Learn Tarot on a Shoestring Budget

by | Begin, Book Review, Knowledge, Tarot, Tarot Card Decks

P.S.: Most of them cost less than $20!

Do you want to learn Tarot Card Reading? Are you on a budget?

multitasking woman I think it is such an interesting turn of fate that we get drawn to wanting to learn Tarot Card Reading right when we are in the middle of something else, you know, like Life. 🙂 So there we are, wanting to learn Tarot Card Reading while pursuing studies, or working a full-time job, or raising kids.

And of course, we are on a budget – think shoestring budget. Most one-on-one or classroom Tarot Workshops cost a bit (mine included). And carving out time for the lessons is not always possible. How do you learn Tarot then? Especially when you are on a shoestring budget?

I’ve spent nearly a decade reading, studying, and gathering a bunch of knowledge and information about Tarot and taught Tarot Card Reading to many students. After all that reading and studying and teaching, I have compiled a list of processes, techniques, books, articles etc that may help you in your journey with the Cards.

I would like to share this with you. Part of it came about as a ‘Reading List’ that I give all of my students after they finished my workshop. And the other part — well, it is in the form of blog posts on this very web site. In this post, I’m just bringing it all together in one place, so you can have a single point of reference during your self-study process.

The learning is totally your domain though. That is one place you will have to help yourself. The biggest advantage of this resource list is that you can work through the list at your own pace while you juggle and balance all your other life stuff.

Before We Begin…

Lavery_Maiss_AurasThis list has been compiled with a lot of thought. I’ve either read / written every book / article / resource that I’ve mentioned over here. That is one reason why this list cannot, in any way, be complete. I still have many books sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read. And there are only so many hours in the day when I can read. So, while this list may be big and exhaustive, it is by no means complete. I promise though, that I will keep adding to it as and when I get to reading / writing those books and blog articles. Promise.

Please Note: Each of the images of the Amazon Books is a clickable link with my Amazon affiliate code embedded in it. This way, I get a few pennies as my affiliate commission if you choose to buy via these embedded links.

Now, without much ado, let’s really begin…

Learn Tarot on a Shoestring Budget

Step 1: Your First Deck + Basic Book with Card Meanings

The Universal Waite Tarot Card Deck (approx. $19)


To put it simply, this deck is a better, clearer, re-colored version of the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot Card Deck. And the images, style and format of this deck has served as a template for many other decks out there. So if you study with this deck first, you will find it easier to get into the imagery of the other decks. Plus, this deck suits the study needs of Tarot Card Readers from beginner through to advanced levels. This is the deck to start with. This is also the deck you will keep coming back to. Promise.

Read:

The Complete Guide to the Tarot by Eden Gray (approx. $6 for Kindle and $7 for Paperback)


Available in both Print and Kindle formats, this is the ‘first Tarot book‘ for many of the great Tarot-istas in the world today. And with good reason! This is an awesome book that gives you great insight into each card in a way that is simple and easy to understand. This book will introduce you to the cards, their colorful history, and the basic concepts of how to use and read the cards. The book will also introduce you to the imagery of each card, and give a list of divinatory meanings for both upright and reversed cards. There is even a comprehensive list of symbols and their meanings at the end of the book. If it worked for them, it ought to work for you too! Honestly, this is the best first Tarot book that you can buy.

Please resist the urge to buy the Universal Waite deck along with the book titled ‘Pictorial Key to the Tarot’. (The Book and Deck Set can be purchased for approx. $19). You can totally buy the book later if you want. This book was written by A.E. Waite, the creator of the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot Card Deck. It is written in old style english and has a lot of stuff that is pretty obscure and confusing to a beginner. The list of meanings in this book can and will confuse you. Some of them are, at best, of historic significance, and at worst, dated. It won’t serve your purposes right now to get confused. The history of this deck is pretty engrossing, but right now, you don’t want to spend time on that, right? You can do this later.

Learn Tarot on a Shoestring Budget

Step 2: Studying and Understanding the Cards

Storytelling (Free)

Storytelling, Creativity and Intuition are sisters. They originate from the same place — the Subconscious Mind. I won’t boggle you down with the Psychology-based Theory here, only state the gist of it: these 3 abilities are intertwined. Each triggers the other. Each builds the other. Each completes the other. Storytelling with the images of the Tarot Cards can be an awesome opening into the deeper understanding of the card images. You can record your stories in your Journal.

