A Cyber-Fool’s Journey:
Using the Internet to Learn the Tarot

by James Ricklef (jwricklef@hotmail.com)

Revised by Diane Wilkes - 3/04

Introduction:

Perhaps you are just starting out on your journey of learning about the Tarot. Then again, maybe you’re not a novice, but you realize that there’s always more to learn. In either case, the number of Internet resources at your disposal for learning about the Tarot is staggering. As a Tarot novice myself, I’ve searched out as many such sources of information as I can find.

On the Internet, there are online magazines (called "webzines" or "ezines"), online mailing lists and news lists, and a plethora of websites – all of them, free. But even if your access to the Internet is curtailed, you can order books and Tarot decks by telephone, and you can join Tarot organizations by mail. And, if you prefer a personal touch, there are Tarot conventions, conferences, symposiums, and festivals available as long as you either live near any of these events or are able to travel to them. While this article will focus on resources available via the Internet, it will also cover some non-Internet sources of Tarot information. Then, equipped with such tools, you should be able to expand your knowledge and experience using the Tarot. So join me now on a Cyber-Fool’s journey into the Internet and beyond.

Webzines

There are several webzines which, like a King of Swords, seek to impart a wide breadth of knowledge about the Tarot, including articles, tips, deck and book reviews, event announcements, and references to other Tarot-related websites.

Arcanum

Web address: www.tarotschool.com/Arcanum.html

The Tarot School (www.TarotSchool.com) published the webzine Arcanum, which it billed as "a literate source of occult information". Not all of the articles in it are about Tarot, but they do have some good ones on the subject. For example, one article provided "22 Suggestions for Offering Readings at Parties, Expos & Psychic Fairs". This is no longer being published, but back issues may be ordered from the Tarot School’s website:
www.tarotschool.com/OrderForm.html or you can call them toll free at: 800-804-2184.

Divinations

Web address: home1.pacific.net.sg/~mun_hon/tarot/tarot.htm

This excellent newsletter, hosted by the website, "Astarte’s Tarot Web", features reviews of decks, books, websites, and Tarot software. It also features interviews with Tarot deck designers and discussions of a "card of the month". (The most recent newsletter is from 1/2000 -- DW)

Astarte’s Tarot Web also includes an Introduction to the Tarot, various articles on how to use the Tarot, and a Tarot bulletin board.

Rebel Planet

Web address: www.lunarace.com/rplanet.html

Published by Devon Childress, this webzine provides Tarot deck reviews and promises Tarot "lessons, tips and layouts" in the near future. It also covers other occult topics such as Wicca and Astrology as well as providing a link to "The Rebel Planet Store" where you can request a Tarot reading. In the near future (as of the time that I am writing this article – December, 1998) "The Rebel Planet Store" will provide a link to order books and decks online via Amazon.com.

Salem Tarot

Salem Tarot (www.salemtarot.com/core.html) promises to soon feature an online magazine, "with Tarot articles ranging from interpretation and symbolism to deck reviews and spreads". At this time, they do not yet provide such a magazine, but their website is informative in and of itself.

TAROT Newsletter

Lastly, for those of you who would rather get a paper newsletter than read an online webzine, there’s the TAROT Newsletter. This newsletter features articles, spreads, card interpretations, book and deck reviews, tips for reading, etc. You can send $3 for a single issue, or $10 for a 4-issue subscription to:

TAROT
P.O. Box 720
Nevada City, CA 95959. 

See www.nccn.net/~tarot for more information regarding this Newsletter.

Online Mailing lists, News Lists, etc.:

Besides the webzines noted above, there are many online mailing lists and news lists which are also excellent sources of information about the Tarot.

Specific sites:

Some of the best such websites are the following:

Tarot-L

Tarot-L provides you with an opportunity to engage in an email dialogue with a multitude of other people (this mailing list currently averages about 325 members) on the subject of the Tarot by providing its members with a means of mass emailing comments, and feedback to those comments, amongst themselves. (Note that many Tarot books writers and Tarot deck designers are Tarot-L members!)

Tapestry provides a link to the website (www.lightspeed.bc.ca/hilander/tarotl.html) where you can get information about how to sign up for Tarot-L.

ATANews

The American Tarot Association (ATA) provides an online mailing list which you can sign up for by going to www.onelist.com, clicking on "Find a List", and searching for "ATANews". ATA posts items of interest to tarot enthusiasts once or twice a month.

