Traditionally, tarot cards are often seen as a fortune-telling device, as a way of telling the future.  My own view on this is that whilst the cards can hint at what is to come if we stay on our current path, they are far more useful as a tool for helping us gain insight on a particular issue or a way of looking at things from a different perspective, so that we can better influence our future, having considered likely outcomes based on past and present events.

Historically, use of tarot cards has been traced back as far as Ancient Egyptian times although precisely where they originated from is not clear.  At different times, they have been used for both mystical and divination purposes as well as a form of gaming.

Usually, a deck of tarot cards is made up of 78 cards in total, divided into 22 Major Arcana cards and 56 Minor Arcana, the latter of which are then further sub-divided into four suits.

All of the cards will have a unique image on them each representing different life events or energies that will have some meaning to us.

Major Arcana cards tend to represent the bigger events in our lives that are, at times, less within our control, births, deaths, luck, hopes, secrets, choices, busy times, introspection, legal matters or qualities such as strength, direction, intuition, creativity or drive.  They include cards such as The Sun, The Star, The Hierophant, Wheel of Fortune, The Hanged Man and the notorious Death card (it doesn’t usually mean a literal death!).

Minor Arcana cards are split into four suits with traditional packs consisting of a suit each of Wands, Pentacles, Swords and Cups.  These can also be linked to the astrological elements of Fire, Earth, Air and Water and associations of action (Wands), materialism (Pentacles), intellect (Swords) and emotions (Cups).  Each suit has cards numbered Ace to Ten with a Page, Knight, Queen and King just like in playing cards.  Some packs have substituted these names for Prince and Princess instead of Page and Knight whilst others use terms such as Daughter of/Son of and Mother of/Father of for example.  The basic meaning of the cards however will generally be the same. 

Probably the best known deck is the Rider Waite deck however with a growing interest in the tarot over recent years it is now possible to pick a deck based on almost any topic.  I’ve recently seen a tarot deck based on Star Wars!

Cards are shuffled and the deck cut before being placed into a “spread” by the reader.  Different spreads will suit different querents (the person whom the reading is being conducted for), from a simple one-card spread on a simple issue to more complicated spreads for more complex matters.  A favourite of mine is the much-used Celtic-Cross spread, as I find it to have great application to almost any situation.

I have always read my own cards although some readers believe that it can be difficult to maintain sufficient objectiveness to do this effectively.  Others prefer to attend upon a professional tarot reader for their readings – it comes down to personal preference.  I genuinely believe that anyone can learn to read the mysteries and intricacies of the tarot although the real skill in my view is learning not just the individual meanings of all 78 cards whether upright or reversed, but in learning how the cards are affected by the spread used, the cards positions and taking all the cards collectively in the read, not just individually.

Of course some people have their own beliefs about the tarot such as the oft-quoted one that they are “evil” or “satanic”.  My view on this is that any tool can be used for “evil” intentions but pretty much every tarot reader I have come across is not this way inclined.

There are now a whole host of non-traditional decks being used as well as oracle or goddess cards which come quite often with writing on the cards which can be easier for those new to reading tarot to get to grips with.  If you are interested in learning to read tarot for yourself, a good place to start if you are unsure if you wish to spend £20+ on a deck would be to scout around for a spiritual magazine with these offered as a freebie.  I’ve picked up new decks this way for £7 or less with a magazine as well which is quite a bargain!

A useful tip when starting to read tarot is to study how other readers read the cards.  In due course, when you become more familiar with the cards and learn to trust your instinct when reading, you will come up with your own interpretations within the general meanings, but even though I’ve read tarot for nearly 25 years, I still enjoy watching other tarot readers on YouTube do their reads and nearly always learn something new.  There are literally hundreds of these available whether daily/weekly/monthly or more generally categorised based on your Sun Sign, as very often tarot and astrology are inextricably intertwined.

Have a go and let me know how you get on in the comments below.

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