For the uninitiated, Tarot cards might look like a lot of heeby-jeeby weirdness. However, those who are familiar with Tarot cards and understand how they work attest that they’re a powerful tool for gaining insight about life.
Tarot cards, as a form of divination, have been around for at least 500 years and most likely much longer. The oldest known deck was painted for the rulers of the Duchy of Milan and dates back to the 1500s. There are only 15 cards left in the deck to date.
But how do these cards work? How is it that the reliably produce insight and wisdom? And how can you learn to use them?
What Are Tarot Cards?
The standard Tarot card deck contains 72 cards.
Each one of these cards represents an archetype: a basic mode of human thought. Archetypes are symbols that represent feelings, behaviors, thoughts, and belief patterns that shape who are are as individual.
In the Tarot deck, there are 22 Major Arcana cards and 50 Minor Arcana cards.
The Major Arcana cards are the most recognizable, as they pertain to situations and feelings that everyone will face at some point during their lives. The Minor Arcana cards deal with more subtle realities. Together, the Major Arcana and Minor Arcana cards can help provide direction in any given situation.
One of the interesting things about the Major Arcana cards is that they actually tell a story. The deck starts with The Fool – a card that represents a care-free, wandering individual – and follows his evolution throughout the next 21 cards until he arrives at the 22nd card, The World. The World is a card that represents completion and fulfillment.
Learning to Use Tarot Cards
If you want to learn to use your own Tarot cards, the first step is to go out and buy a deck. There are many different forms of Tarot decks available, each with their own imagery and symbology. For people seeking an even more powerful symbolic experience, the Rider-Waite deck provides cards so rich in symbolism that it can take years of study to fully grasp the meaning of each card.
Next up, start doing readings. If your Tarot deck didn’t come with a guidebook, you’re going to need one – or you’ll be doing a lot of Googling.
You can start by doing readings on yourself and your close friends – people who aren’t going to care if you have to refer to your guidebook after each card. Ask a question and consult the cards for an answer.
The next step just requires intuition. As the reader, it’s your job to figure out how the Arcana relate to each other and to craft a relevant story that will help you move forward in life. For example, if your question is “should I stay at my job?” and you pull the Fool, which represents new beginnings and freedom, you could quite easily relate that to your question.
After enough readings, you’ll start to remember the cards’ meanings. You can also study them like flash cards, pulling them one by one and trying to recite their meaning.
Tarot cards are a very powerful and interesting form of divination. If you’re eager to start learning Tarot cards, it’s easy – all you need is a deck and a guidebook.
Written by Nigel Ford