Getting to Know Your First Tarot Deck

What to do when you get your first tarot deck

So you have your first ever tarot deck.

What a moment!

The wrapper is still on the box and you’re about to meet all 78 cards for the first time.

Now before you break open the little white book that comes with the cards, or grab a larger tome to introduce you to the meanings, wait just a moment. I can’t tell you how much I wish I could go back in time and meet my first deck with a completely open mind.

You have the rest of your life to pour through meanings and learn the history of each card. Hell, each symbol on each card!

But you only have this moment to look at a deck with fresh eyes and experience your own reactions, insights, and interpretations.

This is why I love reading for people who have no experience with tarot. Every time, they give me a priceless take on the cards completely unique to them. My understanding of the card is now so much richer thanks to their insight. They’re looking at the cards with a beginner’s mind and let their intuition run free without the restriction of predetermined meanings.

It’s a beautiful thing!

I urge you to savor the experience of getting to know your first deck (and all those after, of course.) Unbox the cards, feel them in your hands, and lay them out one at a time. As you look at each card, notice how it makes you feel. Does it remind you of anything? What images does it bring up in your mind? Does it bring up a specific emotion?

Write all these impressions down. In doing so, you’re creating a priceless resource that you can return to time and time again. Let your intuition do the talking. Once you’ve recorded these general impressions, consider what the card meaning might be. Have fun here. This is about finding your intuitive interpretations of the cards, not getting anything “right.”

I like to repeat this process with each card, starting with the major arcana. Once all the majors are laid out, look at the entire group. Again, consider the thoughts, memories, feelings, smells, etc. that the cards evoke as a whole.

Write it all down, and note what cards jump out to you, and which ones you find off-putting. Are there symbols you’re drawn to? Colors? Write that down, too.

Repeat with the minor arcana. You’ll soon have the whole deck laid out in front of you. I like to do this with each set of cards I add to my collection. It gives you a great “bird’s eye” view of the deck and helps to illuminate the larger patterns of the cards.

Soak it in, let the images percolate, and, when you’re ready, shuffle and begin experimenting with readings.

As you continue your tarot journey, look back on the meanings and impressions you’ve recorded here. They’re full of insight that’s completely unique to you and essential as you develop your own reading style. I can promise that you you’ll be impressed by the depth and wealth of information you came up with.