Although tarot decks have become a popular means
of divination, beginners and experienced readers still have many questions
about the Tarot. We hope the following FAQ will give you some insight.
1. What is Tarot?
2. What does the name Tarot
3. Where does Tarot
4. Where can
I get a Tarot Deck?
5. How many Tarot decks are there?
6. How do the various
Tarot decks differ?
How do I choose my Tarot deck?
8. Does a Tarot deck has
to be given to me before I can work with it?
9. What books should
I read to get started?
What do the cards mean?
What about the switch of the 8th and 11th card?
12. How do I care for my deck?
13. Does Tarot predict the
are the ethics of card readers?
15. What do reversed cards mean?
16. Can I use Tarot
cards for meditation?
17. Do Tarot computer programs
Can I trust the psychic 900 phone lines?
19. Why do some
people claim the Tarot is evil?
20. Are the Death and Devil
the Tarot part of witchcraft?
1. What is Tarot?
Tarot is a set of 78 cards, divided in two sets: the major arcana and the
minor arcana. The major arcana contains 22 cards and primarily depicts major
archetypes like death, temperance and the fool. The minor arcana is based
on the traditional playing card deck of 52 cards. In it are the four suits;
pentacles (or disks), cups (equal to hearts), swords (spades) and wands.
Each suit has ten numbered cards, ace to ten, plus the four court cards.
These are page, knight, king and queen. Some but not all tarot decks have
picture images on each of the numbered cards.
2. What does the name
Originally the tarot cards, originating
in Italy, were called Trionfi, and later on Tarocchi. In the 16th century
the French shortened the name to Tarot. The name Tarot does not seem to
have any meaning, although some people have tried to find one.
3. Where does Tarot come from?
The very first cards we know of date from the late Middle Ages and appeared
in Italy. They first developed into a set of cards depicting virtues, like
Strength and Temperance. They then developed into more elaborate sets of
different number of cards and different order of the cards. They were primarily
used by the aristocracy as the method of production for cards at that time
was not exactly cheap. When the Tarot entered France it took the shape of
a uniform deck, that is, it had 78 cards and the order of the cards in the
major arcana remained the same. Today we are still using the same order.
Some people have claimed that the Tarot cards came from exotic origins like
ancient Egypt, but there is absolutely no proof for this, and it is highly
4. Where can I get a Tarot
Well, you have come to the right place! Our
Illuminated Tarot is a colorful version of the well-known Rider-Waite deck,
the most widley used deck today. There are many decks available, they can
be found in new-age shops, bookstores and the internet. If you are looking
for a meditation deck, you could have a look at our major arcana decks.
5. How many Tarot decks
In recent times, since the "Tarot
Renaissance" which started in the 1960's, there are always a couple
of hundred available on the market worldwide. How many has there ever been?
Well Guido Gillabel, a avid Tarot collector has over a thousand Tarot decks
in his Tarot museum, Tarot Haven.
6. How do the
various Tarot decks differ?
Tarot is an excellent
medium for artists. Over the centuries and especially in the last fifty
years, many artists have given their own unique view to the cards. Although
many artists follow the traditional images and order, some of them have
given their tarot deck a unique representation of their own ideas. The Thoth
Tarot, created by the famous magician Aleister Crowley, is a good example
of this. Traditional decks are the Wirth Tarot and the Rider-Waite. The
Wirth Tarot is a typical old deck in which the minor arcana numbered cards
do not have picture-images. The Rider-Waite, created in 1909, gave all the
suit cards an image, which makes it even more suitable for card readings.
Modern decks however, more often than not, do not have images in the suit
cards. If you really want to browse the decks, Tarot Passages gives an extensive
review of many, many decks.
7. How do I choose my
After you have looked up different decks,
choose the one that really appeals to you. Do not let yourself be guided
to much by what other people say. Your feeling is more important than any
intellectual reasoning. We all have different tastes. I work with the Thoth
Tarot deck, not because it has been created by the famous and controversial
magician Aleister Crowley, but because I very, very much like artistic rendering
and colorful composition of the cards. But I have also other decks I like
because of their esoteric symbolism.