ATA Online Bulletin Board

In addition, ATA hosts a free online bulletin board where you can get answers to your Tarot questions. (There is even a link to a section of the bulletin board specifically for "Beginners Questions".) To see the ATA Bulletin Board, go to their website (www.ata-tarot.com) and click on "Tarot Bulletin Board" or go directly to: www.celestialwitch.com/board/index.html

Tarot Tips

The Tarot School provides a mailing list available to everyone. You can sign up for it by going to www.onelist.com, clicking on "Find a List", and searching for "TarotTips". The Tarot School generally posts a new Tarot Tip every week.

Resources for more mailing lists:

And if that’s not enough, you can use ONElist (www.onelist.com) to do a search using "Tarot" to find direct references to other Tarot-related mailing lists. (The last time I counted, there were 60 such lists!)

Other Online resources:

Inspired, perhaps, by the Six of Pentacles, many people have given unselfishly of themselves to create websites with valuable Tarot-related information, but how do you find them? Sure, you can use a web search engine such as Yahoo (www.yahoo.com), Alta Vista (www.altavista.com), or Avatar (www.avatarsearch.com) using "Tarot" as your search criteria to find Tarot-related websites. However, be prepared to get a veritable avalanche of hits. I recently did this, and although Yahoo found a "mere" 259 sites, Alta Vista found 36,968 and other search engines I tried found similarly daunting numbers of websites. (The thought of sifting through all of those websites brings to mind the Ten of Wands, doesn’t it?)

 

Tapestry provides an extensive list of Tarot Net Links (but mercifully, they list considerably fewer than 36,968 sites!) and I do not want to duplicate that effort here. Instead, I will provide recommendations and reviews of a few of what I think are some of the best Tarot websites to use to start your cyber-journey into the Tarot. (Note that many of the sites listed below provide links to other sites through which you can eventually find just about every Tarot-related site on the Internet!)

Learning the Tarot

First, and foremost for any beginner, is the "Learning the Tarot" website (http://www.learntarot.com/) by Joan Bunning, who has my vote for Queen of Pentacles for her nurturing and generous efforts in providing this website.

This extensive online course helps the beginner learn how to use the cards for him/herself, and experienced tarot users can find useful information here as well. It offers 19 lessons which begin with the basics and then move into more detailed aspects of the Tarot. It also provides information about each of the 78 Tarot cards and about the patterns for laying out the cards. This really is one of the best designed websites (Tarot or otherwise) I’ve ever seen!

I have used Joan Bunning’s online course, but I’ve not used ShadowWolf’s "Tarot-l Beginner’s Course", so I can’t give you first hand knowledge of it. However, after glancing through the course archive, which you can see at:

http://www.lightspeed.bc.ca/hilander/shadow/shadow.htm

it looks to be very good. It consists of lectures, lessons, and exercises which help you learn how to think about each card, and how to explore the symbolism in the Rider-Waite deck.

Other websites

Other websites of interest to a Tarot novice include:

Tarot Passages Website

www.tarotpassages.com/

This excellent website includes reviews of Tarot books and decks, summaries of conventions past and present, and links to other websites - including links to ones of particular interest to beginners.

T.A.R.O.T. (Tools And Rites Of Transformation)

www.nccn.net/~tarot

T.A.R.O.T. is produced by Mary Greer, author of Tarot for Your Self, and Ed Buryn, creator of The William Blake Tarot. It presents Tarot news, book and deck reviews, an article on Tarot card meanings, explanations of original Tarot spreads, some Tarot "how to" articles, and an interpretation clinic. And its list of links to other Tarot websites and resources is excellent.

Tom Tadfor Little’s Tarot Website

www.telp.com/excursions/tarot

Tom Tadfor Little’s website provides an eclectic collection of articles about various tarot topics. Probably the most interesting part of his site is his "Tarot Reading 1-2-3" essay. It is well written and contains excellent advice for the experienced as well as the novice Tarot reader. To get there from his home page, click on "essays" and then go to the bottom of the page. There you will find links to his essays on reading a single card, card pairs, a two-card spread, a three-card spread, and Tree-of-Life Spreads.

The Salem Tarot Website

www.salemtarot.com/core.html

The stated purpose of this website is: "to bring the sacred art of the Tarot to the World Wide Web from the Salem Witches' point of view." Among other things, it provides a brief history of the Tarot, it has a book shop with reviews of books (and links to amazon.com to order them) and a long list of Tarot decks (again with links to amazon.com), and it lets you send a Tarot postcard to a friend!

