What is a Tarot?
The origins of the Tarot deck are shrouded in mystery. The time, place, and circumstances of its creation are largely a matter of speculation. Some people believe the deck dates back to Egyptian and Sumerian civilizations, where the ancients used it to symbolize the secret teachings of their mystery religions. The most popular belief is that Tarot cards were brought to Europe by fortune telling gypsies coming from either Egypt or India. In any case, the cards were wide spread in Italy, France and in Germany by the late 14th century.
The Tarot deck consists of 78 cards, including 56 Minor Arcana cards and 22 Major Arcana cards.
The Minor Arcana is very much like an ordinary deck of playing cards. There are four suits, each numbered from Ace to King. The Jack in traditional playing cards is called the Page in the Tarot deck. In addition, the Tarot deck includes four Knights which were dropped from the present day deck of playing cards.
The four suits in the Tarot deck are Swords, Cups, Rods and Pentacles. In a deck of playing cards, Swords correspond to Spades, Cups to Hearts, Rods to Clubs and Pentacles to Diamonds. Swords involve intellectual matters and discord, struggle, and strife. Cups deal with emotions and affairs of the heart. Rods (also called Wands) relate to enterprise, creativity, and energy. Pentacles sometimes referred to as Discs) relate to money and business affairs.
The Major Arcana begins with the Fool and ends with the World. Of the 22 Major Arcana cards, only the Fool in the form of the Joker has survived in the present-day playing cards. These cards symbolize the growth and evolution of consciousness and spiritual awareness. Their meanings are deep and refer more to psychological and spiritual levels than to everyday events of life.
When reading Tarot cards, the meanings of upright cards right side up) and reversed cards upside down) are different.
The reversed meaning is not always the opposite of the upright meaning. Sometimes the reversed meaning is ?too much of a good thing.? For example, the Empress means abundance when it is upright but laziness and extravagance when reversed.
Usually, when the upright meaning involves a difficult situation or problem, the reversed meaning is better because it shows the difficulty has been overcome. For example, the Five of Pentacles means unemployment and financial insecurity when upright. Reversed it means returning to work or to financial security.
How the Tarot Works
Learning Tarot is like learning a foreign language. The individual cards are the words provided by the personal and collective unconscious. A Tarot reader translates these unconscious words into a form of our conscious minds can understand. The combined access to the personal and collective unconscious is the secret to the Tarot's ?magical? accuracy.
The Language of the Tarot
Because we are learning a new language when we study the Tarot, how we define the words, grammar, and syntax is important. A language is only as precise as the meanings given each word. In the language of the Tarot, our words are upright and reversed meanings we give each card. We must give clear, non-ambiguous meanings to each card. Then, when a card appears in a spread, we can understand the message it is trying to communicate. We don't want to employ a ?dead? language like Latin, with words for ?forced marches? but no word for ? computers.? For this reason, this book contains new, updated meanings of cards for 20th-century usage. For example, meanings have been assigned modern day phenomena such as high technology, meditation, and psychotherapy. These meanings give the unconscious the tools to speak to us in our modern, everyday language.
This is the Celtic Cross Spread. Each of the ten card positions has its own special meaning, which is affected by the card that falls there when you deal them, and is linked to the question the person is asking.
Excerpts taken from: Tarot Unveiled: The Method To its Magic
By: Laura Clarson