Learn all about tarot including the cards history and how to work with the cards yourself. We've even included a bunch of sample spread you can try out at home
Learn all about tarot including the cards history and how to work with the cards yourself. We've even included a bunch of sample spread you can try out at home
Hi Lovelies and welcome to Wicca Now. As you may already know Wicca Now is a site where Amaria and I write all about witchcraft, magick and Wicca. Recently we’ve been writing about kitchen witchery, we’ve compiled a list of our 10 favourite books for beginner witches and we’ve discussed moon magick and water magick.
Today I wanted to write about something that I practice on a daily basis: Tarot. You probably wouldn’t be reading this article if you weren’t already curious about tarot. You might be at a crossroads in your life and seeking guidance, you might have a relationship or career-related issue that you can’t quite seem to solve or maybe your curious about how tarot can be incorporated within your magickal witchy practice?
Whatever the reason you’re here, let’s dive right in a discuss some of the most important aspects of tarot so that you too can start exploring this wonderful divination tool.
A Brief History Of Tarot
Tarot can be traced back to the 15th century where the cards where first used throughout Europe in the form of common playing cards. During this time it appears that tarot was simply a parlour game and had little to do with fortune-telling or divination. Although the internet abounds with claims linking the tarot to ancient Egypt, the I Ching or the Kaballah little to no scholarly evidence appears to support this claim.
During the 18th century, tarot became increasingly popular as a method of fortune-telling and divination. It was during this time that the first custom decks were designed and the concept of tarot began to seriously diverge from its origins as a parlour game.
What Is A Tarot Deck?
A tarot deck usually consists of 78 cards. These 78 cards are divided into the Major Arcana and Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana is thought to represent greater secrets, the Minor Arcana smaller secrets.
The tarot deck functions as an oracle, allowing its user to predict aspects of the future that would otherwise remain obscured. The idea is that the cards provide access to hidden sources of knowledge, higher states of consciousness and divine inspiration. Just like other forms of divination such as runes, palmistry or working with a pendulum, the tarot essentially functions as a link between the conscious and the superconscious mind, between the material and the immaterial worlds and between the rational and the intuitive modes of thought.
If you’ve flipped a coin and hoped for an answer, felt uplifted by a pattern in the clouds, watched a birds path of flight to determine whether you should say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or opened a book and placed your finger on a paragraph in order to find an answer to a question, you’ve already worked with an oracle. Oracles exist all around us and many of us already work with oracles on a subconscious level.
The tarot is simply (in my opinion) a more effective and elegant form of an oracle. The gifts and insights that the tarot can offer us are available to all, right now at this moment and in all moments going forth. All we need to do is learn how to read the cards.
Common Tarot Decks
The most commonly used tarot decks are:
- The Tarot of Marseille
- The Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck
- And the Thoth tarot deck
The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot Deck
Developed by Edward Arthur Waite, a noted 18th-century occultist, the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck continues to be a hugely popular choice for many tarot enthusiasts. Both Waite and the artist who collaborated with Waite on the artwork for the deck were members of a mysterious Hermetic Order (The Golden Dawn) of which Waite became the Grand Master. Because of this, the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck contains many magickal references to the Golden Dawn, something that adds to its esoteric appeal.
The cool thing about Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck is that the cards contain an element of story-telling. This allows the meaning of the cards to be depicted pictorially meaning the user can intuitively ‘sense’ what the cards are about. Being able to work with the tarot deck on a more intuitive level without having to constantly refer to a manual has made this deck incredibly popular.
The Thoth Tarot
This tarot deck is kinda controversial with people either loving it or hating it. Created under the direction of the English occultist and ‘bad boy’ Aleister Crowley, the Thoth tarot deck is vibrantly coloured and draws on a wide range of esoteric and mystical symbols and imagery. Aleister Crowley also changed the names of some of the cards which some people find confusing.
The Tarot Of Marseilles
The Tarot of Marseilles is the oldest and most traditional tarot deck available. Thought to have evolved directly from the tarot decks of the 1500s, the tarot of Marseilles has strongly influenced the modern styles of tarot including the Rider-Waite-Smith deck and the Alejandro Jodorowsky deck.
Today there are thousands of different tarot decks available. The majority of these have a rectangular card shape however some are square and a couple of decks even use round cards. Often the cards are oversized but you can also find smaller decks which are great for travelling or carrying in your handbag for ‘tarot on the go’.
How To Use Tarot Cards
Tarot works on the premise that symbols trigger the intuition. By laying out the cards in a specific pattern you are essentially allowing yourself to become free from preconditioned thought. This creates an opening through you become receptive for information from your higher self, your superconsciousness or even from the realms of divinity and source.
If your sceptical about whether tarot can work for you I suggest that you try it for yourself and keep an open mind. In the end, what have you got to lose?