Wicce’s Tarot Collection

members.tripod.com/~wicces_tarot/layouts.html

This website describes almost 20 different Tarot card spreads. If you want to learn about more spreads than just the Celtic Cross, this is a good site to visit.

Notes

Most websites include the author’s or sponsor’s email address for comments, and they are generally happy to answer questions relevant to the subject matter in their websites.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this section of this article, there are many more websites relevant to Tarot, but the short list provided here should get you started. Then if you are feeling adventurous and want to explore more Tarot-related websites, most of the sites I have listed above provide links to other Tarot-related sites!

Decks and Books

Trying to decide on the right Tarot deck or book to buy can be like drawing the Seven of Cups. So many decks and books, so little time.

Decks

The choice of a Tarot deck is a very personal thing, but how do you choose from the hundreds of options you now have? Well, if you are just starting out, you may want to be aware that most books and courses will refer to the Rider-Waite decks (Original, Universal, Albano, or Golden). Thus, you may want to consider one of those as your first deck.

However, rather than just give you a hard and fast recommendation to get that deck (or if you already have a R-W deck and want to buy another deck), I will point you to a few of the best websites which provide descriptions of many different Tarot decks, and let those resources help you make your choice.

Books

Just as there are a wide variety of Tarot decks, there are also quite a few Tarot books, and choosing one can be a bewildering experience. If you have an occult bookstore in your area, you can go there and browse until you find one you like. Or you can visit an online book seller (the two foremost being www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com), but when I recently did a search on "Tarot" on amazon.com I got 892 matches - a daunting number, indeed!

But maybe I can narrow it down for you. I have found that the two most commonly recommended books are Tarot for Yourself, by Mary Greer and 78 Degrees of Wisdom, by Rachel Pollack. Several other commonly recommended books are (in alphabetical order by author):

If you would like to see some book reviews prior to selecting one, the following are about the best websites you can check out:

Note that even if you do not have Internet access or an occult bookstore nearby, you can call the Psychic Eye at 800-843-3935 to mail-order a Tarot book. (Note that they also stock about 90 Tarot decks and you can mail-order those also.)

I must pause here and state one important caveat about buying Tarot books. If you are like me, you won’t stop at just one book on the Tarot. And when you begin reading your second (or third, or fourth, . . .) book you will inevitably find disagreement between the authors you are reading on some points of interpretation. The first time this happens, it can be quite disconcerting – I know it was for me. What you have to realize is that there are many layers of meaning to the Tarot and thus, many ways of interpreting it. So when this happens, it is up to you to find the meaning that best strikes a chord for you. That may involve choosing one of the various interpretations you’ve read, or it may entail finding a meaning which is a synthesis of the different interpretations. Ultimately, you will find that any book you read is merely a guide to finding the truths that you will discover inside your own heart while using the cards themselves.

Fiction

If you want something a little different, and if you are a more voracious reader than I am, you may want to check out the following website for a long list of fiction that features the Tarot, some to greater extent than others:

www.geocities.com/Athens/Acropolis/2282/tarot/tarlit.htm

Organizations:

Have you drawn the Hierophant in your daily Tarot reading lately? Perhaps it was trying to tell you to join one of the several professional Tarot organizations available.

The American Tarot Association (ATA)

The benefits of membership in the American Tarot Association include:

If you would like to join, you can call or write to them:

The American Tarot Association
P.O. Box 102
Stoneham, CO 80754

970-228-4104

Email: ata@ata-tarot.com

Or visit their website at www.ata-tarot.com

The International Tarot Society (ITS)

The ITS sponsors the bi-annual, 3 day "World Tarot Convention". For more information regarding this society and membership in it, visit their website at www.geocities.com/Athens/Ithaca/3772/join.html

The Tarot School

The Tarot School offers correspondence courses (including one to prepare you for the Tarot Certification Board’s certification exam), weekly classes (Monday evenings from 6 - 9pm at The Source of Life Conference Center, 22 W. 34th Street, 5th Floor, New York City, NY), workshops (of varying costs), and free tele-classes. It also publishes Arcanum Magazine, and it will be hosting the New York Tarot Festival in May, 2002.

