As a professional tarot reader, many ask me how long it takes to learn the Tarot. There are three main stages in mastering the Tarot; understanding the card meanings, learning how to read spreads, and gaining confidence as a reader. Let’s explore how long it takes to master the art of the Tarot.
On average, it takes 1 to 5 years to learn the basics of the Tarot. The majority of readers learn the card meanings within a year, spreads within 2-3 years, and gain confidence reading professionally after 5 years of practice. You perfect your knowledge throughout your reading career.
Let’s take a closer look at the three main stages of learning the Tarot: learning the card meanings, using card spreads, and finally gaining confidence to read for others. By learning more about the different stages, you get a better understanding of what it takes to learn and master the Tarot.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO LEARN THE TAROT
The main three stages of learning the Tarot
- Learning the card meanings
- Learn how to use and create customized card spreads
- Gain confidence and start reading for others
Learning the Tarot is different from mastering it. To gain insights into how long the different stages take, I asked one of the largest Facebook communities for professional Tarot readers. I got about 80 answers, and these are my insights and takeaways.
At the beginning stages of learning the Tarot, you start by memorizing the card meanings and the technical information as the Major- and Minor Arcana, symbolism, and iconography. You find information about technical knowledge by (for example) reading books, taking classes, or joining a study group. If you study about 4 to 5 hours a week, you will generally learn the basics within a year.
The second step in learning the Tarot is more complicated and needs more than just technical knowledge. To read card spreads and interlink the cards to a coherent message needs intuition and storytelling. This takes practice, and the best way is to start reading for yourself and later do practice readings for friends and family. You can also join Facebook groups where you do reading swaps. This stage takes about 2 to 3 years, depending on your level of intuition and storytelling skills.
Note, though; you don’t have to be a psychic to read Tarot cards. Practice developing a “feeling” for the cards and what they might mean in a context (question, situation, and card placement in the spread).
The third stage of learning the Tarot is where you start mastering it, gaining confidence to do readings for yourself and others. The difference between reading the cards and doing actual readings is that reading is used for advice – not just for practice.
This stage is something most professional tarot readers say takes a lifetime to perfect. Many start doing readings after approximately five years of practice. Like any other craft or art, you will never stop learning and growing. This is the beautiful thing about the Tarot.
LEARNING THE TAROT CARD MEANINGS
First of all, you have to learn the Tarot card meanings. This stage takes, on average, three months to a year. The pace of learning is, of course, due to how hard you study. A moderate study pace amongst my students is about 5 hours a week.
My recommendation is to start with the traditional system of the Rider–Waite tarot deck, as it is easy to find information and educational material about this deck.
Here’s a link to my favorite Rider-Waite deck on Amazon if you want to check it out. It includes a very handy instruction booklet as well:
The Original Rider-Waite Tarot Set (paid link – Amazon)
The imagery is also descriptive of the meaning in the cards, and this makes it easier for the reader. As you can see in the picture, the cards have the name of the cards printed on them.
As always, the time spent learning and memorizing the cards can differ from person to person due to factors like level of intuition, understanding of symbolism, and of course, time spent practicing.
LEARNING TO READ A CARD SPREAD
The second phase of mastering the Tarot is to start using card spreads. This stage takes approximately 1-2 years, depending on the level of practice and ability to read patterns, systems, and symbols.
As you develop your skills in reading stories and connecting the cards, you progress into more complex card spreads. Most experienced Tarot readers create custom spreads targeting specific questions or situations.
My recommendation is to start with 2 to 3 card spreads. One easy spread, to begin with, is the “past,” “present,” and “future” spread. When you master the more straightforward spreads, move on to exploring more complex spreads. Below you find an example of an easy beginner’s spread. This spread is also often included in the small booklets that come with a new tarot deck.
HOW TO FEEL CONFIDENT AS A TAROT CARD READER
The final stage in learning the Tarot is gaining confidence as a reader. If you want to read for yourself, the path is shorter than if you’re reading professionally. Many feel ready to read for clients after 3 to 5 years. This depends, of course, on your personality and practice.
Participating in free practice readings for others online or in-person often accelerates this phase. You find groups for this on Facebook or other tarot forums.
I did lots of practice readings for friends and family in the beginning stages of my learning. I also did (and still do) practice readings on the Biddy Tarot Free Reading Service to polish my online reading skills.
For me, it took about five years before I felt confident in doing readings for paying clients. I know fellow readers, though, that started reading for paying clients as early as two years in. So there are individual differences, of course.
HOW LONG IT TAKES TO LEARN THE TAROT ACCORDING TO PROFESSIONAL READERS
According to professional Tarot readers, it takes about five years of practice to gain knowledge and confidence to pay clients. As this topic quickly gets subjective, I asked, “How long does it take to learn the Tarot” in one of the largest Facebook groups for professional Tarot readers – Tarot Professionals on Facebook with 37K members (2021). Eighty professional readers answered my question. I have summarized the answers below.
Most of the readers thought learning the basics of the Tarot, the card meanings could be done in 1 year or less. Learning to read stories in card spreads takes a little longer to master, 1 to 2 years. Creating customized spreads for specific questions and situations takes experience, practice, and a good understanding of the meanings of the cards.
A common consensus was that the Tarot is a constant learning process – it takes a lifetime to perfect the craft.
You also have to learn about crystals, incents, meditation, and other divination tools in conjunction with the Tarot, and this can take years as well.
HOW TO SPEED UP YOUR LEARNING
Learning the Tarot takes practice and commitment, but don’t feel discouraged. There are ways to speed up your learning curve. If you take a class or get help from an experienced teacher – you can accelerate your learning curve. Reading the “Fools Journey” was very helpful for me. This is a practice where you go through the Major Arcana and learn the connections between the cards.
Learning basic numerology is one way to understand the minor arcana without “memorization.” Note, though, that there are no shortcuts to gaining your intuitive skills. This is a skill you constantly perfect over your career.
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