Tarot is a wonderful divination tool for insight into the future, while also looking to the past for insight to improving your current life. This deck of cards can help solve problems you might be having in waking life, directing you towards a magnificent future. Be aware though, tarot also brings up subconscious and karmic issues that you might not even know you had. The key to reading tarot cards accurately involves opening your mind fully and accepting what the cards are trying to tell you.
There are many different decks on the market. You can use any deck you choose, but as I had been advised when seeking my first, let someone of meaning gift you with your initial set. That is just a suggestion, of course.
There are many different spreads and methods to utilizing the tarot. As you gain experience, you may choose a different layout or create your own. The oldest and most common tarot spread is the 'Celtic cross' layout. The Celtic cross is a ten-card layout with cards one and two crossed, surrounded by three through six at cardinal points (placed counterclockwise), and seven through ten in a vertical line to the right (from bottom to top).
In this spread, there are primarily two sections: the cross and the column. The cross is comprised of six cards - cards one and two represent the present and its influences. Card three hints towards the distant future, while card four provides clues to the recent past. Card five digs deeper into the distant past, and card six will provide clues to the immediate future.
The four-card column provides strength to the previous six cards and gives us information on dominant factors in the seeker’s life. The column is read from bottom to top. The bottom card provides clues to the seeker's motives. Moving upward, card eight gives insight to the environmental influences (elements beyond our immediate control). Card nine is the potential outcome to a situation and provides clues as to the functional nature of the change, and the last card is the outcome of what you are seeking. In essence, the final card is 'validation' to your initial question or inquiry.
Your next question might be "well, what about cards that are upside-down?" Inverted or reversed cards can have a multitude of meanings. The five most common interpretations are 'releasing blocked energy,' 'mastering the lesson of the previous card,' 'identifying unconscious awareness,' 'clearing negative energy,' and 'identifying potential challenges.'
In my personal practice, I treat court cards (knights, princesses, princes, queens) differently than a numbered card. Knights may indicate the coming or going of a situation; or arrival or departure (depending on face direction). Princes and queens may represent actual men and woman connected to the matter at hand. Princesses may indicate ideas, thoughts or opinions related to the subject.
As you gain experience with this divination, you will be able to move away from the book enclosed with your cards, creating your own symbolisms and definitions. The book usually has two parts to the connotation of each card - the divine context and psychoanalytical interpretation (usually found towards the back of the book). Each individual might interpret the same card in a different way, but it is ultimately in the eye of the beholder how each card and situation is portrayed. Nonetheless, the same outcome will be achieved.
Now that you know the basics of reading tarot cards, find your deck, shuffle your cards, tap into the universe, and make miracles happen! Namaste!