A Beginner's Guide to Tarot Cards

Written by Efua Osei

“To those who think the practice of reading tarot is an occult art reserved for spook sessions, let me say: You’re wrong.”

Steff Yotka, Vogue

What is tarot?

Around the 18th century, tarot decks began to be used for spiritual readings, where it had before been used as a card game1. "Etteilla", the pseudonym of Jean-Baptiste Alliette, was the French occultist to bring tarot divination to a large audience, making him the first professional tarot occultist noted.2 However, readings and channeling messages from a higher power through physical conduits is a long standing practice around the world, including many African and Indigenous cultures and religions. As an African and African American Studies major (and learning more about my Ghanian culture), I was always reminded of the spiritual, communal, grounding aspect of worship and celebrating a higher power. We are all spiritual beings, but tarot cards are a mere tool to assist on our journeys.

Some may be intimidated by the world of tarot, maybe even a little scared. At the end of the day, tarot is a tool to facilitate messages from the universe, our spirit guides, etc. Tarot is a great method to flex the intuitive muscles that we all possess.

“Tarot is an art, not a science, so the meaning of each card can be interpreted slightly differently”

Ariel Scotti, PureWow

Why start tarot?

In my experience, I've seen how reassuring tarot readings can be. Tarot is a tool for navigating situations and questions you may be unsure about. Tarot can also be a means for you to connect with spirit guides through the cards. It’s most important to remember that Tarot readings, like all other spiritual practices, are part of a learning experience. You go through it, and you grow through it. You only get stronger the more you practice.

Modern Witch Tarot Deck

Modern Witch Tarot Deck

First, you’ll need a deck. Upon my first introduction to crystals, I was told not to get too hung up on which crystals do what. Instead, go with a few crystals you naturally gravitate towards. I think the same applies for tarot decks. Don’t think you have to get a specific thing - allow yourself to make the choice easy for you. This also means getting a deck that inspires and excites you! It’s always better to shop small (at places like Alternative Thinking) and do your research!

After deciding which deck to purchase, begin to familiarize yourself with the cards. Many spiritualists suggest shuffling your cards as a great way to establish that physical connection with them. Some people meditate with them, and some even sleep with their cards right next to them. It’s all about creating that personal relationship, as silly as it may feel at first!

Check in with yourself and the energy of the space you want to conduct your first reading in. Steff Yotka mentions in her article, “I think it’s important to think about the energy of the space, because you’re opening up...If you want to be an open person, it means that you want your environment around you to be a healthy one so it’s okay for you to be open.” (Vogue) Burning candles or incense, or even just cleaning/reorganizing the space you are conducting your reading in are some ways to do this. It’s as much about cultivating the space and the energy around you to understand and hear what the cards are telling you as clearly as possible. This includes our mental spaces as well. This can include meditation, prayer, or anything that silences the internal noise and opens your heart to these channeled messages.

Many suggest the “3 Card Pull” for beginner’s. This involves meditating on a question, asking the cards, and pulling 3 different cards from your deck to reveal the messages. This set of 3 cards symbolize insight into the past, present, and future. They can also symbolize the mind, body, and spirit. The specifics can be different from deck to deck, and person to person, but this 3 card pull is a great way to start reading the cards as a group, and trying to deduce the bigger picture. “Use language that you already have, or knowledge that you already have, so you can see it less as ‘This holds all of these secret meanings that I have to do all this work to access,’ and more like ‘I know all the meanings; it’s just a matter of making the connections and being able to articulate them.’ ” (Vogue) Try to take a small waiting period before asking the same question and pulling again, to make sure you’ve fully given yourself time to understand these messages. Try keeping a journal to capture all your thoughts, feelings, and channelled messages throughout the process! Keep an open mind, and ease into uncertainty lightly.

Here are some Black Spiritualists, Healers, and more to follow on Instagram!


  1. https://mymodernmet.com/history-of-tarot-cards/
  2. https://bicyclecards.com/article/a-brief-history-of-tarot-cards/

About Efua

My name is Efua! I’m 22, and I’m a sagittarius sun, libra moon, and taurus rising! I'm currently a senior at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, graduating with a degree in African & African-American Studies, and a minor in Communication Design. I have been interested in astrology since I was a kid, reading sagittarius horoscopes in all the tween magazines. I became way more invested after my friend analyzed my birth chart 3 years ago. Since then, I have learned so much about myself and others through this spiritual journey. I feel more connected to those around me, and to the universe! This led me to invest in crystals, and learn more from spiritualists and healers online. Many, if not all, of these spiritual rituals have such direct ties to a myriad of Indigenous cultures, inspiring me to actually begin the journey of tarot reading. After experiencing tarot readings with my friends, I have only grown more in love with the experience. I encourage everyone to start with their full birth chart, and from there the journey is yours to take!

About The Author

Tablö Creative is a digital creative agency dedicated to helping small businesses leave a lasting impression online with our service offerings including content creation, copywriting, branding, social media marketing, web design and development. Our dream clients are brands whose core values are rooted in conscious & mindful operations. We believe that it's our responsibility to protect our planet from the climate crisis, not just through our personal lives, but also through our work. Our communication style supports creativity and freedom of expression by creating meaningful connections.