After a bit of thought, I’ve decided to do this in an orderly stream of conscience sort of way. So, first things first- you want to buy a deck of Tarot cards.
If you are making this purchase to impress your Vampire: The Masquerade crush- then just get the most Gothic thing you see and he will think you are cool- don’t forget eyeliner and black lace. If you are making this purchase to tell the future- then you too should just buy a deck that looks pretty and get the companion book that goes with it so that you will know what all of the pictures mean. I’m not trying very hard to sound sarcastic here, but these are a couple of things that irritate me about the perception of Tarot from the people that I’ve talked to on the subject. Now, I’ll give you that this is not something that I bring up at parties, but I do consider my cards as a part of me.
There are a couple of traditions with tarot and the first one that I heard about (and broke, unwittingly) was that you do not buy your own deck of cards because it’s bad luck. I really can’t speak to that, but I’ve never been a big believer in luck. I will say- do not buy the deck unless you feel a connection to it. If the salesman says that the Golden Dawn collectors deck is calling to you- please do not listen to him unless it really is. Choosing a deck, at least for me, was like determining if you were a good witch or a bad witch- though admittedly a bit simpler than that. I’ve always been very interested in herbal lore and the uses of plants and semi-precious stones. When it came time for me to choose a deck- the Herbal Tarot stood out as the one that would be most significant for me.
There are many different reasons and beliefs behind why a person would use a tool like the Tarot, but in this day and age, it has become a game for tourists or those seeking answers and willing to part with their hard earned money. Again, I do not speak for anyone other than myself, but if someone tells you that the cards tell you the future, I would check to make sure that your wallet is still in your pocket. We are children of the 80’s- did you not learn the lessons that Back to the Future had to teach?
The future is not set in stone (please skip this paragraph if you are a firm believer in destiny) and can be changed by your own personal choices. The fact that you are even doing a tarot reading is bringing in a modifying factor- if you know that you will meet a tall dark and handsome man, wouldn’t you be looking for that to happen?
The benefit that my Tarot cards bring to my life is that they are a meditative aid. When I ask my question, the spread and the placement of cards will better help me to reflect upon the situation. A friend of mine once told me that they could accomplish this with prayer and the help of Jesus, but I need a little more prompting some times ;-D
Ultimately- the Tarot is a divinatory tool. Miriam Webster defines divination as follows:
1 : the art or practice that seeks to foresee or foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge usually by the interpretation of omens or by the aid of supernatural powers
2 : unusual insight : intuitive perception
I prefer the second definition of this because that is what my experience has been. The cards are based upon very real Archetypes that translate into many different cultures, scenarios, and meanings, so therefore can be used as they are needed. Most of the information I’ve found dates the style of deck that is currently considered standard back to 15th century Italy. The most common deck in the English speaking world (according to Wikipedia) currently is the Rider-Waite Deck. It’s all over the net- google and you will see it. I did at one point own this deck, but it didn’t really speak to me, so I gave it to someone else.
As a small aside- another fabulous use I’ve found for the Tarot is character creation and story line expansions- they will come up with more twists and turns for your story than you could think of in the 20 minutes it would take to lay out a Celtic Cross Spread 😉