7 Easy Ways to Remember the Tarot Card Meanings

7 Easy Ways to Remember the Tarot Card Meanings

You’re having trouble remembering the card meanings. You’ve read through the little white book and you’ve read through a tarot book you purchased all the while nodding your head and understanding the text.

But when it’s time to do a reading you draw the cards, you look at them, and you go completely blank.

What did that one mean again? You can’t remember.

So you pull your tarot book out, read the description, nod your head and put the book away. Only the next time you want to do a reading for yourself the same thing happens. Rinse and repeat.

It’s so frustrating because you wish you could go off book and be able to do at least one complete reading without having to consult it. Am I right?

I feel you, my friend. When I started with tarot I was there too. We all were! All tarot readers start out that way!

Today, I’m going give you 8 simple methods you can use to help you remember the card meanings and be able to perform a reading without consulting the book.

Keep reading to enroll in a FREE intuitive tarot course!

Remembering the tarot card meanings doesn’t have to be hard as long as you know the right memory hacks!

1. Write it down!

I’m serious! It sounds like the simplest thing ever but it really works!

If you listen to a YouTube video about tarot or you read a book and you don’t take any notes you’re not engaging the part of your brain that deals with memory. This goes for any subject not just tarot.

When you’re reading or watching a video you take in information and process that information in a passive manner. Your brain treats it as trivia.

But when you take notes something different happens.

You’re not being passive about it. In the act of summarising and forming words to write down, your brain isn’t being passive anymore. It’s processing the information which makes it easier to recall.

My preferred study method in school was to first read the textbook and highlight it, then write down a summary of each chapter, then re-read my own notes several times before the exam.

There is no exam here but my point is that the simple act of summarising and writing down the information helps you to remember key facts about it.

Grab a sheet of paper and as you listen to that YouTube video covering the card meanings just write down the name of the card and a sentence or two summarising the key points about that card or even a string of keywords.

That’s what I did. I even colour coded it so that I wrote the major arcana in purple, wands in red, cups in dark blue, swords in light blue, and pentacles in green. The colours make it more memorable and interesting.


Remember the card meanings better by creating your OWN personal set of card meanings that makes sense to YOU. Develop a unique and intuitive understanding of the card meanings in 8 days.

2. Use it or lose it

Have you ever heard of the saying, if you don’t use it you lose it? Well that statement is completely true.

Let me tell you something. In high school I was a star student in French. I always used to get an A+ or at least an A in French. But now? I do not remember a thing. If you asked me to pass a French exam I would fail so hard.

Why is that? Because I haven’t spoken a single word of French since high school. Same goes for tarot.

If you want something to go into long-term memory repetition is necessary. That means you need to practice, practice, and practice!

You need to be using those cards as often as you can. Do many readings for yourself and others, start doing daily draws, and refer your own self-written notes when you need to refer back to the card meaning.

Eventually you will not need your notes anymore and it will become second nature. That’s how it was for me. I was not able to fully remember all 78 meanings until I forced myself to handle the cards again and again and again.

At some point I found myself being able to complete a full reading without consulting any book.

3. Keep a tarot journal

This brings me to my next point, which is, the absolute best way to push yourself into practicing tarot on a daily basis is tarot journaling.

This practice literally changed the way I read tarot for the better and it incorporates both of the points I mentioned above! You practice, process the info in your brain, and plus write it down.

Absolutely perfect!

  • You can write your notes within your tarot journal, using colour coding, and then refer back to it at any time.

  • You can record any and all readings you have done for yourself and others.

  • You can weekly and monthly spreads – yet more opportunities to practice.

  • You can force yourself to handle the cards on a daily basis using daily draws.

Doing daily draws is something that is so small and seemingly insignificant but makes a huge difference. Why? Because tarot becomes part of your daily life and you get to relate everyday events to the tarot card meanings.

I personally, keep a tarot bullet journal, combining the best of both tarot and bullet journaling into one awesome system. I’ve actually written an entire article about how I track my daily draws in it. Read it here.

4. Focus on just one keyword or key phrase for each card

You know that acronym K.I.S.S. – keep it simple stupid? It’s relevant here. I’m not calling you stupid! Hear me out.

When you’re learning the card meanings don’t bother trying to remember all the symbols and correspondences. You can learn that later to be honest.

