Tag Archives: cards

Tarot 101: An Intro to Tarot (Part 1)


I’ve talked a couple of times on the blog about card meanings, how to read tarot, and what it means when a deck doesn’t feel right, but I realized that I’ve never talked about the basics. I just assumed that anyone finding my blog would A.) already know or B.) be able to find the basics elsewhere since there are so many websites out there now that cover this topic.

But I’m about to add one more.

I realized if I’m going to talk about the more advanced stuff, I should probably also cover the basics as well. Not only does this help add more information to the topic, but it also gives my readers a basis of where I’m coming from and how I work. Which seems like a pretty good idea to me.

Please keep in mind, not every tarot reader works the same way. I’m quite certain there are other readers out there who do things very differently. And that’s OK! That’s awesome! One of the great things about reading cards is that there are so many different ways of doing it and each reader is free to find the way that works best for them.

So, to begin . . .

What is Tarot?

Tarot is a tool. The cards can be used to gain insight and perspective into the self and situations. Tarot cards aren’t inherently bad or “evil”, though there are some negative stereotypes that persist about the cards and readers. Anyone can read the cards, though in my experience, some of the best readers are those who have spent some time studying the symbolism and meanings of the cards.

Tarot has been around since at least the 15th century and was originally a card game. At some point, they became a tool for divination. Probably the most well-known deck, the Rider-Waite, was designed by Arthur Edward White and published in 1910. Depending on how you’re taught, some say that the tarot cards are the journey of the Fool, the first card of the Major Arcana, and that the Fool travels through the deck to experience each card.

How are Tarot Cards Different From Angel and Oracle Cards?

For the most part, tarot cards are set up as a specific system and angel and oracle cards aren’t. The primary purpose of most angel and oracle cards is to be read intuitively and with very little or no study of the cards needed. With tarot, the reader often benefits from studying the cards as well as reading intuitively. There is a specific number of cards in any tarot deck (78), and they generally stick to a system of four suits plus the Major Arcana. Angel cards tend to be a deck of cards of any number with images of angelic beings. Oracle cards tend to be a deck of any number and usually with custom artwork or images of any variety. There are some varieties of tarot that deviate from the typical 78-card system and don’t stick to the popular Rider-Waite imagery, but they still tend to be divided into the suits and the Arcanas.

What are Tarot Deck Basics?

A typical tarot deck consists of 58 Minor Arcana cards and 22 Major Arcana. The Minor Arcana is divided into four suits: pentacles, swords, wands/rods, and cups. The names of these may be different depending on author, but they tend to be relatively interchangeable. For example, I’ve seen the pentacles suit called the coins suit.

Each suit consists of fourteen cards: ace through ten, page, knight, queen, king. Again, the names of the royal cards may be different depending on deck, but they tend to follow a hierarchy. For example, I’ve seen the page also called the princess and the knight called the prince. It depends on the author of the deck. The Minor cards tend to be symbolic of everyday life and indicate everyday issues.

The Major Arcana is 22 cards going from the Fool to the World. These cards tend to reflect archetypes or overall lessons. Some say that the Major cards indicate karma or karmic rules, but not everyone agrees on this.

How Can I Learn What the Cards Mean?

There are many different ways of doing this. Some people take years to study and read up on the cards. Others don’t. I have a couple of suggestions for those who want to learn what the cards mean:

  • Keep a tarot journal. Record your impressions of each card as you come across it. You can even photocopy the card you want to work on a tape or paste it into the journal. Then study the card and write down any impressions you get. What does it mean to you? What to the symbols tell you? Listen to your intuition. Then, once you’ve recorded what the card means to you at the time, look up what it means to other people and see if there’s anything you want to add. A good website I’ve used before for card meanings is http://learntarot.com/cards.htm.
  • Pull a card a day. Every morning, shuffle and ask the deck what your day will be like. Pull only one card, study it for a few minutes, write down initial impressions, and then leave it alone. Come back at the end of the day and see how you did.

The suggestions above are more for those who want to learn what the cards mean to them on an intuitive level. I usually say that the cards have different meanings for different people. You can certainly look up what the cards tend to mean, and I encourage you to do so, as studying the symbolism can really help understand the nature of the deck. But I also contend that there’s an intuitive element to reading and the usual meanings will not always apply in every situation. This is why I encourage a mixed approach–practice the intuitive while also studying the symbolic.

That’s all for Part 1 of Tarot 101. Stay tuned for Part 2, coming soon!

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Tarot Readings From Me


Happy Tuesday all!

I’m looking for some good topics/news stories to make some good blog posts about. )If you have suggestions or requests, let me know.) In the meantime, I have a question for all my lovely readers: If I began offering tarot readings for a reasonable fee (and maybe for free on occasion), would anyone even be interested in getting a reading from me?

If I get enough interest, I’ll set up details on a Tarot Reading page and look into payments through PayPal. To give your opinion, answer the poll in this post and/or leave a comment.

Thanks!

