The Origin of Tarot
There are many legends surrounding Tarot, some say the tarot is actually a "book of occult wisdom" that came from ancient Egypt. However it is widely accepted that the first cards were created in 1440 after the Duke of Milan requested in a letter, for several decks of "triumph" cards to be used at a special event. So it appears that the first Tarot decks were created as a game.
One of the earliest and most complete known decks was the "Visconti-Sforza Deck", created in 1450 or shortly thereafter. It contained four suits with cards numbered one through 10 and also court cards that included a queen, king, knight and page. The deck also included 22 symbolic picture cards that did not belong to any suit. The decks were used to play a game called triumph that was similar to the game of bridge widely played today.
Tarot for Divination
It wasn't until around 1781 that Occultists noticed the rich symbology in the pictures and so started using Tarot decks in their magical practices often for divination (the practice of seeking knowledge of the future or the unknown by supernatural means).
How many Tarot Decks!!!
There are literally thousands of Tarot decks in the world today. Many decks are specifically designed for divination purposes, with imagery based on specific magical traditions and working practices however there are a number of decks created by artists for no other reason than to look nice.
The most popular or widely used Tarot deck is the Rider-Waite deck published in 1909 by William Rider & Son of London. This deck was designed by Famous occultist Arthur Edward Waite who was a member of the Victorian secret magical society known as "The Hermetic Order of The Golden Dawn" but was draw by Artist Pamela Colman Smith (Also a member of The Hermetic Order of The Golden Dawn).
What Cards Are In A Tarot Deck?
Most Tarot decks such as the Rider-Waite contain 78 cards and are split into two sections, The Major Arcana and The Minor Arcana however there are many variations among different decks.
Rider-Waite Major Arcana
- The Fool - 0
- The Magician - I
- The High Priestess - II
- The Empress - III
- The Emperor - IV
- The Hierophant - V
- The Lovers - VI
- The Chariot - VII
- Strength - VIII
- The Hermit - IX
- Wheel of Fortune - X
- Justice - XI
- The Hanged Man - XII
- Death - XIII
- Temperance - XIV
- The Devil - XV
- The Tower - XVI
- The Star - XVII
- The Moon - XVIII
- The Sun - XIX
- Judgement - XX
- The World - XXI
Rider-Waite Minor Arcana
Wands (AKA Sticks) Suite
- Ace of Wands
- Two of Wands
- Three of Wands
- Four of Wands
- Five of Wands
- Six of Wands
- Seven of Wands
- Eight of Wands
- Nine of Wands
- Ten of Wands
- Page of Wands
- Knight of Wands
- Queen of Wands
- King of Wands
Pentacles (AKA Coins) Suite
- Ace of Pentacles
- Two of Pentacles
- Three of Pentacles
- Four of Pentacles
- Five of Pentacles
- Six of Pentacles
- Seven of Pentacles
- Eight of Pentacles
- Nine of Pentacles
- Ten of Pentacles
- Page of Pentacles
- Knight of Pentacles
- Queen of Pentacles
- Kind of Pentacles
- Ace of Cups
- Two of Cups
- Three of Cups
- Four of Cups
- Five of Cups
- Six of Cups
- Seven of Cups
- Eight of Cups
- Nine of Cups
- Ten of Cups
- Page of Cups
- Knight of Cups
- Queen of Cups
- Kind of Cups
- Ace of Swords
- Two of Swords
- Three of Swords
- Four of Swords
- Five of Swords
- Six of Swords
- Seven of Swords
- Eight of Swords
- Nine of Swords
- Ten of Swords
- Page of Swords
- Knight of Swords
- Queen of Swords
- Kind of Swords
What Are Tarot Decks Used For?
The most common uses of the Tarot are:
- Divination - Predicting the future
- Story Telling - Improvisational stories
- Games - Perhaps the oldest use of the Tarot is to add them to traditional playing cards decks.
- Meditation - Visualisation
- Spell Work - Casting spells
- Sigils - Some say each card is a doorway into another world!
Developing Psychic Ability With The Tarot
Psychic ability really works the complete opposite to how it's shown in the movies, where you have a character straining and trying to concentrate really hard on something and then they succeed.
The real secret is to just relax and let the images and symbols come to you. Tarot is great for this as learning it generally involves playing games (at least the way I like to learn).
After bonding with your tarot deck and completing the exercises at the bottom of this blog you should be on your way to developing stronger psychic ability.
