Learning to read the Tarot is not as difficult or daunting as it may first appear. With all of the different styles of decks and dozens of books of interpretations available, many people who are intrigued by the Tarot quickly become overwhelmed and give up on the idea. They approach it with the mindset that there are “set definitions” for every card or that they have to memorize meanings that others have written. This is not only not true - it's the absolute worst way to try to learn Tarot effectively.
The best Tarot readers are the ones who learn to trust in their own interpretations of the cards. Although there is some universal symbolism, no two people will look at the same card in quite the same way – and that is fine! Tarot should speak to you and you should form a connection with your cards. This can be done by keeping a Tarot journal. The benefits of Tarot journals are that they can be used effectively for any Tarot deck. If you start with a more basic or traditional deck and then later decide you are drawn to a deck that is even more symbolic or follows a different theme, you can learn that deck too in the same manner.
Tarot is not a science it is an art, meaning it is flexible and subject to some personal variations. Keep this in mind when you start your Tarot journal.
Create a Tarot Journal
I recommend the use of a three ring binder so that you can move pages around at will or add and subtract information in proper order later on. Each day focus on 1 or 2 cards and take 10 to 15 minutes with each card. At the top of your page write the name of your card and at first simply write down anything you see and feel. What are the first things you notice with that card? Do certain colors stand out? Symbols? Characters? How does the scene make you feel?
Next write a story about what is happening in the card. Describe the scenery and the characters in detail including their feelings, actions, what you believe they are experiencing. Make this a real story that you can begin to relate to other experiences you have had. How do they coincide with one another?
Your final part should be expressing what you learned from the card by comparing and contrasting it to your own personal experience(s). What does this card teach and what is the moral of the story being depicted?
This approach to Tarot allows you to become a good reader because now you are not merely looking at cards trying to remember interpretations you read in a book. This practice allows you to develop a relationship with your cards and to tap into your intuition (and creative center of your brain which is closely connected). It is easier to remember the stories and ideas that are uniquely your own and relate those to yourself and others than it is to memorize a bunch of random meanings without truly understanding why those interpretations came to be.
After you have moved through your entire deck creating your own interpretations and stories, then you can begin to look at books and interpretations of others and see how their ideas correspond to your own. Perhaps they will enhance your own interpretations or give you more food for thought, but if you want to be the best reader possible, develop your own interpretations first. This will help you develop empathy with those you read as well because you will "feel" the cards in your reading and how they relate to those you are reading for. Tarot should not be an analytical process as much as it is an intuitive and emotional one. This is where many new readers get stuck.