 

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When a Reading Isn’t Right


So many people take tarot card, oracle card, aura, and palm readings as absolute truth.  Somehow, it seems that when someone goes in for a reading, they are more likely to blindly accept what is told to them by the reader rather than think it over or question anything in the reading even when it isn’t really right.  I’m not the only one who’s noticed this tendency, either, and thank goodness for that, because otherwise I might have thought I were going crazy.

But no, other readers have noticed this as well.  Once you realize this, as a reader, you tend to become hyper aware of what you say to the client/questioner.  You realize that they could very well take you completely at your word, not question anything you say, and go off and do something stupid because they think you told them to.  And that’s fine, they can do that, and it’s their choice.  They chose to believe you without thinking over what they had been told.  However, that doesn’t mean the reader should just say anything that comes to mind and expect to be absolved of responsibility if the client does something stupid as a result.

Nor does it mean the questioner will or should take everything said in a reading to heart.  When you receive a reading–whether tarot, aura, or palm–oftentimes there is an element of intuition at play on the part of the reader.  There is an element of study as well, as I would expect that any serious reader would practice and study their craft a lot.  But for many, especially in tarot readings, the intuition plays a role for the reader in interpreting the results for the questioner.  That means that the results of the reading are fluid and open for interpretation.  Sometimes a lot of interpretation.

I recently had a tarot reading from someone I’d never met before.  She was very nice, and has been practicing readings for a while now, so I figured I would get a decent reading.  However, when the cards came up, I was very confused.  None of the cards made much sense to me for the placement they were in.  One or two cards didn’t seem to fit me at all.  I pointed out my confusion to the reader, and we worked to find the interpretation that fit–but in a reading like this one, if you have to work that hard to find meaning in the results, you’re better off starting over, clearing the deck, and scrapping the previous results.

When a reading doesn’t feel right, or doesn’t seem to fit you or the situation you asked about, then make sure you bring it up to the reader.  It may be that you’re misunderstanding the card, in which case, it’s easy to correct.  But it could also be that the reading wasn’t right to begin with.  If it’s a tarot reading and the reader had other clients beforehand, then perhaps they didn’t clear the deck well enough before reading you.  Or they put too much of their own energy into it and muddled the results.  Or, if in a gallery situation, perhaps the reader picked up on someone else’s energy and the reading was meant more for the other person than for you.  Whatever the reason, when a reading doesn’t feel right, then speak up and tell the reading that you think it doesn’t apply or that you’re confused about something.

Not only does that help clear up confusion for you, but it also helps the reader improve their skills.  Feedback is important in that kind of setting.  In my case from the reading I just had, the reading wasn’t really meant for me.  Thus my extreme confusion and why it didn’t seem to fit.  I believe the reading was actually intended for the person sitting next to me, and her energy and need overrode mine, unknown to me and the reader both.

And I usually tell people to take most readings with a hint of skepticism.  Not everything will turn out as the reader says it will.  Not all readings will be 100% correct, or even 50% correct.  Some readings will just not fit, and when they don’t fit, don’t just accept what the reader says and try to make their results mesh with your life.  Ask questions.  Find your own interpretation.  Listen to your own instincts.

When a Deck No Longer Works


You wouldn’t think that a deck of cards could have a mind of its own.  But I swear, tarot and oracle card decks, and any other metaphysical decks, do have minds of their own.  For the past few months, my tarot deck has been giving me a lot of trouble, and I know it’s time to move on to another deck.  This one has fulfilled its purpose for the time being, and now I should move on.  But it got me thinking.  Has anyone else had this problem?  Do other people even know that this can happen?

Well, it can happen!  I knew I’d outgrown this deck when I began getting contradictory answers or even answers that made absolutely no sense.  Even when I went back afterward and examined the questions asked to see if maybe they were too complicated, I found that no, the majority were decent or good questions that would work well with a card reading, so the deck should have been able to give me an answer.  Yet it didn’t.  That was the deck’s way of telling me I needed to move on to another deck–this one was done and clearly not going to help me out much anymore.

Now, before you get rid of your deck just because you’re not getting clear answers, there are some thing to consider first before moving to another deck.  In my opinion, moving on to another deck is the last resort because the problem could be with you and your state of mind, not with the deck.

One thing to consider is whether you should be asking the question in the first place.  For example, say you’re doing a reading for yourself and asking about a situation with a lover or family member.  The cards show an answer that doesn’t seem to make sense, or give an answer that seems to be negative.  You think the cards aren’t giving a clear answer.  But in this kind of situation, I would say that it’s not the deck, it’s the reader.  It’s difficult to read the cards for yourself, especially when you’re asking about highly-charged emotional situations.  You may get an answer that you don’t want to admit or can’t admit to yourself, so you think the deck is wrong or giving a confusing answer when in fact it’s giving the correct answer–you just can’t allow the answer.

Another consideration is the question being asked.  How clear is your question?  I tell people that their question should be as specific and non-ambiguous as possible.  This gives the clearest answer and allows the cards–and you as the reader–to focus in on the issue and only the issue at hand.  So if your cards aren’t giving a clear answer, then consider the question and see if it holds too much ambiguity and is thus confusing you and the cards.