Tarot can be a useful tool in helping develop psychic ability but it is exactly that a tool. Think of them as stabilizers when you first learn to ride a bike, at some point you need to cast off the stabilizers or they will hold you back from growing further.
It may surprise some clients of psychics to know that when a psychic gives a tarot reading they often don't give any consideration or even really bother to try to read the cards, instead they just receive psychic impressions which they relay to the client and just use the cards on the table to make the client more comfortable and give them something to focus on.
Buying Your First Deck
There is a strange superstition that states you shouldn't buy your first Tarot Deck yourself and that is should be a gift paid for by someone else. Quite where this superstition originated I don't know but I can tell you that it's absolute rubbish. Many of the worlds most popular and adept tarot readers and psychics have all spoken out about this and in fact buy their own cards (and it really doesn't seem to impact on their reading ability). I personally don't known of anyone who actually.
We also sale Tarot decks here in our online store.
If your wanting to understand Tarot history and other peoples interpretations of different decks and cards then there are many good books you can find on the subject. If on the other hand you are actually wanting to "learn the tarot" for divination purposes then yes there are book out there that can give you exercises to try and such but the most important think to do is to actually use and play with the cards.
Tarot book are a lot like those book which teach you "how to draw anything", they can instruct you on techniques but until you put pencil to paper then you wont really be proficient at it you'll just have lots of technical knowledge.
What Happens During A Tarot Reading?
The process of a tarot reading is really very simple:
- You pick from a selection or menu of services your Psychic, Witch, Etc is offering (Fees and approx times are often shown and given at this point).
- You ask a question to the reader.
- The reader will then shuffle or ask you to shuffle the cards.
- The reader will then take the cards and lay them into some kind of order (called a spread).
- The reader will then interpret the cards based on your question, which will give context to the symbolism shown in the cards.
- Sometimes other cards are pulled to add to the existing ones for clarification on certain points.
- The reader will often give a summary all that has been said.
- You pay for the reading
As a side note, It’s impossible for a psychic to give you a 100 percent perfect tarot reading because there are so many things that can skew the reading of the cards. Also sometimes psychic just fail to connect with the client especially "if the client is closing themself off". If this happens then it is standard practice to either re-shuffle the deck or refund the client.
Charging For Readings
Always charge for a reading, even if you don't want or need the money (you can always give the money to charity). There are two main reasons for this:
- It takes time and investment to learn to read tarot, so your talent should be appreciated and paid for (most Doctors Lawyers and Builders don't work for free).
- People tend to remember and take more notice of things they actually spend their hard earned cash on and you want your client to take note of what you say.
Reading For Yourself
There are many who say, "you can't and shouldn't read cards for yourself" and I'm sure there is some truth to the idea that, if you read for yourself, you might not be able to be objective in interpreting the cards. I however simply say Try it, If it works then do it.
A spread is basically just an organised way of placing the cards down on a table for reading. The number of cards you use in a spread, how they are laid out and what the positions mean are entirely up to you, however there are many what are called "traditional spreads", which are basically just popular spreads used by many readers and shown in many books.
Some Traditional Spreads
One Card Spread
You can't get any more simple than a one card spread but remember you still need to give great thought to your questions before you actually pull the card.
Two Card Spread
Two cards which are drawn together and combined to create a new meaning. I should note that both cards do not necessarily have equal value or contribute equally to the reading but it is entirely up to you as the reader.
Two card spreads are very quick and very useful and are sometimes used to give clarification on a certain point or position during another spread, for example if you don't known what a card in a certain position means then you might pull two cards to clarify it.
Three Card Spread (very popular)
Much like the two card spread, the three cards an be combined to give a meaning. Alternatively some people may pull three cards to represent "the past, present and future."
The three card spread is very flexible and can actually be used for a multitude of different questions.
Choice Spread (AKA This Or That)
Often called the "this or that" spread, this spread is designed to show consequences to actions and can be very useful in a reading considering most clients go to a psychic to learn the outcome of an event (for example "should I keep my current job").
This spread is basically just two two cards readings (each two cards reading representing a choice) followed by two three card readings that are intended to "open up" or give more information about the first two card readings.
Steps of a "This or That" spread:
- Look through the deck (face up) and select two cards which each represent the paths the client can take (these are called "significator cards"
- Ask a question while shuffling the cards
- Pull two cards from the top of the deck each one will represent an "answer" to the significator card and therefore each path the client can choose.
- Now choose three cards to open up each "answer" card (six in total). This would be a three card reading to give details on the outcome of each choice.