8. Does a Tarot deck
has to be given to me before I can work with it?
No, that is a myth that unfortunately is still around.
9. What books
should I read to get started?
I only read one or
two books about Tarot. There is not much known about the history of the
Tarot, and it is impossible to memorize the meaning of the 78 cards, nor
is that even advisable. Every author gives his/her own meaning to the cards,
and this can differ widely. The decks usually come with their own booklet,
and it is good to read those, so you have an idea of what that deck is about.
Then we come to the next question:
10. What do the cards mean?
The Tarot cards are archetypes, that is they represent a psychological quality
that we all share. They are, in a certain sense, a spiritual heritage of
mankind. The archetypes always remain the same, but how they manifest and
form depends on your culture, your environment, and even of your own psychological
make-up. Take the Death card, for example. Death is an archetype we all
share. It is a key ingredient of life. But death means has a different meaning
to spiritual Indian yogi than to a Western materialist. For some people
death is transformation to a higher state of being, while for others it
is the unwanted extinction of life.
So, the cards may have an underlying,
symbolic meaning, but you have to learn how to allow yourself to discover
what they mean for you. At the same time, a card can bring up slightly different
interpretations in different readings. A reading is a highly personalized
representation of a certain situation for a certain person at a certain
time. Intuition and inspiration will give you the appropriate explanation
for the cards at that time, for that person in those circumstances.
11. What about the switch
of the 8th and 11th card?
In the old decks the 8th card
is Justice and the 11th card is Strength. In many modern decks the order
is reversed in which the 8th card is Strength and the 11th card is Justice.
This has confused a lot of people. What order is the right order?
Waite and Smith, both members of the Golden Dawn, created their deck, they
decided the switch the old order of 8-Justice and 11 Strength based on a
'secret' esoteric document (The Cipher Manuscript) that stated that these
cards needed an alteration, that is, that the Eighth Trump should be assigned
to Libra (the Scales); therefore, it was imperative to assign Justice (who
holds the scales) to the number eight. (the Cipher Manuscript was later
found to be a fake). As their deck became popular (the Rider-Waite Tarot
Deck, originally published in 1910 by Arthur Edward Waite), it served as
a basis for many other tarot artists to create their decks, adopting the
mistake Waite and Smith made.
12. How do I care for my
Doing psychic readings is working with energy.
There is your energy, the energy of the person(s) you do the readings for,
and the energy of the archetypes in the cards. After a while your deck will
acquire its own unique energy. To keep this energy uncontaminated, I would
advise that you do not let your deck be handled by other people, but store
it in its own pouch or wooden box.
13. Does Tarot predict
The future is not written in stone. Certain
things will likely happen because their energies are running in a particular
direction. But as human beings we have free will and can change those energies
in one way or another, in small ways or in big ways. There are also unforeseen
things that can interfere. Therefore what we call the future is what most
likely will happen given the present set of circumstances, but we need to
keep in mind that anything can change this view of the future.
card are in the first place a means of revealing patterns of energy in the
past or the present. It allows us to clarify situations. We all all the
answers within us, but not always conscious. Tarot cards, like any other
means of divination, can be used to tap into the unconscious, where all
the answers lie, and bring it out into the conscious. Then you can make
decisions on your own what to do next. Yes, you can look into the possible
future with the Tarot cards, but remember it is up to us to decide what
to do or not to do. Predicting doomsday has nothing to do with divination,
but with an unethical card reader. Actually there is a rule for tarot readers,
the 4 D's. Never predict death, disease, disaster, or divorce. If somebody
asks you to predict it, don't do it!
14. What are the
ethics of card readers?
