The Art of Darkness

Learn the Tarot in 5 Minutes

March 21st, 2007 by Cobwebs

Whether or not you believe in the efficacy of tarot cards, being able to do a reading is ever-so-cool. Don’t be daunted by the seemingly endless number of cards; use these simple mnemonics to help you keep everything straight, and you’ll be piercing the veil to the Other Side in no time.

There are zillions of tarot designs available, but something like the Rider-Waite or Morgan Greer decks are a good starting point because the images are fairly standardized and classic. (By contrast, my Halloween Tarot deck replaces the standard suits with Imps, Ghosts, Bats, and Pumpkins, and it took me forever before I stopped thinking, “Wait, are Bats supposed to be Swords or Pentacles or what?”)

Let’s start with the four “suits,” also known as the Minor Arcana. There are:

  • Cups – Emotional matters. Memory aid: Cups are filled with water, emotions such as tears are watery.
  • Pentacles – Financial or material concerns. Memory aid: These are usually illustrated as a pentacle inside of a circle, which looks like a coin. (In older decks, this suit is sometimes called Coins.)
  • Rods – Spiritual and intellectual matters. Memory aid: Old illustrations of spiritual leaders (Moses, Buddha, and whatnot) often depict them as carrying a rod or staff.
  • Swords – Authority and conflict. Memory aid: Actually, this one ought to be pretty obvious.

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