An Example of a "This or That" spread:
A client is considering giving up their career as a carpenter (making furniture) and instead accept a job offer, working in a shop.
- I have selected "The Eight of Pentacles" (coins) as a significator card to represent the current carpentry job as it shows someone making something and The Chariot" card to represent the new retail career as to me it looks like someone behind a till.
- I shuffle the cards and ask "what will happen if my client goes down either of these paths." I end up drawing "The Seven of Wands" and "The Emperor" from the deck and place these cards on top of each of the significator cards. The first card immediately makes me think of constant struggle and the second card (The Emperor) makes me think of someone comfortably sat down or even not having to exert to much effort.
- Instead of reshuffling the deck have just pulled six cards off the top of the deck, "The Four of Swords", "Temperance", "The Queen of Pentacles", "The Hanged Man", "The Three of Pentacles" and Finally "The Fool".
The three cards which fell under the carpenter career path / choice were:
- "The Four of Swords" shows me a picture of a man very tired who needs alot of rest.
- "Temperance" shows me a picture of someone working very hard constantly. Maybe even joggling water.
- "The Queen of Pentacles" shows a person sat down admiring something maybe even looking at something they have struggled to acquire.
The Cards which fell under the Retail path / career choice were:
- "The Hanged Man" which shows me stagnation or someone bound who cannot move, improve or change.
- "The Three of Pentacles" shows me one person messing around and two other people talking which to me overall shows an easy life.
- "The Fool" shows me a person walking away very happily with a small bag. This card makes me think of two things:
- The person may feel they have to leave this job to get any further in life.
- The person is very content but doesn't have much (material things).
After re-examining the cards as a whole for each path / choice, I have broken down below a summery of what I see in the cards:
- The person can choose to stay with the career they have and it will be a great struggle for them and will be very demanding on them physically, mentally and maybe even on their private / home life but they will if persistent after time get material rewards for their effort.
- The person can choose a career in retail which they will find very easy and relatively stress free but the will not progress well unless they eventually leave.
I would ask my client what exactly is it you want a lot of hard work for some gain in the distant future? or an easy life overall?
If the client wanted even more information you could simply open the cards up more by drawing further cards to expand of certain specifics of each path / choice.
I should note that before using this spread confidently to make future predictions it is a good idea to practice this spread with choices already made or to chow things which have already happened just so you get used to the basics of working with this specific spread. A good example might be to do a reading on the last political election to see which party or candidate would win. You already know who won but it might help you "see the cards" and their meanings in a context.
The Celtic Cross (Most Popular Spread)
The Celtic Cross is perhaps the most widely used and popular spread in the world possibly because it's used so much in movies.
This is a general spread to provide an overview of a situation or give answer to vague questions many clients like to ask of psychics, such as "Will I find Love?" but other cards can be pulled during the spread to provide more details (such as doing a mini three card reading to open up a card).
There are a number of variations to this spread but below is the basic structure of the average Celtic cross spread. Also unlike other spreads, every card position in this spread has a very specific meaning and that meaning should be taken into account when reading the cards in each position.
- The First card and position One represents "You" and the situation at hand.
- Position Two represents "What crosses you".
- Position Three represents "hidden or unseen forces" or why the client is asking the question.
- Position Four represents the "Past", usually the recent past.
- Position Five represents "what could be" highly dependant on the question asked but this generally shows what will happen if the course of action is not changed.
- Position Six represents "What comes next" or what will happen.
- Position Seven represents "fear" or what you are afraid of, basically the negative side of the question.
- Position Eight represents "what others think", this can be other people or someone else who has direct influence.
- Position Nine represents "hope and dreams" or the clients goals and aspirations.
- Position Ten and the final card show "the outcome" or end result.
The Roundabout or Twelve-Hour Spread
This spread is not so much designed to predict the future exactly but more designed to show you how to reach your goal.
This spread uses 12 main cards and sometimes one extra significator card which is used to represent the question. Each of the 12 cards can represent Hours, Months, or even Yearly segments. Therefore the 12 cards combined might show a timeline of:
- x12 One Hour segments = One Day
- x12 One Month Segments = One Year
- x12 Yearly Segments = Twelve Years
What Do The Cards Mean?
There are three widely accepted ways of deciphering what the cards mean:
- The traditional meanings - What all the little booklets say each card means.
- Personal meanings - What the cards always remind you of for example when I see the Rider-Waite "Wheel of Fortune" card it always reminds me of a Roulette wheel.