As a card reader you have
a responsibility! Not only moral, but also spiritual. You will reap what
you sow. A card reader is there to help somebody to become a better person,
to help understand him/herself and to guide him/her on his/her own path.
predicting death is totally irresponsible. When you see a divorce coming,
you do not have to mention this, it might make things worse. It is better
to give the couple a better understanding in their problems and challenges.
Remember that fear itself can contribute to something happening, and think
about what you say in regards to the fear it could induce. Help people to
see and understand their choices, and to make better ones. Do not make any
decisions for anyone else, by doing so you take on karma that you do not
need or even want. You can give advice, but remember if it is unwanted and
unasked it is not right to give it. Always remember to inform people that
there is NO guarantee on any prediction, and that they make their own choices.
People will sometimes ask about health issues, do not play doctor, and never
make a judgment or diagnosis about it. Look to the emotional patterns, and
how the person can improve their situation by changing them. Do not indulge
in power games, for example when somebody wants to influence somebody else,
like a lost lover. Respect at all times the free will of every human, and
keep yourself centered in love and light. Remember that we are all divine
in essence. Do not judge, seek understanding.
15. What do reversed cards
Some people do not use reversed cards, others
cannot do without it. It is totally up to you. It is best to give your own
interpretation to a reversed card, as everyone has his own interpretation
of it. Let you feeling or intuition play. You may want to wait until you
are more familiar with the cards before you introduce reversed meanings.
16. Can I use
Tarot cards for meditation?
Yes, especially the 22
cards of the major arcana are excellent for meditation purposes. It is best
to use one card at a time. A poster size card works best and at the same
time decorates your space; check out our tarot posters page!
17. Do Tarot computer
They do work, but as with an person-to-person
reading, you need to tune into the reading by taking the program seriously,
your intentions count. Formulate your question in detail and hit the button
when it feels right. You have to understand that our mind is all-powerful
and all-encompassing. Although we are not aware of it in our everyday consciousness,
the mind is linked to everything around us, and that includes computers
and their programs. A Tarot computer program is based on a random number
selecting sub program. Our mind is able to interact with the program in
an incredible fast and accurate way.
Although most Tarot computer programs
come with a fixed interpretation of each card, it is up to you to make of
add your own interpretation. A person-to-person reading is much more in
18. Can I
trust the psychic 900 phone lines?
You have to be
very careful here. That business started out with many good readers, but
was messed up by bad business practices. There always can be a good person
at the other end of the line, but you have to have enough sense about it
yourself to tell if it is worthwhile or not. And if you get a bad company
you might end up having to pay way too much. Re-read the section here on
ethical practices, and compare them to what the line is advertising. Psychics
who emphasize predictions are not what you really want, what you are looking
for is a person who can give good guidance.
do some people claim the Tarot is evil?
people still carry the inheritance of the Catholic Church from the past
centuries. The Catholic Church used to condemn anything, esoteric or not,
that was not in line with their beliefs. It has to do with intolerance and
power. There are still plenty of people out there like this. The Catholic
Church used the call the Tarot the Devil's Picture Book in order to scare
people away from it. Of course, the Tarot has nothing to do with the Devil.
The Tarot is one of many enlightening tools in which many people have expressed
their own, often very different beliefs.
20. Are the Death
and Devil cards bad?
Of course not. People who claim
this are caught up in their fears and do not understand what these archetypes
are about. The Death card is about transformation, about letting the old
go and going through a rebirth. The Devil stems from the Catholic Church's
view on everything they wanted to ban. Many Tarot artists have renamed the
card or have given different explanations to it, like illusion, sexual repression,
or materialistic tendencies. Spreading fear does not belong in card readings.
Shy away from any readers who do so.
21. Is the Tarot part
Not necessarily, although many modern
witches, pagans, or wicca people have and use a Tarot deck. Tarot decks
were often and are still used by gypsies who helped in keeping the tradition
of card reading alive.
Copyright © 2002 Dirk Gillabel. All rights reserved.