Reading Tarot Cards Revealed

Reading Tarot Cards Revealed

Get Instant Access

the Creative



Father the Receptive



Mother the Arousing



1st Son the Abysmal



2nd Son

Keeping Still



3rd Son the Gentle


Wind or Wood

1st Daughter the Clinging



2nd Daughter the Joyous



Daughter /

the Creative the Receptive the Arousing the Abysmal

Keeping Still the Clinging

The Oldest Evidence of Divination

The oldest ceramics in the world are small prehistoric sculptures dug up at an archeo-logical site in the modern Czech Republic. The most famous piece is a four-and-a-half-inch high abstract female nude known as the Venus of Dolni that was discovered in 1925 and was created between 29,000-25,000 bce, in other words, up to 31,000 years ago. The Venus figure was made out of clay and thrown into a fire where it became hard and burned black.

People have found other prehistoric figures sculpted from clay and preserved because they were placed in caves, but before the Venus of Dolni and the related Czech finds it seems no one had ever thought of making the clay hard by firing it. But why did this prehistoric sculptor think of throwing the figure into the fire in the first place? No one can know for sure, but one theory that some archeologists propose is that throwing the figure into the fire was a type of divination. Perhaps, the artist wanted to see how the figure would react in the flames and

Figure 6.4 The Venus of Dolni. (Topham/The Image Works)

different reactions would have had different meanings, something like the Chinese method of divination in which they threw bones into a fire and interpreted the cracks that formed. Balls of clay might have been used first and then the figures were used to get a clearer message from or about that particular figure. If this is true, then these prehistoric figures are not only the oldest known ceramics but also the results of the oldest known divinatory practice and a type of interpretive divination.27

gentle wind or wood over the joyous lake, suggested a pleasant trip. So the commentary mentions things like, "Good Fortune. It furthers one to Cross a great water."25 But it also applies this image to philosophical ideas about the inner truth. For example, true justice is based on finding the inner truth and having empathy with the people involved in a crime not just on getting revenge. This is a form of strength not weakness.26 So you not only get some idea about where things are headed in your life but some wise advice from the Higher Self.

To consult the I Ching a good translation of the text is required. One of the most respected is the translation by Richard Wilhelm into German that was later translated into English by Cary F. Banes. This translation is the one that Jung studied and wrote an introduction for. To find answers to questions using the I Ching you will cast lots to get two hexagrams. For the lots you can use a complicated method involving 50 yarrow stalks but most people today prefer to use three coins. You can use Chinese coins, but any coins will do as long as you can tell heads from tails. You will throw the coins six times to find the lines for your hexagram, starting from the bottom up. There are four possible combinations as listed below:

1 Two tails and one head = a yang line in both hexagrams

2 Two heads and one tail = a yin line in both hexagrams

3 Three heads = a yang line in the first hexagram changing to a yin line in the second

4 Three tails = a yin line in the first hexagram changing to a yang line in the second

Of course, if you did not throw three of a kind for any of your throws and did not get a changing line you really only have one hexagram but most of the time you will have two. Now look up your first hexagram and read the commentary. Also pay attention to the commentaries for the changing lines. Now read the commentary for the second hexagram to see how the situation is changing. If you did not get a second hexagram then little will be changing and you have less to read. After completing this process, perhaps you not only will understand your situation better but will have some good ideas about what to do.

The Tarot ane arrived at the front door of a tan house at the end of a suburban street and was welcomed in by Jill, the Tarot reader that several of her friends had recommended. Jill led her into the living room where she had a card table set up with two chairs set side by side. On the table there was a dark green tablecloth and spread out over the table a deck of beautifully illustrated cards with mysterious medieval-looking figures on them. The cards were laid down so that they faced the two chairs. On some of the cards there were figures that Jane recognized, such as Justice with her sword and scales, but there were others that she did not know, like the man hanging upside down by one foot. All of them excited her curiosity.

As this was Jane's first visit, Jill let her thumb through the cards as she explained to her that the best use of them was not to predict the future but to help her to understand her relationships with the people in her life and to get some wise advice from her inner guide, whom she called the Higher Self. Jill told her that when she needed to make decisions her Higher Self was always there to give sage advice, but the Higher Self preferred to communicate through symbols. Jill said, "The Tarot deck is a complete set of symbols and is therefore well-suited for this communication. There is nothing magic about it in itself; it is simply a tool that we can use for intuition."

Jill and Jane sat next to each other so they could both see the cards. Then Jill scooped up the cards and handed them to Jane to shuffle. While Jane was shuffling the cards, Jill prompted her to begin talking about what was bothering her. After a few complaints, Jill determined that Jane was having trouble with her husband and she needed some advice. Next, she had Jane cut the deck with her left hand, which symbolizes the unconscious. Jill took the three cards that were on the top of the pile that was left after the cut and laid them out left to right in a line. "These three represent you," she said.

She returned the block of cut cards to the deck and had Jane cut again. This time she skipped a space and laid out three more cards in a row to the right of the first three. "These represent your husband," she said. Then she repeated the process and laid the final three cards above the others in the center as if they were a bridge between the two sets. "And these represent your relationship," she said.

