Tarot 101: How to Start Your Practice
Holy Shift! Tarot with Jenn Pennington
When you think of, see, or hear about tarot cards or tarot readings what comes to mind? I’m genuinely curious. When I used to hear about tarot readings or divination of any kind, I was immediately struck with an even amount of intense curiosity and nervousness. Mostly because I was raised Roman Catholic and part of my upbringing consisted of being told that any form of outside exploration or questioning was a path to the devil. So of course, I didn’t want to be “bad,” but then again, I didn’t want to be confused either.
So I explored in my own way, as best as I could. Taking books out from the library on mythology, astrology, dreamwork, and witches. Enjoying supernatural stories I’d hear about my mother’s upbringing and all the paranormal experiences she had. I explored while being cautious enough to not dive too deep just yet. It wasn’t until I was sixteen that I was given my first tarot deck. The Rider-Waite Tarot.
I was both overwhelmed and deeply intrigued by its very simple yet archetypal imagery. I read the book that came with the deck from front to back, over and over again, using it as a reference as I journaled on my card pulls, slept with certain cards and meditated with others. I didn’t know then that this would be the starting ground for my current way of reading tarot and teaching tarot, which I now call Practical Tarot. At that time, I was digging into any and all information I could grasp. Now, as I’ve grown as a reader for 13+ years, I see the tarot in a completely different way than I did at that time. And I’m super stoked to share this information with you!
The Basics of Tarot
A typical tarot deck consists of 78 cards. These 78 cards are broken up into two parts. The Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana.
The Major Arcana
The Major Arcana is made of up the first 22 cards of your deck and represents shifts in consciousness and major changes or transitions.
These first 22 cards represent very important archetypes of the psyche, heart and soul and can really be helpful in meditation and embodiment. Each major arcana card is also represented by a specific astrological sign which plays an important magickal, medicinal, psychological and spiritual role in how a reading spreads out. But ultimately, when a Major Arcana Card shows up, this is giving you a heads up that holy shifts are on the horizon or are already happening.
The Minor Arcana
The Minor Arcana make up the second half of the tarot deck and represent important details, elements of a reading, a story being told and further advice or guidance.
The Minor Arcana are broken into 4 parts, or suits—pentacles, swords, wands and cups. Each suit represents a different element of nature and a different element of the personality or energy of the reading being given.
Pentacles represent the earth element.
Swords represent the air element.
Wands represent the fire element.
Cups represent the water element.
Each of these suits also symbolize time periods, masculine or feminine energy, and so much more. Of course, it depends highly on what you intuit more than anything—and of course, the nature of the reading itself being given.
Connecting to the Tarot and Yourself
Tarot, is a magnificent tool for personal development, self help, healing, intuitive awakening, and growth! The tarot can, of course, be used to determine future outcomes, or conduct love readings. The cards can also be used for meditation and manifestation as well, because of the rich symbolism the cards possess. But if you are just starting out on this path or still trying to find your way, I suggest you do so with the intention of self help and personal development first.
Utilize this tool to understand yourself, understand your environment, and how you interact with the world around you. Discover the archetypes of the major arcana. Pulling one card from each and asking yourself, how does this make me feel? What does this bring up for me that I need to shift? Understand the elements of the minor arcana and where you may need more balance of one than the other (feeling ungrounded or stressed? You may need more earth element in your life—tarot will definitely bring that up for you and guide you on how to rebalance that!).
A big reason why I highly suggest working with your tarot cards from this space first is because most of the time we struggle with trusting our intuition and interpreting our thoughts and feelings clearly. We generally have a cluster of thoughts, a plethora of feelings and ton of insight—and we’re really good at sharing that insight with others when the spotlight is on their issues or concerns, but many of us have been programmed to ignore our own stuff we need to look at.
Developing Your Intuition
Working with the tarot from a personal development, self expansion, and self help space first will open your intuitive eye, help you put understanding to your inner world and help you heal blocks and barriers to your own intuition. When we do not trust ourselves, this leads us into unbalanced and misaligned territory, jobs, relationships and situations. When our intuition is developing, opening and fine tuning—we ultimately develop a rich and magickal relationship with ourselves and this leads us to aligned relationships, situations and circumstances. Tarot has definitely helped me strengthen my intuition, understand many things I was confused about and has reconnected me to my inner wisdom and highest self—which is just a fancy way of saying my happiest, healthiest, and most confident self. The self that was blocked, shushed, or shooed away came through in my many years of developing through and learning from this beloved tool I now get to teach others how to incorporate in their daily routines. And I hope this helps inspire you to dare to dive deep and unlock your magick too!
Grab a tarot deck that aligns with you. Note that it doesn’t have to be a beginner deck. If you resonate with a beginner deck then go for it, but you ultimately reach towards a deck that aligns with you.
Explore the deck without the book. I know, I said I did that, but as I’ve grown, I have found that the best book on tarot we can use in our practice is one we create ourselves through our own journey with our deck. Explore your deck without the book and record your insights, feelings, and impressions in a journal solely for your tarot readings.
Pull one card a day for yourself and give yourself readings. Slowly but surely fine tune your intuition, trust what comes up, receive the insight you have deep within you. See over time what you interpreted and how it made sense to you!
I truly hope this article found and fed your spirit in the way it was meant to and I cannot wait to share many magical and magickal ways of using tarot in your life!
If you’d like to immerse yourself in my Practical Tarot Self Study Course, click here!
If you’d like a personal tarot reading with spiritual counseling, click here!
For any questions or further discussion about today's article or services and classes offered, feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com Tuesday-Friday from 11am to 6pm EST!
This piece was written and contributed by:
Jennifer Pennington PhD.
Holy Shift! Tarot
Jennifer Pennington is a registered Minister, Metaphysician & Holistic Educator in the state of Pennsylvania. She has traveled all throughout the tri-state area and wherever else the divine Mother & Father have guided her so she can share her love of EveryBody Wellness Practices.
In her free time she enjoys visiting her local bookstore, farmers markets, thrift shopping, cuddling her kitties and watching supernatural horror movies with her husband, Brian.
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