What Are Tarot Cards?
The tarot cards have been shrouded in a fog of mysterious origins. They have been dated from around the 15th century, and were used in Italy and France for card games played by royalty. The current image of a fortune teller decked out in a head scarf, emanating a foreboding presence, and coupled with tarot cards and a crystal ball has been more of a widely accepted view of such occult practices. However, many modern day tarot card readers do not dress in such a manner, and have various reasons for engaging in the study and reading of tarot.
Some people fear tarot cards and look at them as evil objects like the crystal ball or Ouija boards. (The Ouija board or spirit boards really should not be toys for children and I have a personal anecdote to back this up. However, responsible use by adept individuals or mediums… these folks perhaps can take the risk with using such things.)
First things first, let’s go over some semantic issues. Occult should not be a dirty word, much like the word apocalypse. Occult simply means that which is hidden (knowledge) and apocalypse means ‘revelation’.
Now that this is settled. Let me begin…
Why I Find Value in Reading Tarot: An Introspective Tool
My life was at a crossroads, where it had been turned upside down by some malicious actions taken by others, and everything was beyond my scope of control. I found myself struggling to regain a foothold on my life, and was left with one glaring idea… What was the lesson that I needed to take away from what I had experienced, that perhaps came to me with such severity, because I had been ignoring something integral to my development? Perhaps this was a matter of other people’s petty insecurities and I was simply a scapegoat to be sanctioned to satisfy their pain? There was the glaring lesson of letting go of control…
I was forced to really examine what I was doing with my precious time, where I wanted to go with my life, and question the choices I was making. I needed to evaluate if I was living in a way that was authentic to not only my values, but the needs of myself and my family.
Tarot cards were seen as an agent of evil and forbidden items by my super conservative religious family. You couldn’t even suggest researching or looking into information on certain things, with even solely an academic perspective. Eventually, I found that tarot cards mirrored the cyclical nature of life’s constant ebb and flow of positive and negative changes. Learning the meanings of the tarot cards, opened me up to seeing possible universal subconscious symbolism about active choices I was making in my life, and directions I might need to take to develop a better understanding about my personal development and growth.
Tarot reading for me, is a tool and resource to help better understand the natural world, and the shades of meaning in life events and people, beyond superficial understanding. Tarot cards are not for telling the future, but simply reflect the energy we give out and receive, and how we can tailor our understanding and behavior to modify our life.
Tarot cards reflect the elements of positive, negative, masculinity, femininity, birth, growth, decay, and death… All of these various properties are present in our working lives, our relationships to friends, lovers, and family… Looking at the cards can present a unique insight into the inner and external challenges that we face everyday. Used with an open mind, the tarot deck can help shed light on things we may not be considering, major situations that are staring us right in the face, or paths we should possibly take. Overall, the tarot shows us that we have choices, life unfolds in a cyclical nature, and that we can chose to grow, adapt, run away, or go with the flow of things.
The Birth of Playing Cards
The tarot deck consists of 78 cards. There are 52 minor cards which all correspond to our modern day playing cards used to play games like Poker, Spades, and Crazy 8s… The minor arcana consists of 4 sets of 13 cards, which fall under the category of: Cups, Wands, Pentacles/Disks, and Swords.
The major arcana is replete with various depictions of visually stimulating symbolism, a collection of 26 cards that mirror astrological correspondences, the Kabbalah, mystic symbolism, Gnosticism, and the journey of man/the Soul. There are various ways the cards can be interpreted via a single drawing, or when read in connection to one another within a tarot spread.
Popular spreads include readings of 3 cards representing Past, Present, and Future queries, The Celtic Cross, and The Cross and Triangle. Readers can interpret the reading based on personal intuition, accepted understanding of card meaning based on its placement within a spread (if upside down), or align their insight into what the cards’ message is in response to the questions presented, based on astrology, Kabbalah, etc.
