Master the Tarot: One Layer at a Time

In Learn Tarot, Tarot Tipsby David Harvey2 Comments

Master the Tarot: One Layer at a Time

Sting once said, “yoga is almost like music in a way; there’s no end to it”.  I feel the same way about tarot.  The more I learn the more I realise how much more there is to learn.

One of the things that I love about tarot is the absolute depth that you can get from these 78 cards. When I think of the layers that are involved in tarot I start to think of an onion. Just when you think you have made progress, you discover another layer.

I honestly believe that the tarot learning process is endless. There are many layers to discover but we also have to remember that we are going through new human experiences every day, which can help us look at the cards in a new light.

Lots of new tarot readers give up as they feel like they will never be able to master everything. The truth is, you probably won’t – but this doesn’t mean that you can’t read tarot effectively.

Where to Start?

For me, it all comes back to intuition. You can start reading tarot with a very simple technique where you are purely relying on your intuition. You might want to sign up for my webinar where we look at How to Read Tarot Intuitively WITHOUT Memorising Every Card. Enter your details below and you will be invited to the next live webinar.

Let’s look at some of the layers of tarot. I would suggest that you get really familiar with one system before moving on to another but do what feels right for you.

Traditional Meanings

This is where most people start. The traditional meanings are the collective wisdom that has been gathered and documented over the years. This would be the ‘little white book’ that comes with your tarot deck.

You will also be able to find a lot of these traditional meanings online or in any reference books. One of the best books on the market, which is very much considered the gold standard is 78 Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack.

It’s great to know the traditional meanings and I would highly recommend this method. However, it can be extremely overwhelming at the beginning. I would probably use this method alongside your intuition. You have to be careful not to get stuck on purely reciting the meanings from the books as this will lead to a very robotic tarot reading without much heart.


Reading intuitively is essential for me. I think this is where the magic happens. Of course, you have to trust your intuition and develop your own intuition before this method will be totally effective. I have a free 7-day intuition course that you can sign up for here.

Using your intuition in a reading is really finding the story in the cards. What are the cards saying to you? What’s going on in the scene? How does it make you feel? What is your gut telling you when you look at the card and the cards around it?

When my intuition is firing I find that I can pretty much let the traditional meanings go and still give highly accurate readings. The truth is that my best readings are probably a fusion of intuition and traditional meanings.

Inner Wisdom

This is where you are going beyond the traditional meanings as well as your intuition. This method is all about finding your own meanings for the cards based on your personal experiences. It definitely ties in with intuition but is a bit more personal.

Look at a card and see if you can find a connection that is relevant to you. Is there a symbol of significance. Does it remind you of a childhood story?

For example, let’s take a look at the Queen of Cups.

I’m drawn to that mermaid figure on top of the chair.  This reminds me of my time in Copenhagen when I went to visit the little mermaid statue.  This would get me to thinking about why that could be relevant.  Was there something happening at that time in my life?  Do I associate Copenhagen with a particular emotion?

I’m also looking at the queen’s expression and hair.  She is reminding me of one of my cousins, who I have lost contact with.  Given that cups can be about love and communication, is this is a sign that I should be reaching out to this cousin?  Possibly?

Is that shape of the chair reminding you of anything?  It looks a bit like Venus de Milo to me.  Does that have any significance to you?

I hope that you are seeing that within each card there will be many references that you can draw upon and they should be personal to you.

Personal Connection

I would definitely recommend keeping a journal of your tarot readings. You can download my free tarot journal template here.

Keeping a journal of your readings can be really important as you start to see common themes come up for certain cards. These meanings might not be in the books but you could find that they keep coming up for you. You will never know unless you keep and journal and go back and reflect on your readings.

When I was learning tarot my teacher said that the 2 of Pentacles would always show up for him if somebody was moving house and the King of Swords is pretty much always a doctor.

Practice, dig deep and do some investigative work to uncover your personal connections. This won’t happen overnight but it’s a great technique.


The Major Arcana is heavily linked to archetypes. Jung and personality types.

The doyenne of tarot, Mary Greer, has researched and written a couple of in-depth posts on this topic.  She explains the links far better than I could.  You can read these here.

Myers Briggs

Myers Briggs is a personality profiling tool often used but corporations for hiring or team building purposes. The test is quite in-depth and links you to one of 16 personality profiles.

Interestingly enough – there are 16 court cards. I’ve written an in-depth post on this and you even have the opportunity to discover which court card you are. Check it out here….


The tarot cards are really rich with symbolism. Actually, the symbols draw on a number of religions and ideologies including Christianity, Judaism, Occultism and Greek mythology – to name but a few.

Going beyond the religious symbolism we see lots of symbols in the tarot including moons, arches, boats, water, female symbol, halos, angels, flowers, snakes, fruit – the list goes on and on.

I would suggest that you do some study on the symbolism in tarot but it’s also a good idea to start to note what these signs and symbols mean to you so you can make it more personal.


I get asked all the time about the link with tarot and astrology. To be honest, there is not a lot written about it but I see tarot readers reference astrology all the time.

There is an astrological link between each of the court cards (except the Pages) and the signs of the zodiac, which is as follows:

This can be good to know if we are trying to get timings in tarot. The court card can show up as an indication of which sign will be present when that event happens.


Tarot is quite heavily linked to the Kabbalah and the Tree of Life.  To be honest this is one of the ‘onion layers’ that I have not quite peeled back yet.  However, I’ve found a good resource to give you an overview of tarot and the Kabbalah…


Another favourite of mine, that I use in readings all the time, is numerology.  Numerology and tarot go hand in hand and I feel that they really support each other.

I’ve put together a worksheet with a list of how tarot relates to numerology as well as the elements.

As you see, there is quite a lot to master!  Please don’t get overwhelmed as you don’t need to know everything, especially at the beginning.

I hope to see you on my next webinar and look forward to digging further into each of these areas.



  1. As always a great read David. I do enjoy your no fluff articles without ego or trying to sell something. I believe you are genuine in wanting to share the wonderful world of the tarot and not about raking in the dollars.
    Thank you so much

    1. Author

      Thanks Jennifer. I’m glad that you like the articles. The truth is that I am building more products and services to sell for those looking to go deeper. However, offering free content will always be the heart of my business. I believe that tarot should be for everybody and really enjoy sharing it with as many people as possible.

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