People wonder how to bring their readings to life. Those who focus on learning traditional meanings sometimes feel that their readings lack unity, depth, or just that certain something that makes them feel like more than a computer-generated interpretation. Those who focus intuition or reading the image alone can find that their readings lack focus, practicality, or structure making them feel like a collection of interesting observations but lacking in cohesion.

For me, blending both approaches allows the rational mind as well as the intuitive self to feel supported, allowing the natural strengths to shine and to fill in the blank areas each approach necessarily has.

Because I believe this is a vital skill, my Tarot for Beginners focuses, in part, on showing how the same card from different decks all share a core meaning but illustrate or highlight different aspects. This analysis can also help prepare a beginner to read with confidence with almost any deck.

Here is an example of the 10 of Cups, using cards from the Rider Waite Smith, the Legacy of the Divine, and Shadowscapes tarots.

Ten of Cups

Core meaning: Happy home.

There are two cards that represent positive home or family lives: the Ten of Pentacles and the Ten of Cups. The former focuses on material stability. This one is about emotional stability and healthy relationships. The Ten of Cups shows the range of emotions found in a happy home: contentment, comfort, joy, playfulness, and affection. While these are generally considered positive, we should bear in mind that for some this scene is the very picture of boredom. Not everyone wants the same things.

The adults in the Rider Waite Smith card look skyward with arms upraised, acknowledging the role of the divine or spirituality in the their happiness. The children dance and play. The river in the card shows how their relationships flow through and nourish their lives.

The Legacy card uses pets to illustrate the idea of unconditional love. This image focuses on warmth, comfort, and safety. The goblets represent the emotions and relationships upon which this experience is built. They shine and sparkle in the firelight, giving a remarkable beauty to an everyday scene.

The Shadowscapes card focuses less on domestic bliss and more on a single, deeply emotional connection. The circle that encompasses the couple suggests safety and the joy of being in the world that they have created.


Written by Barbara Moore
The tarot has been a part of Barbara Moore’s personal and professional lives for over a decade. In college, the tarot intrigued her with its marvelous blending of mythology, psychology, art, and history. Later, she served as the tarot specialist for Llewellyn Publications. Over the years, she has ...