Getting To Know Your Cards
Pick a card from a tarot deck and simply allow yourself to observe the images and colours portrayed upon it. Even though many of these images may not make sense to your rational mind, intuitively you might already have received a message. Allow your subconscious mind to react to the card without trying to force an interpretation of it. Symbols and colours have a powerful way of triggering the subconscious mind and these triggers can create a channel through which information which might otherwise be repressed can flow.
Allow yourself to gaze deeply at the colour of the card and see if it corresponds to a certain feeling or mood. Use the following charts to delve further into the meaning of your card.
|Red||Passion, vitality, courage|
|Orange||Warmth, energy, activity, drive, confidence, spirituality|
|Yellow||Creativity, optimism, enthusiasm|
|Green||Healing, health, fertility, growth, prosperity|
|Light Blue||Purity, serenity, mental clarity, compassion|
|Royal Blue||Loyalty, insight, inspiration, independence|
|Indigo||Intuition, focus, stability|
|Purple||Wisdom, spirituality, wisdom, power|
|White||Purity, wholeness, protection|
|Black||Power, the subconscious, banishing, wisdom|
|Pink||Love, friendship, affection, joy, self-esteem|
|Brown||Grounding, practicality, permanence|
The Suites Of The Minor Arcana
The tarot decks four suits correspond to the four elements. The minor arcana contains the following four suites:
|The Suite||Corresponding Qualities|
|Wands||Fire, self-expression, will, inspiration. Expansion of personal power. May relate to career or money-related issues. When wands appear in a reading its usually a sign that some sort of growth or expansion is underfoot. Maybe you’re embarking on a new adventure? Wands also prod you to have fun and face the challenges in your life with strength and courage. If you see these cards showing up it might be time to take some risks, be assertive and take action.|
|Cups||Water, receptive, inner-directed, intuitive, emotions, creativity. This suite may relate to family or romantic relationships.|
|Pentacles||Earth, sustenance, security, balance, the physical body, practical concerns, material goods, property, commerce, exchange. When pentacles appear its often a sign that financial or material matters are at hand. In some cases, it may signify physical / body-related issues. Generally, this suite suggests that its time to a practical approach, or alternatively, that there is too much focus on the material aspect of things.|
|Swords||Air, intellect, rational thinking, logic, analysis, communication, focus, the power of thought. When swords turn up its usually a sign that rational and analytical tasks are at hand. Maybe you’re overanalysing a situation which is leading to unnecessary worries? Maybe you need to adopt a clear and rational approach to a problem. Or you should focus on communication and logic.|
The Major Arcana
The major arcana represents the soul of tarot symbolises life’s great mysteries at work. The suite depicts the journey of the fool as it takes him from innocence to enlightenment. When cards from the major arcana show up in your spread it suggests that there are higher forces at work. Each card should be read as a journey in itself and as there are many individual lessons to be learned from each card.
|THE FOOL||When the fool appears it might symbolise that you are about to embark on a new journey. You might be feeling out of sync with the world and restless for change. In a reading about money, the fool urges caution. In a reading about work, the fool might indicate the beginning of a new project. In a reading about love, the fool might indicate the beginning of a new relationship or that an existing relationship is moving into a new stage.|
|THE MAGICIAN||The magician represents the ability to understand and command the unseen forces of the universe. When the magician shows up in a spread it might indicate that you have special powers of which you are yet unaware. In a reading about money, the magician is telling you to reach for the universal flow of abundance. Maybe there are financial issues you need to gain control over? In a reading about work, the magician represents you learning to lean on your own spiritual resources and to trust your inner guidance. In a reading about love, the magician might suggest a relationship which contains a strong spiritual or magickal element.|
|THE HIGH PRIESTESS||The High Priestess symbolises the goddess and feminine power. If the high priestess shows up in a spread it may indicate that you need to lean into your intuition and perhaps reconcile your light and your shadow sides, your inner and your outer worlds. In a reading about money, the hight priestess may indicate that you are too impractical and focused on the wrong areas. In a reading about your job, the high priestess may indicate that you should take better advantage of the inner knowledge and wisdom available to you. In a reading about love, the high priestess might represent a romantic relationship that’s not quite grounded in reality.|
|THE EMPRESS||The Empress symbolises feminine power in a material world in contrast to the high priestess who symbolises feminine power in the spiritual world. The empress is associated with procreation, nurturing, security and the comforts of home. When the empress appears in a spread she might signify abundance of all kinds and your ability to nurture. In a reading about money, the empress represents good fortune and abundance. In a reading about work, the empress signifies that success is likely. In a reading about love, the empress symbolises a loving relationship based on mutual respect and trust.|
|THE EMPEROR||The emperor is a figure of total authority. Representing masculine power the empower is associated with Aries and the colour red. When the Emporer appears in a spread look for areas in your life representing authority. Maybe you have issues with your father or a father figure? In a reading about money, the empower represents resources and savviness. In a reading about work, the Emporer suggests that you are handling your work successfully. In a reading about love, the Emporer signifies a mature and stable relationship, perhaps centred around a shared responsibility.|
