I did not approach tarot as a way to divine my future or get in touch with my spiritual intuition. I started researching tarot because I wanted something organized yet creative that gave me a chance to embrace my geeky side: 78 definitions, organized into both Major and Minor Arcana, dictated by suits, and progressing by number. How delightfully structured! How symmetrical! And with pretty pictures, too!
I say this because you will hear different suggestions about how to approach tarot as a beginner, namely: Do you start with memorizing cards, or do you start by trying to get a "feel" for the cards? I think that this depends entirely on what you are hoping to get out of tarot. What I have for you are two Step Ones for getting to know your deck, depending on two possible approaches: Geek or Mystic. Though you probably fall somewhere in between, try seeing which answers resonate with you most.
1) When you picked a deck, you were attracted to:
Mystic: The feel of the artwork, the way certain specific cards captivated me, a deep stirring in my soul; the process of picking a deck is part of the experience itself
Geek: The general aesthetic, consistency in style, easily discernible suits and numbers; let's just pick a deck already!
2) You wanted to try tarot because:
Mystic: I wanted to try some new ways of getting in touch with my spiritual side, or I am interested in the occult and supernatural in a literal way, and I want to impress my friends
Geek: I'm interested in the occult in a historical and sociological way, I like systems, it's cooler than Pokeman, and I want to impress my friends
3) When you give or receive a really effective tarot reading, you feel:
Mystic: inspired by my connection to the universe through a literal supernatural force, or that the experience can't be explained with empirical fact
Geek: inspired by my connection to the universe through a shared need for storytelling and a common human mythos, or that coincidences can be just as important as fact if they lead to growth
When I got my Universal Rider-Waite, I was aaaaaall Geek, my friend. As my confidence has grown and I collect more unique or abstract decks, I include a little Mystic in my approach, too. I don't see either approach as better or more legitimate; they're just two different paths. Over the next week or so, I'll present you these two different directions. Be sure to check back!