While I've been reading tarot for over a decade (weeps about aging forever) I still employ this trick every time I pick up a new deck, before I even look at the book or anything. Most readers do this, but lately I've been talking to a few super new on or still just considering a tarot path who get super caught up in "how am I ever gonna memorize this book?" The short answer is it takes time, but you will. Just dilligently work on it nearly every day for awhile.
BUT the great news is you can still find a lot of use in your cards by just looking at the picture, and gleaning what there is to glean artistically from them. This is particularly true for advice questions. "What should I do" is quickly answered by seeing what the figure in the picture is doing. "What's my next step" can be answered by looking at the picture overall--again, likely what the figure is doing, but there can be some other giveaways too. If you know symbols really well, animals featured could be giving you a sign based on your interpretation of those animals. Colors, runes, various constellations, etc. etc. could all be doing the same thing. Questions of "Who" can also be answered by going directly off the traits, attitude, or energy of the figure on the card.
For example, in the photo above, it's fine if you have no clue what the (fabulous) book from this Book of Shadows: As Above deck says about this card. It's easy to assess that you have some crystals poking out of the corner, some bright purple flowers, a gnome relaxing in their element. The instrument might stand out to you if you're a creative or especially musical person, and that beam of sunlight across the card has always struck me.
So if I had asked "What should I do about my financial situation?" I would assess based on the relaxed gnome and all the Earthly things blooming around them that I should just relax, because I had already put myself in a good position and news was coming. Or if I saw the instrument first, I would think that utilizing my creative talents for money was my next strategy. If I had asked a more spiritual question such as "What is my soul needing", some time around music, in sunlight, or possible some crystal or plant healing would come to me as the answers.
Another example so you can see how cards work together, is based off the above. (In reality the odds of this pair showing up together in a well shuffled deck is a little slim, but hey.) A question I've been grappling with lately is "What keeps holding me back?" and "Where do I go from here?" If I needed some basic guidance to these questions and pulled these two cards from my Prisma Visions tarot I would see that Skull, the word Emperor, and the cacophony of color around it. I would discern based on the animal that my own stubbornness was killing me, and from the colors that my mind was too scattered to make much sense of the things going on. Meanwhile the "Where do I go from here?" card shows a woman embracing the light, elevating herself, almost above the solid ground she's built. She is bright against a dark background. While with a seeker other than myself I might have trouble putting it into words, I think the image does speak for itself--look towards the positive, the light. Look ahead. The gold and yellow give us a strong sense of newness and freshness, and this would be about embracing and accepting the new.
Tarot is so frequently seen as this big, scary huge 78-things-to-learn process, but you can utilize the art and the keywords to provide yourself the guidance you need as you work on memorizing in more traditional ways. I'd love to hear more beginner's tips and tricks, and will for sure have more unfold over the course of this blog.
Until next time,