What is Tarot? A Brief Overview Of How Tarot Cards Work
Tarot is ancient traditional pack of 78 cards with five suits that began in 14th century Europe. Traditional Tarot decks consist of 78 cards used for giving guidance/predicting the future.
What we know as Tarot is a system of exploration and divination that dates back to the XVI century. Tarot originated as an Italian game that later on resulted in the deck that we currently know. Some of the early versions of the deck, such as the Visconti-Sforza, created in Milan around 1500. Which have survived to the day and have been restored, reproduced and commercialised as working decks.
A Tarot deck consists of 78 cards that are divided in two sections; 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana. The latter is subsequently divided four suits; Cups or Chalices, Pentacles or Coins, Wands or Staffs and Swords or Knives. Each suit is divided in two sections; Pip Cards from Ace to ten, and Court Cards with the classic Page, Knight, Queen and King distribution.
Although there are currently many decks being marketed as Tarot, it is important to note that traditional Tarot decks consist of 78 cards that follow the above-mentioned distribution. While other models can be considered Oracle decks.
Are all Tarot decks the same?
Most Tarot decks follow one of the following traditions, considered the three major currents of Tarot reading. These are Rider Waite Smith, Marseilles and Thoth.
Although the Marseilles style of Tarot reading is the oldest, differing slightly in meanings and layout from the other two styles, it is not the most common. However, Marseilles style decks have 22 fully illustrated Major Arcana, while the Minor Arcana resemble a common playing decks with non-illustrated pips.
The Thoth tradition of Tarot reading was created by Aleister Crowley towards the middle of the 20th century and could be considered almost a mystery tradition in the world of Tarot. Meanwhile, the Raider Waite Smith, also known as RWS, is the most widely spread tradition and that in which most decks that are commercialised nowadays are based.
RWS is considered to be the easiest tradition to learn from, not because it is in any was less rich than the others, but because the illustrated pips make it easier to listen to our inner voice and channel the messages in a more efficient way.
However; All three major traditions of Tarot reading are rich and worth exploring, full of meaning, history and symbolism.
The Major Arcana.
The Major Arcana are the most distinctive Tarot cards. Among them you can find cards such as The High Priestess, The Emperor, The Hermit, The Wheel Of Fortune, Death, The Tower or The Star. These cards highlight major events or influences in the life of the querent. These are 22 cards numbered from 0 to 21 and they represent the journey of The Fool – numbered 0 – through the different characters and landscapes that represent a major life lesson.
If you want to learn more about The Fool’s Journey to get a better understanding of Tarot, there are plenty of guided meditations that can guide you through the story and will enrich your understanding of Tarot whether you are interested in reading Tarot or you are just seeking to satisfy your curiosity about the topic!
The Minor Arcana.
The Minor Arcana are related to more day-to-day issues and life events. Each one of the four suits of the Minor Arcana rules over a different life aspect and is related to one of the four elements.
The Suit Of Cups is connected to the element of Water and deals with the emotional realm and all that is related to it. It is the suit to search for if you are enquiring about feelings, vocational issues, personal fulfilment, emotions or spiritual matters.
The Suit Of Pentacles is connected to the element of Earth and deals with the material realm. Property, possessions, assets, finances, money, status and foundations, all that is tangible and that makes us feel safe.
The Suit Of Wands is connected to the element of Fire and deals mostly with action, passion, will, energy and stamina, primal feelings, passions and instincts. Survival, reproduction, fight and courage are all related to this suit.
The Suit Of Swords is connected to the element of Air and deals with the world of ideas, communication, the written and spoken word, justice, truth, planning, plotting, learning, creativity, logic, reasoning and wit.
The Court Cards.
The Court Cards are the trickiest cards of the deck to learn about! They can symbolise people, behaviours, stages, energies and influences and it is up to the reader to determine which is the appropriate interpretation in each case. Traditionally though, The Court Cards have been associated with people the most.
Pages are usually connected with children / teenagers or young individual who lack maturity or life experience.
Knights are usually seen as young adults full of energy and who have a strong drive and are determined to achieve a goal.
Queens are usually seen as mature females or women who possess mature female energy, and Kings are seen as mature males or men who possess mature male energy.
There are as well some physical traits associated with these cards, but they tend to vary from tradition to tradition, so it is better to find out the meaning that works best for you!
What to expect from a Tarot card reading?
Tarot has many diverse uses and different readers have different traditions and tarot reading styles. Depending on the abilities, skills and preferences of your reader, you can get a very predictive reading or other that is more insightful and analytic. Some trusted tarot readings can be truly inspirational and even
life-changing while others are more oriented to action or even exploration and aren’t fully complete until the querent adds their own interpretation to the mix.
A Tarot card reading though, should never be scary or make you feel uneasy. Tarot is a tool meant to help you gain clarity as a querent and it is important that you remember that you are in control of your life and your choices, using the cards as a guide to help you go through challenging situations.
Tarot can help you gain a wider perspective on a matter in which you were only seeing one side, give you some heads up about upcoming events or advise you in difficult situations.
What Tarot card readings are not.
Tarot reading is merely a tool and no harm can come from it except when someone gets too dependent on tarot card readings. There is no way to invite the Devil into your home with Tarot cards even if you purposefully tried! As well, Tarot does not bring doom and gloom into your life or changes nor sets your future in stone.
Tarot readings are not a way to find out what are the winning lottery numbers nor can they tell you names or specific dates and times – though there are quite a few things that can be done to get a decently accurate timing! – and no card, no matter how challenging is the issue that they are dealing with, works as a certain omen of an awful event. Forget Hollywood! So there’s nothing to be scared about!
How to prepare to get a truly awesome Tarot reading.
First of all, take your time when choosing a Tarot reader! Sometimes we feel in a hurry to get answers and we don’t stop to read a Tarot reader’s profile or to think if they are a best match. When in doubt, ask out! Make sure that you are getting a good vibe from them, that they seem honest and caring and that they provide the service that you’re looking for!
Instead of calling or asking for an appointment straight away, take a few minutes to come up with a list of tarot questions that you want answered. Sometimes you may not even know where to start from because sometime life gets crazy just like that! In that case, your reader should be able to find an area of focus if you share a bit of your situation so they can start working on it right away! Establishing a relationship of trust with your reader can go a long way! Let them guide you through the card reading and listen to their suggestion about the best way to phrase the questions so you can get a richer answer.
Tarot Readers = Psychics?
Tarot readers and psychics are both very talented professionals, but it is a common misconception that all trasuted Tarot readers are psychics and that all psychics are Tarot readers. Both words have become synonyms, but this can sometimes lead to confusion! A Tarot reader is mainly an interpreter of the language of the cards, who can be aided by their psychic skill or other sort of extrasensory gift or by their long years of study of the occult. In either case, you can get fantastic guidance from both!
Psychics, on the other side, don’t necessarily use Tarot cards or any other tools for their readings, since they have an ability to channel information or get an insightful and accurate impression of events currently going on and events to come from the energies that surround a person or a situation.
Tarot in combination with other disciplines.
Tarot is a complete tool, but it can also be supported by other tools or divinatory system in order to make the reading even more in depth! A Tarot reading can be supported by a psychic reading, but you can also combine Astrology, Numerology, Kabbalah, Hermetism, Symbolism and many other doctrines with your Tarot reading.
Oracle decks and other divinatory tools are also a wonderful combination for getting exciting and thorough readings! However; More is not necessarily better, and Tarot in and on its own can be an incredible tool that can help you transform your life, be a source of inspiration and get you in the right tracks for getting closer to your personal goals.