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The Tarot : Cards of Wonder


“The ancient and mystic pack of cards called the Tarot never fails to evoke the curiosity of the uninitiated.” (Gray pg.9). These cards are often viewed as evil, forbidden, cursed, taboo, and satanic. However, many people from varied religions and walks of life use the Tarot to aid in their everyday problems. These cards are not ominous messengers foretelling certain doom. The Tarot is a divination tool consisting of a deck of seventy-eight cards which can be used to seek insight into one’s self and possible future.


The seventy-eight cards are divided into the major and minor arcana. The major arcana involves twenty-two cards that are numbered from zero, the fool, to twenty-one, the world. The major arcana depicts the fool’s journey through life. The fool represents each one as they enter innocently into their life’s journey. Each card of the major arcana represents a stage in this journey. The last card, the world, is the end of the journey; when the fool has reached fulfillment and complete understanding of what life has to hold and what the future may bring.

The remaining fifty-six cards are broken down into the minor arcana. These cards are further broken into four suits; the wands, cups, swords, and pentacles. Each suit connects with one of the four natural elements; fire, water, earth, and air. Wands correspond with fire, cups with water, swords with air, and pentacles with earth. Each suit contains cards numbered ace to ten with the addition of a four court card; a king, queen, knight, and page. The fiery suit of wands inspires creativity and encourages us to take action. The flowing suit of cups symbolizes emotions, specifically those pertaining to love and relationships. The air surrounding the suit of swords embodies the logical and analytical aspects of one’s thoughts.  While the earthy suit of pentacles stands for one’s physical being as well as everyday needs. (Ellershaw pg 6).


 Both the major and minor arcana use archetypal images that connect with one’s subconscious mind. Archetypal images are able to speak and connect to our psyche in a universal way that is common to all mankind.  As Gray points out “The true Tarot is the symbolism: it speaks a language that arises from the collective mind of man.” (pg 13). The major arcana centers on the higher aspects of life while the minor arcana indicates circumstances that can occur in everyday life. The major arcana is the foundation which supports, and is enhanced by, the details of the minor arcana. It all comes together in a reading to provide one with insight into their self, life, and situation.

The exact origin of the Tarot is as mysterious as the cards themselves. Many cultures and civilizations lay claim to birthing the cards. The theories surrounding the Tarot’s history is as vast as the variations of decks. Many myths, legends, and folklore have stemmed from the major arcana. Superstitions, tales of fantasy, and speculation have added to the mystical tapestry that is the Tarot. The cards first started as normal playing cards; it is easily seen how modern day playing cards derived from the cards of the Tarot.

Over time the playing cards morphed into a popular divination tool. Divination is the practice of revealing hidden knowledge about a situation and possible future events. The Tarot is a useful divination tool. While the cards may predict future events, these events are not set in stone; as the future is always changing. The choice one makes today shapes those to be made tomorrow. The cards offer guidance into one’s situation and can aid in the decision making process.

The Tarot is a channel that helps one understand themselves and their situation better.  Guidance is revealed through a story told by the cards through the use of a spread. There are a vast majority of spreads to use with the cards. Spreads are the way the cards are laid out, this helps give order to the cards and provides a flow to the unfolding story. Each position in the spread corresponds to a condition, such as how one feels about themselves at the moment or what one’s secret desire may be. Each card has a specific meaning; this meaning is applied to its place in a particular spread.  If one notices a predominance of a particular suit, the element of that suit is revealing something of importance. A prevalence of wands may indicate change. Likewise the appearance of several court cards may indicate the involvement of several people. Reverse, or cards that are upside down, are often thought to be a bad omen. However, the appearance of a card in reverse simply means the opposite meaning of the card is to be considered. (Ellershaw pg. 119-153).


Contrary to popular belief one does not need to be psychic to use the tarot. Anyone willing to learn can read the cards. It does require some practice to become efficient in reading the cards. It is best to start off simply doing readings for one’s self. However, as the knowledge of the cards and the skill of divination increases one may branch off into reading the cards for others.

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The mysterious cards of Tarot are a great tool to help one find insight into their own life and possibly reveal information about the future. While many perceive them to be a dark tool of evil working that foretell impending destiny, the cards merely serve as a guide to aid the one seeking answers. Anyone from any life path can use the tarot as a source of direction. The tarot is simply a tool to help one understand their self and their life


Work Cited

“All About Tarot Cards”. November 26, 2009. Web. November 14, 2010

Ellershaw, Josephine. Easy Tarot Handbook. Wooddale, Minnesota: Llewellyn Publications.

2007. Print.

Gray, Eden. A Complete Guide To The Tarot. New York: Crown Publishers. 1970. Print

Pollack, Rachel. The complete illustrated guide to tarot. Boston, Massachusetts: Element. 1999.


Robert, Michael. The Tarot: History, Symbolism and Divination. New York: Jeremy P

Tarcher/Penguin. 2005. Print


GwennyOh on April 08, 2013:

This is an informative overview of a Tarot card deck. It's amazing the insight one can glean from doing Tarot readings. It's a clear view into the world of spirit.

Great job on the article.

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