I fell in love with the Tarot when I was about 13 years old. As far as I know, my family doesn’t have a history of card reading or divination, and I discovered the Tarot myself in a satisfyingly mystical New Age shop in Toronto. This was before Tarot was as popular or accessible as it is now, and before you could hop on the internet and choose from thousands of different decks. My first deck whispered at me from a dusty shelf overflowing with books, cards and mysterious objects and I didn’t resist the call. I still have that deck and I’ve been carrying it around with me ever since.
When I got my first deck, I didn’t really know what Tarot is, and what it can do. I was fascinated by the images on the cards, and I knew that they had so much to tell me, if I could learn their language and trust my intuition. I knew the cards would speak to me when I was ready to hear them and to join in the conversation.
Many years later, now as a professional Tarot reader, I know this to be true. Reading Tarot is a conversation. It is a good talk between the reader, the person being read for, the cards, and the collective source of wisdom and insight that we all share.
If you are willing to go in with an open mind, and a tender heart, the cards will show you as you really are, and give you perspective on your past, present and what is possible for you in the future. I don’t believe that the Tarot reveals some set-in-stone future, a future that we have no power to change or navigate. The cards are more powerful than that. They help you to understand who you are, what you desire, and how you can achieve that.
Sounds exciting, right?
On that note, let me introduce you to the Tarot.
There are 78 cards in a traditional Tarot deck. There are two main parts to the deck, the Major Arcana which means big secrets or mysteries, and the Minor Arcana, so smaller secrets or mysteries.
There are 22 Major Arcana cards, and they are numbered from zero to 21. The Major Arcana represent the archetypes, lessons, milestones, initiations, opportunities for growth and transformation that we encounter as we live our lives on earth in these ephemeral physical forms. They are the universal energies that are all around us to support us, inspire us, challenge us, break our hearts, and move us forward.
The first time you hold a Tarot deck in your hands you will recognize many of the figures that you see in the Majors. Familiar faces will greet you, gods and goddesses, angels and demons, parents and teachers, life and death and rebirth. Some cards will immediately resonate with you, some will repel you, and some you won’t know what to make of until you get to know them better.
Have you heard of the Fool’s Journey? The Major Arcana is often described in this way. The idea is that life is an epic journey, and we, all of us, start out as The Fool, the card that bears the number “zero”. Throughout our lives we dance through the Majors, we meet each of those 21 cards, we learn from them and grow and experience highs and lows, challenges and triumphs, as we move towards our own highest personal development.
In an ideal world, we would fly through this journey in a linear fashion, meeting and learning from each archetype one by one in order. In reality, life is rarely like that. We take two steps forward and three steps back, we need to repeat some of those steps until we fully understand the lesson, we may skip over some of the cards and return to them when we’re ready, but in our own good time we make it to the final card numbered 21, The World, and revel in who we have become and what we have achieved. And then, we level up, and start all over again.
Inspiring, right? You are the hero of your story, and you choose your path.
Let’s not forget about the Minors. The 56 Minor Arcana cards represent the experiences that fill our daily lives. To me, they are the steps between the monumental events of the Major Arcana. They are just as necessary as the big stuff, if not as flashy.
The Minors are divided into four suits, and each suit symbolizes a particular area of life. They are numbered from Ace to Ten, and they also include the Court Cards, which are traditionally called Page, Knight, Queen and King.
The Four Suits of the Minors are:
Wands – this is the realm of spirit, creativity, growth, ambition, and passion. Wands are connected with the element of fire, so they embody everything you would associate with that force of light, heat, purification and destruction. Wands are the spark of life, divine inspiration, they are flexible and volatile.
Cups – this is the realm of the heart, of love and relationships, and emotion. Cups are connected with the element of water. Water nourishes us, water can be a gentle rain or a wild river, happy tears or feelings that overwhelm us. Our happiness depends on whether our cup is full or empty or somewhere in between.
Swords – this is the realm of the mind, of thoughts, and words, and how we communicate with each other and perceive the world. Swords are connected with the element of air. Just like our thoughts, air pervades everything, and it can be a refreshing breeze or a tornado. And just like a sword, our thoughts can be useful tools, or they can cut us to the quick.
Pentacles – this is the realm of physical things like our body, money, home and job, things that support us and make us feel safe. Pentacles are connected with the element of earth. This is the firm ground beneath our feet, growth that is slow and natural like a plant grows, it can be fertile soil or being stuck in the mud, metaphorically speaking.
In a Tarot reading, the Major and Minor Arcana work together to show us the story of ourselves, the life changing events as well as the small things that make life worth living. The cards give us the information and perspective that we need to make decisions that support us in reaching our goals and dreams, they show us what we may not be able to see and inspire us with possibilities.
Over the next few weeks, in this blog, I am going to take you much deeper into the cards.
This is just a taste of Tarot to whet your appetite.
Are you ready to dive into the mystical world of the Fool? Are you ready to meet Kings and Queens, the Sun and the Moon, Death and the Lovers, to spin the Wheel of Fortune? Join me in the dance and let magic unfold!