I'm a professional tarot reader with 23 years of experience. For me, tarot is a fascinating system that reflects all human life.
You Don't Have to Tell Fortunes to Use the Tarot
I learned Latin when I was in school. Was it a waste of time? No, because learning Latin gave me an insight into how language is constructed. It helped me improve my English skills and fostered a fascination with the etymology of words.
The same thing happened when I learned to read Tarot cards . . . except this time, they presented me with a clear map of human life. All of our trials and tribulations are contained within that bunch of cards. All of our emotions, motivations, and perceptions—right there.
When things happen; when people act in a certain way; when you react in the way you do, it's easy to correlate it with a card or set of cards.
That's why learning the tarot will change how you view life.
I can't teach you how to read the cards in one article. It's work you have to do for yourself. Resources there are aplenty. And it takes time and experience to 'get' it. However, it's worth the effort as you can use tarot cards in many ways, from personal insights and growth to writing your next story.
Explain How Tarot Encompasses Humanity
A tarot deck comprises three kinds of cards. There are a bunch of 22 that reflect life lessons and stages of growth—the Major Arcana. Then there are Court cards, the 16 personality cards—they are much like the Myers-Briggs definitions. The bulk of the deck, the 40 Minor Arcana, are the story cards. They each have a wide range of interpretations connected to events, problems, issues, situations, etc.
So these 78 cards contain everything we need to know about navigating life. Yet, we will never know it all. After 21 years of study, I am still learning. It's like a vast, endless book of knowledge full of a-ha moments.
How Will Tarot Help Me?
Let's say you have a shitty day at work. Someone upset you, you made a mistake, and you can't switch off. Your mind is full of jabber. You grab your tarot deck, shuffle and lay out three cards. You assign the first to the person who was angry at you, the second to the mistake, and the third to your current state of mind.
- Five of Swords
- Queen of Cups
The Five of Swords tells you that the person who got angry with you was already under some kind of stress. They'd been let down, they were worried about something, or they were being challenged. In other words, their reaction has nothing to do with you. You just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Temperance explains that in life, there is constant adjustment. We make mistakes; we put them right. We learn from it. It's always changing; we are always seeking perfect balance, which can never be achieved. Temperance says, put it aside, learn the lesson, and move on.
The Queen of Cups is one of those personality cards. She is calm, relaxed, and meditative. She advises you to be the same. To breathe and let it go. In a practical sense, she might be saying, go have a long bath or shower to wash away the day's tensions.
That's just one example, using an actual reading to give you understanding, reassurance, and a way forward. Of course, your cards might be different. Let's try again…
Read More From Exemplore
- Your supervisor's anger: The Lovers
- The mistake: Seven of Swords
- Current state of mind: Two of Swords
The Lovers shows your supervisor is facing a huge, life-changing decision. There is probably a lot of stuff happening in their personal life. Therefore, you need to cut them a little slack. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next week or month.
The Seven of Swords indicates that you may not be to blame for the mistake. There could be other forces at work, such as sabotage, someone spreading gossip, or causing trouble. Give some thought to whether this could be the case and who might want to see you fail.
The Two of Swords suggests you are hiding from the truth. You are not aware of what is going on. You need to open your eyes even though the truth may be unpalatable. You might need to make a decision about how you deal with the situation.
Having this kind of information/insight is valuable, yes?
Tell Me About Those Swords and Thingies
The Minor Arcana and the Court cards are divided into Swords, Cups, Wands, and Pentacles. They represent the magickal elements of air, water, fire and earth.
- Air = mental activity; thought, communication, knowledge. Also, technology, messages and sharp, dry things.
- Water = emotions and feelings. Also, aspects of life such as love, loss, appreciation and wet things.
- Fire = motivation, action, and inspiration. Also such aspects as business, sport and hot things.
- Earth = practicalities, the mundane. Also, health, work, money and cold things.
As you can see, they encompass just about every aspect of life, positive and negative. Most situations you can think of will fit into one of those. Disappointment - Cups. Happiness, also Cups. Pay rise - Pentacles. Made homeless, also Pentacles.
Tarot Is Not Only About Readings
Once you have a working knowledge of the cards and their interpretations, you can apply that knowledge to all kinds of circumstances. The cards are in your head, so you don't even need to refer to a deck when you observe a Six of Pentacles situation, but you will know what to think about it. You'll also have a good idea of how the situation will progress—in this case, one person is giving while one is taking/accepting help.
Or perhaps you'd like some insight into someone's character, so you pick the Court card closest to them. For example, say you just met someone, and his charm and enthusiasm cause you to choose the Knight of Wands to represent him. You delve deeper and discover the Knight of Wands is charming and passionate, yet he (or she) is also superficial and unlikely to commit to a long-term relationship or project. This information may help you avoid getting in too deep, too quickly.
It can be fun to designate people you know and the situations in which they become embroiled to tarot cards. At the same time, you deepen your wisdom and understanding.
Take the Journey
Another fascinating aspect lies within those 22 Major Arcana cards I mentioned. The first card in the sequence is The Fool, which is numbered zero. The Fool is misnamed; s/he should really be called 'The Innocent'. The Fool is like a blank page, an empty journal, someone with no life experience. As zero, he has no fixed place in the Majors, so he wanders through life. Every time he fetches up to another Major, he learns a lesson. He may undertake these lessons in order or randomly. This is similar to Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey, used by many a novelist to develop plot and character.
As we move through life, we are faced with the same life lessons. When you break up with a lover, you might spend some time with the Hermit, learning to deal with solitude. Or you are given a promotion and suddenly find yourself with more responsibility like the Chariot driver. Or perhaps you reach as far as you can go in your profession and are trying to decide the next stage of your life—the World. This is the last card in the sequence, so the cycle must begin again; you become the innocent once more.
Interesting, yes? And not fortune-telling at all.
Perhaps it's time to treat yourself to a deck and a good book? I recommend the deck I've used here, the Light Seer's Tarot by Chris Anne, as it is modern and bright. However, to get the most from it, you also need a book of traditional interpretations, something like Tarot for Beginners by Lisa Chamberlain.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2021 Bev G