Read:

Card-A-Day (Free)

Every day, in the morning, pull out one card from the deck. Sum up your feelings about the image in a few sentences. This process is not a test of how much you know, or how many meanings of that card you can mug up or rattle off. It is a process that will stir up your intuitive abilities. So don’t sweat it too much. Really. Just don’t. All you have to do is pull out a card and sum up your immediate reactions / feelings to that image in a few sentences. Make a note of it in your Journal. Or in your phone’s photo library. Or on Instagram.

I post my #CardADay Pics on Instagram alongwith the insights / thoughts I get at the time. If you are on Instagram, you can totally follow me there. If you prefer FaceBook, you can also see these daily card draws on the TaroticallySpeaking FaceBook Group Page. Or if you like, you can also see ’em on my Google+ Page. . Read:

Journaling (3-Ring Binder with Loose Pages approx $5 to $20)



When you study the cards and read the book, you can also start working with your Tarot Journal. This Journal will be where you store and record all your knowledge. Over the years, it will transform into a veritable gold mine. Trust me.

Read:

Power Tarot: More Than 100 Spreads That Give Specific Answers to Your Most Important Question (approx. $12 for Kindle, approx. $13 for Paperback)


Spreads are the way in which Tarot Card Readers actually do their Readings. This book has (as the title suggests) 100 different Spreads. Grouped together based on the number of cards that have been used in the Spread, this book is a veritable gold mine for those of us who like to have Spreads for all sorts of questions.

The book also has a very detailed section with the meanings of the cards, and how they relate to the different aspects of life / questions asked i.e. Work, Romance, Finances, Health, Spirituality, and Empowerment.

Learn Tarot on a Shoestring Budget

Step 3: Learning How To Actually Do Tarot Card Readings

Tarot Reading Using Storytelling Techniques (approx. $10 for Kindle, $15 for Paperback)

Tarot Book Cover New 25I know. I know. This is a bit of ‘Self Promotion‘. But hear me out. This book will show you how to actually do an awesome, intuitive, creative and engaging Tarot Card Reading. By this time, you are probably familiar with the cards and their meanings, and you’ve been wanting to do a Reading for your friends, family and so on. But when you try to do a spread, do you maybe feel a bit stumped and wishing that you could somehow get your spread to make some sense? Do you wonder how the cards in the spread actually connect with each other and form a coherent reading? You’ve probably read articles about how people use Tarot Cards to make stories. Did you know that you could use those time-tested storytelling techniques to read the Tarot Cards? This book will show you how you can go deeper into the images of the cards, and also understand Spreads in a way that will make your Tarot Card Readings an interesting and engaging journey for you and your client. Click here and use Amazon’s Look Inside feature to look through the chapters. You can even download the sample chapters on your Kindle. Decide for yourself. No pressure. But give it a shot, okay.

Practice Tarot Card Reading With Friends (Free)

This is the point where you amaze your friends with your awesome reading skills. The reality is that there is no sweet and nice intro into actually doing readings. You just have to invoke The Fool, and jump right in. Since they are your friends, you will feel comfortable reading for them. And hopefully they won’t be as harsh.

Read:

Connect, Share and Learn (Free)

1.

Visit the Forums at Aeclectic Tarot. This is one of the most awesome resources for Tarot on the Net. It has been around for the longest time, and it is the place on the Internet where all things Tarot converge. You will meet some really interesting and awesome people. You can practice your readings by exchanging readings with other students like you. You can learn different Tarot Card Reading Spreads. All of this and more — this site is a veritable Wonderland for Tarot Lovers.

2.

After the demise of Yahoo! Groups and the rise of FaceBook Groups, quite a few mailing list communities migrated over to the new social media platform, and found more followers. One such group is Tarot and More. With a bunch of daily posts that are designed to make your Tarot Juices flow, this is one awesome FaceBook Group worth joining and participating.

Learn Tarot on a Shoestring Budget

Step 4: Go Deeper With Your Tarot Studies

Entering a Tarot Card - A Mediation Exercise (Free)

Entering a card image is a very deep and involved meditation process. It will help you connect with the imagery of the card on a very deep, and very (sur)real level. This meditation will help you get to know the cards in great detail. Converse with the people in the cards, and learn more about them by simply asking them. This is a deep and involved meditation, and it really opens up your heart and mind about each card image. Be sure to keep your Journal ready for when you complete the meditation. Even if you feel tired, write down what you saw, felt, and experienced. Trust me, it will give you insights like never before!

