Beginner Tarot and Oracle Cards

Everyone, and anyone, can learn to read the Tarot or gain guidance from Oracle Cards. We all have a psychic/intuitive ability programmed into our DNA, some people just have it appear more easily than others, but we can all do it.

beginner tarot and oracle cards

The first thing you need to do is relax and go inward to the core of yourself and get in tune with your feelings – Tarot is about listening to that inner knowing, not about the logical brain. When I first started to learn I was overwhelmed by all the information and various sources on the meanings of cards, and the various ways they could be interpreted including things like the elements, planets, zodiac signs, astrology, numerology  not to mention Reversals! etc etc etc… So I can tell you honestly, don’t stress or worry about all that. Sure it’s interesting and useful, and knowledge is always power, but when it all boils down to it, you don’t need any of it really. That’s NOT how the magic of Tarot works.

The biggest tip about Tarot is to learn to trust your own intuition. Listen to what you see, hear, feel, taste, sense or just know inside. This is where the deepest wisdom and connection is, this is where the messages are…..often the first thing that comes is the correct one, before your logical left brain starts to question it, no matter if it seems silly or doesn’t seem to make much sense, it will in time. Often what comes in a reading for someone means very little to me, but it makes perfect sense to the person I’m reading for.

Consciously, try NOT to think about it too much, we need to bring the brain into balance between the left and right hemispheres, so it is like a still pond that will ripple with the tiniest pebble (message) tossed, not a raging river that a huge boulder wouldn’t even make a noticeable splash in. I usually mediated (just sit quietly and go inwards) with my crystals to get to this place, you find what works for you, it will take practice, but mediation is a great place to start. I’m not talking about mediating on a beach at sunset in a zen yoga position like we see in adverts, I’m talking about being in the moment, connected to what is happening in all your senses around you. It only takes a few seconds to achieve. When the mind chatter and wandering starts, just notice it, recognize it and bring yourself back to focus on the moment. Don’t give yourself a hard time about it, just let it go and move on.

There are some beautiful Tarot Decks and Oracle Decks out there and which ever ones you are attracted to are the ones you should look into and consider buying. Most people start with the Raider Waite Deck as it is very traditional, has lots of information about it and many people are familiar with it, but you don’t need to start there if you don’t like that deck.

Basic Tips:
1. Find a Deck you like the look and feel of, cleanse it and charge it with your own personal energy – see my tips for cleansing and charging crystals if you need some help with this or whiz me an email.
2. Bond with your deck, go through each card and note any feelings or thoughts that come up for you associated with that card in a Tarot Journal or notebook.
3. Start to keep a Tarot or Card Journal or notebook
4. Focus on what you feel – don’t worry about looking up the guide book to see what the card “means” at this point. It’s more important to discover what it means to YOU.
5. Play and just have fun – think of being a child – open minded and wanting to have fun
6. Start with very simple and easy readings eg just one card
7. To begin with just disregard reversals (upside down cards) and focus on the upright meanings.

How to choose a deck.
Some people say you should only use a “gifted” deck – this is just superstition. I think it is much wiser for you to choose your own deck, unless you get “gifted” a deck you just fall in love with! The best way to do this is to have a look at all of the cards and artwork in decks that first catch your eye, until you find one that you feel really attracted to. When this happens, if it’s possible to actually feel the deck in person that’s ideal but it’s not always possible as often decks are sealed, but there may be a display one you can try out. Sometimes a friend may have the deck or you may see it being used somewhere eg Psychic Fair. You can also have more than one tarot deck, so don’t worry if you can’t decided or if you find you are attracted to multiple decks. Some decks are also reworked and modernized from the original traditional Tarot, eg Dreams of Gaia by Ravynne Phelan, which I absolutely love, but I would advise you to start with a traditional tarot deck in the first instance. I say this because when you start you will want lots of support and to check out your thoughts and feelings, and there is much more information about the original tarot structured decks out there. My first deck was the Raider-Waite and I still use it now, interspaced with other decks such as Thoth, Celtic Dragon, Book of Shadows, Dreams of Gaia and other Oracle Card Decks.

Once you have bought a deck you need to cleanse it. You do this just as you would for cleansing other energetic items such as crystals or second hand goods to ensure that no one else’s energetic residue is present. If you have Reiki that’s ideal and convenient, if not you can use smoke from sage, gumleaves or incense, crystals such as amethyst, apophyolite or clear quartz, sound or just by intent and invocation and tapping on the deck 3 times. You can also put them out in the moonlight or sunlight but be careful they don’t get damaged (eg water or fading). Find what works for you.

