Are you intrigued about the Tarot? Is it something that you've always wanted to find out more about or even wanted to master? If you have any vague interest in these unique set of cards then this new series will help you navigate yourself around the deck and to learn how to read for yourself as well as for others.
It's always good to have a little background information in your arsenal. The tarot was first introduced in Italy in the mid 15th century to be used in the game Tarocchini. This colourful and complex card game is still played today in and around Bologna, and centres around winning tricks from opponents.
How the tarot became a divination tool is still a mystery. The earliest recorded evidence of the tarot deck being used for cartomancy (fortune telling with cards) comes from an anonymous (spooky) manuscript from around 1750 which documents basic divinatory meanings for the Tarocco, the deck used for the aforementioned Tarocchini.
The 78-card tarot deck is split into two sections:
Major Arcana: This contains 22 cards and is known as the greater secrets deck. Each card represents the life lessons and karmic influences that are influencing a person's life and their soul's journey to enlightenment. The cards are numbered in Roman numerals from one to 21. There is one unnumbered card: The Fool. He is placed at the beginning of the deck as it is his journey the cards follow, meeting new teachers, learning new lessons, and eventually reaching the completion of The World card. He aids our own journey as we navigate the trials and tribulations of this life.
Major Arcana in order of the journey: The Fool, The Magician, The High Priestess, The Empress, The Emperor, The Hierophant, The Lovers, The Chariot, Strength, The Hermit, Wheel of Fortune, Justice, The Hanged Man, Death, Temperance, The Devil, The Tower, The Star, The Moon, The Sun, Judgement, and finally The World.
Minor Arcana: This contains 56 cards and is known as the lesser secrets deck. As with a traditional deck of cards, the tarot is split into four suits.
Swords - this suit is associated with the element of air, and in a traditional pack of cards is aligned to spades. When all is well in the world it can be still or a force to be reckoned with when action is required. This is a masculine suit, linked to knowledge, power, and change. You've heard the expression "a double-edged sword" - something that has or can have both favourable and unfavourable consequences. Swords need to be balanced by surrounding cards to have the most positive effect.
Cups - this suit is associated with the element of water. It can be soft and gentle like the lapping waves on a shore or powerful and life changing like a Tsunami. It deals with emotions associated with love, feelings, relationships and connections. It is a feminine energy and draws on intuition and subtle power and strength. In a traditional pack of playing cards it is linked to the suit of hearts.
Pentacles - sometimes referred to as Coins this suit is linked to the element of earth. It is the suit of life foundations. One reaps what one sows. Put in the work, nurture and support, and a foundation will be strong. Neglect any aspect of this process and problems will arise. A feminine element, the suit of Pentacles guides us to create, transform and to live the life we visualise. It is associated with the suit of diamonds in a traditional pack of cards.
Wands - also known as Staves or Rods is associated with the element of fire. It is a masculine energy and draws on passion, energy, enthusiasm and sexuality. When one has a fire in one's belly it can be a force to change things that are wrong in the world. However, used unwisely and it can lead to getting burned. When wands appear it mirrors what is important to you at the core of your being. But don't be fooled, similarly to when Alice looked through looking glass, not everything is always what it seems. Wands are associated with the suit of clubs in a traditional pack of cards.
So there you have it - a brief introduction to the Tarot. When you start to use a deck try to keep in mind these basics but don't be limited by them. The tarot works with you and your own intuition and interpretation.
The Witch of the Wharf is a published writer and blogger. A favourite with celebrity clients for her uncannily accurate readings.