Read:

78 Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack (approx. $15 for Paperback)


This book is considered to be the Tarot Bible. This book will enrich and deepen your knowledge of the cards and the mythology, numerology, and psychology aspects associated with it. This is the book that made me feel as if I had finally come up on the path that I wanted to follow, especially with regard to the Tarot Cards. This book gave me deep, intricate knowledge about the various associations of the Tarot Cards. Connections such as Mythology and Psychology became clearer to me, and I was able to immerse myself deeper and deeper into the cards.

Read:

Tarot For Your Self by Mary K. Greer (approx. $11 for Kindle and $13 for Paperback)


Pretty much of all of us (including yours truly) are drawn towards the cards by a hope that one day, we will be able to read for ourselves, and divine our own future. Alas! Those dreams take a back seat when we realize that reading for ourselves is the hardest thing one can do. This is where this book comes in. It will show you how to work towards gaining the sort of detachment and clarity of thought that is required to do readings for your self. And all of this while working through several interesting exercises with the cards. If you’ve followed the steps in this list, you may feel that some of the chapters in the book cover things that you’ve already known about. But don’t fret. There’s a lot more information and detail in this book too! Be sure to work through the exercises to get the most from the book.

Read:

The Complete Book of Tarot Reversals by Mary K. Greer (approx. $11 for Kindle and $12 for Paperback)


If reading reversed cards has bothered you no end, then this is the book for you. Now you don’t have a reason to run away from reversed cards. Reversed cards are simply another way of looking at the card image. Just like the story of life is full of unexpected twists, turns, surprises, these reversed cards show up and force a spotlight on the issue or situation depicted by that card. This book will take you through the various ways of looking at, understanding, and interpreting the cards when they come up reversed.

Read:

Tarot Wisdom by Rachel Pollack (approx. $15 for Kindle and $17 for Paperback)


The new book written by the author of 78 Degrees of Wisdom. This book was written at least 25 years after Rachel Pollack published her groundbreaking Tarot book. In this book, we discover deeper details of each of the cards through a historical and comparative perspective. We see how the meanings and associations of each card changed over time and how the understanding of the symbols has evolved. At the end of each Major Arcana card, we also have a spread that will bring the card’s dimensions into deep focus.

21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card by Mary K. Greer (approx. $10 for Kindle and $15 for Paperback)


The Tarot Cards have images on them, and since images can be percieved and understood in so many different ways, there is absolutely no end to the amount of interpretations that each image can generate. This book will show you 21 very innovative ways of looking at the Tarot Card Images to deepen and strengthen your knowledge and understanding of each card. There was a time when I felt that I knew a whole lot about the cards. This book gently tapped me on my shoulder and told me to rethink that belief. And for that, I shall forever remain grateful.

Read:

Understanding the Tarot Court by Mary K. Greer and Tom Little (approx. $15 for Kindle and $16 for Paperback)


Do you get confused when Court Cards pop up in your readings? Well, then this is the book that will help you feel at ease among them. The Court Cards are just people — either they represent the client, or the people in the client’s life. They show us the side of the personality that came to the forefront during the situation described by the surrounding cards. Read up on the Court Cards, and work through the exercises that have been designed to help you figure your way through these 16 different personalities within the Tarot Card Deck.

Read:

Learn Tarot on a Shoestring Budget

Step 5: Explore the Card Connections

There are so many things areas within the cards where you can go deep and explore. You can either see the cards as a place where these things converge, or you can see the cards as a launching point to exploring these realms. While there are many realms to explore, there are many areas which I haven’t explored. It is a simple matter of being drawn to a concept and not being drawn to another. Everyone likes a different flavor of ice-cream. That doesn’t make the other flavors irrelevant. Or unimportant. And since this is a list of resources that I have compiled based on my personal experiences, you may find some interest areas ill-represented. For that I apologize in advance.

The Forest of Souls: A Walk Through The Tarot by Rachel Pollack (approx. $15 onwards in Used Condition on Amazon)


This is the book that started it all for me. And I hope it does that for you too. I used to think that all the divinatory arts performed only one function: predicting the future. But I was wrong. They do so much more than that. They are a bridge that take us from ‘what is going to happen?’ to ‘why is it happening?’ and then to ‘what can I do to stop this from happening / change this / make this happen?’. Perspective matters. And this book changed mine. It put me on the path of inner exploration that I am on today.

