I’d be lying if I said that I woke up one day and just knew all that there was to know about Tarot. During my journey as a new Tarot reader, I made a lot of “mistakes” and some fails. I’m putting mistakes in quotation marks because if it weren’t for these things I probably wouldn’t be the Tarot reader that I am today. I like to think that each one of these “mistakes” helped me gain a better insight into the type of reader I am. Along the way, I learned that my journey is mine and mine alone and no matter how authoritative the source of advice provided by someone else, I must ultimately do what feels right to me. I am not a perfect Tarot reader or learner by any means, and I believe this post shows a clear example of that.
Following The Rules
In the beginning, I read so many books and talked to many different readers who each had their own idea of the “right way” to read Tarot. I also had a huge fear that I was somehow using my deck the wrong way. I wish I would have known that there is no right or wrong way to read Tarot. What may work for one person may not work for the other and vice versa. I think that the amazing thing about divination is that each reader brings a little special part of themselves and their unique flavor to Tarot and that is incredible. I wish I would have been a more informed learner and allowed myself to form my own opinions instead of trying to follow someone else’s. No two readers are ever alike and they do not need to be either.
Meaning And Memorization Overload
I tried to learn and memorize all the Tarot card meanings overnight. While this may help some readers learn, I was not one of them. I quickly became frustrated and discouraged and it made learning Tarot into a chore. I set unrealistic goals for myself and I had such a difficult few months. I wish I would have taken my time to enjoy the experience of bonding with my cards and allowing the process of learning Tarot to develop and grow with me organically instead of trying to force it.
Lack Of Learning Plan
As I mentioned above, trying to memorize all the cards didn’t work for me. I was all over the place with my Tarot learning. I had several books all with competing ideas. Now when I go forward to learn a new aspect of Tarot I have a learning plan. It is something I wish I had done when I first started my Tarot journey as it would have kept me organized and left me with the ability to track my progress.
The Self Doubt Monster
I started off my Tarot journey excited and open to the possibility of growing as a person and learning about my life. As I mentioned above, I started feeling like I wasn’t good enough or that I would never truly grasp learning the cards. I had a lot of self-doubts and it led me to be depressed because Tarot was my first outlet of expression for me and I felt like I was bad at it. I wish I would have known that learning anything, especially Tarot takes time. I now know that my learning with Tarot will be a life long experience and I am okay with taking it one step at a time.
Do The Shuffle
One of my Tarot mentors told me that I had to shuffle my deck overhand four times, riffle shuffle three and cut the deck with my left hand three times so that my deck could be fully charged before a reading. It never really resonated with me but I still did it because I was told that was the way to do it. I wish I would have shuffled however and how many times I felt energetically pulled to do so. I now just riffle shuffle until I feel called to stop. Nothing fancy but it works.
I never really resonated with sleeping with my Tarot deck but it seemed like that was what I was constantly being told to do when I started learning Tarot. I did it for a few night and felt like a failure because it just didn’t feel right. I wish I would have known that I could just talk to my deck, write poetry with it and even read for some of my favorite book characters as a way to bond with it. I wish I would have known that bonding is a personal practice and there is no one size fits all.
My Inner Skeptic
My uncles are very religious and when I started reading Tarot they made lots of negative comments that I was stupid for believing in a deck of cards. This negatively affected how I saw divination for a few months and led me to be skeptical of my findings no matter how helpful they were. I wish I would have kept an equal level of skepticism and belief when learning Tarot before others tried to discredit them.
Rituals And Sacred Spaces Oh My
I thought that in order to give the best possible readings to myself or to someone else I needed to perform an elaborate ritual before the reading started and after the reading ended. I also thought I needed a beautifully adorned space with lots of crystals, incense, and candles. It’s funny because I now read in places like coffee shops and bars and I do not really incorporate any set rituals into my practice because I don’t feel like I need to. I wish I would have just focused on the basics and then experimented with creating my own rituals if I felt called to do so instead of feeling like I needed to.
Readings On Repeat
Something that I would do early on was read for a single situation over and over again. I wanted to know all aspect of that particular subject but by pulling various cards. By doing that, the information either didn’t make sense anymore or it became extremely watered down. I wish I would have taken the time to read about one situation straight through and then come back at a later date and ask again if I still wanted more information.
I was told early on that I shouldn’t read Tarot when I was sad or depressed. One day I did just that and it helped me more than I knew it would. I wish I would have started to use Tarot more when I had a depression episode to help calm me down and aid me in my healing journey rather than putting my cards away when I needed them the most.
