Tarot Study Course

by Darrell Hensley


This tutorial employs the 78 card deck used by A.E. Waite in his book The Pictorial Key to the Tarot (1910), and first published by William Rider & Son, Ltd., they are most often called the Rider Pack.

Almost everyone agrees that the modern playing cards have descended directly from the Mystic Tarot deck. The similarities between the two decks are too close to be coincidental. The Tarot deck is divided into several parts or subsets of cards. The Minor Arcana consists of 56 cards divided equally between four suits - Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles which resemble todays - Clubs, Hearts, Spades and Diamonds respectively. The remaining 22 cards make up the Major Arcana. These special cards depict symbolic figures, elements in nature and the experiences of man in his spiritual journey. Most people also accept the grouping of the higher ranking cards from each suit into another subset called the Court Cards. These cards are the Kings, Queens, Knights and Pages. Although the Court Cards are not technically a separate subset of the tarot you will often hear them spoken of in this fashion because they hold special value in many situations.

There are many beliefs as to where the power to divine comes from. Some believe that it is in the cards themselves, others that a greater being offers us guidance as we look at the cards. The possible explanations are as numerous as the cards themselves.

No one can answer that question for you. Your ideas and life experiences will undoubtedly provide you with an answer to this question that follows your belief structure.

Regardless of where you believe the power to divine comes from, it is your responsibility to always take care of your cards and treat your querent with respect and honesty.

In order to read the Tarot you must know the meanings of the cards, numbers and symbols present on each of them. This study course is designed to take your step by step through the meanings of each card. With this knowledge in hand you will be able to glimpse a whole new world.

As a Tarot reader there is no getting around learning the meanings of all the cards. I am a strong believer in teaching others to make up their own interpretations for the cards. For that reason, only the most basic and generally accepted meanings of the cards are shown here. They are to be used as guidelines as you develop your own meanings. Later you can look at more detailed descriptions if you'd like.