For centuries, those seeking answers about situations in their lives – from work and relationships to larger spiritual issues – have turned to Tarot. An ancient spiritual practice that uses symbols printed on cards to divine answers to questions about the future or to provide guidance in current circumstances, Tarot is practiced by millions of people around the world. While Tarot masters might spend years honing their craft, you can still learn the basics of Tarot to guide your own life and help loved ones with their own burning questions.
When you hear the phrase “tarot cards,” a definite image of what the cards look like probably comes to mind. What you might not realize is that there are thousands of types of tarot cards out there, ranging from inexpensive and novelty versions, to more elaborate card sets that can cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars.
For beginners, choose a set of cards that speaks to you; not necessarily the one that’s least expensive or most attractive. Hold the cards to see how they feel in your hands and how you feel holding them. Experienced tarot practitioners claim that when you find the right set of cards, you’ll know; you’ll feel in tune with the cards and what they say. No matter what set you choose, look for one that includes a guidebook that outlines what each card means so you can refer to it as you learn.
If you want, you can charge your cards before using them for a tarot reading, by praying or meditating over them, waving them through incense or placing them in the light of a full moon. Some practitioners also use a special pouch or case for their cards and do not allow anyone else to touch them, so as to protect the cards’ power and prevent unwanted influences on the cards. These traditions aren’t required for successful tarot reading, though, and you can choose which ones you want to follow.
About the Cards
Once you have your tarot cards, spend some time getting to know them. Each card features an image of a symbol that correspond to characteristics in our conscious and unconscious minds, phases of life and in some cases, people in our lives. A deck of tarot cards contains 78 cards: 22 in the Major Arcana and 56 in the Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana symbols correspond to the circumstances of our lives and the lessons we need to learn for spiritual growth.
Minor Arcana, which are divided into four suits, like playing cards, represent an individual’s individual characteristics, such as likes and dislikes, as well as people. The four suits in the Minor Arcana are Pentacles (also known as discs or coins) which deal with work, money and success; wands, which correspond to spiritual issues; cups, which deal with emotional issues; swords, most often seen as signifying loss or other negative events.
How you interpret each of these cards depends on how you arrange the cards, the questions you ask and your own understanding of the cards. Two commonly misinterpreted cards though are the Tower and Death cards. Often believed to be a literal omen of death or destruction, these cards are actually symbolic of the end of a particular situation and rebuilding or rebirth after a negative occurrence.
For beginners, the two easiest and most common Tarot arrangements are the Three-Card Spread and the Celtic Cross.
For the Three-Card Spread, which is best for simple, yes or no questions, you place three cards horizontally from left to right. The left hand card signifies past issues that influence the problem, the middle card corresponds to the present and the right hand card presents the future of the issue. By interpreting the symbols on the three cards together, you can divine an answer to the problem.
The Celtic Cross layout is slightly more complicated, but provides more in-depth insight into the question or problem. The layout requires ten cards. Each of the ten cards represents an aspect of the problem or question at hand, including the seeker, the past and present influences on the outcome of the problem, the goal or destiny of the seeker and obstacles they face on their journey and the final outcome of the problem if they continue on their current path. Most Tarot guides provide a visual representation of the Celtic Cross and the order in which cards should be laid down and revealed.
As you become more familiar with Tarot and the meanings behind the cards, you can design your own layouts and develop your own methods of divining answers. Remember that it takes time and practice to unleash the full potential of Tarot and to open your mind and spirit to what the symbols want to tell you.
This post was written by Ana Novak who is a Consultant for www.oranum.com. Whenever she is faced with a difficult choice she often turns to Tarot for the answers she seeks.