Fancy Schmancy Tools
I thought I needed a fancy silk scarf to wrap my cards in, an elaborate wooden box and expensive incense to purify my cards. Looking back now I want to slap myself. I wish I would have known that those things are all unnecessary in my practice and are just extras not must have’s. I now keep my decks in their original boxes or pencil cases which are both functional and cost effective.
Tarot System Overload
I thought that in order to be a true Tarot reader, whatever that means, I had to learn all the different systems. Imagine me, not fully able to comprehend one deck yet still trying to learn Thoth, Marseille, and Rider Waite Smith all at the same time. Needless to say, it was a disaster. Although I would have still explored the different systems, I would have chosen one to start with exclusively and get to know well before delving deep into another. This would have helped me to achieve a better handle on my Tarot learning.
Mirroring Other Readings
I really looked up to the way my mother and grandmothers read cards that I wanted to mirror how they read. I felt by doing so, I was honoring our family traditions. I quickly found that their style just wasn’t for me. I wish I would have just trusted that my own way of reading Tarot would develop over time instead of trying to mirror theirs.
The Waiting Game
Something that I think held me back was my decision to wait before reading for other people that weren’t my immediate family and friends. I had this mindset that I needed to be studying Tarot for so many years or be a resident reader at a metaphysical shop to be able to read Tarot for other people. I wish I would have allowed myself to take the chance earlier and start reading for strangers. I think this would have helped me become more comfortable in my reading ability and also provide me with the feedback I needed to become better. When I did finally take that plunge and start reading for others, it became the best decision I could have possibly made.
When I started learning Tarot, a few of my mentors and people I looked up to talked about Tarot certifications and that every reader should aspire to be “Tarot certified” whatever that meant. I wanted to become certified not because I wanted to learn but because I felt it was what everyone else was doing. I thought having a shiny certificate with my name on it was fancy and somehow would prove that I was an amazing Tarot reader. Looking back now, I am glad I never went through with a certification. It isn’t that I do not think it is valuable because for some readers it may very well be but for me personally it never resonated with me and me wanting it back then was for all the wrong reasons. I wish I would have known that I could still be a great Tarot reader with or without a certificate.
Oracle Deck Allowance
At the beginning of my Tarot journey, I never gave myself a chance to use Oracle cards. I think using oracle cards alongside Tarot readings adds such a fabulous new dimension and layer to an already insightful message. If I could go back, I would give myself permission to enjoy oracle cards as well.
When I started my Tarot journey I allowed other people’s opinions and judgments to define me as a reader and how I viewed and utilized my Tarot cards. For some reason, I wanted other Tarot readers approval but that wasn’t me at all. I wish that I would have silenced all those things and just remained authentic to myself. The many opinions others had of me influenced how I read the cards and that is something I still am actively letting go of today.
When I started out with Tarot, I tried to learn as much as I could. I did Tarot reading after reading for myself and even offered some practice readings on free forums. Long story short, I ended up burning myself out. I wish I would have given myself the time to take a break from Tarot and allow my mind to process the information instead of tiring myself out.
The Comparison Game
When starting on my Tarot journey, I used to compare myself to other Tarot readers. Comparing yourself to other people is never a good feeling and I wish I could go back and focus on the skills and good qualities that I had as a reader instead of those that others had, that I lacked.
Being A Solo Reader
At the beginning of my Tarot journey, I didn’t really have a lot of friends. This wasn’t by choice as there weren’t lots of local metaphysical shops as there are now but I wish I tried harder to find people who were of a like mind. I connected with a lot of my Tarot peers through online forums like tarotforum.net and it helped me shape who I was as a reader. I didn’t stick with it though and continued most of my study solo. The accessibility of social media that we have today is something that I do not take for granted because back then, connecting with other Tarot readers was so difficult, especially if you were a beginner.
Those Darn Book Meanings
When I would start reading for myself with the cards I heavily relied on the book meanings. I would go through either the little white book or one of my many Tarot books I had from the library and try to decipher the message. I wish I would have learned to trust my own intuition and create my own meanings of the cards.
Fear Of Being Wrong
When I first started reading for others I had this huge anxiety of steering people in the wrong direction when using the cards. I wish I would have been honest with myself and my reading style and instead of trying to focus on concrete predictions, I would have made the client feel empowered and provided choices and avenues they could consider so that they could ultimately make the choices instead of me trying to make the choices for them.
When I started learning the meanings of the cards I was rigid in how I interpreted them. I thought The Fool always meant new beginnings and Death was a drastic change no matter where it was in a Tarot spread. I wish I would have known that each Tarot card has a myriad of meanings and that one card can mean something completely different in the context of one reading versus another.
Recording My First Readings
When I started out in my Tarot journey I did lots of readings for myself, my favorite book and television characters. I wish I would have written down or recorded my first readings so that I could now be able to see how much I have grown as a reader.