Storage and Protection.
Your cards will contain energy so you want to keep it protected. Ideally you can wrap them in silk. Some people say it must be black, I personally prefer purple, but just choose a colour you feel resonates with you and that particular deck. You can keep them inside a pouch or in a box, often wooden or velvet lined. Some people recommend putting a crystal in with your deck, such as clear quartz, citrine, amethyst or chrystoprase, but again go with what you are drawn to and feels right for you. Personally, I have several different decks and I store them differently depending on the specific deck. I prefer to have crystals on my reading table and around the room rather than on the cards themselves.

Tarot and Oracle – the Difference
Tarot has a long history and generally the structure within the deck (usually 78 cards with 22 Major and 56 Minor Arcana) is the same, even if the images and guidebook meanings vary slightly between different decks. Oracle cards can basically be any number of cards and any kind of structure that suits the author, often they follow a theme. You can still do readings with both types of card decks.

Unlocking the Meaning of Tarot
The most important thing to remember is you don’t really have to memorise the guidebook or “meanings”, and actually “think” about understanding the Tarot – instead you need to tune into your own intuition and “feel” the Tarot and what each card signifies for you and how you interpret its meaning. As you build your relationship with your deck you will find that the cards that present will be what is meaningful to you and your individual way of how you interpret them, to ensure you get the correct message, that’s the magic!

Traditionally the original Tarot has 78 cards. 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana (4 Suits of 10 Cards and 16 Court Cards. Some decks have more, some less, but usually this is the basic structure.

Major Arcana (Major Secrets – life journey)

0 Fool 1 Magician 2 High Priestess 3 Empress 4 Emperor 5 Hierophant 6 Lovers 7 Chariot 8 Strength

9 Hermit 10 Wheel Fortune 11 Justice 12 Hanged Man 13 Death 14 Temperance 15 Devil 16 Tower 17 Star

19 Moon 19 Sun 20 Judgement 21 World

The Major Arcana is really the tale of the Fools journey (man) through life. Major Life changes are all in the Major Arcana. Cards can be upright or reversed (not everyone reads reversals). Some of the names above may vary slightly from Deck to Deck but they generally still relate back to these original cards. (note: Dreams of Gaia Tarot is an exception with differing Arcana and yet still the overarching Lifes Journey)

Minor Arcana (Minor Secrets – day to day lessons)
These include 40 Suit Cards (10 in each suit) and 16 Court Cards.

Court Cards
Interestingly there are 16 Myers-Briggs Personality Types based on 4 dichotomies of cognitive learning styles and there are 16 Court Cards. This can also be an aid to interpretation.

The extraverted types learn best by talking and interacting with others. By interacting with the physical world, extraverts can process and make sense of new information. The introverted types prefer quiet reflection and privacy. Information processing occurs for introverts as they explore ideas and concepts internally.

The second continuum reflects what people focus their attentions on. Sensing types enjoy a learning environment in which the material is presented in a detailed and sequential manner. Sensing types often attend to what is occurring in the present, and can move to the abstract after they have established a concrete experience. Intuitive types prefer a learning atmosphere in which an emphasis is placed on meaning and associations. Insight is valued higher than careful observation, and pattern recognition occurs naturally for intuitive types.

The third continuum reflects a person’s decision preferences. Thinking types desire objective truth and logical principles and are natural at deductive reasoning. Feeling types place an emphasis on issues and causes that can be personalized while they consider other people’s motives.

The fourth continuum reflects how a person regards complexity. Judging types will thrive when information is organized and structured, and they will be motivated to complete assignments in order to gain closure. Perceiving types will flourish in a flexible learning environment in which they are stimulated by new and exciting ideas. Judging types like to be on time, while perceiving types may be late and/or procrastinate.

Court Card Descriptions
Page Age 15-25 – Signifies News or a Message
Knight Age 25-35 – Signifies Action or Help
Queen Over Age 35 – Signifies a female person or energy
King Over Age 35 – Signifies a male person or energy
Note : Ages may not be chronological age – can indicate developmental age

SUIT                          COMPLEXION           HAIR                EYES                    BUILD            ZODIAC

Wands Fire


Fair, Freckled Blonde, Auburn, Reddish, very light brown or bald Light or Blue Athletic when upright Usually Aries. Leo or Sagittarius
Cups Water


Fair, Medium Light Brown, Medium to Dark Brown Light to Medium Eyes -Grey, Blue, Hazel, Green

Bedroom Eyes

Slightly rounded or overweight Usually Cancer, Scorpio or Pisces
Swords Air



Medium to Olive Light or strange hair (strawberry blonde, greying, white) Dark eyes Usually tall and thin Usually Gemini, Libra or Aquarius
Pentacles Earth


Olive to Dark Dark Brown but usually Black Dark – Hazel, Brown, or Black Usually height Wt appropriate Taurus, Virgo or Capricorn

4 Suits (Wands/Fire, Cups/Water, Swords/Air and Pentacles/Earth)
Thinking about the elements linked to each suit, and using basic numerology you can quickly gains ome ideas about the 40 suit cards.