Symbolism

The Tarot Card Images are filled with Symbols. From the simplest to the most complex, symbols populate each aspect of the card image. Symbols are like short forms or acronyms. They convey vast amounts of deeper truths in a very compact format. Just by being present in the image of the card, they suffuse the image with a wealth of meanings that probably could not have been conveyed otherwise. Often, the meaning of these symbols is rooted in logic. Apart from common sense, symbols derive meaning from myths and legends, and the psychological spheres that they evoke. Knowing about the various symbols and the mysteries associated with their interpretation can be quite useful in the interpretation of the Tarot Card Images.

Man and His Symbols by Carl Jung (approx. $6 for Kindle and $6 for Paperback)


This is one of those books that will change the way you look at things. After reading this book, you will see symbolism everywhere. Read along as Carl Jung talks about the inner self and the symbols that populate not only the subconscious but also the world around us. Go deep with understanding the imagery and symbolism that is present around us. This is the book that will open your eyes to the various ways and methods in which symbols can be applied and used to convey meanings compactly and precisely.

Pictures from the Heart: A Tarot Dictionary by Sandra A. Thomson (approx. $8 for Kindle)

An alphabetical list of meanings of the different symbols that one encounters in a Tarot Card Deck — this book is exactly what you are looking for if you want precise and to-the-point explanations of what the symbols in the cards really stand for.

An amazing reference book to have in your Tarot Library, this book is also chock full of helpful tips and advice that will help take your reading skills (along with your Tarot knowledge) to the next level.

Mythology

This is the aspect of Tarot that attracted me the most. Almost all of the cards in the deck are associated with some or the other myth. Being a storyteller, that was extremely attractive to me. Myths are the first stories ever told. Myths form the basis of storytelling, both simple and complex. I loved how the symbols and stories were intricately woven into the imagery of the card. And of course, understanding the meaning of those images and symbols added into the meaning of that card.

Read:

The Encyclopedia of World Mythology (approx $8 onwards in New or Used Condition on Amazon)


This book gives quite an intriguing birds-eye-view introduction to various mythologies across the world. Full of images and maps, this book is a rather interesting doorway into the world of Mythology. It gives a quick glance through the major myths from across various cultures across the globe, and introduces you to the deeper aspects of cultures and traditions across the world. From here, you can decide where and how to go deep with the stories, tales, symbols and their deeper psychological inputs.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell (approx. $13 for Hardcover)


This book takes the concepts explored in the previous book, and takes it one step further. You may see strange parallels between the Journey of the Fool as seen in the Major Arcana of the Tarot, and the journey outlined in this book. Explore the myths and symbols that the hero encounters during his adventures — his quest, and how he fulfills it. Many interesting themes are explored here, and provide a lot of deep insight.

The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell (approx. $10 for Kindle and $10 for Paperback)


This book will start the journey for your exploration of comparative mythology. A collection of interviews that Campbell had with Bill Moyers, this book explores the various mythic themes that continually emerge in the world around us.

From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine’s Journey through Myth and Legend by Valerie Estelle Frankel (approx. $15 for Kindle and $35 for Paperback)


When you want the hero’s journey to talk about issues that are specifically about women, then this is the book you need to reach for. This book talks about the Heroine’s Journey, and includes a variety of mythical motifs, archetypes and information that show us the inner and outer journey that women undertake towards their attaining their quest.

Psychology

This is the next aspect of the Tarot images that pulled me in. While the images are associated with myths, they also evoke many attributes of pyschology. The imagery is a pathway into the depths of the subconscious mind. It may not be simple or easy, but the cards can truly open the door to the deepest reaches of the mind so you can be guided by your subconscious mind.

Read:

Tarot As A Way of Life : A Jungian Approach to the Tarot (approx. $12 for Paperback)


A very good book that will open up your perception into the Jungian approach towards the card imagery. While many of the ‘meanings’ may be what you’ve learned before, the book provides very Jungian bits of insights into the imagery, which is pretty interesting.

Discovering Your Self Through the Tarot : A Jungian Guide to Archetypes & Personality by Rose Gwain (approx. $15 for Paperback)


Carl Jung and his work opened up many dimensions into understanding the human mind. This book adds to the knowledge that you’ve gained from the previous book, taking it to the next level. This book also helps you understand yourself better via the concepts like Archetypes, Extraversion, and Introversion as expressed via the cards.

Numerology

letters-and-numbers All the cards have numbers on them. Naturally, that makes it easier for us to connect them with the occult art of numbers – Numerology. While you may find a number of texts about the subject as-is (i.e. with no connection to Tarot), there is an interesting book that does talk about Numerology and Tarot together.

