The first Tarot cards were hand painted and designed for playing games in Italy in the early 1400s. While still used for this purpose in parts of Europe, most of us, including Carl Jung, know and love the Tarot for the uncannily accurate divination tool it can be. There are probably as many different decks and ways of throwing and interpreting Tarot today as there are seekers of answers, but there are some commonalities to be found in this esoteric, ornate oracle.
Each Tarot deck typically contains 78 cards, divided into two groupings: the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana. The 22 Major, or trump, cards portray life’s archetypal forces, energies, and patterns, including the Sun, Moon, Star, Fool, Devil, Lovers, and Magician. The Fool is the zero card, the first or the last, depending upon your deck and preference. The other cards all have numbers.
The 56 cards of the Minor Arcana are divided into four suits, each with 14 cards. Each suit has four royalty cards -- King/Knight, Queen, Prince/Page, and Princess -- and ten numbered cards. The suit names vary depending upon the deck, but they all carry the same underlying elemental and human psyche associations: Swords (air-mental), Rods (fire-intuition), Disks (earth-physicality), and Cups (water-emotions).
What is a Tarot spread?
Each Tarot reader will have his own preference for a spread or throw -- how they lay out the cards. Some spreads are used for specific situations and questions. As with all oracular and divination tools, the intuitional gifts of the reader, and your needs and preferences, should take precedence over any cookie-cutter layout or one-size-fits-all interpretation of a card. A reading predominated by Major Arcana cards probably carries more significance than one populated by Minor cards, but how the so called “negative” cards are interpreted, or whether any significance is given to cards that are reversed, is entirely based on the preferred methods of your Tarot card reader.
The colors, symbols, and even the order in which cards are pulled contain the energetic clues to the forces at work. Some cards, such as those in the Crowley deck, are heavy with astrological and numerological associations that add another layer of depth to a reading. When you have your cards read by a truly gifted intuitive Tarot reader, you will be astounded by the numinous power these cards of revelation carry.
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