Tarot for beginners: Getting your first deck

·Lifestyle Editor
·5 min read

If you're new here, I'm a serial hobbyist. This means that I go through hobbies faster than someone flipping through IKEA catalogues. I see it, I want (to learn) it. It's exciting to gain new knowledge, which y'know, keeps life interesting before and during the pandemic years, even if I'm far from good at them.

My interests are split into three distinct groups: Physical, Mental and Spiritual. 

Physically, I have danced, did muay thai for a year, completed two courses of pole fitness, dabbled in rugby, did age-appropriate clubbing in spin studios, and till now, I still practise yoga. I've also recently gotten into quad-skating

Things that I've done to unwind from the stresses of the day and nurture good mental health include pottery, macrame, jewellery-making, gardening, cooking and baking, acrylic pour art, painting and more. 

Spiritually, I've never been that person until I started dabbling in crystals, even going for a crystal energy workshop. There's a lot of suspension of beliefs when you dabble in occult stuff, and my newest experience with tarot cards is the same. 

Russia, Moscow, June 11, 2021. Tarot cards on a wooden table. Magical rituals. Illustrative editorial.
Tarot reading in progress (Photo: Gettyimages)

Tarot cards go way back to the 15th century, when people use it to play card games such as Italian tarocchini, French tarot and Austrian Königrufen. It evolved into a tool used for divination in the 18th century, and over the years, tarot became permanently associated with occult usage. 

There are plenty of instructions online and in tarot decks teaching you how to ask the cards a question, and how to interpret the answers lying in front of you. There's no hard and fast rule to interpreting, many sites encourage you to take what you need and leave what you don't as you go through the questions to your deck. Or it could actually be messages from the universe, who knows? 

If you are like me, a try-anything sceptic looking to get into the tarot world, here's a crash course in three easy steps.

First, get a tarot deck of your own

It is the easiest thing to do on the list, and the only difficulty you'll encounter is to settle on a single design because there are so many beautiful ones out there. The wisest thing to do is to first get a traditional one marked with Rider-Waite-Smith in the description. These cards feature the most widely recognised imagery associated with each card. 

Then, you can think about getting the fancy-looking modern ones. I did the opposite and regret it because it wasn't a structured learning process for me to interpret the random pretty images instead of the original imagery. Still, it really boils down to how you feel about the deck. 

One thing to note is that while it's easy to find cheap tarot cards online, most of them are printed on flimsy art cards instead of the luxe 300gsm or higher paper material. It's immaterial (heh) to your learning progress, but I feel better with cards that are nice to touch. Again, it's a personal preference. 

MagicSeer Classic Design Tarot Cards Deck with Guidebook

MagicSeer Classic Design Tarot Cards Deck with Guidebook (Photo: Amazon)
MagicSeer Classic Design Tarot Cards Deck with Guidebook (Photo: Amazon)

Tarot Deck Borderless Rider Waite Vintage

Tarot Deck Borderless Rider Waite Vintage (Photo: Etsy)
Tarot Deck Borderless Rider Waite Vintage (Photo: Etsy)

Diamond flare Tarot Deck Rider Waite with Guidebook and Box

Diamond flare Tarot Deck Rider Waite with Guidebook and Box (Photo: Etsy)
Diamond flare Tarot Deck Rider Waite with Guidebook and Box (Photo: Etsy)

Orien Tarot Deck Tarot Cards

Orien Tarot Deck Tarot Cards (Photo: Bookdepository)
Orien Tarot Deck Tarot Cards (Photo: Bookdepository)

Luna Somnia Tarot Deck with Guidebook & Box

Luna Somnia Tarot Deck with Guidebook & Box (Photo: Amazon)
Luna Somnia Tarot Deck with Guidebook & Box (Photo: Amazon)

78 Cards Deck Kawaii Tarot

78 Cards Deck Kawaii Tarot (Photo: Shopee)
78 Cards Deck Kawaii Tarot (Photo: Shopee)

The Star Seeker Tarot Deck

The Star Seeker Tarot Deck (Photo: Etsy)
The Star Seeker Tarot Deck (Photo: Etsy)

Luna Soleil Tarot Deck

Luna Soleil Tarot Deck. (Photo: Etsy)
Luna Soleil Tarot Deck. (Photo: Etsy)

Secondly, cleanse your deck

Now that your deck's here, it's good to clear the deck of any negative energy it might have taken on along the way. Simply "reset" it to your energy if it has been kept in storage for too long.

There are numerous ways to cleanse your deck, but here are the more popular ones.

1) Cleansing with crystals

The easiest way to cleanse a deck is to place the crystals on top of the deck and let them do their work. The following crystals are good options.

1) Amethyst is good for cleansing plus enhancing psychic senses and intuition

2) Clear quartz – Cleanses and amplifies the energy of the deck.

3) Selenite – Cleansing and connecting with spirit guides.

4) Black tourmaline – Grounding. Absorbs negative energy.

2) Smudging with incense

Many religious traditions burn incense in purification rituals. Some of the more popular incenses used for cleansing are sage, palo santo and sandalwood. It doesn't matter if it's stick, cone, or loose incense, as long as it has or cleansing properties associated with it.

3) Leaving it under the sun/full moon

Like it sounds, simply leave the cards in direct sun or under a full moon. The latter option carries some risks as not all full moons are beneficial, but that's going down another rabbit hole.

After cleansing of choice, the last step is to...

Interview your deck

It's time to learn about your deck. Feel free to ask the deck questions you might ask when trying to get to know someone. Prepare the questions beforehand, ask them in your mind or aloud, then pick a card from the pile and get to interpreting!

To help you along, here's a list of questions.

  1. Tell me about yourself. What is your most important characteristic?

  2. How do you feel being here?

  3. What are your strengths as a deck?

  4. What are your limits as a deck?

  5. What are you here to teach me?

  6. How can I best learn and collaborate with you?

After that, give the cards another good shuffle (upright, spread around the table, the choice is yours) and it's now ready to use!

If anything, divining with tarot cards has pushed me to take and withhold actions and words a little more carefully. To be honest, I still don't know if that little voice or nudge into action comes from within me, from the universe or it's simply a sign of a psychotic break. 

However, for what it's worth, it's still a fun and harmless foray into a new hobby.

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