- Psychic impressions - Whilst looking at the cards you may get images in your mind and certain parts or symbols in the cards may represent meanings that kind of jump out at you even though you may never have ascribed these meanings to that particular card ever before.
A reversal is simply when a card is pulled and it is physically upside down. Many believe that when cards show up "reversed" then the meaning is reversed so if you pulled the fool card and you think it represents "the start of a journey" then reversed it might mean "the end of a journey".
Not everyone uses or takes into account reversals when doing a reading and it is entirely up to you but an interesting point made to be my a reader once was that when you use reversals you are creating more options your card can represent.
Where Should I Start?
The first thing you absolutely must do (after buying your first deck that is) is to bond with the deck. Don't just take the cards out once, have a look, then leave them on a shelf for months on end.
You need to look through them carefully, one by one, and think about what's going on in the card. Think what symbology is present in the card. What does it remind me of and all the things it could represent.
After you have established a bond with your cards it's time to start using them for divination. Learn the One and Two card spreads and start suing them for silly every day questions that don't really matter. You want to do this for silly things because you don't have to worry about the outcome. You can be relaxed and not get overly frustrated with trying to answer complex questions and worry about getting the wrong answers.
After you have had a bit of a mess around and are familiar with the deck and a few spreads maybe try a more difficult spread, such as the "roundabout" spread to predict what will happen throughout the day.
This could be done at the beginning of each day by simply drawing 12 cards and laying them out for interpretation.
Do The Exercises! - At the end of this blog do them, then do them again, then when you think you have cracked them and it's easy, do them a final time.
Only when you feel comfortable with the cards and have learnt and practised a few spreads can you start to do simple readings for friends and other people.
Reading For Friends And Family
Many psychics and tarot readers refuse to read for their close friends and family for four reasons:
- It is difficult to be objective when you known the person.
- A person you know might not think your actually reading the cards and instead are relying on information you already know about them.
- You don't want to be the bearer of bad news. Even if it is someone you are really close to when you give them information they don't like they can have a tendency to hold it against you, even if it's not your fault.
- Really personal information can show up in the cards and even if your close with someone then they still might not want to discuss certain things.
Shuffling the Cards
There are many way to shuffle any pack of cards but here are four popular ways you may want to consider using. It is all personal preference so I recommend you experiment and find what works best for you:
- Get the client to shuffle - The easiest way is to just get the client to do it but remember to get the client to think about the question they want to ask while they do this.
- Standard over hand shuffle - A standard shuffle many people use to shuffle playing cards.
- Casino style shuffle - The cards are split into two piles and riffled together at the corners.
- Mix on the table - Just throw the cards all over the table and mix them together (face down).
Just remember to always think of the question that's being asked while shuffling.
Keeping A Tarot Journal
A Tarot Journal or Tarot Diary is simply a notepad or notebook you use to record your spreads and tarot card interpretations in. Not everyone uses them but many beginners find them useful to record details they see in the cards so they can revise them later.
Exercises & Games To Help You Learn To Read The Cards
Word Association Game
Take the tarot deck either shuffled or unshuffled and one buy one go through each card and say aloud the first word that comes into your head. This should take no longer than five seconds on each card but if you really cant think of anything then skip to the next card.
This could be done with a friend also, whereby you alternate or take in turns to pick a card and say what the first work that springs to mind is after looking at it. Another fun thing you can do if you are playing this game with others is to all say your words at the same time (it's interesting to see how different they will be).
Taking each card at a time simply describe what the picture is of or when scene but do this aloud. For example "The Hermit" card in the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck to me is:
"a picture of an old man with a beard, dressed in a long hooded cloak. he has a long stick or staff in his left hand and is carrying an old lit lantern in his right hand. He appears to be stood on ground covered in snow."
The Never Ending Story
Another good game to play with friends is this game often called the never ending story.
Basically what you have to do is make a story using the image displayed on the card. If you are taking it in turns with a friend the first person will start the story with the first card then the next person will continue the story with the second card. Here is an example below:
- Person 1 draws "The Fool" card and says "once upon a time there was a little boy with his dog who decided to run away from home".
- Person 2 draws "The Magician" card and continues the story by saying something like "The boy and his dog bumped into a magician on the side of the road who was having a BBQ".
- Person 1 draws "The High Priestess" card and might say something like "The magician told the boy about a great priestess".
- Person 2 draws "The Empress" card and then carries on the story by saying something like "The priestess once used to be a great Empress but gave it all up to join the church.
