Taking up tarot can be expensive. There’s the cost of the decks which vary dramatically (my beautiful Wild Unknown deck was £34 and I felt I had to get the book as well as i was a beginner, another £16); the cost of books for general information as well as specific books for specific decks; the cost of courses ; the cost of getting readings (which can be a helpful way to learn).
Before you know it, you’re down a few hundred pounds…
This blog post was prompted by someone finding my blog by Googling “alternative tarot for someone with no money” so here are my thoughts on ways you can learn and practice tarot without the high price tag.
Some decks are cheaper than others but you can also download and print some decks eg from Dark Tarot, through Etsy or David’s Tarot. Print them on card (or glue onto card) and you have a very cheap deck.
If you want a professional printed deck, you’ll find Rider Waite Smith decks cheap online or even in second hand or discounted book shops.
However, if you can, I would recommend waiting for a deck that leaps out at you and asks to be taken home. My wild unknown deck was expensive but I use it most days and I love it more than all my other decks and connect to it much more strongly. So for me, it has definitely been worth the cost. I wouldn’t have got anywhere near as much insight if i’d started with the Rider Waite Smith deck and possibly wouldn’t be so into tarot.
Other tarot readers are a good source of second hand decks – they’re so tempting that often people buy lots and don’t click with them all. Indeed one of my fellow students on 78 mirrors has offered to sent me their Lumina tarot deck which they’ve not clicked with.
Another way to dramatically reduce the cost of tarot is to get a tarot app instead. There are some good ones and a few do a free tester version so you can see if you like it. Galaxy Tone seems to have a good reputation.
Other than the Wild Unknown book, I didn’t buy my first tarot book until a few weeks ago. There is a vast amount of great information online so I haven’t needed to.
A few of my favourite sites for understanding cards, getting ideas for spreads, finding out about decks etc are:
The book I have bought is one which I’ve seen recommended over and over again, Carrie recommended it when I asked for her suggestions and its come up again in 78 Mirrors. It’s 78 Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack and seems to be a bit of a tarot bible.
My copy is 350 pages starting with a bit of history before moving onto the major arcana, the minor arcana and then readings. It was first published in 1980 in two parts. I’m onky up to page 73 (the strength card) but so far it’s very informative, very readable and very helpful. She goes into a lot of detail about each card and looks at the imagery and symbolism (predominately that in the Rider Waite Smith deck which is helpful for other decks as well). I don’t know much about myths, religion and symbology so I’m finding it quite illuminating.
My copy was about £5 from amazon but given its popularity I would expect to find it in charity shops as well (side note, I would prefer more charity bookshop shopping but so many of them round here have steps or are too tightly packed to get a wheelchair round. If you run one, check on how accessible you are).
There are other amazing looking books out there about tarot that you might really want, but if you’re strapped for cash, you really don’t need them.
Again, you don’t need to do a course but they can provide a structured approach and possibly other learners.
Little Red Tarot ‘s alternative tarot course is $25 and gives you 8 weeks of lessons and exercises. I actually got the course for $20 through a discount code Beth sent with her newsletter. There is also the alternative tarot community which has a section for people following the course to talk. The course itself is one you do alone at your own pace and because it’s very reflective, I didn’t feel I missed having course mates
I haven’t done it but Susannah Conway’s Daily Guidance course is supposed to be very good, although it is pricier at £67. Her second tarot course, 78 Mirrors is £117 and is very good so far. These do have an optional Facebook group for peer support and Susannah has posted a lot in there herself. If you sign up to her newsletter you get alerted to new courses and often a discount code.
7/9/16 Edited to add: Beth has written a good post about starting to learn tarot – http://littleredtarot.com/start-youre-tarot-newbie/