Tarot for the Modern Reader
Keywords: How to Jumpstart your Intuition and Gain Confidence in Your Readings
With 78 cards and meanings, how many times as a newer reader, have you tried, and found it daunting, almost impossible, to memorize EVERY meaning for EVERY card? To a point where it’s difficult to give readings for other people?
Even though you WANT to practice your reading skills, maybe on family or friends, you don’t want to have to keep referring back to a BOOK during your readings. Yikes! Nothing says, “I’m totally new at this”, or “I don’t know what I’m doing” then having to hold a book in one hand while you flip cards with the other!
Because the truth is, you DO have a good idea what you are doing. You have a general sense of each card. But there are just so many, and in the moment, it can be so overwhelming! Especially if you are using reversals too, augh, now you are up to 156! Who could memorize all that??
The good news is; you don’t have to! The Tarot is a very pictorial system. The pictures are meant to give you clues to the meaning. I once did an experiment where I showed the cards one by one to someone and asked them to “guess” what the card meant, and low and behold, the answers were eerily pretty spot-on at a basic, fundamental level. That’s awesome!
But when we get into a reading, we can get pretty overloaded pretty quick, and then as soon as we start to get a bit nervous, that’s it. Poof! It all goes out the window!
My First Readings
When I first started reading, I didn’t want to have to keep looking up the “exact” meanings. I put exact in quotes, because today I realize, most meanings are just someone else’s interpretations. But I also didn’t want to guess or just go by whatever I “saw” in the card.
I am a believer that the cards have messages for each of us that are unique, that we should follow our intuition and believe that whatever comes through in that moment is the right message.
But, I am ALSO a believer that there is truth and substance to the meanings that have been assigned to the cards and passed down for many many years, going back to the Golden Dawn and earlier.
I believe that those core meanings make up the foundation of the card, and that our intuition, is best used to help us determine WHICH of the many meaning is right in each reading, and that it can also serve to add additional personal messages that come through just for us or for this specific reading.
That’s when and where the Keyword chart was born. I created one many year ago, and it has stayed with me for a long time. You are more than welcome to download mine, or create your own that is relevant to you! You could also take mine and modify it with your own additions and subtractions.
Here is how it works…. You go through each card in your deck, and brainstorm a list of keywords for each card. Now, to help, you can research each card’s meanings and for each attribute or meaning of a specific card, you can distill that down to a keyword.
A Real Example from my Chart
Let’s look at the Six of Pentacles. In this card we see a man, who is considered wealthy, or better off, a merchant, giving charity to two beggars. This card could indicate that you are getting a loan or giving a loan, receiving a grant, giving things to a good cause, etc, depending on which side you are on in your situation.
In relationships, it can indicate an unequal position, or disproportionate balance of power, one person has more than the other, one person makes more money or possibly then has more of a say over things, so there is the idea that one person dominates the situation.
But all in all, when this card is upright, the situation is stable, meaning even though one person is in a dominant position over another, whether it be in personal relationships or in a financial endeavor, both parties find the terms acceptable. There is a balance here because both parties are ok with the situation, and sixes in general are about balance and choices.
So here are the Keywords I distilled from this card:
Giving and receiving
Now, when I do a reading, I may not remember the entire paragraphs worth of information I wrote above. And I can’t (or don’t WANT) to read all that when I’m giving a reading! But if I look quickly at my keyword chart I see these core meanings and it jogs both my memory and my intuition.
One or more of those keywords is going to click in my brain as significant to reading, it will make sense to the question being asked, and then that’s when intuition kicks in. I can just take that one keyword, let’s say in this case its “giving and receiving” and I can suddenly start telling Suzie that it looks like she is in a good position to receive the grant she applied for. Because it makes sense to the reading.
Over time, these narratives start to build up in our minds. We don’t remember a bunch of random facts, definitions or rote meanings. We remember STORIES. And as we use the Keywords to jumpstart our reading, we create a narrative, a story, that stays with us long after that reading is over.
And we start to remember those in future readings, and before you know it, you have an arsenal of stories in your mind to draw from about how each card came to play out in a real reading. And THAT is what helps you “memorize” the card meanings over time!
Creating Good Habits
I know the feeling of wanting to get them all memorized right away right from the beginning so I could give readings to people without looking silly or like I didn’t know what I was doing. With a Keyword Chart, you will be able to do that too.
Even if you are just reading for yourself, having a Keyword Chart is so helpful, because it gets you OUT of the habit of checking a book and IN to the habit of using short notes to jog your own thoughts.
And that’s exactly what we want!! You can print out my chart, or create your own, and just keep it next to you when you do your readings. It’s very easy to give it a quick glance. You could even add them to notecards to make them portable and easy to manage.
I personally chose to create Keywords for both the upright and reversed meanings, but you don’t need to do this if you are not reading reversals. I also vary the number of keywords I use for each card. I don’t have a hard and fast rule that I have exactly “five” keywords for each card.
I use my intuition on this and jot down as few or as many as I think would be relevant and helpful and still easy to manage. So there are some cards that have 7 or 8 Keywords, and then I have some that only have 2. It’s completely up to you what you put in your chart!
If you want to start with my Keyword Chart as a base, you can go through it and decide which of those meanings you find relevant for you. There may be some that don’t resonate with you, and there may be others where you are wondering why the heck I didn’t include a certain word! Make it your own! That the beauty of this.
The important thing is to find or make something that works for YOU, because at the end of the day, what we all really want is to be able to quickly and easily interpret the cards with confidence right? Having a Keyword Chart might be the first step to help you get there!
If you use this chart and like it, please share it! Feel free to come over to Instagram and tag me and tell me how it’s working for you, or comment below as well! I’d love to hear what you think!
I’m Liza, professional Tarot reader, writer and mentor, and this is Tarot Liza. Everyday we're working to bring our mission of delivering more value and Tarot education to the Modern Reader to life! Welcome! Read more...
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