Best Tarot Practices Everything You Need to Know to Learn the Tarot

Best Tarot Practices Everything You Need to Know to Learn the Tarot

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by Marcia Masino

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Best Tarot Practices is a comprehensive approach to teaching everything you need to know to read the cards for personal insight and spiritual growth, for yourself and others. Using a method that blends modern questions and answers with innovative exercises and encourages intuition, Masino empowers the reader to find their own private connection with each of the

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Best Tarot Practices is a comprehensive approach to teaching everything you need to know to read the cards for personal insight and spiritual growth, for yourself and others. Using a method that blends modern questions and answers with innovative exercises and encourages intuition, Masino empowers the reader to find their own private connection with each of the cards, fostering a lasting and deeply personal relationship with the characters and symbols within the deck. Unlike many other beginning tarot books, Best Tarot Practices focuses not just on how to read the cards, but also on how to become a successful tarot reader—including how to handle difficult questions and messages in a reading, how to deal with needy, greedy, or superstitious seekers, and how to make each reading accurate and personal for the seeker. Best Tarot Practices offers a step-by-step approach to understanding the tarot, from the four suits and the court cards to the Major Arcana to learning new spreads that offer guidance in becoming your own tarot master. Best Tarot Practices teaches readers how to trust what they already know and how to share that knowledge by reading the cards for others.

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"Best Tarot Practices is a wide-ranging private lesson for tarot readers taught by a modern tarot master. Mixing truly sage advice with practical, stimulating exercises and solid information drawn from a lifetime of experience, it is an important work and not to be missed." —Wald and Ruth Ann Amberstone, directors of the Tarot School, authors of The Secret Language of Tarot and Tarot Tips

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Everything You Need to Know to Learn the Tarot

By Marcia Masino

Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC

Copyright © 2009 Marcia Masino
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-57863-432-3



A repertoire of memorable, clear card interpretations is vital to a successful Tarot reading. Students often remark that some of the cards' meanings remain elusive for them. Although initially you may think that you will become an expert reader by learning many meanings for each card, this can backfire on you at the worst possible moment—during asession—if you are not certain which interpretation to use!

I feel that having a simple effective description for every card boils down to a few carefully chosen words. All you need to grasp the interpretative message of each card is an easy-to-remember key phrase that makes sense to you. Once you've devised an unforgettable meaning for each card, you can relax and allow the interpretive "flow" of the reading's message to unfold. This open, receptive state fosters psychic promptings and inspired interpretations of the card messages.

Later, you can add more meanings and even a spiritual component to your Tarot readings. For now, let's aim for simplicity and clarity.

The Four Suits

Begin by selecting the cards you want to master from your deck and dividing them into two piles—the Major and the Minor Arcana. Then separate the Minor cards into the four suits and place any Court cards you've chosen aside for attention later.

Step 1: Developing Keywords

Keywords provide an easy way to master card meanings. My new streamlined themes for the Minor Arcana suits can be integrated easily into your Tarot repertoire. They are based on the classical affiliation between the four suits and the four medieval virtues of fortitude, faith, justice, and charity.

Wands indicate fortitude, courage, will, authenticity, and aspiration.

Cups denote faith, imagination, and love.

Swords represent justice, actions and reactions based on fairness and integrity, truth, conflict, and the mind.

Pentacles represent charity, benefactors, labors of love, money, and security.

Write three keywords that resonate with you from my meanings, or create your own in the space provided:


Cups _____________________________________

Swords ___________________________________

Pentacles ________________________________

Step 2: The Scene and Characters' Actions

Select a card from the pile you've chosen to learn and write down the card title and some keywords to describe the scene. For example, how does the atmosphere or environment in the card appear to you? Is it harmonious? Loving? Unstable? Active? Stagnant? Calm? Filled with strife? Combative?

Cardtitle__________________________________ Scene_____________________________________

Now focus on the character of the card and his or her actions, attitudes, and behaviors. Is the reaggression? Is the character moving forward or backward, or does he or she seem stuck in the situation? Is the action in the card happy? Protective? Defensive? Unaware? Forward-looking? Mournful? Remember that the characters demonstrate and act out the attitude of the card's message.

Characters' actions___________________________

Step 3: Putting It Together

When you match your keyword suit meanings to the scene and action descriptions, you develop an interpretation that is memorable because you created it. For example, Kevin felt challenged when interpreting the Two of Swords. Following the steps I've outlined, he found a meaning that was memorable for him. Here is how he created it.

Kevin's keywords for the Sword suit were mind, truth, and actions. He then described the scene in the Two of Swords as calm, but tentative and uncertain. He felt as if the card showed pause and an action, behavior, and attitude of waiting. "I think I now have an interpretation I understand," said Kevin. He explained the Two of Swords easily in the following manner:

You are feeling undecided and unsure about your situation. You have chosen to wait calmly until more truthful, complete information is revealed to help you make up your mind.