Before she even looked at the individual symbols on the cards, Jill looked at the direction of the figures as if they were characters in a story. She saw that most of the figures on Jane's cards were moving toward her husband's cards and that the figures on her husband's cards were moving toward Jane's. This was a good sign. Then she added the symbolism and began to see how Jane and her husband were relating or, at times, not relating because they had different goals. Jane was amazed at how accurately the cards described what she was feeling. She also realized that she would not have been able to put some of these feeling into words before this reading. Then Jill began to describe Jane's husband's cards and Jane got some insight into how her husband saw things. She felt that the cards were accurate but too diplomatic when it came to describing him. Last, Jill discussed the cards forming the relationship bridge, which pinpointed the disagreement. There were two knights, one for each of them and each with a different mission to accomplish, which symbolized Jane's and her husband's different goals. Between them was the seven of cups, which depicted a difficult choice and a lot of temptations.

Figure 7.1 fill's Tarot layout for Jane and her husband, using the Waite-Smith Tarot. (Robert M. Place)

The finale came when Jill handed Jane the deck again and had her shuffle and cut to obtain advice from the Higher Self. These cards were laid on top of the ones that formed the bridge and showed Jane what she could do to make the relationship better, which involved a sensible compromise. Jane liked the advice but was not sure her husband would go along with it. "You can try," Jill said, "and if that doesn't work, why don't you come back with your husband and I will do both of you together?"

divination with cards

The Tarot is covered last in this book for two reasons. First, of all of the forms of divination discussed here, the Tarot is one of the newest. Unlike palmistry, astrology, and the I Ching, it did not develop in the ancient past. It was created in the early 1400s in Renaissance Italy, which is old but not ancient. Occultists in the 1700s and 1800s, embarrassed that Tarot was so new, made up some phony histories for it. The most popular story was that it came from ancient Egypt, which is impossible because people in ancient Egypt did not have paper with which to make cards. Occultists did this because they saw that the Tarot, like the I Ching, is more than a tool for divination. They saw that it is a wise book of philosophy and magic that contains wisdom from the ancient world even though it was created in the Renaissance, and they wanted people to take it seriously.

The Tarot is called a book of philosophy, although it is actually a deck of cards with pictures, because it communicates with pictures the same way our Higher Self does, and when these symbolic pictures are viewed in sequence they express a mystical philosophy about the search for enlightenment. The Tarot communicates this philosophy like a book but with visual symbols instead of words, which raises the second reason it is covered last. Although the Tarot is a tool that is shuffled, cut, and laid down to get a divinatory answer and is, therefore, a type of interpretative divination, the answer is in pictures that take on a life of their own. So, the result is closer to intuitive divination, which comes back to dream divination discussed in Chapter One. A Tarot reading is like dreaming while awake and can be interpreted the same way.

Although the occultists appreciated the Tarot for its visual nature, some were uncomfortable with this open-ended interpretation and tried to find a secret formula for interpreting the cards. They said that each of the special 22 picture cards in the fifth suit were related to one of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet and therefore also had astrological associations that were linked to the letters in the Kaba-listic tradition. Various occultists tried several different ways to combine the cards and the Hebrew alphabet. A system like this may make interpretation easier for some, but the trouble is that none of these associations were intended by the artists who created the Tarot. The letters and astrological symbols do not have anything to do with the actual pictures on the cards. Also, the real power of the Tarot is that its pictures are not held down by a formula. They do have a history and contain symbolism, however, and the best way to learn more about the Tarot is to understand what these images meant to the people who made them. Let's look at what is in a Tarot deck.

the structure of the tarot

The Tarot is a deck of cards with five suits. Of the suits, four are related to a regular four-suit playing card deck, like those used to play poker or Go Fish. There are 10 cards in each of these suits that traditionally just showed a repetition of the suit symbol from ace to 10. These are called pip cards. Then there are some royal cards in each of these suits. In a Tarot there are four royal cards in each suit instead of three. There is a jack or page, a knight, a queen, and a king. Suit symbols are different than the hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades used in playing cards, which will be explained later. Occultists liked to call these suits the minor arcana, which means the smaller secrets. The occultists were already suggesting that there was a secret code involved.

The thing that makes a Tarot deck different from a regular deck is that it also has a fifth suit with a parade of mystical figures on the cards. This is where the creators expressed the philosophy and this is the suit that the occultists called the major arcana, or the big secrets. Following is a list of these cards with their numbers in Roman numerals like the ones that appear on the cards in the traditional French version of the Tarot, called the Tarot of Marseilles. The Fool is a wild card and does not have a number.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
The Illustrated Key To The Tarot

The Illustrated Key To The Tarot

The pathology of the poet says that the undevout astronomer is mad the pathology of the very plain man says that the genius is mad and between these extremes, which stand for ten thousand analogous excesses, the sovereign reason takes the part of a moderator and does what it can. I do not think that there is a pathology of the occult dedications, but about their extravagances no one can question, and it is not less difficult than thankless to act as a moderator regarding them.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment