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Tarot Glossary

See our Tarot dictionary for a quick guide to the subject.


Tarot Cards

Tarot is a deck of cards used for the purpose of divination, self help, and the development of psychic and spiritual growth. The Tarot reveals what is happening underneath the surface around us. It is a visual medium, and the symbols, colours and images on the cards can tell a story. I should mention right at the beginning that the Tarot holds no special power. The Tarot is simply a tool (like a crystal ball or runes) to open your intuitive sense. The pictures stimulate your gut feelings.

picture of tarot cards

The 78 cards of the Tarot deck are divided into two parts: the Major Arcana (22 cards) and the Minor Arcana (56 cards). The word ‘arcana’ is from the Latin word meaning secret. The Major cards describe large archetypal events that happen in our life, the Minor cards refer to everyday events. The Minor cards are further subdivided into 4 tarot suits: wands, cups, swords and pentacles. Each suit has 14 cards numbered from Ace to 10 and 4 court cards (Page, Knight, King and Queen). These 4 suits correlate to the 4 astrology elements of the zodiac (Fire, Water, Air and Earth). There are literally hundreds of versions of Tarot decks on the market, but by far the most popular is the Rider Waite deck.

People who study Tarot are called Tarot readers. As with any method of fortune telling it takes more than merely memorising the meanings of each card or symbol to give an accurate reading. While anyone can learn the meanings, a naturally gifted reader will understand that no card only has one meaning but rather is a metaphor for a variety of interpretations.

How Tarot Is Used

You can use Tarot for personal meditation as a means for spiritual transformation and growth. Simply draw one card each day and meditate on it to trigger your intuitive powers. However, by far the most common method is to use the cards for fortune telling. To do this, traditionally the cards are shuffled and laid out in a spread. The cards are then interpreted according to their image and the position in the spread they hold. Even though each card has an individual meaning, the entire layout must also be considered as a whole. Like I Ching, those who use the Tarot believe it is not meant to give people a definitive answer to their question (there is still such as thing as free will). Instead, the Tarot gives advice, will tell you how certain actions are likely to turn out. It is up to you then which path you then pursue.

Related Articles In This Section

Tarot courses: Learn Tarot: For professionals and beginners.
Numerology with Tarot: Combining both forms of divination.
Astrology and Tarot: Combining with astrological star signs.
Mediumship and Tarot: Contacting spirits through the cards.
Tarot and Pendulums: Dowsing with a pendulum and the cards.
Famous Tarot Readers: Madame Lenormand and others.
Tarot and crystals: How to use your crystal pendulum to clarify information in a reading.
Meditation techniques with Tarot: Easy exercises to practice.

Popular Tarot Spreads

Celtic cross spread: the most popular spread in the world, best used to answer a single question.
Relationship spread: is there a future for the couple involved?
Horoscope spread: 12 month reading for the year ahead.
Yes No spread: If you need a yes or no answer to a question.
Decision spread: Checking the outcome of various options before deciding.
Past life spread: Who were you in a past life?
Three card reading: Simple, past, present and future spread.

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