This is a good, correct definition for the card. The Two of Swords indicated his quiet, wait-and-see, temporary stance or position. Remember, many Seekers consult the cards for advice during times of uncertainty and when they need clear information. The Two of Swords indicates this state of flux.

The Court Cards

In this section, you'll learn new and effective ways to remember the meanings of the Court cards. My streamlined themes for each suit will help simplify your interpretations of these cards.

Step 1: Using Your Keywords

Place the Court cards you need to learn in front of you. Divide them into the four suits. Three basic words for each of the four suits are all you need for an accurate interpretation. These twelve words will be your keywords to apply to the Pages, Knights, Queens, and Kings.

Read the following descriptions of the character qualities, then write your own interpretation of them in the space provided, or choose the descriptions that are meaningful for you.

Wands: Clear likes and dislikes; extroverted, warm, strong, personable; leadership traits; values accomplishments; courageous, oriented toward achievement of goals and ideals. Now create your own keywords for the Wand Court cards or choose from those mentioned above.




Cups: Intuitive, introspective, imaginative; interested in future possibilities; loving, nurturing, emotional, creative; powerful dreams; deep sustained faith. Now create your own keywords for the Cup Court cards, or choose from those mentioned above.




Swords: Inquisitive, thoughtful; values the powers of the mind and learning; communicative; likes precise explanations; mind over matter; endeavors to treat self and others with fairness and integrity. Now create your own keywords for the Sword Court cards, or choose from those mentioned above.




Pentacles: Practical, security-conscious, interested in building finances and career; hardworking, resourceful, capable, prosperous; realistic, methodical; feels strong connection with the earth and nature; charitable, labors lovingly and loves laboring toward valued goals. Now create your own keywords for the Pentacle Court cards, or choose from those mentioned above.




You now have twelve keywords for the Court cards. Next, you'll use them to describe their characters.

Step 2: Techniques for Learning the Court Cards

My six techniques for learning the Court cards are:

• Descriptive storytelling

• Explaining or teaching to someone else

• Connecting word and picture

• Dreams

• Symbol and theme

• Association to family and friends

Decide which method feels compatible with your learning style.

• Descriptive Storytelling

If you enjoy storytelling, create a characterization about the Court card you want to learn. Include character traits, motivation, and action. You can even relate the images to a favorite character from a film, television program, or novel.

For example, Lee decided he'd create a story characterization for the Page of Cups, a card he struggled to remember. His keywords for the suit of Cups were "emotional, family-oriented, and imaginative dreamer." The Page represents a youth, child, or baby.

Lee then thought of a child with those character traits from the film world, one of his favorite subjects. Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz came to mind. She was emotional, sensitive, and attached to her family, and her story involved an imaginative dream. Dorothy easily represents the Page of Cups for Lee. Now, whenever this card appears in a reading, Lee describes the Page's character as a dreamer, a, sensitive, intuitive youth with an active imagination, deeply attached to family.

His new interpretation includes the emotional qualities of a sense of belonging and a need to be heard by family and loved ones, two other motivational traits he associates with Dorothy's character and her actions.

• Teaching and Explaining

This technique requires a study partner. It will reinforce your knowledge, and give you the experience of speaking your interpretation

aloud to someone else. Hearing yourself speak will help you feel sure of your grasp of the card meaning.

Go through each Court card, explaining to your partner what you have learned about it. Invite your companion to ask questions about the card's character. Some examples of questions for your study partner to ask are:

• If the Queen of Pentacles were a television drama character, who woulds he be?

• If the King of Cups were a singer, who would he be and why?

• If the Knight of Swords were an athlete, who would he be?

• How about the Queen of Wands as a politician?

Your explanation for your choices of character will help solidify your memory of the meaning.

• Connecting Word and Picture

If picture and word association appeals to you, use the keywords you have already chosen for a card's meaning for this study exercise. Select the Court card you want to learn. Now look at this card, imagining and associating the keywords to the various symbols, the scene, and the character.

For example, Jennifer's keywords for the suit of Pentacles were "conservative, realistic, and hardworking." The King and Knight of Pentacles were both challenging cards for her to interpret. She placed the two cards in front of her and then associated the keyword "realistic" with the picture of the Pentacle in the cards, a symbol for, among other things, money.

"These men are realistic in financial matters," she said, noting the picture of the King's castle and the rich grape vines emphasized in his card. "The King has tangible property and know show to build, cultivate, and maintain it using a dedicated work ethic and responsible attitude." Jennifer then looked at the Knight of Pentacles. Focusing on his horse, she arrived at the following interpretation:

The horse is a mode, way, or style of transportation taking the Knight where he wants to go. The horse in this card is obviously a strong work horse, suggesting the down-to-earth conservative nature of the Knight's character as a hard worker. In other words, it represent show he attains his ambitions. The Knight is realistic about getting where he wants to go in life. He is able to move toward his goals, using a sensible plan.

