Tarot is a method of divination, predicting the future and revealing the past by interpreting the pictures and symbolism on a series of cards. Some readers use the cards as a tool to aid their intuition and to open up psychically.

Very little is known about the history of Tarot. The earliest known decks are Italian from 15th century. There are hundreds of different designs of Tarot cards, many of them in keeping with the traditional symbolism but some new decks have their own specialist symbolism and interpretation. Traditionally, Tarot cards should be kept wrapped in silk, to absorb any negative energy, and stored in a wooden box.

Most Tarot decks consist of 78 cards – 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana cards. Arcana means mystery or secret. The cards are numbered from 0 to 78. The first card, The Fool, is numbered 0 and 22, as life goes in cycles, so when you end the Major Arcana journey through life with The World, card number 21, you begin again with The Fool.

The Major Arcana are like the Trump cards. Each one represents a person or experience we will encounter in life, the physical and spiritual forces that affect us, lessons to be learned in life. The Minor Arcana cards are split into four suits numbered from Ace to King, like playing cards but with an extra court card, the Page before the Jack or Knight . The suits correspond to hearts, clubs, spades and diamonds of ordinary playing cards. Cups relate to emotions, Rods or Wands to creativity, Swords relate to health and Pentacles to the material world. The Minor Arcana fill in the details and experiences of everyday life.

There are many hidden meanings in Tarot which are only taught by word of mouth to students of the Tarot. Most people know that there is a wish card, in actual fact there are three. There is even a lottery card! How can that be? Most people think that the “Death” card in the Major Arcana means death, in fact it doesn’t – however there is a hidden card which can mean hearing of a death. Other hidden cards include: redundancy, travel cards, apprentice, divorce, bad luck, jealousy / envy, money giver card and many more. There are key cards for moving house, emigration, love, marriage, pregnancy and birth, health, operations, religion, parties. There is even a card known as “The America / Canada card”. Everything on a Tarot card has a meaning – the colours, the number, the picture and the symbols.

There are many different Tarot spreads – ways of laying out the cards to do a reading, for example the Celtic Cross. Each position in a spread gives a different significance to a card e.g. the past, hopes and fears, the final outcome etc. The Californian Sun Dial spread is like a 12 month horoscope.

Tarot is best used for guidance. We don’t believe in telling people what to do or what not to do – the most important thing is free will.

(Many thanks to Kiera who has contributed this introduction to Tarot)

Click here to visit Tarot Aces

Click here to see practitioners and more details

Click here to return to Free Spirits portal