We are all wanderers on this earth. Our hearts are full of wonder, and our souls are deep with dreams.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Back To School with Tarot?

So my car died.  The transmission was being stupid and every day it was being a little more stupid.  My mom bought herself a new car and gave me her older one, a PT Cruiser.  If I had won the lottery, the PT Cruiser is not the car I would have chosen but it is very nice and it certainly beats a dead car.  So I'm extraordinarily grateful to my mother.  In the process of registering the car, I had to produce my birth certificate to prove I am my mother's daughter but the problem was I couldn't find it.  I tore through some boxes of stuff in storage and found not what I was looking for but a whole slew of old tarot journals from when I was learning to read.  I didn't realize how many notes I'd taken, how many readings I wrote down, card meanings, musings, etc.  Many.

I'm frequently asked how to learn to read tarot.  Several people have asked if I offer classes.  I can do that.  One of the roles I play at my day job has been as a trainer.  I can teach adults the stuff I know.  But tarot is different.  Some people thrive in a classroom setting and there are some wonderful readers offering wonderful tarot courses and  classes, but I'm hesitant.  Because that's not the way I learned tarot.  I realize not everyone is an autodidact, a self-taught person, but I learn best when I research and practice on my own.  Besides, I'm not sure I can teach anyone how to read tarot exactly.  I can teach the history of tarot cards and I can show how to lay them out in spreads and I can hand out a set of acceptable meanings, but that's not reading.  Besides, you can get that within the little booklet that comes packaged with almost every tarot deck.  So what would a class really offer that one can't get on their own?

Maybe I'm being dense.  Learning tarot in a class is much like learning anything else.  If I took a class on cake decorating but then didn't practice on my own at home, I wouldn't get any better at creating rosettes.  If I took a language class and yet continued to use the translation dictionary, the words, the subtle meanings and the natural flow of speaking and understanding wouldn't embed itself in my brain.  Maybe this is why I don't take classes unless they are a means to an end such as earning credits toward a degree. If I have a passion to learn something, I just go do it and learn as I go.  I have thoroughly enjoyed taking classes, don't misunderstand.  I love learning new things.  But learning a skill is different and learning tarot is more different still.

While there is a right and wrong way to bake a cake and pronounce a word in another language, there is no right or wrong way to read tarot (or pronounce it, for that matter).  While I can equip you with the basics, you must take it from there.  You will need to work with your cards every day several times a day.  You will be thinking about them even when you're not working with them.  You will be reading about them, talking with others about them, writing about them and yes, reading, reading, reading them.  You will make discoveries and apply them to your readings.  You will study the cards, research symbols, colors, numbers, and incorporate what you find.  Or not.  Maybe you will find whatever you find in the cards.  Maybe you will develop your own set of meanings and symbols and use those.  No one can teach you these things.

Because the language of tarot comes from your own conscious and subconscious connections and experiences, every reader speaks a different dialect of tarot.  When I read for someone who also reads tarot, I am often asked how I arrived at a particular card meaning.  I don't know?  I can only tell you what I know about the card itself but how the connection came to be made between that and what I told you in the context of your reading is a complex domino effect of associations that happens so quickly in my brain that I couldn't begin to unravel it for you.

The first tarot reading I received was so mind blowing for me that when I began the process of learning tarot, I wanted to read like THAT.  I wanted to be able to read those cards like a story, connecting them in a way that not only made sense linguistically but made sense in the life of the one I was reading for.  Just as learning a language is best done by immersing oneself in the culture and environment of the language, so it was for me with tarot, too.

That said, I've been thinking about offering something, though, along the lines of teaching tarot. Just because I learn best on my own doesn't mean everyone does.  I'm not against a tarot class, per se, but maybe a kind of tarot mentoring or coaching would be more beneficial?  For those who might be interested in a tarot class, what would you be looking for?  What would you want to accomplish by taking such a class?  When the class was over, what would you expect to be equipped to do? 


  1. Anonymous4:26 PM

    I think that you are right in that anyone really interested in reading well will develop in their own way, but a class would be helpful in learning the history. I think that a class would give structure, discipline and motivation to someone just beginning. A starting point may be helpful to many because there are so many levels of information. I would create a course focused on activities designed to think about the cards and their individual symbolism over their personal significance to me.

  2. I've been messing with
    Tarot cards for almost 20 years and I still don't feel competent to read for any one. I would take a class to see where i am in my skill level and learn what people expect when they get a reading, I've never had my cards read during this 20 years. I would like to see an actual reading take place

  3. Great feedback! More! More! ;)

  4. Anonymous6:30 AM

    First off let me say that I would take any class that you offered. I've just started reading tarot this summer and your blog has been my favorite resource for learning. Something about your approach--the thoroughness of your historical knowledge, your feminist take on the more gendered aspects of tarot, the metaphors you use to describe cards--really resonates with me.

    Any traditional class that gives us more knowledge of the cards and the relationships between cards would be really helpful. Your tarot by numbers blogs would be a great starting point for a class. The tarot court would be, too.

    I would also love to take a class with you that deepened my reading practice, so that by the end I had a stronger sense of who I am as a reader. Something in the model of a creative writing class format would work well, where each week we created something (completed an exercise, did a reading, wrote out an interpretation of a reading that you assigned, came up with a spread for a question) and then came together as a class and shared and discussed our work.

