Tarot Basics- The Keyword Method

So you’ve got a lovely tarot deck and want to learn how to read it. Where do you start? I suggest you start with the keyword method. For all intents and purposes, a reading is just that- you are telling a story. The cards provide the words that make that story.

The very first thing you should do with your brand new deck, even before you look at the little white book (LWB) that came with it is to sit down for a quiet hour or two with your deck and a notebook and jot down what you think each card means. No more then two or three words each. Go with the first thing that comes into your mind and trust the way the card makes you feel. In the end, all card reading is about accessing your subconscious knowledge. What a card means to you may be different to what it means to someone else. Symbolism is both universal and individual and before you go with the universal meanings, work out what your individual meaning is. It’s much harder to go the other way.

These keywords will form the basis of the way you combine meanings. For example, you may have the Ace of Pentacles- a practical beginning, the 3 of Cups- a celebration and the 9 of Pentacles- satisfaction. In combination you would say that you are satisfied with the progress you’ve made on new party plans. Maybe you’ve booked a venue, or started buying supplies. Keeping things to keywords helps to narrow down the bewildering array of possible meanings.

Once you’ve assigned your own personal meanings it’s time to look at the universal ones. You may find you’ve been very close with how you have seen the card or rather different. Make a note of those you saw as very different to the universal meanings. Write a list of both your keywords and the universal ones together and test over time which works for you. The beauty of the keyword method is that once you have it down pat you can pretty much read with any deck, including playing cards. Makes for an awesome party trick.

The keyword method is a great place to start, though it is of course rather limited. Having said that, it’s always a good idea to learn to walk before you run. Once you have your keywords memorised you can start to go deeper.

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