Want to learn more about Tarot? Then start here with this Tarot Guide.
- What is Tarot and Tarot Cards?
- What is a Tarot Reading?
- What Are Tarot Cards Used For? 8 Ways To Use Tarot
- What is The Most Popular Tarot Deck?
- How To Read Tarot Cards
- What is The History of Tarot?
- What Religion or Culture Do Tarot Cards Come From?
What is Tarot and Tarot Cards?
Tarot is a form of cartomancy, that is, using cards to predict the future. A person who practices cartomancy, is called a cartomancer or card reader.
A Tarot reader perform a tarot reading for clients in order to answer a question, or give guidance. A reading begins by shuffling the deck of Tarot cards, and then laying the cards out in an arrangement called a Tarot spread. It is the job of the Reader to interpret the symbolic imagery of the cards within the context of a spread.
The Tarot is not only a tool for divination, but can also be used for creative brainstorming, meditation and reflection. Interestingly, before the rise of esotericism in the 20th century, Tarot was more commonly used for playing card games.
What is a Tarot Reading?
A Tarot reading is when a person uses Tarot cards to gain information about their life or a client’s life.
The person carrying out the reading in this instance is called a reader or diviner. The client is called the querent or sitter. The information in a Tarot reading comes both from the cards, card positions and the querent themselves. It is normal for a querent to interact with their reader and provide information for clarification purposes, and to ask questions.
Typically, a Tarot session lasts between 30 and 60 minutes. Longer sessions allow more time to cover deeper aspects of your life such as spiritual growth and life purpose.
In a Tarot Reading, you will typically gain insights about your past, present and/or future. Some card readers however, prefer to use Tarot as a tool for gaining guidance, rather than making predictions. Some cartomancers, particularly those with clairvoyance even use Tarot to connect to the mystical and unseen world of spirit guides, angels and deceased loved ones.
What Are Tarot Cards Used For? 8 Ways To Use Tarot
Tarot is for everyone! The following is a list of the eight most common ways you can use Tarot cards.
Divination and Fortune Telling
Predictions about your future.
Talking to Angels and Spirit Guides
You can ask your spirit helpers for advice on important aspects of your life, including love, career and health.
Daily Cosmic Guidance
Ask your spirit helpers: What do I need to be aware of today?
Ask your spirit team to help you make a decision, by drawing a card for each option being considered.
Divine Ideas and Inspiration
If you are a writer or creator, the Tarot can help you tap into ideas circulating ‘out there’ in the Universe or cosmos. For example, you can ask the cards: “please give me a quirky personality trait for my new character.”
Use the Tarot to access memories from your Akashic Records and past lives. Ask the card, to show you a card which represents who you were in your most recent past life. For example, if you receive The Empress, it could mean you were a mother, or a woman who had her own business.
Meditation and Manifestation
You can use the cards for the purpose of personal development. If you wish to manifest something, simply meditate on the card which represents the thing you wish to bring into being. For example, The Star card for healing or healing gifts, the 10 of Pentacles for a new home, the 9 of Cups for more luck, and The Lovers for more romance.
What is The Most Popular Tarot Deck?
Most Famous Tarot Deck
The most popular and perhaps famous deck of all time, is the Rider-Waite deck, which was first published in 1909. More than an estimated 100 million copies of this deck have sold. The Rider-Waite was created by the English occultist A.E. Waite and illustrated by the artist Pamela Colman Smith.
According to Waite, the tarot cards themselves dated back to the 14th century, and he claimed to have restored the images to their original meaning in his deck. He drew inspiration for his iconography, from the Hermetic Kabbalah tradition which was favored by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a secret group of which Waite was an influential member.
Top 10 Tarot Decks
- Rider Waite
- Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley
- Marseille Tarot (published c.1750)
- The Modern Witch Tarot Deck by Lisa Sterle
- The Mythic Tarot by Juliet Sharman-Burke
- Deviant Moon by Patrick Valenza
- The Wildwood Tarot by Mark Ryan
- The Druidcraft Tarot by Stephanie Carr-Gomm
- The Gilded Tarot by Ciro Marchetti
- The Lo Scarabeo Tarot by Mark McElroy
What is The Easiest Tarot Deck for Beginners?