  5. I agree with you Ginny! There are certain things you can teach in a class, history, meanings and techniques. But to "read" the cards that has to be learned on your own.

  6. Anonymous4:28 PM

    I do offer classes from time to time. My personal goal is to help the students avoid some of the frustrations I experienced along the way.I try to help them understand the cards rather than memorize their meanings.

  7. These are wonderful comments and insights. I need this. I am now wondering if an online class can offer the things you all have mentioned or is the getting together face-to-face really how it's best done? Online would have to be very interactive, I think, like an online blackboard type classroom or Live Meeting type environment where everyone can comment, see what's going on on my screen, etc. Thinking....

  8. Anonymous12:12 PM

    I agree with what another "anonymous" said: I'd take any class you offered. I read your blog for a reason, and therefore I'd be interested in finding out how you came to grow into the reader you are today. In other words, I'd be interested in hearing you break down the process that you go through to read (even though it all happens so fast you may not consciously realize what you're doing). While you may not be able to describe all of it, I'd be interested to hear some "do this", "don't do that" types of tips. If you focus on colors, but completely disregard Astrology, I'd want to know that. That doesn't mean that anyone needs to follow your method to the letter, but it's helpful to learn to mimic a great reader's style, and then tweak it to make it your own.
    Check out WizIQ. You can do live classes there (with audio and video) which can be recorded for others who are unable to attend the live class.

  9. Thank you "Anonymous J." I will take a look at WizIQ. I would need an online platform since my clients, audience, and potential future students are online.

  10. Hey Ginny,

    I am much like you, a self-taught Tarot professional. Most of my learning is from developing a relationship with the cards and walking through life together these past 40 years. My second influence is the many books I have read. The last has been inspiring classes and workshops I have attended over the last 20 years.

    But, as a trained psychotherapist, I know that different people have unique ways of learning. It did not occur to me to teach Tarot until folks started asking me to. My teaching is a response to an expressed need. I don't expect others to learn the way I do. But what I do emphasize in my teaching is how to continue to teach yourself and develop a relationship with Tarot, discovering your own style of reading with your unique gifts.

    Last, in my 25 years of training in psychotherapy, there is a great deal of emphasis on supervision and ethics. I do prefer a model where readers have the option of receiving professional supervision for their Tarot work and know they have a support network in place. This fosters a more ethical service and promotes a higher sense of professionalism to the public.

    In conclusion, just as clients find the reader that has what they are looking for, students find their teacher. There is something for everyone, especially with the expansion of internet options.

    Best wishes on your teaching journey and may all your exchanges be wonderful and life-affirming.

  11. Great advice, Katrina, thank you!

  12. As has been said before, I'd take any class you offered. :)

  13. Kathy114:51 PM

    I think a class in tarot would first free the student from the idea of set meanings. It would
    focus on symbols with some suggested meanings and yet offer the idea that symbols can have personal meanings and change as situtations change. Then offer lots of time to practice. Classes have a safety net quaility which can allow a person to bloom into the reader they are to be

  14. Great point, Kathy. I was just in training for something at work and the classes were definitely a safe space to try new things, ask questions, make mistakes and come out with skills I didn't have before. I see what you mean.

  15. Anonymous10:08 AM

    Hi Ginny -- Love your blog. I agree whole-heartedly with what Anon. said eloquently above:"Something about your approach--the thoroughness of your historical knowledge, your feminist take on the more gendered aspects of tarot, the metaphors you use to describe cards--really resonates with me."

    I'd like to see a class that takes us from beginning to end. I'm not so much interested in the history as a separate section, I think that comes through in lessons. I think most of us who want to take a Tarot class are interested in the practical aspects -- how the heck do I read this thing??? I too have been enthralled by the Tarot for over a decade, but don't feel confident to read well. Here's what I'm thinking for a class:
    - Fools Journey -- Understanding the Major Arcana
    - Reading Minors by knowing suit and numerological meanings, then combining
    - How the Minors relate to the Majors (numerologically, 2 in the Minors relate to High Priestess, Justice & Judgement)
    - Reading: Formulating useful questions, ethics, demonstrated readings
    - Putting it all Together: practice readings via online, then practice readings face to face with local friends (since it would be an online class)

    Thanks, Ginny!

  16. Anonymous10:12 AM

    oops -- should have also added in the "Reading" section something about spreads... Thanks!

  17. Anonymous10:17 AM

    ...and reasonably priced! I get very irritated with folks selling an online class for over $100 -- the instructor only needs to make the class once, the rest of the sales are gravy, so an online class for $97 will sell to more people and benefit more people, netting the same amount ultimately (or more) for the instructor, whereas a class for $297 takes a bite out of a budget big-time, and not nearly so many will be able to benefit from it.

  18. That's some incredibly practical advice! So well thought out and you even broke it down in sections -- LOVE IT! This is why I need the more grounded and practical pentacles types around me. I am way too airy-mind-y for my own good. I am like that 7 of Cups with no foundation to my dreams. Thank you!

  19. Anonymous11:19 PM

    No problem. :-) I forgot to put the Courts in there somewhere...

  20. That's because I put the Courts everywhere. :D I can't stop talking about them, so no one would leave a class of mine without getting some info about those guys!

  21. Anonymous8:25 PM

    I hope you do offer a class, Ginny!


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