What is the Tarot? A Brief Overview of Tarot Reading
The Tarot is a symbolic map of consciousness that encompasses our journey through life, both spiritually and practically. Tarot reading is the practice of divining wisdom and guidance through a specific spread (or layout) of Tarot cards. However, contrary to popular belief, the cards do not simply tell your fortune, and one does not have to be a psychic to give Tarot readings. The cards are meant to provide insight into the innermost truths of your Higher Self. In other words, the cards provide an evolved awareness of what you already know deep within.
History of the Tarot
The origin of the Tarot is unknown, but we do have documented references of Tarot card use back to fourteenth century Europe. The Tarot has been used as an oracle, in the basic form we know today, since the beginning of the seventeenth century.
The Meaning of the Tarot
There are 22 cards of the Major Arcana, which divulge greater secrets, and 56 cards of the Minor Arcana, which divulge lesser secrets and are further divided into four suits. The suits of the Minor Arcana include Wands, Swords, Cups, and Pentacles. The fourteen cards in each suit are numbered Ace through Ten, plus the Court Cards: Page (Princess), Knight (Prince), Queen, and King.
The Minor Arcana of the Tarot symbolize daily aspects of life, giving insight into our challenges, talents, opportunities, and experience of ups and downs. Each suit represents an element: Wands are Fire, Swords are Air, Cups are Water, and Pentacles are Earth. The suits can reflect attitude and temperament, such as a fiery person or someone who is “up in the air” or “down to earth”. Determining a card’s significance is dependent upon the question, the reader, the person receiving the reading, and the placement of other cards in the spread.
The Major Arcana are numbered 0 through 21, starting with The Fool, and ending with The World. These cards align with the milestones of Story, or The Hero’s Journey, which one could ascertain from Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero With a Thousand Faces”. In this sense, the cards of the Major Arcana represent the 22 inevitable phases or passages of every journey, which we will all encounter during our lives (not necessarily in this order). It is also possible for these phases to repeat themselves, and recur multiple times throughout one’s life, creating a cyclical nature in which there is no true beginning or end.
Oracle Cards can also be used and differ from Tarot in that they don't follow the Major and Minor arcana; instead "paving their own path". They may take the form of Chakra cards, Angels, or Faeries.