Wands (Spirit) – Fire Suit – Masculine – Represent primal energy, spirituality, inspiration, determination, strength, intuition, creativity. They deal with the spiritual consciousness and are the action suit, all about energy, movement, passion, sexuality, ambition, drive, willpower, expansion, original ideas and seeds which bring life into the world. Wands deal with our personality, ego, enthusiasm, self concept, and personal energy (both internal and external). Fire is hot, wild and unpredictable. It can keep us warm and help us cook but it can also be out of control and destructive. It can indicate a firey temper or a passionate zeal. They are about new dimensions and journeys. The negative aspects of Wands include illusion, egotistical behaviour, impulsiveness, a lack of direction or purpose, or feeling insignificant and lacking meaning in life.

Cups (Feeling) – Water Suit – Feminine – Represent Emotions and Relationships. They deal with the emotional consciousness and are emotional ups and downs of life and how we feel about things. It is the flow, intuition, healing, cleansing. Water is fluid, agile but also very powerful and transformative. It can be soft and gentle or violent and forceful. It can be still and stagnant. It needs a container (security) to hold it and takes that shape to fit. Cups are about emotions, love, relationships and connections. It indicates thinking with your heart and not just your head and is your spontaneous and natural reaction to situations. Cups are also linked to creativity, romanticism, fantasy and imagination. The negative aspects of Cups include being overly emotional or completely disengaged and dispassionate, having unrealistic expectations and living in an illusion world. There can be repressed emotions, an inability to express ones true self and a lack of creativity.

Swords (Intellect) – Air Suit – Masculine – Health (Physical and Mental) and Stress. They are the logic, knowledge and intellect suit where our thinking, learning or study lies. Swords deal with the mental level of consciousness and reflect your thoughts, attitudes and beliefs. Swords are all about action, force, power, change, oppression, ambition, courage, conflict and coping with transitions. It can lead by force and power, even though it is unseen. Swords are double edged, action can be both constructive and destructive. There is a fine balance between intellect and power and how they can be used for good or evil and Swords often need the balance of Wands (Spirit) and Cups (Feeling). Negative aspects of Swords include anger, guilt, harsh judgement, a lack of compassion and verbal or mental abuse.

Pentacles (Physical/Realists) – Earth – Feminine -Work, Money, Finances. Earth is the foundation that supports and nurture life and from which we grow. It is grounded, stable, supportive, practical and fertile. It is receptive taking nutrients and energy to sustain life, it is realistic and down to earth. Pentacles deal with the external/physical level of consciousness and are associated with the ego, self esteem and self image. They are about the material or physical aspects of life, health, work, business, trade, property, money and possessions. Pentacles includes manifestation, realization, proof and prosperity. They related to what we make out of our external world, how we create, shape, transform and grow it. The negative aspects of the Suit of Pentacles include being possessive, greedy and overly materialistic, over-indulging and not exercising, not effectively managing finances, being overly focused on career to the detriment of other life priorities. Often what is required is a return to nature to ground oneself and discover what is really important.

Numbers of the Suits and Numerology
Ace 1 – New Opportunity or New Beginning – idea or potential not yet into form, early stages of development

2- Planning and forming relationships, partnershps, sharing, duality, balance, a cross roads or choice. Waiting with partial success but more to come or be revealed. Can indicate reconciliation or reunion.

3 – Hit the ground Running. Initial achievement of goals, growth, creativity, communication, friendships. Cement the 1 and 2 goes through to the 4 bringing what is desired or envisioned. Multiple 3s in a reading indicate more than one person, group activities or situations. They can indicate a delay but eventual success.

4 – Progressing, celebrating. Structure, stability, stagnation, manifestation, practical application, concentration, organization and planning. Well built foundation and proper application. The result of desire and imagination (1,2 3). Multiple 4s in a reading indicated fruition or the manifestion of and idea with a foundation where things can grow or take off from.

