The Tarot has been in existence for at least one thousand years, although no one is really sure who is responsible for making that first deck. The oldest surviving cards date back to a time when tarot was called Trionfi “triumphs” or trump cards, and were used for playing cards rather than a source of divination or inner knowledge. The oldest description of Tarot cards dates back to 1392, when three decks were brought to King Charles V1 of France.
Although tarot cards are popular, there is often a negative connotation. Often when people hear the word “tarot” they associate it with fortune tellers predicting futures in a circus tent. Movies and media have led people to believe that tarot cards are scary, intimidating, and used as a form of black magic. Anything in life can be used either by darkness or by light, and tarot cards are much more than a fortune-telling device. An ethical tarot reader will use the cards in a constructive, inspiring, and spiritual manner and there will be no fear involved in the reading. Tarot cards do not always tell the future, because the future is not always carved in stone. Rather they point out future possibilities. With our God-given gift of free will we have the power to shape our future by choosing from different paths of action. Tarot is a tool for inner wisdom and spiritual guidance that may help a person understand what he or she needs to know about a particular situation, based on the person’s life circumstances at the time of the reading.
Using tarot cards is similar to understanding the themes and events appearing in our dreams. Tarot cards and dreams speak to us in the language of symbols and metaphor. The symbolism in each card is meant to stimulate our imagination and creativity to help us navigate life’s challenges and guide us towards fulfilling our destiny. Since each card represents an archetypal pattern, their wisdom is designed to guide users toward emotional and mental clarity. Each card describes a different human experience and the lessons we can learn from it. The most beneficial way to view tarot cards are for self-healing and discovery. Today they have become a tool for self-knowledge, and a way of obtaining inner guidance through the card’s symbolism and synchronicity. Jung believed Tarot images descended from ancient archetypes of transformation. Their sequence from zero to 22 is believed to represent the soul’s journey to enlightenment, awareness and spiritual transformation. Although the early history of the cards is shrouded in mystery, they have served scholars and seers for centuries to stimulate intuition and offer guidance. They are increasingly being used by psychologists and therapists to offer insight and direction.
There are 78 cards in a deck that are divided into five different sections:
1. Major Arcana of 22 cards represents the life lessons, karmic influences and the major archetypal themes influencing your life. They represent human consciousness and life lessons. When a tarot reading is made up of mostly Major Arcana cards you are experiencing life-changing events, resulting in long-term effects.
The Minor Arcana consist of 56 cards divided into four suits: cups, wands, pentacles and swords
2. The Suit of Cups represents your feelings, emotions, intuition and creativity. Cups often turn up in Tarot readings to give insight into your relationships and emotional connection with yourself and others. The cups are linked to water with its changing nature and depths. They give insights into our subconscious mind, instincts, and emotional development. Themes of love, fulfillment, joy and relationships are associated with the suit of cups. They are symbolized in most decks as chalices and thought to be associated with the Church and the Holy Grail, the legendary cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper. Despite their spiritual meanings, they often represent worldly happiness. Their meaning is usually positive since they deal with love, dreams and joyful emotions. Their counterpart in regular playing cards are Hearts related to the emotion of love.
3. The Suit of Wands also known as the staves or batons were depicted in early cards as thick, leafy branches of a tree, symbolizing renewal and growth. They represent spirituality, energy, fire, motivation, inspiration, passion, achievement, drive, career, strength, endeavors, expansion (including travel) and enduring values. The ancients linked the wands to fire because if its ability to spark or light spontaneously, and transmute anything it touched. Strength in adversity is a key characteristic of the suit of wands. Wands show us that the results of our emotional and spiritual efforts are long lasting. Their counterpart in regular playing cards are Clubs, once depicted as a clover which symbolizes growth, freedom, well-being, optimism, or a four-leaf-clover which symbolizes good luck or destiny.
4. The Suit of Pentacles are represented by a gold coin with the five-pointed star of Hermes, god of commerce, finance and alchemy. Pentacles represent money, earth, finances, work, social influence, material possessions, worldly knowledge, and our connection with nature and earth. Pentacles symbolize the material world, its daily struggles, the value placed on a person’s work or achievements, losses and gains, and the risks associated with financial ventures. The suit of Pentacles also contains a warning that money can be the root of all evil, and too strong an attachment to it, or its misuse, can result in suffering and poverty of spirit. Their counterpart in playing cards are Diamonds equated with affluence and influence.
5. The Suit of Swords represents air, thoughts, beliefs, words, actions determination, strength, faith and conquering fears. They often appear in a reading when we are communicating ideas, making decisions, or asserting our power. The ancients linked swords to air, believed to be the breath of spirit that lay behind creation. Swords symbolize the mind and the abstract thought preceding a creative action. The suit of swords symbolizes mental and spiritual development; but since the sword can be a destructive weapon, it also represents power and aggression. The double edged sword represents this suits’ dual attributes—one edge representing the rational mind with a penetrating keenness that brings clarity, and the other a cruel cutting sword that wounds. The equivalent in a playing-deck are Spades.
Numbers in the Tarot Deck
If the same number appears repeatedly in your reading its meaning will be significant.
- (Aces) New beginnings, opportunity, potential, new business idea, rush of energy
- Balance, partnership, duality, decisions, planning for future
- Creativity, groups, growth, business success, leading a group
- Structure, stability, manifestation, success
- Change, instability, conflict, trouble and strife
- Communication, co-operation, harmony, public success, recognition
- Reflection, assessment, knowledge, striving for your vision
- Mastery, action, accomplishment, communication, quick movement
- Fruition, attainment, fulfillment, birth
- Completion, end of cycle, renewal, success
- Pages or Knaves, Knights, Queens, Kings symbolize different stages in your life.
- Pages or Knaves (messengers, spreading news, imparting information relates to the child–curious, spontaneous, exploring new things, new beginnings.
- Knights (teenager) prone to excess, adventurous, on a mission, moving toward a goal, seeking independence, travel or action.
- Queens (feminine nature) draws energy inward or internalizes, nurturing, receptive, subtle control, grounded and stable, mature, a business-like active women
- Kings (masculine energy) authority, control, domineering, decisive, mature, established, an active or influential man.
A typical tarot reading lasts one hour and the fee is $80. For questions or to book a reading e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org