  • A good question: What is the effect on my life of remaining on the path I am currently on?  This is a good question because it’s asking about the effect of something specific–the effect your actions, if you change nothing, will have on your life later on.  “Later” is OK in this case because you don’t want to know a specific time frame per se, you want to know the effect of X on Y.
  • A bad question: Will I get the job I applied for?  Which job?  Sooner or later?  Is this a job you applied for recently or do we mean a job you’re about to apply for?  It seems like a simple question, but it can be more ambiguous and leave open more holes than you might think.

Something else to think on is your emotional or mental state during the reading.  If you’re very emotional, you may not be able to read clearly and may jump to conclusions or see things in the cards that aren’t necessarily indicated.  If you receive an answer that is confusing or upsetting, then not only consider your emotional state, but this ties in with the first two considerations.  Now, I’m not saying that you need to be cool, calm, and collected all the time when reading the cards, but your emotional or mental state can have an effect.  For example, being rally tired can affect your abilities.

The last consideration I have for you is to consider whether the situation is too much in flux for the cards to give a clear answer.  It’s possible the a situation may be changing too rapidly or have too many possible outcomes that the cards can’t reveal a good or clear answer.  This doesn’t happen all that often, in my admittedly limited experience, but it can happen.

To summarize, these are the things you should consider before leaving a deck:

  • Should you be asking the question at all.
  • Is your question clear or too ambiguous.
  • Are you too distracted or emotional while reading to gain clear insight from the cards.
  • Is it possible the situation in question is too in flux to allow a clear answer.

If you consider all of the above and still find that the deck just doesn’t work for you, then it’s time to consider moving on to another set of cards.  I’m still trying to find my next tarot deck, and I may have finally found one that fits, but it’s taken a couple of months before I was given a deck that may end up working out pretty well for me.

I hope this helps all of you tarot and other card readers out there!  I wish someone had told me some of this when I first began learning years ago.  Especially about the questions–and I’m still learning that one!

Thoughts on Tarot


This past weekend, I was out with my best friend and some other friends.  I had recently told my best friend (who is basically a sister to me) about my taking classes with a coven.  Religion never really comes up in our discussions, as it doesn’t play a major part in our relationship, but she was curious and asked me about my beliefs and such.  I mentioned that I read tarot and oracle cards, and offered to give her a reading sometime.

Her reaction surprised me somewhat.  “I’m kinda scared, I don’t want to know the future like that.”  She explained a little more, saying that she didn’t like the idea of cards being able to tell the future or that cards have power.  I started to smile.  I reassured her that most of the preconceptions she had about tarot are not entirely accurate.

It’s amazing to me sometimes how much stock a person can put into a tarot reading.  The day before the conversation with my friend, I had helped my old Pagan Student Union on campus do a tarot reading event (and by helped, I mean I sat in the back and offered moral support, since I was ill). But I got to observe and watch as people lined up at the door and waited their turn, and I watched the hesitation, the uncertainty, and even hints of fear on their faces.  Some of them clearly felt they were taking their lives in their hands almost, or felt as if we could tell them absolutes about their future.  People seem to think that because a tarot reader can see a possible future it means that we can see the future in the cards, and that’s just not necessarily the truth.

From what I’ve learned (and I grant you, I’m only at about intermediate level at reading cards), a good tarot reader will acknowledge that the reading is good for only about 3 months out.  3 months.  That’s how far a reading can “see” into the future before the future changes or branches off.  The future is also not absolute.  What people seem to forget when they get a reading is if they don’t like something they see in the cards, then they have the option to go try to change it.  Now, some things are more difficult to change than others.  But that doesn’t mean that if the tarot reading says you’re going to have a really bad breakup with your boyfriend that you have to have a really bad breakup.  Armed with information, you can try to end it more amicably or even try to repair the relationship before it breaks.  A tarot reading is not a certainty, just a likelihood.

I’ve been read by a professional, who was very good.  She was accurate on everything she told me, but her reading also went only 3 months into the future.  Everything after that was speculation on what might happen, and she stressed that fact when imparting that to me.

The fact that people react to tarot with either unthinking belief, fear, or outright denial is a result of a lack of education, lack of belief, or from superstition.  It seems strange that people don’t know more about tarot, given all the information out there about tarot cards, but it’s true—most people still think that the Death card in a reading means they’ll die, that the Devil means they’re possessed or wicked, or that the Tower is complete physical destruction like a personal apocalypse.

I see it as my job to be reassuring during a reading.  If a card like the Tower comes up, I’ll do my best to find any nugget of positive news that I can so that the person isn’t walking away with doom and gloom.  I also take the time (if I have it, which usually I don’t at an event like the PSU event) to explain the cards, give a little more information so that the person understands why I’m saying what I’m saying.  I also most definitely point out that my reading is only good for 3 months, if I’m reading the future.  That doesn’t apply for the cards that look into the past or present, of course.  Basically, I’m saying do as much as you can as a tarot reader to help the person you’re reading understand and not spread misinformation.  The more accurate information there is out there, the better people will react and the more open they’ll be when around tarot or when discussing tarot.