Recently when providing Tarot readings at a private party, the host asked me how I came to learn the Tarot as he was interested in finding out more about the skills involved.
This innocent question triggered a kind of timeline review on how I came to travel on a path of such rich and complex archetypes that is spirituality and widely known as the Tarot.
Back in the late 70’s in my native France, the only Tarot available was either the Tarot de Marseille or l’Oracle de Belline. I was fascinated by the images in the Marseille deck, so I bought a book and a Tarot deck and studied for years on my own!
Looking back, it is clear to me that my first steps into the Tarot was a tenuous journey as I had no support whatsoever to guide me, to teach me, to push my dormant abilities, it was a kind of wilderness; a lonely and difficult journey.
Today there are hundreds of Tarot decks (and for us Tarot addicts, it is heaven) and anyone can pick a deck and start doing readings and establish themselves as a reader. A few hours spent memorising keywords attributed to the cards, learning one spread or two and voila, Gypsy Rose Lee is here to tell you what your future will bring.
So, is it really important to spend hours, weeks and months even years learning the Tarot?
Is it fundamental to know the mythologies entwined with the cards, to understand astrology and numerology, to learn about the rich symbolism of the arcana? Is it really essential to practice and practice in order to help oneself and others in the process?
In other words, should one learn the Tarot? And if yes, is self-taught better than learning from a course?
If doing a course, how? Tarot workshops? E-learning? Tutor/mentor?
This is pretty much down to each individual.
Regardless, any Tarot course should be seen as learning a new language, learning the subtleties of this new language in order to be fluent and to do so, one needs time, willingness to learn, passion and practice.
A good Tarot course should also serve as a self-development course, you will acquire 78 friends who will never let you down and will guide you on your life path.
With knowledge comes power and responsibilities, both to oneself and to others 😉
Also, the financial aspect of learning the Tarot is something to take into consideration as prices range from the affordable (£39 for an online Tarot course, or £15 per lesson private tuition) to the very expensive (£250 a day for a one to one Tarot tuition or £995 for a 10 weeks (2hours a week) foundation course + £1,995 for a 10 weeks (2hours a week) advanced course by the same tutor, total for this course a whopping £2990).
But let us keep money out of the equation and rather examine the various pros and cons of learning the Tarot, self-taught versus courses.
Please note that the list of pros and cons is not exhaustive 😉
|*Learning at your own pace, no rush, no timetable, no pressure to go physically to a class. You can choose to learn with books, online videos, blogs etc. You can learn at a time suitable to you, day and night.
*Knowledge at a press of a button.
|*If you are not focused on the task ahead, you will learn sporadically or even give up.
*Also, as there are many blogs, videos and books on offer, one can feel overwhelmed and can suffer from information overload.
|*You can choose to learn about some aspects of the Tarot more in-depth, such as mythology, or numerology, astrology as a standalone and then integrate them with the Tarot.||*You will need to spend time researching about the mythology and other subjects.
You may want to invest in specialised books on the subject as well, which can cost in the long haul.
|*If you want to become a professional Tarot reader, you can establish yourself at any time and you can begin doing readings.||*Although you may be a professional reader after studying the cards, you may find out the trials and tribulations of being a professional reader the hard way.|
|*You can join the many groups online and learn as you go on your journey, at your own pace.
*Some groups also concentrate on certain aspects of the cards or, have challenges to help you think outside the box J
*There are often Tarot meet-ups when you can meet like-minded people and exchange readings etc… and make new friends in the process.
|*Online groups can be a rich source of knowledge.
*However, be aware of the Queen of Swords in some groups, the holier than thou Tarot gurus who will make you feel that your knowledge or interpretation of the cards is not to their standard!
|*Learning with a professional reader.
*This is a great way to dip your toes into the Tarot pool to see if you can make sense of the cards and learn a few things in a suitable environment.
|*The standard of workshops varies from reader to reader. Be aware of workshops promising that you will learn how to read the 78 cards in a couple of hours. *Workshops are appetizers, not the main course!|
|*Workshops are usually fun and are a great way to meet like-minded people.
The personality of the teacher will make the experience a great one as well as a fun one!
|*Sometimes in a group, you will have people with different levels of knowledge and you can feel that you are not as “good” as some others, which can create a sense of inadequacy.
*The best is to choose a workshop for your level with the Tarot (beginner, Intermediate or Advanced).
|*After a workshop, you can decide if you want to push your knowledge further by embarking on a course to delve deeper into the magic of the Tarot.
If you had good vibes with your teacher, chances are they may have a course you can enrol to.
|*You may have enjoyed the workshop because of the Tarot itself, but not so much the teacher. If so, look for a teacher you will feel comfortable with. Energies are a funny mix, one must be totally at ease with their teacher or mentor.|
|*You may decide to do a few workshops with different teachers in order to see which teacher could be the best for you.
Workshops vary in prices and locations, it is always good to try two to make up your mind.
|*Workshops are easy to enrol, but you may want to draw a line on how many you want to do. There is no quick ways of learning the Tarot, practice and dedication is what is required if you want to achieve a good level with the Tarot.|
Online Tarot courses
|*Like with self-learning, usually you can learn at your own pace with the added bonus of having a teacher supporting you.