|THE HIEROPHANT||The Hierophant is a figure of power and authority, like The Emperor, but The Hierophant’s power is of a spiritual in nature. He might represent a person who’s dedicated to philosophy or religion. Or, he can indicate that you’re trying to break away from religious dictates and influence. In a reading about money, the hierophant indicates that you may need to break away from overbearing ideas and attitudes. In a reading about work, The Hierophant indicates you must follow the rules if you want to succeed In a reading about love, this card may symbolise a relationship based on traditions, structure, or a spiritual path,|
|THE LOVERS||The Lovers indicate a union of opposites, often expressed as the union of the male and female sides of your own dualistic nature. The card could embody the saying ‘do what you love and the rest will follow’. In a spread about money, the lovers indicate that you might benefit from a business partner whose skills complement your own. In a reading about work, the card represents a time for cooperation and harmony. In a spread about love, the card symbolises positive signs for a relationship. Both partners fit well to each other and a successful partnership is probable.|
|THE CHARIOT||The chariot represents mastery over opposing forces and control over inner conflicts. in a reading about money, the card indicates you shouldn’t rush things and that you are well on your way. In a reading related to your work, the card symbolises the idea that self-mastery is the key to success. In a reading about love, the chariot might show that you should spend time developing yourself rather than chasing romance.|
|STRENGTH||This card could represent a struggle with your own animal nature or as a symbol of your own self-confidence and strength. The lesson of the card is that we don’t overcome our animal nature with brute force, but rather with persuasiveness and by following our instincts. In a reading about money, the card symbolises that you have the inner resources to succeed. In a reading about work, the card encourages you to discover your inner strength. In a reading about love, the card may indicate that you’ve befriended your instinctual side and that your inner and outer drives are in harmony.|
|THE HERMIT||When The Hermit appears in a reading, it could indicate a guide figure is at hand, offering help. The card encourages you to meet this guide or begin your own search for truth. In a spread about money, the hermit might be a sign that you should seek counsel from someone wise in the world of finance. In a reading about work, the card might indicate the benefits to be experienced from withdrawing from a hectic position or lifestyle. In a spread about love, the card symbolises a need to find your own path and possibly take time out for yourself,|
|WHEEL OF FORTUNE||The wheel of fortune indicates that consciously or unconsciously, you’ve put something in motion and you now have little or no control over the outcome. A new phase in your life is beginning, an upcoming decision is imminent, or a change of circumstances will affect your destiny. In a spread about money, the wheel of fortune indicates that good things are coming your way. In a spread about work, the card might symbolise a lucky break. In a spread about love, the wheel of fortune shows that a new romance is imminent or that the conditions within an existing relationship are set to improve.|
|JUSTICE||The card of justice indicates that divine justice is at work here rather than the laws of humankind. In a reading about money, the card might indicate a settlement, a legal issue or an equal sharing of resources. In a reading about work, the card symbolises an amicable agreement. In a reading about love, the card might symbolise a fair and balanced relationship.|
|THE HANGED MAN||When this card appears in a spread, it might indicate surrendering to a situation, letting go of an old pattern or changing an attitude. Maybe you’re ready to make sacrifices in order to become true to yourself. In a reading about money, the card symbolises moving away from a purely materialistic world view. In a spread about work, the hanged man symbolises that it might be time for a change. In a reading about love, the card suggests that removing ego from a relationship and relinquishing control might be in order.|
|DEATH||Whilst the card might seem scary when it comes up in a spread it should only be interpreted metaphorically. Death represents the end of a phase, change and the end of a cycle. In a reading about money, death might indicate that you should let go of old beliefs and consider new opportunities. In a spread about work, the card indicates a major shift. In a spread about love, the card symbolises the need to move away from old patterns of behaviour.|
|TEMPERANCE||Temperance symbolises the interplay between the material and the spiritual worlds. In a spread, the card might indicate a time of inner growth. In a reading about money, temperance teaches that moderation is key. In a spread about love, the card represents a time of peaceful cooperation. In a reading about love, the card indicates a need for patience.|
|THE DEVIL||When the devil shows up in a spread it might be time to consider the fears and thought patterns that keep you ‘chained’ . Its time to give up pleasing others, a time to hang up your fears and a time to forget about your inhibitions. In a spread about money, the devil advises you to confront your fears about poverty and lack of abundance. In a spread about work, the card might symbolise the need to break free from the ‘chains’ of a job you no longer enjoy. In a spread about love, the card asks you to reflect on your obsessions, are they really doing you good?|
