How to Read Tarot Cards WITHOUT Memorizing Card Meanings

How to Read Tarot Cards WITHOUT Memorizing Card Meanings

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Are you interested in learning how to read tarot cards but don’t want to memorize all the card meanings? By the end of this article, you’ll have everything you need to start reading tarot cards without memorizing one card.


To get started, you will need a tarot journal, a tarot deck, and some guides to support your learning. It’s also important to give your full attention to the practice, as tarot is a subjective discipline that requires focus and attention.

The Elements

First we will learn the four elements – fire, water, air, and earth. These were popularized in the west by a philosopher named Empedocles. They found their way into tarot through various philosophical and esoteric influences. They symbolize our human life experiences. Each element represents different aspects of life, and they are all expressed symbolically and archetypally in the tarot deck.

Fire and Water

The suit of wands represents the element of fire. It shows us the part of our lives that are actively creative. This includes our life purpose, career, passions, desires, will, goals, and what we want to achieve for ourselves. It often manifests as our career, job, or business.


On the other hand, the suit of cups represents water and passive creativity. This includes our relationships with others, including our family, love, emotions, and collaborations with friends. Unlike the suit of wands, where we are initiating and actively directing a creative force, in the suit of cups, we are taking that creativity and working with it through others. This requires more listening, responsiveness, and responsibility.

Earth and Air

When these two elements – fire and water – get together, something really cool happens. We learn to balance our individual will (fire) and our sensitivity to others (water). This comes together to create air. Air is our mind, ego, and identity. This identity, symbolized by air, is a combination of our individual will (fire) and our connection to others (water). In the suit of Swords we begin to build an identity and a set of ideals and belief systems. These ideals come from what we desire  (wands and fire) and who we are creating it with (cups and water). This leads into the element earth and the suit of pentacles. 


The suit of pentacles and the element of earth symbolize how our ideals and goals (which were established in the suit of swords) shape our material reality (earth). Our thoughts and mindset directly affect our physical experiencecs. I will delve into this in more detail in another blog. However, for now, it’s important to note how the physical world and the material aspects of our lives are closely tied to our mental world. The suit of Pentacles, representing Earth, also symbolizes our physical well-being, health, and financial matters. Money is an abstract measurement of material possessions, effort, energy, and work. All of these are attributes associated with the Pentacles suit. Now that we know the four elements, you can learn the technique. 

So . . . How do you read tarot cards without any memorization?

This exercise I’m going to teach you will help you understand the meaning of over half the Tarot deck without memorizing anything. I developed this method to assist new Tarot readers. This method requires no memorization at all! All you need to know are the four elements. This approach applies to both the minor and major Arcana, and here’s how it works in two simple steps.

Step 1: Notice the Suit Symbol

Notice the suit symbol and recall the corresponding element. For example, in the case of the Two of Wands, we see the symbol of wands and recall that wands represent fire, which signifies career, life purpose, and passion.

Step 2: Observe the Relationship

Observe the relationship between the suit symbol and the rest of the card’s symbolism. Pay attention to where the suit symbol appears in relation to other symbols in the card and how it is incorporated into the illustration. This relationship provides context to the subject matter of the element, which in turn gives you the divinatory meaning. It’s that simple!

Let’s take an example. In the Two of Wands, we notice someone holding one of the wands while the other wand is bolted to a castle. The person holding the wand is also holding a globe. He is looking in a specific direction, which could indicate setting sights on a new location or goal. We can interpret this as someone firmly holding onto their career, passion, or life purpose, while looking ahead to a new direction or goal. The bolted wand could symbolize a successful career or a sense of power, protection, and direction. Alternatively, it could represent the energy of fire (associated with wands) flowing through the person’s hands, into their mind’s eye, and towards their intention or goal. Notice that in this interpretation, we didn’t rely on esoteric knowledge, Kabbalah, or numerology. We simply used the suit symbol and the scene to derive meaning from the card.

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