Grab a deck. Book stores often carry them, occult stores certainly do, and so does Amazon. I’ve seen them displayed on the shelves behind the counter at numerous Barnes and Noble stores. Occult stores smell great and feel like tinkling bells though, and you might find a cool gargoyle bookend.
Many decks have a certain religious perspective, but you can find decks for a variety of beliefs. You don’t have to be religious to use them, but you will find more depth to the symbolism if you agree with the beliefs the deck is framed in. Some decks are more fantasy or art themed, the religious aspects are not as overt. Some are for novelty or amusement. Along those lines, The Zombie and Housewives’ Tarot decks are a blast to work with.
Every deck comes with a little booklet tucked into the box. Some decks have a book instead, or both. There are many books on the tarot, but none are required. They may add depth to your readings, but there is also a lot of information on the internet, even phone apps.
If you find this is fun and you want to take it further, then a book might help you learn a wider range of interpretation, allowing you to get a much more layered meaning. My favorite, 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card by Mary K. Greer, favors a psychological interpretation.
In the meantime, it’s possible to read a card even without the booklet, by using it in a way similar to how you might use a work of art as a visual prompt for a story. It’s fairly popular to read the booklet once and then throw it away, relying simply on how the card makes you feel. Tarot reading instructions call this listening to your intuition, you know how to do that most likely by now. Writers call it listening to your muse.
If you pull a card out upside down, you can choose to read it upright, or keep it “reversed”. A reversal might mean the issue is repressed, just beginning, just ending, or an opposite is involved. Death reversed might be rebirth, or something that refuses to die or go away. Usually reversals are interpreted upright first, then the meaning of the reversal is read by examining it upside down and seeing what strikes you.
Relax. Look into the heart of the card before you. Imagine if it could speak, what would it sound like? What does it see? What does it have to tell you, what lesson does it wish you would learn?
Zone out on it, freewrite about it a bit, let the magic happen. If you enjoy expressing what you feel from a photo or artwork, you might really enjoy using the tarot to aid your stories, even if you are unfamiliar with the cards.
No answers? Fine. Let it stew for a while and do whatever it is you do. Listen to the sound of rain and birdsong, the soundtrack of a video game, or music from your teenage years. Do the dishes, walk in the yard barefoot, howl at the moon, or stare out your window with a cup of tea. A story will soon follow.
In the meantime, I’ll walk you through the major aspects of the symbols to give you a feel for what you’re seeing. I have some idea of information that might help you interpret what you’re seeing if you are only using the booklet for guidance, stuff the booklets don’t have room to put in. We start with the major arcana.
Tarot For Writers And Skeptics * Why Tarot Speaks To Us * Grab A Deck * The Fool’s Journey * Elements And Alchemy * Numerology And The Tarot* Court Cards * Seeds For Stories * Tarot Story List