights from that without feeling you are studying.
If it just confuses you or you don't like it just ignore this advice :) 


SharonElizabeth  20 May 2003 
I want to suggest you get the book "Tarot for your Self" by Mary Greer. As I was going through the stage of learning you are in now, I worked through that book. It really taught me to read cards intuitively, instead of relying on meanings. I still look back at Joan Bunnings keywords. I've made my own flash cards, with Joan Bunnings keywords on one side, and Questions to ask yourself, from Mary Greers book.

As for the learning process being long, think about it this way. Tarot is something that may become a life long habit. I think that you will find it an enjoyable and rewarding habit. Many people pull a card every day. So if you think about it that way, the 78 days it will take to study every card is only a drop in the bucket.

I hope this information helps. I remember that feeling you are experiencing. The commitment seems overwelming. But it became so rewarding that it was no longer like work. Just keep doinging your daily draw, because the more you work with them, the more you will learn. 


jakyle  20 May 2003 
jUST WAIT FOR THE DAY THAT IT ALL COMES TOGETHER.....It's like riding a bike.....Or counting back change........You don't know how you figure it out,you just do. Well,sort of....Throw away the books........REALLY LOOK AT THE PICTURES AND SYMBOLS IN THE CARDS>>>>>>That is where the answers are.....Does a color,number,anything go with the seekers questions?
LOOK AT THE CARDS. What is your favorite card? Why? What is it about that particular card that is the reason why it is your favorite?
Seek and you might find....Be careful what you wish for...though........
You might just get it.........:D
Good luck 


Mimers  20 May 2003 
Quote:
Originally posted by xouroboros
Though this has little or nothing to do with the original question,my interest is piqued by this. I have also considered the Court Cards seperately from the balance of the deck and seem to have come to this thought.

I related them to the elements: Fire,Water,Air,Water
Kings->Fire
Queens->Water
Knights->Air
Pages/Princesses->Earth

...so then:
...the King of Wands would be the element of Fire within/immersed/manifesting in or through the element of Fire
...the Queen of Disks/Coins would be the element of Water within/immersed/manifesting in or through the element of Earth
...the Prince of Cups would be the element of Air within/immersed/manifesting in or through the element of Water
...and so on


Your thoughts on this?


This would make a great thread in and of itself in the talking tarot section. hint, hint ;) 


xouroboros  20 May 2003 
...*wink,wink* ;) 


Sobeknofret  20 May 2003 
I'm a self-taught reader too. SharonElizabeth is right in recommending Mary Greer's excellent books, especially Tarot For Your Self. Also excellent is Nina Lee Braden's book Tarot for Self Discovery. I've worked through both books, and they make learning the tarot tons of fun and a more personal, intuitive experience for you. And when the books don't jive with what you are picking up from the cards, toss the books and go with what you see for yourself! :D

Tarot is a lifelong experience, and even though I've tried to jettison my practice of it for various reasons over the years, I keep coming back to it and to the mysteries within it. I keep realizing that the more I know about tarot the more there is to learn. You never really stop learning about the tarot, and I'm really glad for that, lol! 


xouroboros  23 May 2003 
Quote:
Originally posted by Sobeknofret
Tarot is a lifelong experience, and even though I've tried to jettison my practice of it for various reasons over the years, I keep coming back to it and to the mysteries within it. I keep realizing that the more I know about tarot the more there is to learn. You never really stop learning about the tarot, and I'm really glad for that, lol!


This,I think,is probably one of the most enticing and magical qualities of the Tarot,no matter what the "style" of Images.
I myself am a confessed "tarot-holic".
(...hi...my name's xouroboros...and i'm a tarot-holic...:D)
Each time I receive a new Tarot,I am enthralled by the new insights gained from seeing the same Primal Images manifested in a different way. It stimulates my imagination and expands the boundaries of interpretation. I compare the newwer images to the more familiar ones,noting the similarities and the subtle differences.


...too many Tarot decks
...too little time

...*sigh*

...namaste;
xouroboros 


Keslynn  23 May 2003 
Quote:
Originally posted by xouroboros
I myself am a confessed "tarot-holic".
(...hi...my name's xouroboros...and i'm a tarot-holic...:D)
...too many Tarot decks
...too little time

...*sigh*

...namaste;
xouroboros


Welcome to Tarotholics Anonymous! We don't really help the "problem" but we can sure help you come up with some good justifications for why you need just one more deck.

;) Kes 


xouroboros  23 May 2003 
...so it's O.K. to sell my next-door neighbor's first-born son's dog's antique umbrella stand to acquire another fix...uh...deck

...yeah...deck


...that's what I meant to say


...deck




*heh,heh*

*drool,drool*

:D 


firemaiden  23 May 2003 
Yes, but not the first-born dog! 


xouroboros  23 May 2003 
...dog-gone it

:D 


The A few comments/questions about beginning to learn the Tarot and self-teaching thread was originally posted on 16 May 2003 in the Using Tarot Cards board, and is now archived in the Forum Library. Read the active threads in Using Tarot Cards, or read more archived threads.

 


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