In studying tarot meanings it is helpful to know that the Tarot is in a sense a simulacrum of the Universe. The word Tarot is a disguised word. It was originally spelled Rota which means “wheel”. The Tarot deck represents all phenomenal experience, the wheel of life. By keying a tarot deck, it becomes a living form tied into the existing Universe. In keying a deck, you become connected to the cards, are able to access information from the Universe through them and make a connection with tarot meanings.

When you begin to study the Tarot, it is best to not try to memorize the meanings of the cards. Originally the Tarot was an oral tradition so writing down the tarot meanings in some ways defies the tradition. Written tarot meanings can be used as a guide to get started but you should also strive to see the tarot meanings as they pertain to specific readings.

Keying your deck helps you get a sense of each card and begin establishing a relationship with it. You have the opportunity to take each card one at a time and really look at it, make it come alive for you and see various meanings it can relate to.

The easiest deck to begin with is the Waite-Rider Tarot deck. Your Tarot deck is like any other magical tool in that keying it personalizes it to you. Keying your deck connects it to your own energies and also to the Universe itself.

Keying the Tarot Deck
First put your deck in natural order which is:

  • 2-10, Page, Knight, Queen, King, Ace of Wands
  • 2-10, Page, Knight, Queen, King, Ace of Swords
  • 2-10, Page, Knight, Queen, King, Ace of Cups
  • 2-10, Page, Knight, Queen, King, Ace of Discs
  • 1-21 of the Major Arcana with the Fool being the last card

The first card above should be facing down on the top of the deck and other cards listed in order go below it.

To key the Tarot cards:
1. Sit in South facing North.

2. Place your keyed Plate (Earth tool) and Tarot deck put in natural order in front of you.

3. Set up matching candles of Sun Yellow, White or Sky Blue on either side of the Plate.

4. Light the candle on the right (Wisdom candle) with a wooden match.

5. Keep the match lit and sweep it down in an arc over the Plate to light the candle on the left (Protection candle).

6. Again keeping the match lit, sweep it up in an arc over the plate to the flame of the right candle again. This creates a connection between the two candles.

7. Take the first card from the deck (2 of Wands), place it face up and upright to you on the Plate.

8. Look at the card. Notice the overall color of the card, the flatness of it and its dimensions. Don’t focus on any particular detail. Keep your gaze soft and look into the scene.

9. Then begin to ask questions about the card like “What time of day is it?” or “Is that a town in the background?” You are not trying to get answers to these questions, just creating curiosity.

10. Keep asking questions until you see the card “window”. It will feel like you are looking into the scene through a window The card will look like it is becoming clearer, more alive, 3 dimensional, more colorful or brighter. You get a sense of real understanding or relationship with the card. This can help you when you begin doing readings as you develop a connection with all the tarot meanings of the card.

11. Once the card windows, take it off the Plate and lay it face down next to the Plate.

Continue this process with each card in the deck. You do not have to do them all at one time if you become tired. You can mark your place and return later. If you have a card that will not window, you may have issues about that card. Put it aside and try again later.

Can you see now why keying your deck is so important in understanding tarot meanings? A book or other written meanings can give you a jump start to understanding each of the cards, but keying your deck helps you become intimately involved and connected to the cards and tarot meanings. Once you have keyed your deck you are ready to begin doing divination and tarot readings. Learn more about the Tarot, tarot meanings and how to do Tarot readings in our Tarot Homestudy Course.

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