This page is intends to give the reader a quick start into Tarot and what to expect from it as a form of divination. Tarot is primarily an extensive, intrinsic and complex form of divination that is open to all who wish to learn.
What can I use Tarot for?
As a system, Tarot is used in therapy, for yourself or others. Tarot can help in order to find a different perspective on events or work through life issues from other viewpoints. There are no special requirements or divine gifts required in order to read tarot cards. This is true for either divination or therapeutic purposes.
Regular Tarot decks contain 78 cards, each with a defined and specific meaning. Tarot cards are usually dealt in a preset pattern; each card in a specific place will represent a certain aspect of the querent’s (the person for whom the cards are being read) life.
The skill of a tarot reader comes from learning the meanings of each card, and knowing how they connect with each other. A skilled tarot reader will use their own intuition to determine what message the universe is given them, by interpreting the way the cards are laid in position.
The cards can be read in many, many ways, and each card has many layers of symbolism which draw upon and relate to many exoteric and esoteric practices; elemental worship, astrology, colours, seasons, genders and more.
A brief history of Tarot cards
Tarot cards are thought to have originated from playing cards, like the playing cards that we have today. There are many comparisons to the playing cards of today; four suits, face cards, and a similar number per suit.
Tarot cards split off from playing cards in the 16th century, where instead of divination, they were simply used as a different deck for card games.
An early game was known as “Tarocchi Appropriati”, and was an example of illustrated face cards. Using the unique illustrations on each card, participants had to create jokes, or sonnets (a short poem) about each other, relating to the given meanings of the cards.
It is supposed that from this game, the meanings evolved naturally over time and were given some significance.
Tarot cards and their meanings have evolved over time, and it is safe to assume that the meanings of cards today is somewhat different than at their creation. The meanings of the cards we have today, will likely slowly evolve to adapt to future situations.
Antoine Court de Gébelin was a figure crucial to Tarot. A freemason, he interpreted Tarot cards not as components of a simple game, but as a secret tradition, with symbolism and hidden meanings passed down from ancient Egyptian mystery traditions, often referred to as the ‘Mystery Schools’ in contemporary thought.
Court published a book; “Le Monde Primitif”, which discussed society then and compared it to the past. Within the book, there featured an entire chapter dedicated to Tarot.
What is a Tarot deck?
A tarot deck consists of 78 unique cards, divided specifically into Major Arcana and Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana consists of 22 cards and include many cards you may be familiar with; The Fool, Death, The Magician. Their meanings are well known and they generally relate to significant aspects of your life.
The Minor Arcana includes four decks of 14 cards each; Wands, Cups, Pentacles and Swords. They represent parts of your life that are less substantial and more ethereal; emotions, your relation to material possessions and wealth, thoughts, creativity.
Suits are themed, so even if you aren’t familiar with each actual card meaning, you will easily become aware of the general feeling it evokes; Pentacles represent possessions, Swords represent goals and challenges. Wands represent our will. Cups represent our emotional needs and desires.
Can I learn to read Tarot?
Everybody can learn to read Tarot cards for both divination and therapeutic use. Personally, I am strongly under the impression that if one person can perform a feat, then others can too, given the correct education on it.
There is no ‘gateway’ to Tarot which needs to be unlocked, but there are certain levels to it. A novice reader maybe able to just remember the meanings of each of the 78 cards; an intermediate reader may also know a few spreads. An expert tarot reader will be just that; knowledgeable about many aspects and associations of each Tarot card.
78 cards sounds like a lot to learn, and to be truthful, it is. Tarot isn’t something you can pick up and be fluent in within a few weeks or months. Illustrations on each card help; as they usually hint towards the inherent meaning of each card and can guide you along the way.
The Rider-Waite deck, as is featured here, is especially good for this purpose; the illustrations guide the reader clearly and will little confusion between each.
Reading for divination can require a certain aspect of belief. To whom are you asking these questions? A god, gods, or the universe itself? Maybe you’re asking your ancestors through the medium of Tarot.
Perhaps you are simply asking your inner self. Not everybody performing Tarot for divination will be using it the same way. Some believe you tell the future with Tarot. Others believe it can only used to get a different perspective on what is happening now.
Generally, Tarot cards are used for guidance when we face a problem. However you wish to learn to use Tarot, you should find it an intriguing endeavour
Performing a reading in therapeutic sense can allow the reader to see an event or personal challenge from a completely different perspective. for example when we are having an argument, sometimes we develop tunnel vision. It can be hard to see what is going on from another, clearer perspective.
We get so caught up in trying to ‘win’ that we lose sight of what is best for everybody. The Tarot can help us develop a persona to experience life with, and to see through two sets of eyes to get a rounder, fairer perspective on the deeds and actions that are happening in our lives.
Check out our big guide on becoming a brilliant Tarot reader here! The best part? It’s completely free!