For more information, you can call them, email them, or visit their website:

Ruth Ann Brauser & Wald Amberstone
800-804-2184

Email: Tarot@TarotSchool.com

www.tarotschool.com

The Professional Tarot Society (PTS)

This London based non-profit organization is "dedicated to recognition and acceptance of the Tarot as a valid tool for psychospiritual counseling". It hosts events, publishes a newsletter, and provides certificate and diploma examinations. If you would like further information about the PTS, you can visit their website at www.ursasoft.com/tarot/index.htm, send an e-mail to ursa@easynet.co.uk, or write with SAE to:

Professional Tarot Society
29 Hanger Lane, Ealing
LONDON W5 3HJ

Daughters of Divination

This non-profit organization was established early in 1999. It produces the semi-annual Bay Area Tarot Symposium (BATS), publish The Belfry (the magazine for BATS), and offer educational events and materials. They plan to have a website soon, but in the meantime you can call Thalassa at (415) 753-5041 for more information.

Builders of the Adytum (BOTA).

BOTA is a non-profit corporation founded by Paul Foster Case and based in Los Angeles which offers instruction focusing on Tarot and Qabalah. It also has an online study group. For more information you can visit their website at www.atanda.com/bota/default.html#list1
or call them at 323-255-7141

That personal touch:

But what if you’re thinking more of the Three of Cups, and you want a more personal touch. Where do you go? There are a variety of conferences, conventions, symposiums, and festivals at various locations across the country.

The Third World Tarot Congress

This convention is scheduled for September 14 – 16, 2000 in Chicago, Illinois (actually, Lincolnwood, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago) at the Radisson Hotel Lincolnwood. The theme of this year’s convention is "The Past, Present, and Future of the Tarot" and the agenda will include talks on the professional aspects of being a Tarot reader, lectures on the history and development of the Tarot cards, information on Tarot in cyber-space, a banquet, and other activities.

Scheduled guests include: Rachel Pollack, Robert Place, Joan Bunning, James Wanless, Tom Tadfor Little, Robert O'Neill, Lon Milo Duquette, Geraldine Amaral, Mary Greer, and Ed Buryn.

For information you can call or write to them for a brochure:

International Tarot Society
P.O. Box 1475
Morton Grove IL 60053

(847) 965-9916

visit their website: http://www.tarotsociety.org/

or email janetbhp@ix.netcom.com

American Tarot Association conferences.

The ATA hosts eight regional conferences.

The American Tarot Association
P.O. Box 17164
Boulder, CO. 80308-0164
(303) 938-1408
Or visit their website at www.ata-tarot.com

The Bay Area Tarot Symposium (BATS)

BATS, the oldest continuously produced event of its kind in this country, is a one-day event held semi-annually in San Francisco which features workshops, readings, and deck and book vendors. They plan to have a website soon, but in the meantime you can call Thalassa at (415) 753-5041 for more information.

The Los Angeles Tarot Symposium (LATS)

The Los Angeles Tarot Symposium is a semi-annual, one-day event. The next event, scheduled for June 16, 2001 will feature a keynote address, 12 - 14 workshops (many of which will be interactive and include panel discussions), readings, and deck and book vendors. Note that the workshops will be at various levels of expertise in order to accommodate people of all levels of understanding.

For more information, or to get on the mailing list for this event, you can call Barbara Rapp at 714-835-4708 (days) or email her at hrabarb@earthlink.net.

The Crystal Cave Study Group

The Crystal Cave (in Costa Mesa, California) hosts a weekly Tarot study group. For more information you can call Barbara Rapp at 714-835-4708 (days) or email her at hrabarb@earthlink.net.

New York Tarot Festival

This festival, sponsored by the Tarot School, is scheduled for early May, 2002 (the exact date is TBD.) For more information, visit the festival’s website (www.tarotschool.com/Festival.html) where you can also get on its mailing list.

Tarot School Seminars

The Tarot School (located in New York) offers seminars on various aspects of the Tarot. For more information, see their website (www.tarotschool.com/Seminars.html) or email them at Tarot@TarotSchool.com Also, you can call 800-804-2184 to register by telephone.

Other sources of information

As time goes on, you can also check the following websites for information about events which may come up:

www.artoftarot.com/conferences.htm

www.nccn.net/~tarot/events.html

Concluding remarks:

There is a vast amount of information out there, and it can be overwhelming. My recommendation as to the best place for a novice to begin would be one of the following:

And, of course, purchase a Tarot deck.

Then you can go on from there, based upon what type of resource you prefer: online, text, or personal instruction. And if your travels from The Fool to The World take you along the World Wide Web, I hope this article will have helped make your journey a little smoother.

 

This article originally appeared in the Jan/Feb 1999 issue of Tapestry Magazine.  Some information has been updated.

1999 James Ricklef

Back