Introduction to Tarot Cards: Breaking Down the Meaning of Each Symbol
As the thirst for all things mystical, spiritual, occult and witchy expands into the mainstream, tarot cards are experiencing a huge, almost cultish following. Tarot cards are a form of divination, which literally means working with the divine, or your higher self, which is the ultimate purpose of tarot cards, just like yoga. We’ve broken down everything you need to know about them, from types of decks to what each card represents.
How did tarot card readings start?
The tarot is in essence a soul map, a deep psychological guide to self-empowerment as imaged through 78 symbolic cards.
Tarot card readings have long surpassed the chintzy, neon “Fortune Teller” sign store front stereotype, which gives tarot a bad name and should be avoided. Scholarly research indicates that the cards originated in Italy in the 1500s where they were used as a game, called Tarocchi, by the very wealthy. They weren’t interpreted for spiritual divination until the 18th century. There are tarot schools where you can study and huge communities with thousands of Tarosophists who meet online and at conventions around the world.
How do tarot cards work?
The process is known as synchronicity, a term coined by psychologist Carl Jung to describe the temporally coincident occurrence of events. In synchronicity, there is no distinction between inner and outer. The choice of a card is exactly what your higher self already knows. This is what tarot occultists call the conversation with your higher self. The cards always work. It’s not magic—tarot cards are a sacred mirror.
Types of decks
There are now thousands of types of tarot decks to choose from, Hello Kitty to zombies. A traditional deck has 22 Major Arcana (or trumps) which are the archetypal images. There are 56 Minor Arcana cards, sixteen Court or Personality cards; the Kings, Queens, Princes and Pages, just like modern playing cards. There are four elements or suits: Fire, Earth, Air and Water, with 10 cards in each. There are no inherently negative cards.
There are many ways of working with the deck. You should choose your own deck by being drawn to it intuitively. There are layers upon layers of systems to learn, including Kabbalah, the tree of life, colour scales, Hebrew letters, numerology, pathways, symbolism, alchemy, astrology, mythology and learning to meditate with each card directly. The more layers you learn the deeper your knowledge and insight into the cards.
Should you read for yourself?
You need to work with the cards to become familiar with them but none of us can be totally objective as we all have blind spots. Consult with an experienced professional who can be trusted. Modern serious authentic and ethical tarot readers are not “fortune tellers” or mind readers. Real tarot readings become a therapeutic process for gaining valuable insights. A good tarot reading will affirm your own intuition and opens up more questions and options as part of a process, so be discerning when it comes to choosing a reader.
Browse the gallery below to learn what each tarot card means. To book a reading, visit TaraTarot.com.