5 – Conflict or Friction. Instability, loss, opportunit for change, new cycle, expansion or recreation. Multliple 5s in a reading indicate change, challenge and fluctuation. Material gain but spiritual loss if not balanced.
6 – Victory Success, moving forward. Communication, problem-solving, cooperation, balance, relaxation, adjustment, harmony, social consciousness, domesticity, love, care, comfort and concern. Multiple 6s in a reading indicate adjustments in thoughts, attitudes or conditions. They also represent the ability to transcend difficulties.
7 – Choices, Defending, Faith in things that cant be seen. Knowing the ultimate truths. Reflection, assessment, motives, spirituality, wisdom, perfect order, observation, investigation, meditation, discovery and knowledge. Multiple 7s in a reading can indicate a period of introspection or solitude.
8 – Need for movement and action, look within for answers and power, life lessons, change, rebirth, regeneration, re-evaluation, capability, success, recognition, accomplishment and attainment. You can achieve what you set out to do with power from within. Multiple 8s in a reading indicate a positive change of mind or status.
9 – Bit apprehensive but coming to fruition. Attainment, bringing things towards conclusion, completion or fulfillment. Selflessness, magnetism, idealism and the giver of wisdom or inspiration. Multiple 9s indicate situations or events are about to be, or have just been, completed.
10 – Culmination of something or the ending of a situation or cycle and renewal. 10 is also a 1 (1+0=1) so can also be transformation into new beginnings and opportunities.

Focus on the question and the spread you have chosen
Any cards that fall out keep – they have special meaning for you at the moment
If you are not good at actually shuffling the cards, you can spread them out on the table and just move or swirl them around to mix them up.

Tarot and YES or NO questions
I feel that Tarot is not ideal for these kind of questions and in fact framing your question is very important in itself. For example asking “Should I leave my job” is likely to get the kind of response that says “if you want to”. Or “Should I marry this man?” – you may still get the go ahead, but it may not end up being a good marriage but you will learn a lot of life’s lesson on this path even though it is painful and ends in divorce. I find it better to try to ask more open questions like “If I marry this man how will I feel about it in 5 years time?” “What things do I need to know to help me move forward in my career?”

As a rule of thumb most people seem to interpret the following as Yes/No Answers in a One Card Spread from the Tarot

• SUN – Yes
• STAR – Yes but with hard work or sacrifices
• EMPRESS – Pregnancy or Birth
• 3 CUPS REVERSED – Cheating
• 10 CUPS OR HIEOPHANT – Marriage
• 10 CUPS REVERSED or 3 SWORDS – Divorce
• WANDS – Yes but you have to work for it
• CUPS – it will come naturally
• PENTACLES – comes with a price
• MAJOR ARCANA – good luck

Ways to Read Tarot (Oracle) Cards
There are many different ways to throw/spread the Tarot for a reading but I will list a few here that you can look up in detail and try out. Initially, just start with a simple 1 or 3 card spread until you get to know your deck and then you can experiment and find what spreads work best for you and resonate.
• 1 Card Spread – 1 Card
• Elemental Dignities – 2 Cards
• 3 card Spread – 3 Cards
• Past/Present/Future
• Modifier/Prinicple/Modifier
• Morning/Afternoon/Evening
• The Four Sections – 4 Cards
• Acceptance Layout – 6 Cards
• 7 Levels of Awareness – 7 Cards
• Month Spread – 9 Cards
• Paths of Life – 9 Cards
• The Planets In Astrology – 10 Cards
• Tree of Life 10 Cards
• Celtic Cross – 10 or 11 Cards if you include the client
• Zodiac Layout – 12 Cards
• The 12 Houses Circular Spread – 12 Cards
• 15 Card Spread – 15 Cards

The last card in the spread with a number can indicate timing eg 3 = 3 days, months or March next year

Another way is to look at the Suits – Wands = Days, Swords = Weeks, Cups = Months, Pentacles = a season to a year

Remember – Go with your intuition

Generally “Reversals” (upside down cards) can be noted or not – it’s your choice, just be consistent and your deck will work it out.

People who choose to read reversals can interpret them as the opposite meaning of the upright card, a slowing/delay/blocking or resisting of the upright card or the negative aspects of the element associated with that card. I personally, generally take the view of the same outcome or message in the upright card, but there will be a delay in the process to get there, or will take longer than expected or hoped.

It can also be the projection of qualities you admire or dislike that are being denied by you onto others. It may be inner, unconscious or private energy that the client may not even be aware of. They could be breaking though, overturning, refusing or changing direction from the condition in the picture. Over or under compensating or flipping between two extremes. It could be a backward motion, withdrawal, opposition, negotiation or reconsideration. It could also indicate misused or misdirected action. It can also be an unconventional, shamanic, magical or even humerous interpretation.

Try not to take the Tarot too seriously, but at the same time have respect for the magic of its divination and connection to you. I always start a reading by reminding the client that nothing is set in stone, we all have free will and can change things if we choose to change our path. The cards reveal only what is likely if we remain on the current path, and if the others in play remain on their path. Tarot is not meant to scare or frighten anyone, it is a tool to help us find answers and guidance to the questions we seek and the decision we make.

Have fun!