Finding yourself in a deck of cards

How I learned about tarot card readings

Julia and her tarot cards

When I started my tarot journey six months ago, I was both skeptical and excited to do clear-cut readings that would tell me my future. 

I was brought into the idea by a good friend after she had listened to me go on for hours about various dreams I’d had — a number of which had come true. 

“Sounds like you need an outlet,” she said. The next week, we found the perfect deck of cards for me at the front of a comic store on Bloor Street — it was Italian art deco, for beginners and on sale. 

When I was alone with all 78 of the cards in my room, I got nervous. I sorted them over and over, and wondered if I was ever going to remember them all. The deck had come with a little book explaining each card in depth, but 

I didn’t want to be dependent on it. I wanted to be a cool psychic.

I learned my cards and their nuances very gradually by reading through each suit on their own and doing practice readings with them individually. The typical tarot deck has four suits, like regular cards, in addition to the trump cards known as the Major Arcana. Every suit card has its own sphere of life — Cups is emotional, whereas Pentacles is material, for example. I worked my way up to using the whole deck over a month.

The best way to learn is to constantly do readings for yourself from the get-go. As you make personal associations with each card, it becomes pretty much impossible to forget what they mean. I have cards that I associate with myself, my family and my closest friends. 

As you learn more spreads — the order you put the cards in, with a different meaning assigned to each placement — you eventually learn each card can be read in multiple ways. The more you allow yourself to contemplate the big questions you’re asking, the more nuance can be brought into a reading. It wasn’t long before I was abandoning my beginner’s book altogether.

But beyond memorizing, the biggest learning curve for me was finding out how to be honest with myself. Sometimes tarot readings can be deeply emotional, cutting to the heart of an issue that you’re not prepared to acknowledge. There were weeks when I refused to do a love reading because I was so distressed. 

But by pinpointing your problems, you can find relief. In reality, this is the true value of tarot: it’s not really telling you the inevitabilities of your future, but rather making you think seriously about the ways you’re handling important situations in your life. 

For the average skeptic, it’s easy to think of tarot as a tool of contemplation to figure out different methods of taking care of an issue. For the true believer, there are definitely a lot of “aha!” moments that you can’t explain  as coincidence. 

By far, one of the most rewarding aspects of practicing tarot has been doing readings for my friends. Not only is it simple  and fun, it also invites people to open up to you, and can sincerely help them with something they’ve been struggling with. 

One of the most important things I make sure to tell my friends before a reading is that there’s no real way to predict what’s to come — rather, tarot shows you the path you’re currently walking on and where it might lead.

The potential of your future awaits, but it’s not going to come from a deck of cards. It’s going to come from you.


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