Moving Beyond the Books: Learning Tarot From Your Own Life

Most books on tarot are heavily focused toward the beginner, which is perfectly fine--for beginners. When you're at the decade mark of experience, you hunger for more advanced techniques and opinions on the profession, which can be incredibly hard to find, even online. It also doesn't help that reading techniques are highly subjective; every reader approaches the cards uniquely, and many readers don't examine their own personal methods (or maybe don't believe their way of reading is special and worth of sharing with others).

Advancing in your own tarot reading skills is a matter of practice and study, something many veteran practitioners will tell you. Our own lives--the successes, the hardships, the waiting periods--all of that contributes to our individual understanding and intuition when interpreting the cards. Maybe you don't think your life has been that tough or interesting to have good experience-based intuition, but you're wrong. Sorry, you're just wrong. Everyone's life is full of lessons to be drawn from when advice or learning is necessary.

Finding Meaning in Experience

Now, I'm not asking you to sit down and write out every lesson you've learned or every mistake you've made. What's really important is how you react to things. Your choices, either prepared or extemporaneous, are informed by your experiences.

To connect to the cards, you need to do a lot of self-readings, and you have to be self-aware. Accepting an unsavory truth isn't just for clients with drama, it's for you, too. Read and apply meaning to the symbology of the cards to your life. These associations are necessary for connecting the cards' imagery to the client's query.

When you give a friend advice, you base your advisement on what you've experienced. Almost everyone has said, "If I were you, here's what I'd do." Tarot is only different in that there are tools (cards) being used as mediators for your advice. And, generally, the other person doesn't give you all the details before you shuffle, unlike a friend who lays the whole situation out before you offer advice.

If you're struggling to understand how to make these connections, I've devised a little exercise.

Building Personal Associations with Tarot Cards

Step 1) Begin by asking the cards something about yourself. "How can I overcome X?" or "Why am I struggling with Y?" are good places to start.

Step 2) Shuffle and draw 3 cards (to start; you can draw more if you feel the need or you want more cards to work with).

Step 3) Lay out the cards in front of you and begin your interpretation.

Step 4) As you formulate the answer to your query, write down what about each card connected you to your impression of its response. The overall tone of the image, a design feature or aspect of it, the color scheme: all of these are examples of things you can use.

This last step is going to take a bit of self-awareness and understanding, but both of these are important skills to have as a reader. Keep these analyses as part of your tarot journal, and, if you keep one, overlap your findings with your own personal diary or journal. Each day brings a new set of choices and experiences, and you can easily relate your daily events with your tarot journal's writings and the associations you've built therein.

When you start to move away from the specified definitions of each card as written in their individuals manuals, you create stronger bonds between you and your deck(s). Always keep in mind their originally intended meanings, but don't be afraid to find significance beyond them.

This is basically the beginner's introduction to advanced tarot techniques, and I hope to have more in-depth exercises and for you in the future. Thanks so much for reading!