Tarot is traditionally a method of divination,
known as cartomancy - predicting the future and revealing the past and
present, by interpreting the pictures and symbolism on a series of cards.
Very little is known about the history of Tarot. The earliest known
deck is Italian from 15th century. There are hundreds of different designs
of Tarot cards, many of them in keeping with the traditional symbolism
but some new decks have their own specialist themes, symbolism and interpretation.
Everything on a Tarot card has a meaning - the colours, the number,
the picture and the symbols. Traditionally, Tarot cards should be kept
wrapped in silk, to absorb any negative energy, and stored in a wooden
Most Tarot decks consist of 78 cards - 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor
Arcana cards. Arcana means 'mystery','hidden' or 'secret'. The cards
are numbered from 0 to 78. The first card, The Fool, is numbered 0 and
22, as life goes in cycles, so when you end the Major Arcana journey
through life with The World, card number 21, you begin again with The
Fool. The Major Arcana are like the Trump cards. Each one represents
a person or experience we will encounter in life, the physical and spiritual
forces that affect us, lessons to be learned in life.
The Minor Arcana cards are split into four suits, from Ace to King like
playing cards but with an extra court card, the Page before the Jack
or Knight . The suits correspond to hearts, clubs, spades and diamonds
of ordinary playing cards. Cups relate to emotions, Rods or Wands to
creativity, Swords relate to the mental realm and health matters, and
Pentacles to the material world. The Minor Arcana fill in the details,
experiences and people we meet along the way in our journey through
There are many hidden meanings in Tarot which are only taught by word
of mouth to students of the Tarot. To this day, we cannot find some
of the hidden meanings in any book or even on the internet! Most people
know that there is a wish card, in actual fact there are three. Most
people think that the "Death" card in the Major Arcana means death,
in fact it doesn't - however there is a hidden card which can mean hearing
of a death. Other hidden cards include: redundancy, travel cards, apprentice,
divorce, bad luck, jealousy / envy, money giver card and many more.
There are key cards for moving house, emigration, love, marriage, pregnancy
and birth, health, operations, religion, parties. In fact the Tarot
covers all aspects of life within its rich symbolism and layers of meaning.Some
readers use the cards as a tool to aid their intuition and to open up
their psychic ability.
If a card comes upside down in a spread, this changes the meaning. We
don't concentrate too much on the reverse meanings because every card
has its positive or negative interpretation anyway, and this can be
influenced by the cards around it. Basically the reverse meaning is
the opposite of the upright meaning.
There are many different Tarot spreads - ways of laying out the cards
to do a reading, for example the Celtic Cross. Each position in a spread
gives a different significance to a card e.g. the past, hopes and fears,
the final outcome etc. The Californian Sun Dial spread is like a 12
month horoscope. Tarot is best used for guidance. We don't believe in
telling people what to do or what not to do, neither do we believe that
the future is set in stone - the most important thing is free will.
Many thanks to Kiera who contributed this introduction to Tarot