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Saturday, 16 August 2014

5 Reasons to Study Tarot

Tarot for me started as a spiritual quest. I never set out to be a reader; that just happened. In fact, I believe that fortune telling is actually only one small facet of the cards, and probably the most superficial use of them (I know Edward Arthur Waite certainly thought so.) That is not to say tarot readings are superficial -- we all would agree that some readings can be profoundly deep and life-changing. But if reading is only scratching the surface, what else is there to tarot? I love doing readings, but let me tell you why I truly, madly, deeply love tarot and will study it for the rest of my life.

1) Tarot History
The history of tarot is an endless fascination. You can read book after book, and as you learn about its roots in Renaissance Italy and the plays and trionfi that so clearly influence the deck, many of the mysteries ('Why is the Tower called the 'House of God' in some of the earliest decks? What has the Magician got to do with a sideshow juggler?' etc) begin to clear. And then you're able to see even more depths and mysteries and influences and possibilities to explore. I am not a scholar of tarot history, which is a very rich and complex subject, but I do enjoy reading about it for leisure. This subject alone, apart from any divination or occult uses, provides a rich and complex pursuit.

2) Esoteric/Occult Tarot
From early on, people have been attaching esoteric and occult systems to the tarot, which on its own is fully functioning and complete. There are so many systems that can overlay tarot--qabbalah, numerology, i-ching, astrology, runes, ceremonial magic, you name it.If you selected just one of those, you could have a lifetime's study and enjoyment finding ways it aligns with and compliments tarot.

3) Fortune Telling Tradition
We all know that tarot started as a card game (a game that is still played), and telling fortunes with the cards goes back nearly as far. There is a more or less accepted canon of contemporary tarot card meanings, but if you go back through the eras, the interpretations of tarot cards and the way they were used to tell fortunes have changed quite a lot. A knowledgeable reader can lay out the cards and use them to give you a gypsy fortune teller style reading, a Golden Dawn/occult style reading, and a contemporary 'tarot counselling' style reading, all with the same cards and question, just using the different styles and methods. (This isn't necessarily a subset of 'tarot history' because quite often tarot historians do not use tarot for divination or fortune telling.)

4) Personal Spiritual Tool
Many tarot readers are pagans, and these days we seem to have come to expect tarot to go hand in hand with some sort of alternative spirituality or belief system. It wasn't always this way, but tarot has certainly been incorporated into many spiritual traditions at this point. You can see tarot cards in use in Santeria, Pagan Witchcraft, and ceremonial magic, for example. But people also adapt and use tarot cards in their own personal rituals and practices. They are used as devices for communing with spirit guides or angels, setting intentions or spellcasting. They are also used as aid in meditation, chakra and energy work. The uses to which tarot can be put in a spiritual practice are limited only by the beliefs and imagination of the practitioner.

5) Entertainment 
Finally, tarot decks and cards are just fun. They are tactile, they are beautiful, they come in an endless variety of styles, shapes, textures and colours. There are many people in the world who do not study tarot history, are not occultists, don't read tarot or use them in any other way than to just look at them and enjoy them. I have spent many happy hours just shuffling cards, spreading them out to look at them, and just enjoying every physical aspect of their beauty and mystique.

These are the reasons I am in love with tarot. How about you?


  1. Yep, I have a few decks that I've hardly ever read with, but they're just so purty! :D And it is great to have a ready-made stepping stone into other spiritual traditions and areas of knowledge - like the Herbal Tarot, or one of the many Crystal Tarots...

    1. Even though I cull my collection regularly, I do have decks that have pride of place even though I don't read with them often. I have to admit to getting rid of the Herbal Tarot. I felt bad about never using it so I traded it. Silly me!

    2. Hello Carla,
      What a great question!
      What I love most about studying the Tarot is the good feeling I get when I can give a reading to those who are open in their hearts and minds. I was saying to a few people to how much I love the Tarot and doing readings.
      I did a reading today for a dear friend and I know it helped her. I have two readings soon for two people are very open to the Tarot. This gives me such a good feeling, and this is a wonderful affirmation and confirmation that I want to continue studying, learning and reading Tarot cards. Tarot for me like you, was and is a spiritual quest. It matches my intuitive creative personality as an artist.
      It seemed to naturally evolve for me, as I sure was never planning on being a Tarot reader.

      It was a kind of synchronicity of sorts, and I was so overwhelmingly drawn to learning about Tarot, I couldn't help myself! I still feel this way.
      It has enriched my life greatly in so many ways, and I feel more connected to the Goddess of my understanding.



    3. Oh! And I wanted to say I am very passionate about anything Jungian, and I use the Mythic Tarot deck that delves into the psychological aspect of Archetypes and Greek Myths.

    4. I'd love to have the 1st edition of the Mythic Tarot. I prefer that one. Which one do you have? Or both?

  2. Good morning Carla,
    Thank you very much for you reply to my comment.
    I have the 1st edition. I would dearly love to get some more decks as I only have three. The Mythic I am so passionate about. I am reading a wonderful book right now though it is 18 years old it is very relevant to today, because I think we still live in a world that values the masculine hero. It is by Maureen Murdock, "The Heroine's Journey". All about reclaiming the feminine heroine. Maureen Murdock is also a Jungian.

    1. That sounds really good, I'd like to read that. I am very envious of your 1st edition Mythic Tarot, I am going to get one for myself one of these days. Thanks so much for coming back to continue our conversation, I hope to see you more! :)

    2. Yes Carla I think The Heroine's Journey is a must read book for women really. Men would greatly benefit too.

      Haahaa well I had never heard of this deck until a friend who knew I was involved with studying Tarot just happened to have this particular deck, brand spanking new with the workbook and all, gave it to me. Wow I was thrilled! Not just with being given the gift, but when I started to dig into the deck and read the book I was wowed!

      Oh well I'll be back! You are on my blog list favs and so now we've broken the ice and I'm not lurk like Lurch any more, I'll be reading and responding for sure! I really like the layout and quality of your blog. Very easy to read, down to earth in everyday language, and very easy to understand for the every day person. I like it a lot!

    3. Thanks, Catherine! I've been fiddling with it a lot lately, trying to make it nicer to look at and easier to use. :)