Jennifer now has away to remember the two cards using picture and word associations. When she saw the various images, she simply applied her chosen words and her memory of this study exercise filled in the rest.

• Dreams

Another way to master a challenging card is to picture it while drifting into sleep. Choose a card that you want to learn, gaze at it before you fall a sleep, and see it in your mind. Ask your subconscious to teach you a special meaning to help you remember the card. This may evoke a dream or personal memory that will instill and fix the interpretation into your consciousness.

• Symbol and Theme

Learn one word for three aspects of a card. Look at the card and associate one word with its suit, one with its dominant color, and one with its character's action. Use the three words to create a key phrase that will help you interpret the card.

For example, Mark's challenging card was the Queen of Wands. His keywords for the suit of Wands were "radiant, enthusiastic, and powerful." He associated the word "enthusiastic" to the Queen's energetic blooming sunflower wand/suit. Then he applied the word "radiant" to the Queen herself, based on her sunny and warmly colored attire/dominant color. Mark described her as "comfortable" on her throne of power/character's main action. With each of his key words now visually associated with her symbols, he can easily remember the meaning of the Queen of Wands:

This woman is enthusiastic and radiant, and handles her powerful position with ease.

• Association to Family and Friends

Associating a character from your life to a card can help you remember its meaning. A Court card can remind you of a friend or family member. When you see the card, you can think of the character traits of that person.

You may also determine which Court card best represents your personality and apply that description in your reading. Consider which Page you would pick to represent your childhood. For example, were you out going (Wands), sensitive (Cups), inquisitive and curious (Swords), or nature-loving (Pentacles)? Remembering a Court card's meaning is easy when you associate it with a real person.

These six simple methods provide an effective way to master the meanings of the Court cards. By now you've probably realized that more than one can be effective for you and that the methods can also be applied to the Minor Arcana.

The Major Arcana

This section focuses on the rich, detailed illustrations of the Major Arcana. These cards are carefully crafted to convey their message using symbolism. The meanings of the Major Arcana are easily learned once you know the secret: the vast variety of symbols often represents the one main theme of the card. Each symbol is a doorway into the card that leads to its essential meaning. The original designers of the deck felt that, if these symbols represented the same idea in a variety of ways, more people would be able to access the theme of the card.

For example, the meaning of the High Priestess is "remembering the soul." Each symbol in the card relates to the soul. Her scroll contains what is written in the soul's destiny. The white and black pillars represent that which has been and is yet to be written about the soul. Her veils conceal the soul. The water symbolizes the soul's vessel. The color blue represents soul energy. The sacred feminine—that is, the High Priestess her—self—is a universal symbol for the divine aspect of the soul. As you can see, the main meaning of the card remains the same, "remembering the soul." The symbols are like many pathways, all leading to the same subject—in this example, the remembrance of the soul's content.

Mastering the Majors

Allow ample time for this exercise. Place one of the Major Arcana you wish to learn in front of you. Begin by scanning the card slowly from left to right, starting at the top, then moving to the middle, and ending at the bottom of the card. Write down the one feeling, color, action, or symbol that stands out for you after this scan. Next, write down some words that come to mind about the feature you've chosen.

Turn to the Major Arcana section on page 109 of this book. Read about your card and write down the words or phrases that help clarify, define, and enhance your interpretation. You now have your key phrase for the card linked with the symbol, feeling, color, or action that represents the meaning to you. Every time you see the card, your key phrase will pop into your mind.

For example, Maria felt unclear when interpreting the Judgement card. She set aside ample time for the scanning exercise, and discovered the outstanding symbol for her was the Archangel'shorn. She wrote down the word "horn," and then associated the idea of sounding the trumpet. "I can hear it," she said. "Whenever I see that card, I hear the angel blowing the horn. It reminds me of an announcement—like an arrival, or an honor, or an achievement."

Excerpted from BEST TAROT PRACTICES by Marcia Masino. Copyright © 2009 Marcia Masino. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

Marcia Masino is a certified Grandmaster of tarot and author of the tarot classic Easy Tarot Guide. She has lectured at numerous tarot conferences and is a popular speaker for the Lily Dale Assembly workshop program. Her articles on metaphysical subjects have appeared in Fate and on the Web at She lives in Pickering, Ontario, Canada.

Rachel Pollack is considered one of the world's foremost authorities on the modern interpretation of the tarot. She is a member of the American Tarot Association, the International Tarot Society, and the Tarot Guild of Australia, and has taught at the famed Omega Institute for the past 15 years. She is an award-winning fiction writer and has also written 12 books on the tarot. She lives in New York

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Best Tarot Practices Everything You Need to Know to Learn the Tarot 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
dvoraho More than 1 year ago
it was just o.k.-and to be frank-only read it last month and cant say i remember much.racel pollack gave graet recomendation- i am less inthutiastic... mabe better if you are already a tarot profesional.i didnot like the interpertation for the court cards-too much emphasis on it being peopole and no other possibility.the exercise on the minor in the beginning were prety great.