The tarot is not a fortune telling tool and cannot necessarily predict the future, but it is in the nature of the universe to operate in an ebb and flow of positive/negative and cyclical transformation, and the cards reflect such subconscious/spiritual concepts…
If you cannot afford or do not have a regular 78 count tarot deck, it is still possible to do some light tarot work using a 52 playing card deck to divine and inform the reader. You can get some very interesting insight using a deck of playing cards. Some interpretation of the suits vary, but I have found hearts correspond to cups, spades correspond to swords, clubs are wands, and diamonds are pentacles/coins/disks. Each suit aligns itself with the elements. Cups are water, Swords is for air, Wands is fire, and Pentacles is for earth.
History of the Tarot as a Divination Tool
Readers have been consulted by curious minds, business investors, mystic students, and various people from all walks of life to divine into their current affairs of concern in their life. Whether it is related to looking for love, should I take that new job, moving, or just a general overview seeking life advice, the tarot cards are a tool to meet this human need.
Humans have often sought to gain a foothold on control and creating/maintaining personal power, despite the uncontrollable ups and downs of life. Reading the tarot cards allows for one form of insight into what actions one should take to mitigate the bumps and bruises of life. Sometimes we get to ride high, some times we ride low, and sometimes we find ourselves in an uncomfortable stage of transition and being in an unknown phase in our life.
Attuning to A Larger Cyclical Nature & Honoring the Subconscious Mind
One of the biggest things I have gained from learning about and reading tarot cards, is that in allowing life to unfold and being able to recognize the signs of repeating patterns, attuning to the ups and downs life throws at you… there is a sense of peace. Everything will not always be bad forever. We should cherish our moments of good fortune when they arrive. People and events come into our life for a reason, season, or life time.
The tarot cards for me, is one of the biggest cheerleaders of life as a perpetual teacher. As we go throughout life, is seeks to throw us the lessons we will constantly face repeatedly, until we understand what we need to do or learn to grow and transform ourselves, our thinking, our actions…
We must understand the power in letting go of seeking to control or divine every little thing in our life. Sometimes, we must just accept that although we are dealt our hand in life, the tarot is a tool to provide insight. After this, it is up to us to seek our highest good, to do some regular self-introspection to see our progress with self-development, our challenges, our disappointments, our relationships… and see how what we spend our time and efforts on are either building us up, tearing us down, or leaving us in a sense of limbo.
Whatever comes are way, we must make a choice to act or not. Seeking the consul of the cards is a beneficial tool, for those who believe or see their value to show us the language of the subconscious mind (which shapes our life experiences, attracts/repels things/people, and creates our reality). The world of man is not like the world of spirit/cosmic consciousness and thus, language can create so many more misinterpretations and discomfort about why a thing is happening. Experience is the best teacher, and tools like tarot, which reflect centuries of compounded human understanding and knowledge that life is a cyclical self-reflective journey of developing, transforming, and defining our purpose, consciousness, and character is something really profound to embrace.
Of course, there are older divination resources, such as Runes, the I Ching, consulting bones or shells, and other methods which are older and offer much in-depth value. Respectfully, I am solely focusing on the tarot (; This is with a focus on Rider-Waite symbolism, but I acknowledge the symbolism divulged by other fantastic and beautiful decks).
If you are curious to learn more about tarot cards, I have a few resources online I have found beneficial in my studies. Feel free to check out these links and best of luck on your life journey of growth, exploration, and hopefully positive progress in the development of your character, finding your life purpose, and living a mindful fulfilling life.
- A good site with a free 3-card reading (This site is related to Christian Day who was in an awesome episode of Ghost Adventures featuring Robert the Skull, and noted The Bone Room for purveyors of skull collections…)
- Not only does this site provide the ability to select virtually from various beautiful tarot decks and spreads, there are links to other forms of divination like the I Ching, Biorhythms, etc.
- This site is a real gem, as you can sign up for email alerts about Tarot webinars, connect to a larger worldwide tarot community for help, and you can sign up for intensive one-on-one or group instruction in developing your understanding and use of the Tarot for personal insight, developing a Tarot Business, and more…
- I happened upon this site while online looking for places to submit writing, regarding subjects I find fascinating. The layout is simple, but have found much insight in the blog posts even beyond those on Tarot.
All the Best!