How I learned to read the tarot

Hello Traveller,

Cards have always held a fascination for me. My father was an excellent poker player, and I’d often watch the cards with awe as he shuffled and dealt them. With the cards, players created combinations that brought gain to one skilled participant and loss for the others that were less proficient. At five, I’d already come to the conclusion that life is like poker, you get what you’re dealt and you have to use your skill to make the best of it.

Before I even knew tarot existed, I’d sit around with a pack of playing cards and attempt to access hidden answers. Sometimes, I’d ask questions ranging from simple to complex. At other times, I would create a meaning for the numbers and attempt to have a conversation with my dog. I didn’t realise at the time that I was developing my intuition and my connection to the spirits.

I went on like this until I was 11. It was them that I purchased my first tarot cards. When I acquired them for 50 cents at a charity shop, I had no idea what they were. All I saw was a deck of cards with interesting medieval pictures that spoke to my soul.

It wasn’t until I got the cards home and had them scattered in front of me that I discovered there was a folded set of instructions at the bottom of the box. It was from these that I learnt that the cards were known as tarot cards as well as how to lay my first Celtic cross. From that moment, I was hooked.

Although my mother had no qualms about me owning a tarot deck, she cautioned me to keep it to myself because many in our small town would fear I was being pulled into the occult. Secretly, with the help of a librarian that was a free thinker, I managed to lay my hands on a number of books that could teach me more about this wonderful divination tool.

What quickly became apparent as I read book after book is that each of the cards has a specific meaning. I was faithful to apply those meanings to my readings, but they seemed a bit wooden. Although I was getting clear and accurate information, it seemed like I could be getting so much more. Combining the nuances of two cards with archaic meanings made interpretation strained. Nonetheless, because I didn’t know what else to do, I carried on.

Years later, after I was married for the first time, I joined the American Tarot Association because I wanted to read for others. Before I was allowed to do this, I was required to serve under a mentor for a number of months. Looking back now, I’m so thankful. It was during this time that I learned that the cards could have multiple meanings and that you only knew the right one for a reading by considering the context and using your intuition.

I continued to read as many tarot books as I could lay my hands on. By that time, much of the stigma that had surrounded tarot was fading and I could find resources in most bookshops. My favourite book was Learning the Tarot by Jone Bunning.

In a nutshell, that is how I first began reading and interpreting the tarot. Now, hundreds of clients later, after reading on every question you could name, I have accumulated over 30 years of experience in using the tarot for divination, consultation and magick. Even so,, I am still learning more all the time. The lessons you can learn through working with the tarot are infinite.

In the last months, I’ve felt the spirits calling me to guide others to find their confidence to become more effective readers, so I partnered with my wife Lyn to put together a comprehensive seven week tarot course. You can find more information and sign up here.

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