tarot decks-dating back to the mid 15th century-are sets of cards used for divination purposes. tarot is often interpreted as simply future telling, but is in fact used as a guideline, with each card that you pull representing an event or emotion in your life. the longer word for divination with tarot is taromancy, which is a branch of cartomancy, meaning divination through cards in general. originally, around the 15th century, tarot cards were not invented with divination in mind, they were made to play a game similar to bridge. around the mid 18th century, the mystical uses of the cards became more widespread and have been used that way ever since, however some people still use the cards for their intended purpose.
it is possible to do tarot readings both for yourself, and for other people. reading for yourself is a good way to start practicing with the cards before you do it for someone else. this way, you get more time to connect with your deck and to learn about tarot at the same time. connecting personally with your deck is an important thing to do, as it will improve the accuracy of the cards and will create a better energy around them. sometimes, it can take going through several sets of tarot cards before you find one that you work well with. It’s also important to be in a safe space with good energy when you’re practicing tarot. common tarot layouts that are good for single person readings are ones that involve three cards: such as past, present and future. these are basic readings that are good practice for reading tarot. there are other, more complicated layouts with more cards, but most people work those after they’ve gotten used to three-card layouts.
each card (78 in total) has a meaning. there are 22 core cards, called the major arcana cards. these are
fool, magician, high priestess, emperor, empress, chariot, lovers, strength,devil, hanged man, hierophant, hermit, sun, moon, star, wheel of fortune, judgement, death, the world, justice, temperance, and tower
Tthese cards are the most recognized out of the deck, and often have the most impact on a reading. the other cards represent more minor everyday challenges and decisions, while the major arcana cards have bigger meanings that represent long-term effects and decisions. some of the cards may have meanings that don’t appear to align with how they seem. for example, the card “death” does not usually mean physical death, instead it typically signifies the end of something like a relationship or a habit. cards also have different meanings when they are reversed, meaning when you draw a card and it appears upside down. an inverse card will always have a very different meaning than it would it you pulled it upright. learning/memorizing the meanings of the cards is difficult and takes time (depending on if memorization is a strength or weakness for you), but there are books that list the meanings of each card, as well as websites with the meanings listed as well. simply searching “meaning of ___ tarot card” will bring up thousands of results from different sites.
further learning about tarot requires research and overall experience with your own and other peoples’ decks. good books centered around tarot are listed below.
the ultimate guide to tarot card meanings by bridget esselmont
tarot for yourself by mary k. greer
the tarot: history, symbolism, and divination by robert place
links to website resources: