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Let's Talk Tarot: Tips, Tricks and Basics

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a great big tarot nerd. Whenever I’m in need of some hard truths, sound advice or some sense knocked into me, I talk to my cards. If I’m looking for some gentle reassurance, comfort or something to tell me it’s all goanna be ok, I stay the heck away from them and ask my Oracle cards instead. There’s some truth in the memes. For me anyway. I received my first deck around the age of 12, and promptly lost it. That pattern continued, through various living spaces, until 2018, where I found the decks I’d accumulated sitting together nicely, at the back of a wardrobe I never used. I took it as a sign I was ready for them. I’ve always felt things like this find you when you need them.

 

With that said, let’s dive into the history, mystery and general lore of the Tarot.


Origins

Tarot originated in mid 15th century Europe, as a deck of regular playing cards, used in a verity of non-divination-y games which are still played today. As cartomancy (divination with playing cards) became popular in the 18th century, many English-speaking countries adopted the Tarot deck for this exclusive purpose.

 

Uses And Misconceptions

I bought my second deck of lost and found Tarot cards in my first year of university, and when I got them back to the halls, a friend was aghast that I had them.

“They're evil, aren't they?” She said, “Like devil worship and stuff?” If you’ve found your way to this post, I’m pretty sure you’ve probably heard the same thing, in one form or another. I’m also pretty sure you also sighed and looked into the imaginary camera, like in The Office.

The short answer to this, is “no.” Obviously. Like everything is Witchcraft, Divination etc. Tarot is a tool. Its uses and intentions are in the hands of the user. I think of it as a hammer. Sitting on its own it’s no harm to anyone. When you pick it up, you have the choice of building your house, or throwing it at someone. The vast majority of people are just minding their own business, tapping away at that nail. 

Webcomic Wednesday

 

 

Does Tarot predict the future?
In my opinion, yes and no. Tarot is all about insight. When you use your deck in this way, my belief is that it gives you insight on your current future, based on your current present.
Let’s use an example, “Will I get my dream job?”
Yes? No? Maybe?
Instead, a question like “What do I need to do to get my dream job?” Is more useful.
Questions are important, but how you phrase them is more important.
You create your own future. You’re holding the hammer.

 

 

Is it OK to read my own Tarot cards?

I’ve heard it said that you should never read your own cards, but I disagree. A bit like dream interpretation, a level of personal insight is needed but, some things have a significance that resonate with you and you alone. Tarot is all about interpretation. When used openly and honesty, it can be a great tool for psychological exploration.

That being said, sometimes your judgment is clouded by a situation, or messy feeling and emotions, and when you interpret your own cards, these feelings can get in the way. It’s essential to see the “bigger picture” in Tarot, and sometimes another person can provide that.

 

Can I buy my own Tarot deck?

It’s great when a Tarot deck falls into your hands, through a strange set of circumstances, like it was meant to be. Or for someone to say “I saw this and thought of you,” and they give you a deck that’s just perfect.

I have one that was gifted to me. It’s beautiful and I love it. But I can’t use it. I just don’t vibe with it. As above, I’ve purchased more than my fair share of decks, and the Rider-Waite-Smith is the one I use almost exclusively. Does it work? Yeah. Is it bad luck? No.

 In short, go for it, boo.

 

Minor Arcana

The divination specific decks we see now are normally based on the 15th Century Italian suit, consisting of four suits - Swords, Wands/Batons, Clubs and Pentacles/Coins, each headed by their respective court cards - King, Queen, Knight and Page. These make up the Minor Arcana, and most resemble the general packs of playing cards we use for everyday strip poker and the like. In readings, this portion of the deck represents the details. The “how’s” and sometimes the “who’s” of a reading. 

 Major Arcana

Also known as “trump cards”, these are the big boys of a reading. The major influences, lessons and changes that are active in your life right now. Sequentially, it follows the cycle of The Fool (card 0) and the major forces he encounters on his journey. Understanding the Major Arcana in this way can be helpful in understanding them in readings. Learn Tarot has a great summery of this here.  

 

Basic Correlations

Below is a brief summary of card meanings and correspondences. These are a great starting point when reading Tarot, but remember, to listen to your own intuition. A card’s meaning will hold different significance depending on its position in a spread.

 

Reversed cards 

Reversed cards - a controversial topic in Tarot circles! Biddy Tarot has a great article on them here.

For me, when a reversed card appears, I tend to read it as reversed, but I leave it up to intuition. Some people don’t read them at all, and that’s cool too. I’ve included them below anyway.

 

For a more in-depth interpretation of each card, I highly recommend Biddy Tarot.

 
Minor Arcana

Suit

Elemental Correlation

General Representation

Wands

Fire

Creativity, Motivation

Pentacles

Earth

Material things, work, money

Cups

Water

Emotions, love, relationships

Swords

Air

Thoughts, Actions, Decisions

 
Major Arcana

Number

Card

Meaning

Reversed Meaning

0

The Fool

Beginnings, Spontaneity, Innocence

Recklessness, Risk Taking, Lack of Attention

1

The Magician

Awareness, Action, Manifestation

Manipulation, Deception, Lack of Planning

2

The High Priestess

Subconscious, Intuition

Secrecy, Lack of Intuition

3

The Empress

Femininity, Abundance, Nurture

Dependency

4

The Emperor

Authority, Rules, Structure

Excessive Control, Lack of Discipline

5

The Hierophant

Wisdom, Beliefs Conformity, Traditions

Freedom, Challenging Tradition

6

The Lovers

Love, Relationships, Harmony

Self-Love, Lack of Harmony in Relationship

7

The Chariot

Victory, Control, Success, Action

Lack of Direction, Conflict

8

Strength

Courage, Strength, Compassion

Inner Strength, Self-Doubt, Emotion

9

The Hermit

Inner Guidance

Isolation

10

Wheel of Fortune

Destiny, Kama

Bad Luck, Breaking of Cycle, Resistance

11

Justice

Responsibility, Decision, Truth

Dishonesty, Unfairness

12

The Hanged Man

Letting Go, Perspective, Surrender

Indecision, Resistance, Lack of Insight

13

Death

Transformation, Transition, Endings

Resistance to Change

14

Temperance

Balance, Moderation, Patience

Imbalance, Excess

15

The Devil

Ignorance, Material Ties, Attachment

Detachment, Shadow-Self

16

The Tower

Sudden Change, Release, Revelations

Fear of Change

17

The Star

Calm, Inspiration, Hope

Lack of Faith, Despair

18

The Moon

Illusions, Imagination, Subconscious, Deception

Repressed emotion,

19

The Sun

Enlightenment, Positivity, Vitality, Success

Inner Child, Blind Optimism, Pessimism

20

Judgement

Rebirth, Judgment, Inner Calling

Self-Doubt, Criticism

21

The World

Fulfilment, Accomplishment

Delays, Short Cuts

 
 
This is only a short introduction to the wonderful world of Tarot. The most important thing to remember is that there’s no right or wrong way to do it. You’re not going to curse future generations by using them. You’re not gonna accidentally summon a demon either.
You just steer the ship. The cards will tell you which way the wind’s blowin’.
Let's Talk Tarot

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