As an experienced psychic reader and teacher, I personally believe that the Rider-Waite deck is the best deck for beginners. There is a reason for its enduring popularity, despite the fact that hundreds of other decks with different designs and themes have been published since its inception.
The images on the Rider Waite cards are simple to understand for a novice. However, the details and backgrounds are rich in symbolism which offer layers of meanings, the more you learn.
How To Read Tarot Cards
Tarot decks are usually comprised of 78 cards featuring unique allegorical illustrations. There
are 2 categories of cards in the deck: The Major Arcana and Minor Arcana. Typically Tarot cards are read by shuffling and then laying out the cards, face down in a spread. Each card is then turned over, one by one, and interpreted. While each card has an individual meaning, it will be influenced by which position it falls in a spread, and whether or not it falls upright or reversed.
If you are a beginner in Tarot, you can always start with a simple one-card reading, and gradually move to spreads as you gain experience.
Want to learn more? See: How to read tarot cards.
Until you learn the meanings of each card off by heart, you will need to rely on the meanings in a Tarot book to interpret the cards. Alternatively, check out my list of Tarot card meanings, where I explain how to interpret each card specifically in love, career, money and health. Also, you will discover a card description and list of keywords; as well as what it means when the card is upside down.
The Tarot can be studied and analyzed like an art work. The iconography in the Rider Waite deck, for example, is rich and complex, with layers of symbolism from religion, mythology, astrology, alchemy and numerology, to name just a few. Studying the Tarot is a never-ending task; there is always something new to be learned or discovered.
Read more about Tarot Card Symbols (for advanced students).
What is The History of Tarot?
Where do Tarot cards come from? The actual origins of Tarot cards are lost in time. There is speculation that they originated in the India and were bought to Europe by the Roma people or gypsies. There is more evidence to suggest that they originated in China and moved via the Silk route to Egypt, and from there onto Italy.
Fortune telling, soothsaying and predicting the future are a practice as old as humanity itself. However, Tarot more than likely started off as a card game, and not a fortune telling device.
The oldest surviving Tarot cards, are the Visconti Tarot cards, which were created in 1451 during the early Renaissance. Of that deck, only 74 cards survive today. The oldest full-set of Tarot cards is the Sola Busca Tarot from 1491.
Tarot was played in the courts of Northern Italy, spreading as a game. At some time during the 1600’s, with the introduction of the Marseille Tarot, it began to be used for divination. It was studied by the occultists and gained popularity among this set between 1750 and 1900. The modern meanings of Tarot that we see today, were primarily created with the advent of the Rider Waite Tarot deck.
Want to learn more? Read The History of Tarot Cards, a more detailed article.
What Religion or Culture Do Tarot Cards Come From?
Tarot cards are not associated with any particular religion. Early French occultists believed the cards had esoteric links to ancient Egypt, I Ching, the Kabbalah and Indic Tantra – claims which have been repeated by Tarot authors ever since.
However, the Rider Waite deck is primarily based on Judeo-Christian mysteries. That is, the common symbolism and stories which appear both in Jewish scripture and the Christian Old Testament.
Most people unfamiliar with the cards associate them with fortune telling. However, many Tarot experts, including occultists, New Age practitioners and neopagans, consider fortune telling their lowest use. Instead, they value Tarot as a spiritual tool, for personal self development and ascension.
Is it unlucky to buy your own Tarot cards? Truth, myth and superstition.
Can you read your own Tarot cards? Understanding the rules of cartomancy.
How do you welcome a new Tarot deck? Tips for blessing your new cards.
Storing your Tarot cards: Safeguarding your treasure.
How to cleanse Tarot cards: Quick and simple rituals.
Your Tarot Guide with Karina
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Karina, author of Tarot in 5 Minutes.