|THE TOWER||The tower heralds a dramatic and swift change. Many people interpret The Tower as signifying catastrophe, but whatever disruption or destruction it heralds is ultimately for the best. When the card shows up in a spread it might indicate that you have ignored something ‘rotten’ and that it is time to blast it away. In a spread about money, this card indicates a period of major change. In a reading about work, the tower represents the loss of a job or a sudden change of position. This might feel shocking but it will turn out to be for the best. In a spread about love, the card indicates that you need to overthrow false beliefs which could be holding you back.|
|THE STAR||The star symbolises fulfilment, good fortune, creative inspiration, and spiritual growth. When you see this card in a spread it might symbolise help from unseen forces and wishes come true. In a spread about money, the star symbolises that your situation will improve. In a reading about work, the card indicates a new recognition for your efforts. In a reading about love, the star represents a bright relationship on the horizon that will bring you joy and inspiration.|
|THE MOON||The moon symbolizes the unconscious, the realm of dreams, imagination, and psychic impressions. In a spread about money, this card indicates listening to your intuition would prove to beneficial. In a spread about work, the moon might symbolise that a dark or shadow side is work exploring. In a spread about love, the moon indicates a romantic relationship that might be clouded with illusions.|
|THE SUN||The Sun card represents life itself, for the sun gives life to everything on earth. One of the most joyful cards in the tarot, it signifies vitality, achievement, confidence, and success in all endeavours. In a spread about money, the sun symbolises reward and fulfilment. In a spread about work, the card indicates a period of prosperity and recognition. In a spread about love, the card represents a pleasurable relationship in which you feel secure and comfortable.|
|JUDGMENT||Judgment represents a time of awakening and self-realization when you need to make adjustments to reflect who you truly are. In a spread about money, judgement symbolises a choice that will need to be made. In a spread about work, the card shows that you might be in the process of assessing and readjusting your career path. In a spread about love, judgement represents a shift towards a more tolerant and less judgmental version of yourself.|
|THE WORLD||The world represents the end of the fools journey. The last card of the Major Arcana, it indicates fulfilment, balance, achievement, and wholeness—the completion of a journey. In a spread about money, this card indicates that its time to reap the harvest of what you’ve planted. In a spread about work, the card indicates that you’ve fulfilled your purpose and are now working in harmony with your greater purpose. In a spread about love, the world represents a fulfilling and mature relationship in which you’ve both overcome your ego.|
A Daily Tarot Practice
Tarot can be practiced in a multitude of different ways. While many people like to lay the cards out in ‘spreads’ (we’ll discuss this a little further on), one of my favorite ‘on the go’ ways to practice tarot it to simple draw a single card from the pack and reflect on its meaning. I like to do this first thing in the morning to see what the day might bring. Working with tarot in this way is also excellent for beginners as it helps us to become familiar with the cards and each cards meaning.
How To Do A Tarot Spread
A tarot spread is a more advanced way of working with the tarot cards (than for example a single card pull) and involves laying out the cards in a specific pattern. The cards are then read in relation to each other allowing for more complex interpretations.
Before laying out a spread, I recommend a brief meditation in order to quieten your mind and thereby allow an optimal state of focus to take place. Be clear about what it is you are seeking an answer or guidance for. The more clearly you are able to formulate your question, the more clear the answer that you receive will be.
A Simple Three Card Spread
This three-card spread lets you see the past influences or conditions regarding a specific situation, the present state of the matter, and what’s likely to occur in the future. Once you’ve shuffled and cut the deck of cards, choose three cards. You can choose the cards at random or select the cards from the top of the pack. The card on the left symbolises the past, the card in the middle represents the present and the card on the right symbolises the future.
A Four Card Spread
The great thing about this spread is its simple and direct approach to dealing with an everyday problem. As always, start with a brief meditation and then shuffle and cut the cards. Lay the cards out four in a row, side by side left to right in a horizontal line. The first card symbolises the situation, the next card represents the obstacle you face. The third card symbolises the action you should take and the fourth card indicates the outcome you might expect.
The Super Seven Card Spread
This spread looks at different aspects of a situation and offers actionable advice. Again, start with a brief meditation before shuflling and cutting the cards. Lay three cards side by side: they represent the past, the present and the future. Now lay out two cards in a row beneath the first three cards. These cards show you the hidden obstacles or influences that are obstructing you. About the first three cards you will now place two more cares. These cards represent the actions you can take to remedy the situation.
Once you start working with tarot spreads you’ll soon discover more and more spreads to try out. As with all things magickal, take your time and discover which spreads and style of tarot readings work the best for you. Remember, there’s no set way for you to practice and you can change your style at any time. I recommend keeping track of your spreads, single card pulls and predictions in your Book of Shadows for future reference.
Lovelies, I hope this answered some of the questions you might have had about tarot and inspired you to give some of the spreads a go yourself. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for loads of witchy content and tips. As always, Blessed Be.
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