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Understanding the meaning of Tarot Cards

Updated on January 2, 2011

Understanding the meaning of tarot cards is the hardest part

Tarot cards are mysterious, obscure and can be really hard to understand if you're just learning.

Trying to sort out which deck to use and what book to buy, when you're just getting started, can be enough to make anyone give up before they ever really start.

If you've always wanted to learn to read tarot cards and don't know where to start, then you are in the right place!

Also, If you've already got a deck or 4 of tarot cards and a half dozen books that all say totally different things and you're ready to start pulling your hair out!

Then, YES! you are finally in the right place!

Keep it Simple!

The key to understanding the meaning of tarot cards.

Too much information is the biggest cause of confusion when it comes to actually understanding the meaning of tarot cards. There is just too much information available in books, websites and methods used to teach tarot cards.

All this conflicting information can cause the person learning tarot card meanings to second guess their own intuition about the cards.

The first step to really understanding the meaning of tarot cards, is to just STOP trying to learn or memorize all of those different meanings.

Actually understanding the meanings of tarot cards is more about learning to trust your own intuition than about memorizing meanings.

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About the Author

Dr. Laurie Nadel has a dual career in psychology and journalism. She has been a guest on "Oprah" and dozens of TV and radio programs. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Associated Press, and Woman's Day. She writes for national magazines and The New York Times Long Island section.

Dr. Nadel directed a program for teenagers who lost a parent in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. She does pro bono counseling for the Committee to Protect Journalists.

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Trusting Your Inner Voice

Intuition is understanding the meaning of tarot cards

Reading the tarot cards is mostly an intuitive process. This is exactly why there are so many different tarot card decks, books and variations of tarot card meanings.

Every tarot card reader interprets the cards in their own personal way by listening to their own "Inner-voice" or intuition.

There is no right or wrong meaning for any particular tarot card. Every tarot card has a slightly different meaning, that reflects the person the reading is for, the question being asked of the cards and whatever other factors are involved in the live of that person.

The key to giving accurate tarot card readings and understanding the meaning of tarot cards, is learning to trust your inner voice.

Books to help You Develop Your Intuition

Learning to trust your Intuition

Stop second guessing your inner voice

The biggest mistake people make when learning to read tarot cards is trying to force the "book" meaning of a particular card into a reading, instead of letting their inner voice decide the right meaning for that card in that reading.

The best advice as a tarot card teacher that I can give you is:

Stop trying to force the meaning you learned for each card into readings and start listening to the first thought that pops into your brain when you see that card, in that reading.

There are exercises and meditations you can do to help you learn to trust your intuition.

The Flip a Card Exercise

To understanding the meaning of tarot cards

This is a quick and easy word association type exercise that will help you learn to trust your inner voice and intuition while working with tarot cards.

1.) get a pencil and paper, then number the paper from 1-78

2.) Set your tarot deck in front of you and flip over the top card.

3.) Quickly write down the first word or thought that pops into your head. Then write down the name of that card. Alwayd do it in that order.

4.) Continue doing this for each card.

5.) When you're done, compare what you wrote down to the meaning given for each card in whatever book you're learning from.

This exercise will show you just how close your intuitive interpretation of each card is to the interpretation given in the book, which in course will help you validate your intuition. Also you will see how one card can say something totally different to you that it said to whoever wrote the book you're using.

Always remember that there is no right or wrong interpretation. Doing this exercise multiple times over the course of a few weeks will also show you how the same card can say different things to you on different days. Always go with that inner voice rather than "book" meanings for the cards.

Key to Understanding the meaning of Tarot Cards

Always remember that the Tarot Cards are a tool and your intuition is the battery that powers the tool!

#1 Tip For Beginners

For understanding the meanings of tarot cards

The very best tip I can give you is to start off with a very basic tarot deck when you are first learning to read tarot cards. My advice is to start with one of the Rider-Waite decks available.

The reason for this is simple, of the thousands of tarot decks available, at least 90% of them are based on or inspired by the illustrations of the Rider-Waite deck.

The symbolism on the Rider-Waite tarot deck is at it's most pure and simple form, which is essential to really understanding the meaning of tarot cards when you are just starting out.

Also once you've learned tarot with the Rider-Waite deck, you will be able to use any deck available after that.

Whereas if you learn from a more individualistic tarot deck, like one centered around fairies or cats for instance, you may end up only being able to use that deck, until you start all over again with a more traditional deck.

Rider-Waite Tarot Decks - There are lots of fun varieties!

Rider-Waite Learning to Read the Symbolism of the Tarot DVD

Ask you tarot questions here and I will answer as soon as I can, I may even feature your question on the Mystic Mama Tarot Blog :)

Take a Moment to Say Hello - Do you have Tarot Questions?

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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Hello there, I dont know if anyone can help me but I hope someone can.

      Heres my back ground. My LDR brokeup with me on the 7/01/10 and i am still heart broken. I just performed an ex relationship spread. The cards are as follows:

      1 the 3 of cups (upright)

      2 the 2 of cups (upright)

      3 the 5 of swords (upright)

      4 the 4 of pentacles (upright)

      5 the 2 of batons/wands (upright)

      6 the 8 of cups(reversed)

      What i would like to know if it is true that my ex is in a relationship with someone else but is being selfish but he thinks of me fondly but is now ready to move on from thinking of me and he is soon to be better financially placed?

      I still dream of him every night and was hoping he would eventual get back in touch and tell me he misses me and wants to reconcile. My question is am i living in dream land or am i right in reading card correctly and he has moved on from me?

      Would love your feed back.

      Yours faithfully


    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Awesome lens! Thanks! I've added my angel blessings :)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Check out this cool Tarot site:

    • Laniann profile image


      9 years ago

      Great, Mystic Mama! Very informative with good suggestions and easy to understand. 5*s

    • julcal profile image


      9 years ago

      another 5* !

    • GhostWalker LM profile image

      GhostWalker LM 

      9 years ago

      Great lens...I rated it 5 stars

    • SimilarSam profile image


      9 years ago from Australia

      I've always been itnerested in Tarot, very detailed and helpful lens!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Very professional and interesting. just rated a 5star.


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