Beginning Tarot

Learning Tarot – The Beginning

Many people find it difficult to believe that simply shuffling and laying out cards can predict our future. How do they really work? Carl Jung called it synchronicity, which basically means there’s no such thing as coincidence. Jung believed in astrology, spiritualism, telepathy, telekinesis, clairvoyance and ESP, and he also contributed two new notions, synchronicity and collective consciousness. This author believes that eventually quantum physics, specifically string theory, will have our answers. Somewhere in the quantum entanglement is the connection between the past, present, and future.

No one really knows when or how the Tarot began, but it is believed to have appeared in Europe in the late 14th century (before Columbus discovered America). The deck consists of 22 Major Arcana cards and 56 Minor Arcana cards in 4 different suits. The original Tarot suits were Batons (now called wands), Swords, Cups, and Coins (now called Disks or Pentacles). Each card has its own meaning, including one meaning for the upright card and a second meaning if the card is reversed. But, the suits in general each also have a meaning, and the numbers themselves have meanings, which we will discuss in detail in future articles.

If you are interested in learning the Tarot, you really should choose a book to help you understand the meaning of each card. Most decks include a small pamphlet with the meaning of the cards, but that is usually not enough for the beginner. Also, when beginning to learn the Tarot, I always recommend three-card spreads (past, present, and future). The bigger ten or more card spreads are too much to begin with. It’s also best to keep all of your cards upright in the beginning. You really need to understand the basic meaning of the card, before you learn the reversed meanings. Many have found keeping a Tarot journal a very good way to learn the cards. Lay out a spread for you (or a single card), and record that spread in a journal. After the event has passed, you will be able to look back through your Tarot journal to understand what the Tarot was trying to tell you. Each of us must find our own personal meaning for the cards. The books can only give us general guidelines. In fact, in using the Tarot journal, this author discovered her meaning of the Temperance card to be separation. For many this card means blending, but again, each meaning is personal to the reader.

The Major Arcana cards deal with major issues. If your spread is more than half Major Arcana, then the situation is extensive and will be a big situation for the client. If you are beginning reader, you may want to start with the Major Arcana cards only. They are filled with wisdom from many cultures, and they each have a different meaning of life’s lessons. The Major Arcana cards always carry more weight than the Minor Arcana in a spread. The regular playing deck of cards was created from the Tarot. They threw out all of the Major Arcana cards except for the first one, The Fool, which was renamed as the Joker. They also combined the Pages and the Knights (which we will discuss in further articles) and called them Jacks.

Tarot Suits

The Wands (Batons) are often associated with Astrology’s fire signs. They represent charismatic, courageous, energetic, and confidence in situations. But, the negative side of the Wands can show us dangerous, foolhardy, hot-headed, and overzealous circumstances. The Wands deal with our spiritual beings and our our self-concepts. If your reading includes a majority of Wands then you are dealing with the concepts of behaviors. The Wands represents thoughts and ideas, but not actions. They are the first stages of development.

The Swords are often associated with the Astrology element of air, and the Swords usually represent action, change, and even conflict. The positive side of the Swords deal with the analytical, the equitable and the well informed. But, when the swords are reversed, they can show us cold, dogmatic, and thoughtless conditions. Of all the suits, this one is probably the most powerful and the most dangerous. They represent mental consciousness including thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs.

The Cups compares to the Astrology element of water. They look at emotions and relationships. Where the Swords represent the mind, the Cups represents the heart. The positive side of the Cups include mercy, aesthetics, telepathy, and gentleness. But, when reversed they can show us lazy, emotional, sullen, and sulky attitudes. They can be linked to creativity, fantasy, romanticism, and imagination. If you find yourself reading a spread that is predominately Cups, then the client is dealing with emotional issues like love, romance, or family.

The Coins (Disks or Pentacles) are associated with the astrological element of Earth, and they cover the material aspects of life including money, work, business, property, and other material processes. Upright (positive) Pentacles can represent resources, capability, orderly, and hard working circumstances. But, on the negative side, they can show us bull-headed, ordinary, obsessive, and compulsive problems. They deal with the physical world and often show us what we make of our surroundings. Pentacles can also be associated with one’s ego, self-esteem, and self-image. When reading a spread that is mostly Pentacles, the client is dealing with material concerns, financial matters, and even career.

This is just a quick overview of the Tarot, and this author does plan to write many more articles in the future explaining the meaning of the cards and different spreads. Once you get comfortable with your cards, it’s likely they will amaze you. As I’ve said many times, my prayers are my way of talking to God, but my Tarot is my way of listening.


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