Trouble learning the Tarot Card Meanings? Try this!

Here is a question that I often get asked:

Q: I am having trouble learning the Tarot card meanings. It’s a boring process and I can never remember the meanings. Do I really need to learn them? Or can I just learn to read “intuitively”?

A: Reading Tarot “intuitively” without first learning the structure of Tarot and the card meanings is kind of like visiting a foreign country without learning the language.

Sure you will be able to get by with charades style communication and drawing pictures, but things won’t be smooth and you will feel like a total moron! Even learning a few key words and phrases can make a world of difference.

This is what I have found to be true….

1. Tarot is like a language – its a way for you to communicate with spirit and with your Inner Self.

2. Sometimes there is real value in tossing the “traditional” Tarot meanings aside to explore the cards more deeply and engage my intuition as I interact with the card figures, symbols, etc.


3. The traditional card meaning always acts as a trigger or a doorway into my inner, intuitive landscape.


So while you don’t need to learn the Tarot card meanings in order to get guidance from your Tarot cards, your readings will take on a richer, more grounded quality when you do.

But if learning the Tarot card meanings feels boring to you, I suggest you vamp up the way you study your Tarot cards.

One of the techniques I love to teach is the “creating a story/character” approach.

Here’s how it works:

Step one: Choose a Tarot card that features a person.

Any court card will work good for this, as will Major arcana cards like The Magician or The Empress.

For this exercise I am going to be working with the Knight of Pentacles from the Crystal Visions Tarot.

knight of pents
Crystal Visions Tarot

Step two: Consider the traditional meaning of this card.

The Crystal Visions companion book describes the Knight of Pentacles as being “cautious, thoughtful and hardworking” with an “all work and no play” attitude.

Step three: flesh out the character by imagining other details and quirks.

I bet this Knight is the kind of guy who loves to read non-fiction and will spout off “facts” about things at dinner parties.

I suspect he’s also rather boring between the sheets.

But I also think he would make a mean apple pie and is particularly talented when it comes to making curries and casseroles and stuff like that. Yum!

Step four: Imagine a backstory & create a history for your character.

When I imagine the Knight of Pentacles as a real person, I see him working in a “safe”, repetitive job – like a factory or office.

His home life growing up was average and uninteresting, but then he met the love of his life and suddenly everything changed. He had never been happier.

But he was slow in proposing to her and she ended up running off with a rich playboy on a yacht in the Bahamas. That was years ago, but his heart still aches, so he wears a thick layer of emotional armor….etc, etc…I could go on all day.

What’s the point of all this? you may be wondering…

When we craft our own stories about the Tarot cards, we are adding our own creative spice to our studies.

Not only will you now have an easier time remembering the meaning of The Knight of Pentacles, or whatever card you chose to do this exercise with, but you will feel like you know this dude and he’s no longer a stranger on a Tarot card.

In the comments below, tell me….

What card did you pick for this exercise and what sordid personality quirks did you uncover? I can’t wait to read your response ๐Ÿ™‚

5 thoughts on “Trouble learning the Tarot Card Meanings? Try this!”

  1. So Iโ€™m doing the card The Devil from the Shadowscapes Tarot deck, I get the traditional meaning is about addictions and negativity but to me…it feels more like a being who has been fixated on a desire of its magical heart and was so warped by their desire that they lost themselves and were drawn to being all consumed by it, I imagine that they spend their own times weeping and mourning over that which they cannot have or try to have yet never gain…this person I see in the card is above a character who is in a fetal position surrounded by all this pain and heartache in different forms but they still have the innocent and wonderful beauty in them itโ€™s just that they hide it from others out of desire for that one thing they so desperately crave in their life. Huh…itโ€™s amazing to see this now, thanks so much Kate!

  2. Okay, I already sort of did this with The Fool, actually before reading this article. (Another thing that MAY be coming to the blog.) Basically, The Fool would be someone’s eyeball that suddenly becomes self aware, pops out of the socket and goes on this Homeward Bound/Little Toaster type adventure. Yeah, one of the main focuses for the site is exploring humor and horror within the Tarot, but in a positive way! Thanks for the exercise. I’ll have to try it with one of the court cards.

  3. I love that your blog is full of information but also casual and pleasant enough to give me a laugh. The rigidity of some blogs/informational sites regarding the Tarot seem to make the cards cold and impersonal, when in reality, it should be the opposite! Through your posts I’ve learned to let go of trying so hard and just start with what I perceive before delving into the more complex meanings. Thank you!

    1. Thank you Mariah, that really means a lot to me ๐Ÿ™‚ That was my intention with this site, so I am glad that I have succeeded!

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