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January 22, 2013

Tarot Cards


Over the past several years I've written about a number of paranormal topics, for a number of publications. I've visited haunted locations, interviewed psychics, met a fair amount of crazy people and experienced some interesting phenomena. Throughout all of my studies and forays into the paranormal, I've never really dug into the subject of tarot cards. Until now...



I had always heard how incredibly evil tarot cards are, that they were the tools of the devil. I never really understood why that was. I guess I just avoided the subject, even though I've written several times on Ouija boards, an object I absolutely refuse to use for a number of reasons.

Recently a client requested an article on tarot cards. I did what I always do when I encounter subjects I don't know horribly well: I lean on my extensive research skills I started to hone in college. What I began to uncover about tarot cards was interesting.

First off, tarot cards are used for divination purposes. I know this isn't a shocking revelation, but there are people who consider divination to be evil, unless it's practiced by authorized religious leaders. I'm not passing judgment on anyone, just stating facts. This is why some people believe tarot cards are inherently evil. Interestingly enough, I also learned that modern playing cards, like the ones you use for a game of poker or solitaire, originated from the tarot deck. Both have four suits and face cards, but the tarot deck has 78 cards, making it significantly larger.

When I was a teenager, I remember we had a group of kids at our house. Someone pulled out playing cards for a game of hearts (or something like that). One of the kids got really uncomfortable and said his dad would not approve of him playing cards. At the time I was confused about why. Since then I've run into other people who had major issues with playing cards. I always assumed it had to do with the ties between playing cards and gambling, but now I think the root of their hatred toward cards had more to do with a belief that cartomancy (divination through cards) is inherently evil.

The art of reading tarot cards, from what I've learned, is much more of an art form than I ever suspected. I always thought the cards had quite static meanings. While there are some who believe this, others believe the meanings of the cards can be highly contextualized or even that they mean different things depending on which part of a spread or layout they are in, as well as what cards are on the table and especially nearby. Even the orientation of a tarot card can affect meaning (such as right-side-up or inverted).

Interestingly enough, I have found my acquisition of knowledge on the cards has been accelerated thanks to my literary training. My Shakespeare courses more than anything armed me with knowledge about many aspects of the cards, such as the wheel of fortune. Still, I find the reading of the cards to be something that can become quite complex in a hurry. I have to admit that my experience is quite limited; it's not like I've gone to a tarot reading or anything like that.

Do any of you have experiences with tarot cards? I'm curious about them just for the pure sake of knowledge.

13 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sorry, never touched them.

Michael Di Gesu said...

I have always been intrigued by them, but I don't know too much about them.

A former close friend of mine was a psychic and reader and he used them on occasion. But I got the feeling they were a powerful tool, because he didn't use them often.

Steven said...

Alex, neither have I.

Michael, from everything I've been reading, they are supposed to be quite the powerful tool, in the hands of someone who knows how to use them.

Lexie C. said...

I've always been fascinated by them but don't know much. Best wishes in your research! :)

Steven said...

Lexie, thank you. I will likely be posting more on the subject in the future.

Tamara said...

I don't know too much about these either...but it's a fascinating subject. I'll be looking forward to more posts on this as you continue learning about them!

Steven said...

Tamara, it definitely is a fascinating and rich subject.

Annalisa Crawford said...

I had my fortune told once - the guy held tarot cards and turned them over as he was speaking, but never actually looked at them. I wasn't even sure he was using them, or just didn't know what to do with his hands.

Steven said...

Annalisa, it doesn't sound like the guy knew what he was doing. They call drawing one card at a time a one-card draw, which is supposed to be good for beginners or when you don't have a lot of time. Was the guy right about anything?

Annalisa Crawford said...

@ Steven - no, he didn't get anything right. He even tried to tell me there was a grandfatherly presence surrounding me, and then explained someone who bore absolutely no resemblance to either of my grandfathers. I'd love another try at having my fortune told, but I want to find someone who might be good.

Steven said...

Annalisa, my experience with psychics (I've interviewed several and had other dealings with some) has been that most are either not very good or are frauds. A while ago I read Mind Hunter by John Douglas and found it interesting that he said most psychics are not helpful in murder investigations, but he found a rare few who offered invaluable help. It's a fascinating subject, for sure.

lynnelives said...

Nice to meet you. We're AtoZ neighbours.
I've only been reading tarot for about 13 years. Before that I wasn't comfortable with any thought of them. I think it's important to respect what they are and how others may see them. The cards are now part of my meditative routine. I have been thinking of painting my own deck. AtoZ would be a good excuse.. hmm.. completely different to what I'd intended.. Will have to go ponder that one.

Steven said...

Nice to meet you too, lynnelives! Glad I could get you thinking in a new direction -- that's what I am to do as a writer (well and sometimes to entertain).