Tarot is an ancient system of symbols that has been used for many centuries. The symbols all correspond to specific characteristics of our conscious and unconscious minds, as well as specific phases of our lives (or sometimes they refer to key people in our lives). Tarot is a great tool we can use to gain guidance and insight into ourselves, our lives, and our personal growth.
Most Tarot decks consist of 78 cards: 22 Major Arcana cards and 56 Minor Arcana cards. The Major Arcana cards usually represent life circumstances and lessons which are important for our spiritual growth, while the Minor Arcana cards usually represent some aspect of ourselves, such as our personality traits, fears, likes, dislikes; they can also represent the people in our lives.
Tarot cards are usually read by placing them into a “spread”, which is an organized layout that designates a certain criteria for each card in the spread.
For example, here is a very simple spread:
Shuffle the cards until you feel it’s right. Place the deck facedown on the table. From the top of the deck, select one card and place it face-up on the table, in position 1. Take the next card from the top of the deck and place it face-up in position 2. Take a third card from the top of the deck and place it face-up in position 3.
Note which cards you got, and study the symbolism in these cards. The card in position 1 should give an accurate description of your past, and the major influences during that period of your life. Likewise, the card in position 2 should give an accurate description of your present circumstances, and the card in position 3 should describe what you can generally expect in your near future. (This 3-card spread can also be used with Body/Mind/Spirit as the designators.)
Most Tarot decks come with a booklet that explains the symbolism of each card, and possible interpretations. While you should study these and learn the basic meanings of each card, it is often our intuition that gives the most accurate readings.
Often when I’m doing a reading, I get the feeling that a certain card is telling me something other than what the generally known meaning of the card is. I try to go with these hunches when I get them, and I’m usually very accurate when I do so. Click here to see some sample tarot readings that demonstrate this.
Remember that Tarot works on a system of symbols, and that individual card meanings should rarely be taken literally.
For example, the Death card.
Many beginners fear this card, simply because of its dark appearance, and its apparent message. But the Death card does NOT mean physical death, except in very rare instances. The Death card is symbolic of radical transformation, of letting the old die to make way for the new. It is a time to honor the past circumstances of our lives, for they have made us who we are today, but it is also a time to let go of those situations, for they no longer serve us. If the Death card shows up in your reading, see it as it truly is, a time of new beginnings heading your way, a time of growth and change for the better.
Another example is a card that often strikes fear into the hearts of many: the Tower card.
This card often symbolizes drastic destruction, a breaking down of everything sane and comfortable. It can indicate illness, accident, natural disasters, loss of employment, loss of relationships, etc. It is a “dark” card, but only in the sense that it often predicts disaster in some form.
BUT – this card’s true message isn’t the pain associated with disaster, rather it is the healing and rebuilding that happens after the destruction. The changes foretold by this card are ALWAYS positive, and for our better good. The changes this card predicts will be difficult, but not insurmountable. We will prevail, and we will be rewarded with circumstances much more suited to who we truly are.
Pay attention to the symbols, and the many ways they can be interpreted. With practice, you will learn to differentiate between guesses and true intuitive insights. For more reading tips, see my page on Tarot Reversals and Other Helpful Information.
Tarot Cards Don’t Hold the Power, You Do!
Remember that in life, we have free will. If something comes up in a reading that you don’t like, you have the power to change it. Tarot readings are extremely helpful, in that they can alert us to potential problems and obstacles, but they cannot cause things to happen. They can only show us how things will be if circumstances continue on their present path, if nothing is done to change the course of events.
We are in charge of our own destinies, we have the power to change. Doing Tarot readings frequently is helpful, because we can keep getting insight and guidance about the most current course of events in our lives. As situations change, so do the readings.
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