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For hundreds of years, the Tarot has been a source of wonderment and fascination. A deck of 78 cards, each composed of intriguing imagery and symbolism, has helped countless people gain a deeper understanding of themselves, others and the world.

Much like astrology, palmistry and others, Tarot is a divination tool that is used to help one connect with their inner being or higher Self. It also helps connect with the collective consciousness. Tarot is a tool for awakening our hidden faculties for putting us in touch with our inner world. 

Tarot has been around for centuries. Even though the origin of the Tarot isn’t well documented or widely known, the cards are still in use centuries later. In the past years, the practice of Tarot has grown significantly in popularity.

What is the Tarot

The Tarot is a set of cards used as divination tools. The standard Tarot deck consists of 78 cards. These cards divide into two groups:

  • The Major Arcana: 22 cards each with individual characters or scenes (also known as Trump cards)
  • The Minor Arcana: A total of 56 cards divided into four different suites, each including Ace to ten (also known as Pip cards) and a royal set page, knight, queen and king (also known as Court cards)

The word arcana means secrets. In the context of the Tarot, the Major and Minor Arcana is roughly translated to greater or lesser secrets, respectively. 

The Major Arcana

The Major Arcana is comprised of 22 stand-alone cards. Each card centres around a theme, concept or lesson, personified by a person, figure or situation.

The cards of the Major Arcana represent life lessons, turning points and changes. They signal pivotal states of being or rites of passage that each of us has to go through at some point in life. They are sometimes called Trump cards. 

The cards of the Major Arcana take more importance in a spread than the Minor Arcana; however, the Lesser Secrets add richness and depth to a spread. 

There are 22 cards in the Major Arcana, beginning with the first card, The Magician, and ending with card number 22, The World. The Fool is the wildcard of the deck. In some depictions, the card is numbered ‘0’. Other times, it is unnumbered. The Fool card can sit either at the beginning or end of the sequence of the Major Arcana. 

  • 0 The Fool. 
  • 1 The Magician. 
  • 2 The High Priestess. 
  • 3 The Empress
  • 4 The Emperor. 
  • 5 The Hierophant. 
  • 6 The Lovers. 
  • 7 The Chariot. 
  • 8 Strength. 
  • 9 The Hermit.
  • 10 The Wheel of Fortune. 
  • 11 Justice. 
  • 12 The Hanged Man. 
  • 13 Death. 
  • 14 Temperance. 
  • 15 The Devil. 
  • 16 The Tower. 
  • 17 The Star. 
  • 18 The Moon. 
  • 19 The Sun. 
  • 20 Judgement. 
  • 21 The World. 
Rider Waite Tarot The Fool
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The Fool card from The Rider-Waite deck

The Minor Arcana

The Minor Arcana comprises of 56 cards, divided further into four suites:

  • Pentacles (sometimes referred to as Discs)
  • Cups
  • Wands
  • Swords

Each suit of the Minor Arcana includes 14 cards in total. Ten standard cards run from Ace to ten (often called the ‘pip’ cards), as well as four Court cards that signal royal figures (Page, Knight, Queen and King). In some decks, the Princess and Prince are in place of the Page and Knight.

Each suite of the Minor Arcana deals with a particular aspect of life. 

  • Pentacles – the material. The suit of pentacles (sometimes referred to as discs) represents the external reality or material world, as well as our ability to manifest our desires. Pentacles relate to aspects of security, and assets in the material world such as finances, career, creativity, home and family. 
  • Cups – emotions. The suit of cups represent emotions, including our feelings, responses and reactions. Cups reflect matters of love and relationships, indicating different emotional states that range from happiness to anger, fear, disappointment, and so on. 
  • Wands – vision. The suit of wands is linked to perception, insight and ways of seeing. The suite also relates to energy, vitality, ambition, as well as physical actions and activities.
  • Swords – thought. The suit of swords relates to mental states, thought processes, moral issues and conflicts that can arise. The suit of swords hints at aspects of our mental beliefs, ideas and our quality of thinking.  

The cards of the Minor Arcana mirrors a standard deck of playing cards. Regular playing cards are divided into the four suits of hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades. While standard playing cards only have 52 cards, the Minor Arcana includes a fourth court figure (Page, Knight, Queen and King, totalling 56).

Where the Major Arcana cards mark significant, transformative live events and situations, the cards of the Minor Arcana are symbolic of smaller, everyday occurrences and day-to-day challenges.

Even though the Major Arcana cards have more weight in a reading, the Minor Arcana cards still carry significance and add finer details to the story unfolding in the reading. 

Tarot as a divination tool

Tarot is a tool for divination. Like scrying, runes, i-ching and more, divination tools can help one:

  • connect with an inner guidance system, 
  • develop abilities, and, 
  • navigate the course of life. 

The word ‘divination’ comes from the Latin ‘divinare’ which means “predict, foresee or foretell”. While Tarot isn’t going to help you predict the exact future, it is a system that’ll help you connect with your intuition and develop your psychic abilities. 

While there are plenty of other divination tools, Tarot is particularly interesting as it is a pictorial system. The Tarot uses a series of graphics and visuals that can be interpreted by anyone. One doesn’t need to have any previous experience with the Tarot to read the cards. They need to observe the images and convey a response based on their initial interpretations. 

The images of the Tarot can cause triggers in our minds and intuition. The more frequently we work with the cards, the more our intuition and psychic abilities will develop.

“It is a metaphysical system that leads us on the path of the mythical hero, a path of adventure and self-discovery.

Anthony Lewis, Tarot Plain and Simple
Rider Waite Tarot The Magician
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The Magician card from The Rider-Waite deck

Can Tarot tell the future?

Some people may believe that the cards can be used to predict the future, but in fact, that’s not really the case. The cards have a deeper meaning. 

Tarot is not about fortune-telling or predicting the future. The cards point to possibilities, rather than probability. 

Most commonly, the cards and their depictions indicate choices and can suggest courses of action – all of which are in the hands of the reader. The cards can inform someone of the forces that may be shaping their path. 

By guiding the reader with archetypes, symbolism, graphics and more, the cards come together to help connect with your innate wisdom. They can be used to gain insight into specific situations and aid in decision making. One of the best things about the Tarot is the often dreamy or surrealist aesthetic to the cards. This dream-like quality can help its readers break free from the rigid, logical and rational patterns of habitual thinking. 

Using the Tarot as a guide, you’ll be able to tap into your intuition and the knowledge of the cosmos to set systems in motion to manifest your dreams. Armed with this wisdom, you’ll be able to navigate various changes and challenges in life; from love and romance to health and wellness, career and finance, and more.

A deep sense of intuition and self-awareness is fundamental for reading the Tarot, both for yourself or another.

We hope that you’ve enjoyed reading this introduction to Tarot! Where are you in your Tarot journey? Are you a professional reader, do you pull cards for fun, or are you Tarot-curious and thinking of buying your first deck? 

Let us know where you’re at in your Tarot journey in the comments section! 

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