The art of reading tarot cards happen to be one of those amazingly infamous tools of the metaphysical trades. Tarot cards have accumulated quite a reputation due to pop-culture and media. In recent years they seem to be growing in popularity again as a revival in spirituality is happening in the west.
There appears to be an interest in tarot with emerging popular sites like Biddy Tarot and even mobile apps such as Luminous Spirit Tarot. The renewed interest is breathing life into new communal groups in cities dedicated to tarot.
New York is in the middle of a tarot revival. We live in a city where covens like the Witches of Bushwick host parties covered by the New York Times, where occult shops run by young practitioners are thriving. And if nothing else, the deep selection of smudge sticks at the Gowanus Whole Foods is a reminder that the line between the mainstream and the occult has dissolved. Divination is back, more publicly than ever before.The Village Voice
If you’re interested in tarot, allow me to give you a small introduction to the cards. Their use can help you grow, learn, and discover what lies within yourself intuitively.
So…what are tarot cards?
First, let me start by de-mystifying the common misconception about tarot being a fortune telling nightmare. Some people think that using tarot will mess up their lives, ‘attract’ bad luck or worse, invite ‘evil spirits’.
This simply isn’t true.
It’s safe to say tarot cards are a divination tool used by intuitives with a connection to source. Those with the ‘gift’ will use their ability to receive communication and bring guidance to others through the cards. Tarot has been used in many psycho spiritual practices. Each reading is used to help others gain a better understanding of their personal hurdles of life, love, and connection.
I’ll be blunt, the cards are not accursed items or some kind of ‘demonic’ tool used as trickery to mislead. (Quite the contrary!) The image that conjures up in people’s minds is the Death card in films, TV, or books. (Cue every bad horror film with a fortune teller).
Instead, let’s look a little bit into the history of the tarot.
Where do tarot cards originate from?
It’s documented that the oldest surviving Tarot deck was created for the Duke of Milan family in 1440 for leisure. The cards themselves were made at request and used to play a game called “Triumph”. This game eventually evolved into “tarocchi” or “tarot” in the 1530’s.
It wasn’t until the mid 17th Century that occult explorers in Europe noticed the benefits to the symbolism for readings. During this era, it became in fashion to explore the occult. It didn’t take long for different views on the origins of Tarot to emerge of course. (Some of these views date the tarot as far back as the Egyptian era!)
Card readers today are on a broad spectrum and thousands of decks are in circulation. There’s many offshoots of the original designs and hand created decks that people use on a daily basis. (Have you heard of Oracle Cards?) These spiritual successors have more variety in their messages and tell all kinds of stories with their captivating imagery. The symbolism of these cards are powerful to this day.
How does tarot benefit you?
Are you looking for a personal reading from a practitioner about daily life, career, or love? Their symbolism depicts a message specifically meant for you. There is a similar tone in each suit that carries personalities, virtues, pitfalls, and messages for growth.
Many artists and designers have created their own variations on the design of tarot cards. The cards have their own suits (Swords, Cups, Pentacles, Wands), much like a deck of cards (Hearts, Diamond, Clubs, Spades), but with some differences. With each suit there can be an interpretation of symbolism, elements, and even astrology. As you can imagine, this art can be recreated in many ways. The illustrations or designs can get very imaginative.
If we take a look at the ‘Death’ card, as mentioned previously, we can explore the art briefly.
In the original Raider-Waite design we see a black armored skeleton riding a pale white horse. This horse has no pupils and he is carrying a flag with a ‘white rose cross’. The Roman numerals XII (13) represent a foreboding. Below Death we see a harrowing scene as certain figures fall before Death’s charge. A holy figure pleads, a Mother and child beg and try not to look at Death. There is a ship in the background and the rising of the sun between two towers. Nothing will stop the inevitable tide of Death as it changes all around it’s landscape.
Often the symbolism in these cards is vast and each piece of the illustration has a story to tell.
Closely examining each card will bring a story or specific message out to the reader. The messages are then unraveled to pertain to each reading.
Even though each variation has the same goal, this doesn’t mean that the artwork has to always be the same. There can be very illustrative and intricate designs or very simplistic styles that get the message across to the reader. Each deck, no matter the design, is there to share a message of intuitive insight from source. A tarot deck is comprised of similar building blocks to a normal deck of cards but with an accompany of 22 cards called the ‘Major Arcana’.
Tarot can act as an enlightening and rewarding tool for your own journey or exploration of your external path. The tarot cards are a great way to connect with source for the guidance people might be searching for.
Even some coaches, mentors, and NLP practitioners use the cards for insight into their clients and their personal healing path. (Check out our MySpotlight interview with the Hypnotherapist Jeff Burr who uses these cards regularly in his business practice.)
Ultimately, tarot cards are an enlightening and inspiring tool with a story to tell. If you’re willing to open up to different tools for intuitive growth, then tarot may be just right for you.
What message do the cards hold for you? Purchase your first deck and you might find out!