Let’s face it, the fact that the lovers card refers to Adam and Eve from the bible ain’t going to help you in a reading is it? But, the words “union and choice” will.

There was actually a scientific study that concluded that keywords string together vocabulary in memory. It’s like a literal key the unlocks the door to the meaning of the card in your mind.

Taking the lovers for example. Say you wrote down one paragraph in your notes all about the various aspects of the card meanings. You write down “union and choice” as your keywords.

Then you focus on trying to remember just those keywords, a practice which makes it way easier on your brain because it’s shorter! So when you see the lovers card your brain’s like ooh I remember this! Union and choice.

Once you remember your chosen keywords you also remember the other points you wrote about it. The keyword unlocks the door to the card meaning in your memory!


Remember the card meanings better by creating your OWN personal set of card meanings that makes sense to YOU. Develop a unique and intuitive understanding of the card meanings in 8 days.

5. For the majors, play word association with the card names

Following on from the last point, the major arcana comes with a set of pre-built keywords in the assigned card names.

They’re already on the card so why not use them to jog your memory? How? Word association!

Okay, say you’ve done a reading and you’ve forgotten what the hermit means. Look at the title of the card. What words can you associate with a hermit? What is a hermit?

A hermit is someone who lives alone in the forest, secluded from society. That’s your word association.

If you then go look up the card meaning you’ll see that withdrawal and isolation is a big part of what that card means.

Not bad, huh?

Try it out with the rest of the major arcana. Don’t look up the meanings in the book just play word association using the card names as your guide.

6. For the minors, learn them in sequence as part of a story

Each minor arcana suit tells a coherent story that begins with the ace and ends with the ten. Each card is like a scene within the overarching story (more on learning through storytelling here).

By thinking of each suit as like a mini-story you create links between each card. Creating associations between items helps you to remember them! Learning them in sequence makes it a LOT easier to remember any one card.

For example, let’s take the six of cups. For some reason, back when I was leaning, I kept forgetting what that card meant. But, when I knew what the five of cups meant and the 7 of cups meant, for some reason it became easier to remember the six of cups as well.

Like if you know the cards on either side, your brain will fill in the missing card for you. It’s a bit weird but it works! Our brains just love creating associations between things.

7. Describe what’s going on in the image

When all else fails don’t panic! Go by the image in the card. Let the image tell you a story and that story becomes the card meaning.

What I mean here is that first you describe what it going on in the picture and then extrapolate what that could mean in a reading. No need to reference the book!

So for example, let’s say I have drawn the hanged man. I’ve forgotten what it means so I take a few breaths to calm myself and assess what’s going on in the image.

A man is hanging upside down from a tree. He’s trapped and isn’t able to untie himself. Okay so let’s extrapolate. Man is hanging from tree with no way down. So he’s in suspension, a state of limbo, because he can’t move. He feels trapped and not in control of the situation.

Then we notice the expression on his face. Traditionally the hanged man has quite a serene expression. He doesn’t look uncomfortable there are all. He’s pretty relaxed. So maybe he doesn’t feel trapped but he put himself there for some greater purpose.

See all we’ve done is look carefully at what’s going on in the picture and draw conclusions based on that. But out conclusions were pretty close to the traditional card meaning! Didn’t need to refer to the book.

But even if it’s slightly off, trust your own intuition to guide you because the generic meanings don’t always apply.

Take the hanged man for example. One day you might be visually drawn to his body and feet, hanging from that tree with no control, and another you might be drawn to his serene, unflappable, expression. What you notice affects which aspect of the card meaning applies to your situation.

Intuitive Tarot Reading

What we’ve just done here is part of intuitive tarot card reading. It’s a method by which you rely on your own inner wisdom and intuitive impressions to create your own set of card meanings.

You do this by recording your impressions of the card images as well as any other thoughts, feelings, ideas, or images that come to mind when looking at the cards.

This also utilises the link-building concept I mentioned earlier. You create your own associations for the cards which makes them easier to remember.

I’ve created a free course all focused on this method of tarot card reading to help you build up your own personal set of card meanings. So please feel free to check it out if you like the idea!


Remember the card meanings better by creating your OWN personal set of card meanings that makes sense to YOU. Develop a unique and intuitive understanding of the card meanings in 8 days.