The Tarot is a method of divination. The cards symbolize our conscious understanding of experience to include the past, present, and the future. It is a means of predicting events or receiving guidance in both our physical and spiritual world.
There are many Tarot decks available. After studying several decks, you will find one or two decks which will feel more comfortable and the symbols more responsive to your needs. Once you have mastered one deck, the rest can be easily understood and as your awareness grows, you may find that your preferences change from one deck to another.
The Tarot deck consists of 78 cards which are broken down into 22 Major Arcana, 40 Minor Arcana, and 16 Court Cards. The Major Arcana cards reveal the character and mental condition of the person receiving the reading, or the Querent. These cards are the most important in a spread, depicting the greater events in our lives. The Minor Arcana cards depict the mundane, everyday aspects. The Minor Arcana has 4 suits: Wands, Cups, Pentacles, and Swords. Each suit contains cards numbered from Ace to 10, followed by four Court cards. The Court cards of all four suits together are known as the Court Arcana.
There are many different ways to lay out the cards for a reading. The layout of the cards is called a spread. The number of cards in a spread, the way you shuffle, or which cards you pick should be based on what feels comfortable to you.
Before doing a reading, try to compose your thoughts as clearly as possible. Meditation on the cards awakens the symbology held in the subconscious mind. Working with the Tarot opens a passageway between our physical world and a world which is more spiritual.
If you are interested in learning more about the Tarot, I recommend Nancy Garenís "Tarot Made Easy." This is a must for any beginner, and can be used immediately to start reading the Tarot. An interpretation is given for each card and includes specific topics such as focus, romance, work, finances, special guidance, best course of action, outcome, as well as many more.