With the increasing popularity of the witchy aesthetic, more and more people are being drawn to tarot cards. These ancient cards are more than just pretty pictures, though; they carry unique and interesting meanings, and the art of interpreting them has been practiced for hundreds of years.

Some people use tarot cards as part of their religion, or a way to connect to the grander universe, while others simply use them to self-reflect or guide meditation or journaling practices. Whatever your interest in tarot, there are some basic tenets of the cards that will help you begin your own journey into tarot.

Major and Minor Arcana

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All tarot cards fall into one of two categories: they are either major arcana, or minor arcana. Major arcana are the cards you see in movies. They're big and bold, with grand titles such as "High Priestess", "Death", or "The Star". These cards speak to the larger picture of the grand journey that you, and the universe, is on. When these cards are drawn, it's an indicator to step back and look at the larger themes running through your life that guide your overall path.

The minor arcana, although given less fanfare in pop culture, deals with more temporary themes.These cards don't carry names like those in the major arcana. They are known by their number and suit, much like playing cards are. Drawing a minor arcana card indicates that the phase your are in is more likely to change, and will not last as long as that depicted in a major arcana card would. This doesn't mean you should discount minor arcana cards, though. They make up the majority of the tarot deck, and carry valuable messages.

The Suits

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The minor arcana is divided into four suits, all containing cards numbered 1 -10 that are followed by four court cards (page, knight, queen, and king). The name of the four suits found in the cards can vary by deck, but most modern decks are comprised of the suit of wands, the suit of cups, the suit of swords, and the suit of pentacles. Each of these suits represent a different characteristic or theme, which influences how the cards within them can be interpreted.

The suit of wands represents your spirit - your energy, your motivation, and your passion. These cards often lend themselves to readings involving new ideas, life purpose, and spirituality.

The suit of cups represents your feelings and emotions. They deal with relationships (both non-romantic and romantic) and emotional connections within yourself and with others.

The suit of swords represents your actions, your thoughts, and your words. These cards lend themselves to to themes about communicating your ideas, making decisions, and asserting power.

The suit of pentacles represents earthly matters, such as money, material goods, and work. These cards lend themselves to financial matters and career decisions, but also provide insight on hard work and diligence.

Artistic Style

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Each tarot deck is done in its own artistic style, meaning that each card is drawn to match the artist's understanding and interpretation of that card. However, almost all decks are inspired by the Rider-Waite tarot deck, which was originally created in 1910. Although the art of the Rider-Waite deck offers images that may be easier to interpret that those found in other decks, it is important to choose a deck that you feel a connection to. Whether that connection is on an intuitive level or as simple as enjoying the art style, something about your deck should resonate with you.

Some tarot readers have multiple decks, while some only have one. Some readers believe that different decks offer clearer readings on some matters than others, while some collectors simply enjoy the variation in aesthetic. I recommend beginning with one deck, until you feel more confident in your ability to recognize the symbolism and messages within the cards. My personal deck is the The Wild Unknown deck, pictured above, and I found it very beginner-friendly.

Spreads

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A spread is the way the cards are laid out during a reading. They can be simple, involving only two or three cards, or more complex, and require ten or more cards to be pulled. You can find tarot spreads for almost anything, and they're readily available on almost all social media platforms. Just search for "tarot card spreads" to begin.

Spreads with numerous cards can often be overwhelming, so begin your journey with spreads that include three cards or less. Take your time during your readings - examine each card individually, then look for connections between the cards, and notice how each card correlates to its position in the spread.

Enjoy the Journey

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As you begin your own personal journey with tarot, remember that each person relates differently to the cards. It is not simply about memorizing the "correct" meaning of each card. Look for personal connections to the cards, and build your own meanings and understandings into each of them and how they relate to each other. Most of all, be patient! Building something this intuitive takes time, but your dedication will be rewarded.