All Work, No Play
I took my Tarot study very seriously that I never allowed myself any time to just enjoy the process. I wish I would have given myself permission to experiment, have fun and be silly with my cards as I am now.
The Celtic Cross
I know, I know. There are some readers who swear by the Celtic cross as a great beginner Tarot spread. I, however, am not one of them. The Celtic cross was so intimidating to me when I first started out. There are ten spread positions and as a beginner, I felt like that was the only true spread I could use. I wish I would have stuck with pulling one to three cards to become more comfortable with reading before I jumped into a large spread like the Celtic Cross.
Cleansing The Deck
As a beginner Tarot reader, I thought I needed to cleanse my deck every time I gave someone else a reading because it is what so many other people told me was the “right” thing to do. I don’t ever cleanse my decks anymore. I mean okay that is a lie… I’ve cleansed one deck, in the last year because that deck was being a total buttface but other than that I don’t feel like I need to. I wish I would have known that how many times I cleansed my deck was personal to me and doing so should be my choice and how I felt instead of following other people and their way of doing things.
Living The Daily Tarot Life
After I consumed myself with Tarot for the first year I put it away and I quickly forgot everything I learned. I wish I would have incorporated Tarot into my daily life like I do now. Something as easy as pulling a card of the day for myself would have helped me still keep Tarot in the forefront without taking lots of time and energy.
Wrong First Deck
I felt like I had to read with the Rider Waite Smith, Thoth or Marseille because that is what the majority of what other readers were using. I wish I would have allowed myself the permission to choose my own deck based on what I liked and what felt right instead of succumbing to what I felt I needed to start with.
Those Darn Scary Cards
I admit, when I started learning Tarot I dreaded pulling the Death card, the Tower or even The Devil cards. They scared the crap out of me. I wish I would have known that each card within the Tarot has both a shadow and illuminated aspect and that there aren’t inherently “bad” cards within the deck. Knowing this early on would have helped me see that there can be empowerment in the tower and sadness in the sun card.
One of the biggest mistakes I made when starting reading for others was to not set clear boundaries of the types of readings I was comfortable doing and the ones I wanted to stay clear from. I learned quickly to be upfront with anyone who wanted a reading from me about what type of reader I was, what type of questions I do not answer and what my ethics were. During my first year of reading for others, I did a lot of free practice readings. I made it a habit to let those know that I was still learning and that the reading provided was to help me grow as a reader while giving them insight but for them to take it with a grain of salt.
Fear Of Success
Once I was comfortable using Tarot to help myself and others, I began to somehow fear and sometimes even sabotaged my own successes. I doubted if what I was doing was even real and if I was indeed helping others, despite the glowing reviews and acknowledgments from others. I wish that I would have taken the time to sit with myself and understand my feelings of success and why it scared me so much.
Saying No No No
Once I started opening up to read for other people, my close friends and family members started asking for readings on an everyday basis. It got to the point that people only wanted to hang out with me so that I could read their cards. I wish I would have been firm and said no to my family and friends who abused my kindness and generosity while I was still learning.
Feedback And Criticism
I wish I would have known the difference between someone bullying me and giving constructive criticism. While I did face times where people discouraged, bullied and belittle me, I wish I would have taken the advice from those who provided constructive criticism and genuinely wanted to better me as a reader instead of seeing it as a personal attack.
During my first few tries with Tarot, I thought the cards held all the answers to my problems and would be able to tell me what to do with complete clarity. I learned rather quickly that Tarot was a guide and it was my choices and the commitment to those choices that made up my life. I wish I would have known to not rely on Tarot as an all-knowing oracle and instead use it as a tool for guidance in regards to me making my own decisions within my life.
Using The Wrong Spread
When I wanted to expand my Tarot arsenal, I tried many different Tarot spreads. Because of the sheer amount of spreads I used to read for myself, it proved very difficult in keeping track of what Tarot spreads worked for me and what didn’t. I wish I would have tested out spreads more thoroughly before using them to give myself readings instead of just assuming that it was going to answer my question perfectly. I also wish that I was selective in what spreads I used for certain question and had the courage to tweak them to fit my specific situation. I learned quickly that there are some spreads created for one specific purpose that may not necessarily work for another purpose and can give confusing results.
Throughout my early years of Tarot, I would sometimes dance around the issue I wanted to know about when performing a reading for myself. In the same respect, I would often ask questions that were disempowering to me and lead to me feeling anxiety with the question I was seeking insight for. I wish I would have taken the time to really focus my questions before starting a reading. I now know the importance of doing a reading that empowers and uplifts instead of leaving me to feel hopeless and defeated no matter what the answer is.