*A good course will have a set of exercises for you to do and you will get feedback on how much progress you are making.
|*Although you will have a teacher, the learning will be done on your own, following the course lessons and the structure of the course.
*You will need to be organised and regular with your lessons if you want to see some progress.
*Time will be the essence concerning your exercises.
|*Usually you can choose your level with the Tarot and enrol on a course which will push you to the next level (beginner, intermediate, advanced, master).||*You can enrol to the right level for you, but some teachers will insist that you start from beginner to whatever levels they provide, in order to monitor your progress.|
|*The written lessons provided by the teacher are yours to keep forever for future reference.
*So when the course is finished, you can revisit some of the lessons at your own pace.
*A good rapport with your teacher will help you to fill more at ease and will help with your progress.Make sure you have detailed information about what you learn, how many lessons and how many exercises.
|*Some written lessons are very basic and can be found for free online.
*If a course has no exercises to do which can be monitored by a teacher, it is not worth your financial commitment (better the self-taught route).
*If the modules of a course are not detailed prior to your enrolment, be aware, the chances are that the course will not be up to standard!
|*Choose a reputable Tarot school or Tarot organisation or a professional Tarot teacher with experience.
*Do not hesitate to ask questions before departing with your money.
*Try to see if there are testimonials about the course and what other people think about it.
*Make sure that the course will cover what you want to learn from it (the cards, spreads, techniques for reading the cards etc.)
|*Remember that promises of learning the Tarot quickly is something to avoid.
*Sometimes, learning with a school is a bit rigid as they have their own sets of rules for learning.
|*Learning in a structured and relaxed atmosphere with a reputable Tarot reader and teacher can help you to develop your skills.
*Private tuition is excellent for your skills and awareness to blossom under the watchful eye of your tutor.
|*In order to benefit from one to one private tuition or mentoring, you will need to be at ease with your tutor.
*They will need to be approachable and knowledgeable about the Tarot; and patient.
*If a mentor is not willing to go the extra mile for you to progress is not worth your while.
*You will need to put aside time regularly for your lessons, so you will need to be organised.
*The dance of the diaries might be a bit complicated if you and your teacher are very busy.
|*You will be able to develop your own style of readings with the encouragement of your tutor.
*You will be able to ask questions and to discuss reading techniques from simple spreads to more advanced layouts with your mentor.
*Passion for the Tarot is something that can be fuelled by the right Tarot tutor.
*Prior to enrolling on a course, try to have a conversation with your tutor to discuss your needs. Try to feel your tutor, are they passionate about their subject? Do they instil in you the desire to learn?
|*In order to achieve a good level with the Tarot, your mentor will need to teach you the cards by encouraging your thinking process, by instilling a desire to push further your abilities, by challenging you with the cards, so you will need to be prepared for some constructive criticism.
*A tutor without passion and going through the motions will be the most disheartening experience you could have with the Tarot IMHO.
|*The course litterature provided by your teacher should be concise and precise with lots of information and of course, concrete examples of readings with techniques.
*A set of exercises should be the norm and a good mentor will encourage you to develop your ways of thinking about the cards.
*Fun is usually part of the process and we all learn better when having fun.
|*If you are looking for a quick way to learn the Tarot, mentoring won’t be the right platform for you.
*Usually, mentoring with the Tarot involves a deep knowledge of the cards and this knowledge is passed on from the mentor to the student. It is an organic process that takes time. J
*Be aware of mentors insisting on you learning keywords by heart and not allowing you to be yourself with the Tarot. We all learn differently.
|*Choose a reputable Tarot mentor/tutor as this can make your experience of learning the Tarot a good one or a more difficult one.
*A good mentor/tutor usually is someone with many years of experience reading the Tarot in different environments.
*Read testimonials online about your mentor/tutor and what they have to say.
|*A good mentor/tutor will let you to be you during the course, and shouldn’t be rigid about your way of learning or reading.
*Be aware if your mentor/tutor wants you to follow a certain set of rules and procedures about the cards and readings.
The first rule of Tarot: there is no rule!
|*You can start from point of a total beginner and achieve an advanced level with a Tarot mentor/tutor.
*If you know the Tarot already, you may want to learn further techniques to read the cards or, you may want to practice your skills under supervision.
*A good Tarot tutor/mentor will be able to tailor lessons specific to your needs.
|*Some Tarot tutors ask potential students to do their beginner tutoring and go through their modules to achieve a higher level.
*Although, there maybe a financial incentive attached to this for the tutor, it is not really suitable if you have already achieved a certain level with the Tarot.
|*If you want to become a professional Tarot reader, your Tarot tutor/mentor will be a great source of knowledge and experience in guiding you through the ups and downs of the profession.
*That is why you should choose someone with experience and reputation.
|*Some Tarot mentors/tutors see students who want to become professional as potential competitors and are reluctant to impart their experience and knowledge. If your tutor is not open to the idea of sharing their knowledge, look for someone who is more open and suitable to you.|
Hopefully, after reading this blog, you will have a better understanding about the various avenues and cul de sacs towards learning the Tarot.
Something we must bear in mind, variety is the spice of life and what is suitable for one may not be for someone else.
Use your intuition, reflect on why you want to learn, what you may want to achieve (self-development, learning more about yourself via archetypes, or career change; training to the best of your abilities) and above all, have fun whilst learning, it keeps the mind young.
Oephebia and the kitty monsters