How do Tarot cards actually work?

Some useful information about the history of Tarot cards along with some guidance

Tarot cards have been around for centuries and the first known deck was created between 1430 and 1450 in Milan, Ferrara and Bologna in northern Italy . The English and French word Tarot derives from the Italian tarocchi, which has no known origin or etymology but other theories suggest that it comes from the Kabalistic 'torah', relating to sacred texts of Jewish religion.

The Tarot itself was originally called carte da trionfi, triumph cards, and the additional cards known simply as trionfi, which became "trumps" in English. The first literary evidence of the existence of carte da trionfi is a written statement in the court records in Ferrara, in 1442. However, certain cards; Death, the Devil, and the Tower in particular; were considered offensive by the more conservative Nobles.

These images caused religious leaders to attempt to ban the Trumps. The rebirth of the Tarot, and its beginnings a means of divination, are attributed to Antoine Court de Gébelin in 1781. He believed it was Egyptian in origin, and that it contained mystical knowledge that had been purposefully encoded in the symbolism of the Trumps. Specifically, he theorized that the cards were the key to lost Egyptian magical wisdom written by Thoth, the Egyptian God of inspired written knowledge. The Trumps themselves began to noticeably evolve from this point forward. Changes were thought to have been introduced by the different secret societies who produced the decks.

Today Tarot is widely acceptable and reflects many different trends, designs, religions, cultures and philosophies. They have become extremely popular and are considered a valuable tool to those who have a fascination with the occult. Because there is now such a huge diversity in styles readings have become more personal as so many different types of art work and design mirror the identity of those who work with them, allowing the client to feel at ease, but how do the cards actually work? Many people that use them wonder but tend not to question them as they tend to trust the cards with their own intuition instead.

First of all respect is one of the key words that must be acknowledged when dealing with Tarot cards, you should always treat them as you would a friend. Tarot cards have been described as sacred tools and many psychics will either keep their cards in a safe box or wrapped in a coloured silk that has personal meaning to them. If you do not respect your cards or believe in your cards in the right way then it is unlikely that they will not work how you wish them to. Like with anything, in order for something to function at its best you must first of all have faith, otherwise it is unlikely that you will receive a clear and accurate reading.

However, beginners of Tarot may well assume that the cards have a hidden, magical power attached to them that predicts the future. But actually Tarot cards are merely a tool that help us to connect with spirit and our higher selves which then enables us to predict the future. It may seem ludicrous to think that a packet of cards can help us see into other peoples’ lives and circumstances but most of the time it is the energy of spirit and the higher self that guides the individual who is doing the reading. There are many ways in which we can read Tarot cards. One is that they are used for meditative purposes and the other is an interpretation of what each card means and represents to the person in question. For example, many readers don’t actually read the cards when they give readings, but instead use the images on the cards as a visualisation technique which then allows them access into the person who is enquiring about their future.

There isn’t actually a right or wrong way to read the cards, and most will go by first appearances or what jumps out at them. You can start learning how to read the cards by focussing on the image of each card and working out what it means to you personally as everyone has their own interpretation and system that they choose to work with. There are so many different types of cards available and like with any form of art the pack that begs your attention (the one you feel most drawn to) should be the one that you work with. Most Tarot card decks hold 78 cards with 22 major arcana and 56 minor arcana.

The major arcana is the heart of the Tarot and is symbolic of our hopes, fears, dreams, emotions and aspirations. Whereas the minor acrana is split into suits which in most cases will be pentacles (money), swords (thoughts), cups (emotions) and wands (actions) these cards helps to extend the reading. Different packs of cards have different types of meanings and not all of them have the same suits dependant on the pack purchased. The most well known packs are The Rider and Waite, the Mythic Deck and the Sharman Caselli deck, other types of cards include “Psycards” which are images of life cycles or “angel cards” which connect with the spirit realm.

Although cards reveal the direction that your life is taking, it doesn’t necessarily predict that you have to go that way, which is why a psychic is then able to give further guidance if requested. The psychic will also pick up feelings of the person in question and may even be able to give the names of loved ones or describe personal objects that surround the seeker. Some psychics read cards that are turned upside down in a reading (often having the reverse affect of the original meaning) whereas other psychics prefer to read all cards upright.

Different types of spreads:

There are many different types of spreads that can help you to gain answers to very specific questions. For example an in depth reading would be a 21 card spread over a period of three months which includes, past, present and future. Many readers make up their own spreads but some of the more classic spreads would be spreads such as “The Celtic Cross”.

If you wanted to try this spread out yourself you could find a peaceful environment and then gather ten cards, spreading them out in a cross on a piece of cloth on a table with some grounding crystals. Ask a question in your mind and then draw your ten cards.

The first two cards are called “the crossing cards” these will speak about the problem you have asked about. The first card will be the signification and the second card will be the crossing card which will give you a deeper explanation.

The third card which sits directly above the crossing cards is called “the Crowning card”. So this will describe the atmosphere of the situation and is a huge clue as to what is going on exactly in the situation.

The forth card is about “Unseen Obstacles” things that are blocking you in the situation. This could be anything from an interference from a friend or a lack of finances. It depends entirely on the question you are asking.

The fifth card speaks about “Past Influences”, so this is what is in your past and describes both the inner and outer situation that is now passing.

The sixth card is what is coming in, so “Forthcoming Influences” – what you can expect to happen next.

The seventh card is “Where one finds themselves” This again, relates to the future and what position you can expect to find yourself in soon.

The eighth card is called “The Views of Others” – look carefully at this card as it can illustrate how other people see your circumstances.

The ninth card will always talk about your “Hopes and Fears” – so it will express what it is you hope to achieve from the situation or what it is you are fearing about the situation.

The tenth card, finally, will speak about the final outcome of your situation and is the most important card in the spread.

It is important to note however that sometimes reading for yourself can become something of a confusion – this is because we tend to attach our hopes onto the cards rather than a reality that is logical. It is always good to practice readings on yourself so that you can become more professional but it also helps to seek readings from others so that you can gain an overall sense of clarity.

Happy readings!



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