Numerology: Key to the Tarot (approx. $14 for Paperback)


This book plays a dual role. First, it introduces and explains the numbers on the Major Arcana and their numerological significance. Second, it also shows us some of the deeper aspects of applying that knowledge of numerology to our real life. This book talks about many typical and standard Numerological practices and methods, all the while referencing the Tarot.

Tarot and Astrology by Corrine Kenner (approx. $10 for Kindle and $14 for Paperback)


This book explores the connections between the Major and Minor Cards with Western Astrology. While it may not be necessary to be an expert in Western Astrology to understand the connections, it does prove helpful if you are.

Astrology

Due to the number of cards in the Major Arcana (22) a unique connection has always existed between the Major Arcana cards and the Astrological Signs and Planets. Each of the 22 Major Arcana cards is either associated with a Sun Sign, or a Planet. Most of us stop at this point, and don’t venture any further. That’s cool. But what if there is more to this connection than what you’ve known so far?

Download this PDF Chart of the Major Arcana Associations.

Kabalah

The mystical and esoteric elements within Judaism are called Kabalah. Briefly, the Kabalah aims at explaining the connection between the infinite and the finite Universe.

The arrangement of the Pentacles on the Rider-Waite-Smith / Universal Waite 10 of Pentacles card is quite similar to the image of the Tree of Life from the Kabalah.

Also, 22 Paths connect the 10 Spheres on the Kabalah Tree of Life. Many people see that as a very straightforward connection between Tarot Cards and the Kabalah with the 22 Major Arcana Cards and the 10 Suit Cards structure in each Tarot Card Deck.

Sadly, I haven’t yet explored this domain. If you feel drawn towards it, do explore it. I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas about the books and resources that are the most helpful and of course, within budget.

Art

This is also a side of the card imagery that attracted me. The images and the art on some of the decks is often pretty compelling. From a storyteller’s point of view, these images can launch you into a completely different and intriguing world. Fantasy and imagination can easily find themselves combined within the artwork of many a Tarot Card Deck. A few such notable Tarot Card Decks that I own are:

Of course, tastes vary. As I love to keep saying, “Everyone likes different flavors of ice cream”. You may like a different sort of imagery. And that’s perfectly okay. 🙂

Learn Tarot on a Shoestring Budget

Step 6: Explore the History of the Tarot Cards

There is a very colorful history that surrounds the cards and their images. To be honest, I feel that this could be a whole ‘nother post by itself. So, I’m just going to give you the information, the links, and a brief description.

Read:

The Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination by Robert Place (approx. $12 for Kindle and $15 for Paperback)


This book is a detailed look into the 3-fold facets of Tarot: the history, the symbolism, and the divination. This book will present evidence that will make you look beyond the supposedly mystical origins of the Tarot Cards. After looking through the history of the various symbols and imagery, the author walks you through the interpretations of each of the cards, and a couple of example spreads.

Pictorial Key to the Tarot by A. E. Waite (approx. $1 for Kindle and $9 for Paperback)


Remember, in the beginning, I told you to wait and buy this book later. Well, here you go! Go wild and read through Waite’s thoughts and concepts of the cards and the images. And of course, the interpretations / divinatory meanings. Now that you’ve spent some time with the cards, learning about them, and doing readings for people with them, you are in a better position to understand the historical significance of many of these meanings and interpretations.

In Conclusion…

As I’ve said before, this list isn’t complete. But it does contain the links to resources that I’ve encountered first-hand, and over this past decade. As you work through the list, and in order, you will slowly develop and enhance your knowledge and experience of the Tarot Cards, and doing Readings not just for others, but for yourself as well. Wisdom comes from putting these principles and this knowledge into practice. Trying out various techniques and approaches to see which fits will no doubt open doors and pathways into various areas of understanding and help you grow and develop even more. As I see it, the Occult Arts of Divination are just another pathway towards self awareness, and self realization. The knowledge that you will gain from them will always help you, no matter what. Trust the wisdom of your soul, and you will find that your life opens up for you.

Your Turn…

As I read more, and learn more, and discover more resources, I will be sure to update this list. If you want to be notified when this list of resources updates, and if you are ok with getting some more emails from me about all sorts of Tarot-ically Speaking stuff, then sign up! You can save the PDF file on your computer / smart phone / tablet and access whenever and wherever you like. When the list updates, I’ll send you a download link for the new PDF. And I hope you won’t mind if I also send you the occasional emails with news, updates and article links. Sound good? Well, then sign up! 😀

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