Tarot 101: A Beginner’s Guide

It’s beautiful to witness the curiosity surrounding Tarot rise among Latinx spiritual seekers

Photo: Unsplash/@jentheodore

Photo: Unsplash/@jentheodore

It’s beautiful to witness the curiosity surrounding Tarot rise among Latinx spiritual seekers. Tarot has come a long way since the days my abuela would read for clients in her backroom when being a professional Tarot card reader was still stigmatized and considered dark and unprofessional. Tarot is now rightfully being recognized as a tool for positive spiritual advancement. If you’ve been told you have to be psychic to read tarot, please note: that is an outdated outlook on this ancient esoteric art. Anyone at any level or with any ability, psychic or not, has equal access to the knowledge of tarot. What matters is the approach. Coming from good intent, gratitude and wanting to encourage your personal spiritual enlightenment will allow you to develop a wonderful connection with the Universe through your personal tarot deck.

You’re here because you’re wanting to either draw accurate personal spreads on yourself or simply want to understand tarot better and how it can be utilized as a tool to integrate into your personal healing. I spoke with Latina Tarot YouTuber, JJ Constellation, who shared insight into some of her personal tips and tricks for those who are seeking to gain a basic understanding of tarot for uses such as personal spiritual development.

“Tarot is an amazing tool. It helps you gain insight into your subconscious. It’s very therapeutic,” JJ Constellation says.  Whether you’re a novice or looking to go pro, tarot lovingly embraces all. This is the Beginner’s Guide to Tarot — for you!


How to Choose a Deck

Ready to get a deck but hung up on the old myth that your first deck should be a gift? If you’re hesitant to purchase your own deck for yourself, don’t worry. Many of us have gone through that confusing state of whether or not you should magically hope to be gifted a deck by someone. The answer is, it’s up to your own personal practice. Do you gravitate more towards wanting to pick your own deck instead of risking someone gifting you a deck you might not like due to its lack of illustrations? It’s perfectly fine to purchase a deck for yourself – first deck or not. I purchased a deck for myself when I first began to dabble in tarot. Since then, I have been blessed to be gifted a variety of decks by many amazing people.

You might be wondering how does one go about picking a deck? My recommendation is to always follow your intuitive hunch. It doesn’t hurt to go into a shop with a specific deck in mind, but it’s equally eventful to see which tarot deck just tugs at your heart. If a particular deck constantly grabs your attention or gives you this unexplainable feeling of “this is the one!” – chances are, that’s the deck is meant for you at that moment. There might be instances where you find yourself not automatically clicking with a tarot deck for various reasons. Give yourself the opportunity to build a loving relationship with that deck. I’ve had decks that I didn’t automatically connect with until later on in my practice. That is something that definitely occurs.

Let’s say you have no clue what deck you want or where to purchase a deck. This is where you can always lean on the classics. There are many decks up for sale online and even via Etsy. The options are plenty and soon you’ll find yourself excited to collect. Ready to get your hands on a deck, but not sure which decks are beginner’s friendly? No worries, we’ve got you!

“Any Rider Waite copy is my recommendation,” shares Tarot YouTuber JJ Constellation. “Some of them are Smith Wait Tarot Deck, Morgan Greer Tarot Deck, or The Radiant Tarot deck. Ultimately, use the one that you feel called to.”


Books Can Be Useful

Aside from dedicating time on YouTube studying and watching the style of other readers, you’ll likely want some tangible material to read that can assist you with navigating the basics. Much of learning the art of tarot is a mixture of intuition, storytelling and grasping the symbolism and meanings behind every card. Amplify your progress by formulating a solid foundation of what the elements and suits represent within tarot. This critical knowledge will create a bridge of better understanding of how the divine is trying to communicate with you through the cards.

If you’re someone who enjoys learning through written formats, you’ll find it useful to purchase books that offer in-depth instructional advice on how to comprehend tarot as a tool. Here are some books that have assisted JJ Constellation in her journey that she recommends: “Tarot Wisdom” by Rachel Pollacks, “Learning the Tarot: A Tarot Book for Beginners” by Joan Bunning and “Tarot 101: Mastering the Art of Reading the Cards” by Kim Huggens.


