3 Mistakes to Avoid When Learning Tarot

Learning Tarot can be a bit of a shitshow. So many books and decks to choose from, so much to learn and so little time. It’s no wonder most students of the Tarot get overwhelmed and give up.

When I look back at when I was first learning Tarot, I made SO MANY MISTAKES. In the end it didn’t really matter – I learned Tarot eventually, but if I’d known these 3 things, I think I would have had an easier time of it.

MISTAKE #1: Starting with the Major Arcana

Most Tarot books start off by discussing the Major Arcana and most Tarot students try to learn the Majors first, before moving onto the minors.

This is what I did (initially) and I wish I hadn’t.

The Majors represent the soul’s journey. They’re deep, esoteric and can sometimes be confusing and tricky to understand. Each Tarot card has many layers to it but this is especially true for the Major Arcana cards.

The Minor Arcana are much easier to relate to. They depict scenes of day to day life and you can usually figure out what the Minors are about just by looking at them.

Rider-Waite Tarot

Starting with the Majors is like trying to read Tolstoy when your nine. You’re bound to get discouraged and end up thinking “this is hard. I’m an idiot. Maybe I can’t learn Tarot after all.”

To be honest, I still have NO IDEA what the Justice card even means! And I’ve been reading for a good 10 years.

Most people are able to understand the Minors without much Tarot experience and I recommend studying them first. This will boost your confidence and get you all juiced up to tackle the Majors once you’re ready.


MISTAKE #2: Trying to learn Tarot fast

We all want to figure shit out quickly. The idea of spending YEARS learning something is just not sexy. But learning Tarot takes time.

So if you truly desire to know and understand the Tarot, don’t be in a big rush. Instead, buckle up for a long and thrilling ride!

See the act of learning Tarot as an adventurous journey as opposed to an impressive task that needs to be completed. This will help you savor the experience of learning Tarot, because it truly is something to be savored!

Rider Waite Tarot, published by US Games, Inc.

Tarot is not some external thing that can be mastered like cupcake baking, pole dancing or carpentry. Learning Tarot requires you to journey into your self – it is more of an internal process than an external one.

For example, it’s not enough to just memorize the cards so that the next time you look at The Emperor you think Emperor = authority and stubborness.

What does The Emperor mean to you? How are you like him? Who does he remind you of? What do you love/hate about him? How does this card show up in your life? Answering these questions will help you truly understand this card but it will also help you understand your self better.

MISTAKE #3: Trying to memorize the card meanings

Memorization isn’t learning. It’s the opposite of learning, similar to brainwashing. If memorization is the cornerstone of your Tarot study then you will end up being a cold, robotic reader!

Dame Darcy Tarot

The most important way to learn about something is to experience it and Tarot cards beg to be experienced!

The High Priestess murmurs come closer and let me tell you my secrets, NOT put a label on me and remember it.

Meditate on the images and symbols, journal about the cards, and most importantly DO THIS EXERCISE  to dive deep and really explore your cards.

Once you explore and experience the cards you will truly understand them, which is way more valuable than superficial memorization. Here are my 7 tips for learning the card meanings (without boring memorization!)

Over to you!

What mistakes did you make when you were first learning Tarot? Tell me in the comments below!

14 thoughts on “3 Mistakes to Avoid When Learning Tarot”

  1. Hi, Kate. I’ve just found your blog, and have signed up to receive your posts. I agree, all 3 mistakes are such traps. But I think it helps greatly to view blogs such as yours, and other tarot bloggers and writers. Everything is so much more relaxed! Decades ago (sadly, I was around :)) there were few written resources, except for materials like the book written by the designers of the Rider-Waite deck, where the language was archaic and stiff, and the theme was “this is important esoteric knowledge, remember this and bow before it!” 🙂 However, there are so many more materials now, print and e-format, and delightful websites. The overall theme is “relax!” You can’t disrespect the cards or the process by being flexible. And it’s important to remember that the same card for two different people will have subtle differences in meaning. The esoteric path is of course a valid one – the Majors still kind of blow me away sometimes. However, I have read materials (and you show this in your video as well) where the Majors can be about human activities as well. Anyway, just a thought! I have recently dived back into Tarot with a vengeance. You have a lovely, helpful, delightful website! Looking forward to more of your thoughts!

    1. Hi Sharon!
      I’m really touched that you’re enjoying my site so much 🙂 Thank you for letting me know.
      And I’ve read some of those “stiff” books you’re referring to and I think the Tarot world has come a long way since then – there are so many great, accessible books out there now that it makes me feel lucky to be alive in such a good time!

  2. My number 1 mistake was being in a hurry and then growing so frustrated, I would quit and give away my decks—some of which are now collector items! So yeah newbies….take your time and enjoy the journey. And if you grow frustrated, just step away for a while. Mistake #2 was trying to use tarot to read the future. Now there are readers who can do that. But tarot works best for me by providing clarity about the present. Love your blog/vlog!

  3. Thank you Kate for this very helpful video. I’ve only been learning Tarot for two weeks (since I had a reading done in New Orleans) and I’ve already made all three mistakes!! I will slow down, take my time and enjoy the journey. And I will quit memorizing!!

    You do great work, and I love your videos. Keep it up!!

  4. Hi Kate,
    Thank you again for my tarot reading. It has been spot on, and have listened to it often. I have started learning to read tarot and thanks for the tips and your website.It is so helpful. I think Merlin wants to learn too, he flips over cards with his paws. Lol

    1. Hi Marsha!
      I’m so glad you enjoyed your reading from me 🙂
      And I’m sure Merlin does want to learn TArot – cats LOVE Tarot, especially chewing on the cards and flopping down in the middle of your reading, lol!

  5. Christy Moore

    I seriously love when I get a notification that you wrote/posted something! Your tips and wise words are fantastic! Thank you so much!!!!

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