The "This Card Represents" Exercise
All you have to do is look through the deck face up and pick a card to represent each of the following things (there is no right or wrong it's just a matter of opinion).
- A secret
- A Holiday
Cards in Common
Shuffle the deck and take two cards from the top laying them face up. Now see if you can find anything that both cards have in common. You can either write down the commonalities or say them aloud.
Here are a few examples of things I see in common between "The Ten of Wands and "The Seven of Swords" in the Rider-Waite deck:
- Both cards have a single person in.
- Both cards show a person carrying things.
- Both are Minor Arcana cards.
- Both cards have Roman numerals at the top.
- Both have some kind or buildings in the background.
- Both are taking place outside.
- Both characters are stood on yellowy or possibly sandy floors.
Once you fee comfortable doing this then you can try doing the same but with three cards, and asking yourself "is there anything that links these three cards together".
Our First Client Questions
Not a real client don't worry but were now going to start using the cards with a question in mind which, hopefully will give some context to the cards we pull from the deck.
Begin by picking one of the questions below and asking it to yourself while you shuffle the deck. Once the deck is shuffled then pick a card from the top and see what impression the card gives you.
Don't worry about the accuracy of what you are thinking just say the first things that come into your head. These questions have been designed to be vague just so your not put off by trying to answer specific questions.
Don't over think it just let your imagination flow.
- What will my Aunties, Friends, Neighbours, Daughters Wedding be like?
- Where in the world is this card showing (geographical location)?
- When will my Aunties, Friends, Neighbours, Son find love?
- How will my Aunties, Friends, Neighbours, other neighbour feel after tasting Sushi for the first time.
Ill give you an example of the first question.
I pulled the "Six of Pentacles" which makes me think, "it will be very expensive and that she wont be able to pay for it without the charity of others."
Opening Up The Cards
In this exercise we will be using two cards to open up another card. We will be doing this by taking a card getting a general impression of that card, then drawing two other cards in order to explain more detail.
Ill give an example
- I pulled "The Five of Cups" and I think this represents a sad man.
- I then shuffle the cards asking "why is the man sad"?
- I pull "The Six of Swords" and "The Six of Cups", which makes me think he has had to move away from his family.
How did I get to this?
Well "The Six of Swords" shows someone travelling but the card also feels kind of sad with all the swords and everything.
The "Six of Cups" shows an old lady and child both of which I imagine to be family. It also shows a house, therefore this card to me represents family.
Put the these cards together and to me they show a man upset at having to move away from his family.
Expanding Even More
We are going to keep the cards from the first example and pull one other card in order to find out why the man had to move away from his family.
I will do this by shuffling the deck whilst thinking to myself "why does this man have to move away from his family?"
I pull "The Eight of Pentacles" which shows tradesman or artist (possibly a carpenter) making pentacles. To me this card represents work.
So to sum up I see:
- Card 1 - Shows a sad man
- Card 2 - Shows having to move away
- Card 3 - Shows a family
- Card 4 - Shows Work
And putting it all together we have "A man who is sad because he has or had to move away from his family due to work."
The One Plus One Equals Eighty Five Exercise
At this point you may think my maths should be questioned but don't worry this exercise has nothing to do with mathematics.
All you have to do is:
- Pick a card from the deck and say what it represents.
- Then putting the first card to one side pick another card and say what that represents.
- Now take the first two cards and think of what they both represent together (this would be different to what they each represent on their own).
Here is an example:
- Card 1 - "The World" - Represents to me someone dancing as it shows a lady kind of dancing.
- Card 2 - "The Ten of Pentacles" - Represents Gossip as it shows two people chatting in the background.
- Both Cards together - Remind me of animals as both cards show animals.
Characters of The Day Exercise
This exercise should be completed at the end of the day. All you need to do is get a piece of paper and write down all the people you have seen or met earlier during the day.
After your have done that go through your Tarot deck looking at all the cards face up and pick a card to represent each person.
It's as simple as that!
Now you have completed the exercises you should feel a bit more confident at looking at and using your Tarot cards, so now I suggest trying to use some spreads.
Hidden Occult Symbology In The Cards
"Symbology is the language of the universe"
"If a picture is worth a thousand words then a symbol is worth a ten thousand pictures"
Secret and hidden symbology is so rich in the Tarot that countless books have been dedicated to the subject It's a subject so vast I can't even begin to tackle it in one blog post alone.
If you want to download and colour in you own Tarot cards then we have a pdf template below: