Tarot usually pops up in films with a psychic flaunting their essential oil soaked tapestries in the window, along with a classy neon sign which lures its desperate clients into their cosmic lair for an hour long chat about whether or not their partner is cheating on them. I’m not putting psychics who use tarot down with this flowery language. I’m merely setting the mood, which is quite different to the mood I set when I read tarot for myself. Sometimes it just involves finding a space where I can have some privacy, which at times has been in the bathroom. How… magical?
Tarot is just as much a psychic tool, as it is a life tool. You don’t need to be a psychic to read tarot because some psychics don’t even use tarot. They use astrology, crystals, smoke, tea leaves, ghosts, and some even talk to animals. It is merely their way into the psychic realm, but pop culture has run away with the idea that the cards can predict the future. Maybe, if the person reading the cards can actually do that sort of thing.
The history of tarot is murky, but many date it back to the 1400’s(ish) when French and Italian merchants brought playing cards back to Europe from Egypt. From there, these playing cards evolved into “games of chance” where people placed their bets and toyed with the divine. The Romani culture also played a huge role in the spiritual evolution of tarot, and it’s still a big part of their traditions today.
As time went on, and the Renaissance boomed with artistry, painters and illustrators started to create new decks that were filled to the brim with symbolism. Cut to the early 1900’s, where the most famous tarot deck was born out of inspiration from the oldest (Sola Busca) deck: The Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) deck. Most traditional decks today are based on the RWS.
More and more people are using tarot today, and becoming readers, because they have realized just how beneficial this tool is for dealing with life. It’s no more radical than journaling or doodling about our thoughts and feelings. It’s just a deck of cards, but what we do with it is what really matters. Once the reading is done, how we take on the lessons and guidance that came out of the cards is where the real magic happens. The cards do not tell us what to do, they simply empower us to do the things that will enlighten our soul’s journey.
So grab yourself a fancy new deck if you haven’t yet! Here are some of my favorites:
Dark Wood Tarot
Mythic Tarot (this one is a relic and I found it on etsy – my first deck ever and what my studies were initially based on)
There are oracle decks, but for today, let’s just focus on traditional tarot and let that sink in before we move on.
A traditional deck includes 78 cards. The first 22 are made up of the MAJOR ARCANA (MJA), and the remaining 56 are the MINOR ARCANA (MNA). I’ll dive deeper into these cards in the future, but for now, just know that the MJA focuses on big life lessons and major players that you will meet in your life (like the High Priestess and the Devil), and the MNA is more about the day-to-day, your habits, and smaller goals and challenges. This section is made up of four suites (Wands, Cups, Swords, Pentacles and includes Court Cards), and although named MINOR, they include heavy hitters too.
Most importantly, no matter what deck you are using, make sure you love it and that you ask it meaningful questions. Avoid yes/no questions unless you are into that sort of thing. Go for the deep/thought-provoking questions that will help you get to the root of the issue. I have a post on questions that you can refer to if you need some help in getting started.
Before we get into how to read tarot, we’ll have to learn a little bit more about the cards themselves, so stay tuned!