Understanding the Major Arcana

In Tarot, every card brings something to the table (pun intended). Developing an understanding that all cards offer noteworthy substance when you conversate with the Universe is a big first step towards being able to connect with the tarot.

However, there is a bit of some hierarchy that exists. Understanding what the Major Arcana cards represent can be a great starting point. These cards make notable appearances when comprehending the messaging around the inquiry you’re divining for.

“The way that I memorized the major arcana in the tarot is by astrology. I found it was very helpful to link them to an astrological sign or planet,” says JJ Constellation.

They’re called majors for a reason. Usually, when these baddies make an appearance it’s because there are some fated energy shifts going on in your life. Major Arcana cards can come through as positive or negative. It truly depends on the energy you have surrounding you at that moment in life and how you’re intuitively perceiving what the cards are speaking.

These cards are the meat of your sandwich. Meaning, when you pull out one or several Major Arcana cards, these will help you glue your story together. It could be helpful to focus on these cards first when you perform readings for yourself or others. Intuitively hone in on them to see what are some key points they offer in order for you to guide yourself through the spread.

There is a total of 22 Major Arcana cards to get acquainted with. Often times these cards will represent challenges, lessons, and opportunities that could require some further exploration.


Understanding the Minor Arcana


Just because they’re titled the Minor Arcana doesn’t mean these cards should be taken for granted. Quite the contrary. These sets of cards provide clarity when it comes to our daily behaviors, choices or what I like to call, our everyday energy. Within the Minor Aracana make the four suits, which are the cups, pentacles, swords, and wands.

When asked the significance of working with the Minor Aracana, JJ Constellation shared her perception of it, “I feel it’s very important to know the suits in the tarot because it provides you with a foundation.” She further explained, “Plus it’s the basics of tarot and it’s important to know the basics. It will make memorizing the meanings easier.”

I personally enjoy associating the suits with the four basic elements in alchemy. By doing so, this assisted me with further deepening my bond with relaying the messaging that can be illuminated through the cards. Think of cups to be associated with water and emotions, pentacles can be amplified by Earth and 3D energy, swords are adaptable like air, and wands are fiery and passionate.

Assembling your Major Arcana pulls (the meat of your sandwich) with your Minor Arcana pulls (the toppings and condiments) become a fun intuitive game you develop as you go along practicing by way of performing readings for yourself.  The Minor Arcana can form a kaleidoscope of sorts. They paint a picture and add structure to the message that you’re needing to interpret at that moment.


Flagship Cards Sun

All cards are important when learning to read the tarot. However, the Sun card really sticks out as a highly positive card. If you’re seeking a positive outcome or likely even a yes from the Universe when inquiring about a specific question in your spiritual path then this is the card, you’ll be happy to receive. The Sun card is powerful because it illuminates the positive aspects within the reading. The Sun wants to shine light towards being able to see the glass half full rather than half empty. Finding an optimistic outlook in whatever your circumstance is the message derived from the spiritual Sun card.


Flagship Cards Death


Notoriously misunderstood. Off the bat, you take its name literal. However, this a card widely feared for lack of appropriate awareness for what it symbolically represents. The Death card can be drawn when you’re experiencing a spiritual death and rebirth. A moment in life when you’re defying all odds and rising from the ashes of who you once were. An automatic draw of The Death card doesn’t mean you’re going to physically die. Besides, an important intention to set with the tarot is the understanding that you do not wish to receive knowledge about yours or anyone else’s literal death – unless that’s your thing.



Some folks prefer not to use spreads when reading. You will figure out what you prefer eventually, but spreads are a great way of getting your feet wet. A tarot spread can be as simple as a two-card spread or as robust as the Celtic Cross.

In my personal journey, I didn’t start off with the Celtic Cross as I felt it was too complex, to begin with. Traditionally, the Celtic Cross is one the original spreads Tarot tends to get paired up with when it comes to jumping into this world.

You might want to stick with simple spreads if you’re a novice seeking to perform intimate readings for yourself. I personally enjoyed starting off with three-cards spreads to represent past, present and future energies of the intention I was seeking clarity on.

