So you have a tarot deck (or two, or three… I know how it goes!) Now what?
Things have changed a lot since I was an awkward teenager first discovering the tarot. Picture me lurking in my bedroom late at night with my trusty Rider-Waite-Smith deck and two books and you get the picture.
In a way, the limitations of the time were helpful. Without lots of book choices on Amazon or card meanings online I was able to focus on the information I had with me. Now I have to sit on myself to avoid spending too much on amazon or getting sucked into an internet vortex. Sometimes I’m successful, and sometimes… not so much.
So my perhaps old-timey recommendation? If you’re starting out, grab a book or two and really get to know them. Practice with lots of readings and thumb through to the meaning of each card. Notice what rings true to you and what confuses you. Write it all down. I can’t overstate the usefulness of a tarot journal.
You’re well on your way to tarot proficiency!
Here are the books that guided me on my journey, as well as some newer additions that can do the same for you.
Learning the Tarot: A Book for Beginners by Joan Bunning
I started out on this book and it is wonderful. A comprehensive tarot course with succinct and accessible card definitions perfect for the beginner. Joan Bunning also offers the course for free on her website here.
Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack
I adore this book. It’s like an old friend I will never get tired of having tea with. Filled with wonderful insight and deep meaning, do yourself a favor and pick it up. I wish it had come into my life sooner!
Tarot Wisdom by Rachel Pollack
More beautiful and insightful tarot interpretations. Rich with information and put together in a masterful, easy-to-follow way. This book is very in-depth and incorporates many other mystical traditions into tarot. I suggest getting this after you’re familiar with Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom only because it’s easy to get carried away with this much magic.
Holistic Tarot by Benebell Wen
What a tome! Heft with card meanings and much, much more. This book contains a wealth of spreads and explorations into the history, uses, and philosophy behind tarot. Also contains a very useful section about the ethics of tarot and professional practice for those curious about going pro.
The Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination by Robert M. Place
My favorite book on the history of tarot. If you’re persnickety about historical accuracy this is the book or you! Place’s scholarship is excellent and clarifies many of the misconceptions about tarot’s origins. His explorations of the meanings of the Marseille and R-W-S systems are very enlightening. A must-read for those looking to understand the history behind the cards.
The Encyclopedia of Tarot vol. 1 by Stuart Kaplan
Decks, decks, and more decks! A great resource on tarot history and, you guessed it, tarot decks. From the Medieval origins of the tarot through the twentieth century, this book has all the information and illustrations you need. Helpful for those curious about the evolution of tarot as well as those interested in collecting. Start with volume one for a useful intro, and add others as your journey progresses. The extensive photos also help curb excessive deck collecting :)
How about you? What books have helped you on your journey with tarot?