Another thing to note of importance is that the Tarot is always based on the way you perceive it. Everyone can perceive the same message differently. You can draw one spread and receive a variety of “answers” dependent on the person reading the energies of the spread. The way you formulate the question you’re asking is very important as well. When turning to tarot for guidance, it can be helpful to refrain from yes or no questions and lean more towards open-ended questions.

Working reversals into your spreads and readings off the bat might save you the hassle of having to integrate them later down the road. You can opt to not read when cards turn up reversed instead of in their upright position. Use your gut feeling when it comes to that. When I began reading for myself, I automatically kept reversed cards as they appeared in my spreads. I gravitated towards keeping these cards because it felt right for me. Reversals offer their own set of meanings and interpretations. If you choose to opt-out of utilizing reversals no worries. This doesn’t make your reading any less powerful.

The Biddy Tarot offers simple and fun spreads via her Instagram that you might want to check out. Another great resource for spreads can be found within the guidebooks of the decks purchased. Those spreads are usually thought out by the author and illustrator and can magnify the energy of the cards you’re working with.


Setting the Energy of Space


Now that you have an introductory understanding of the vast opportunities you can tap into through good use of the tarot, you’ll want to practice setting the energy of your space. Be mindful of the energy you’re bringing with you into your readings just as much as the energy you’re intentionally trying to tap into. If you had a challenging day at work you won’t want to bring in that negativity with you. Maintaining good auric hygiene is highly productive when divining through the arts. Setting the energy of your space is something of a vital priority for all who practice tarot, whether professional or not, this is a habit you can benefit from.

There are various methods you can use when setting the energy of your space. When you set the energy in the space you wish to perform tarot you cleanse it from the energy that is not serving you of your highest good. You work with specific air or water elements to create a positive or neutral energy field, so you can welcome in the energy you’re intentionally seeking to co-create with. Think of setting the energy of your space as a means of prepping the room for your guests. You clean it up, make it comfortable and inviting. The same goes for setting the intentional energy field you feel most at ease tapping into your intuition when working with your tarot cards. Often times, this is done so that one can bring in specific energies such as Angels, Deities, or Spirit Guides. Reminder, these energies come through when you offer them permission to do so in a conscious manner. Otherwise, if you seek to only utilize your intuition when using tarot, you do not have to worry about any energies bombarding or party crashing into your readings.

To set the room, you’ll want to incorporate an air element as mentioned earlier. Thnk of air elements such as incense, ocote, palo santo, or sage. You’ll want to light that air element and work the smoke around the space you which to make sacred. Reciting a positive and protective mantra aloud or in your mind is a great way of consciously creating a safe space so that you can be at ease and release any dense or stagnant energy lingering in that space. Work the room and state this mantra as needed until you feel you have set the energy according to your comfort level.

Be advised, when purchasing your air element of preference, it is recommended to head into your local metaphysical shop to be sure you’re purchasing ethically sourced sage and Palo Santo. You might also want to avoid purchasing any low-quality sacred herbs and woods such as these that tend to circulate Amazon.

A common water element I use to cleanse and set my space before working with my cards is Florida Water. I enjoy splashing some Florida Water in the palm of my hands before I begin. This is just a personal practice and you will learn what you gravitate towards in your personal spiritual practice with tarot. 

You might even feel called to light a candle or several. The element of fire is sacred and can be used as a means of cleansing your aura, room and can further assist you with tapping into reading the cards on a more intuitive level.

From there, you can begin to conduct a reading for yourself. There are several rituals or practices you can develop along the way that you might want to incorporate with your cards and that is completely up to you. That’s where you begin to personalize your journey.


Final Word

Once you become familiar with the tarot, you’ll realize that thoughtful detail and intention exists in the curation of its essence. There’s no denying the possibility that this ancient tool was crafted with the purpose of being a spiritual conveyer. How can you get the most out of tarot? Treat the art with respect, and appreciate it as a messenger for those of us seeking guidance from a power much greater than us. The tarot exists as a means of not so much fortune-telling, but rather to strengthen your connection to your intuition and to the Universe. Nothing to be feared, yet much to be gained.

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