Brief History

No-one knows for certain when and where tarot cards originated, some say China that had playing cards in the Tang Dynasty between 618 A.D-907 A.D those cards held cultural or mythical references that were illustrated on the cards and used for games and through trade ended up in the middle east around 1370, then through even more trade landed in Europe. Ancient Egypt has often been cited as a source so is India. Both of whom ended up in Europe. But what we do know is the tarot deck much as we know it today emerged in the 14th century in Italy. It was originally a card game amongst the wealthy, the earliest record of tarot being used for divination was in 1780 in France and England using a tarot deck now known as the Tarot De Marseille. The first account of divination using cards is attributed to Jean-Baptiste Alliette, better known as Etteilla in 1770, he was the first to publish divinatory meanings for the cards, there was only 32 and one for the querent were included in this edition, and only regular playing cards were mentioned. Etteilla gave meanings to each of the cards, incorporating beliefs about astronomy and the four elements. He claimed to have borrowed heavily from the book of Thoth, an Egyptian text supposedly written by Thoth, the Egyptian God of Wisdom. One of the best known and most popular tarot decks today is the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. The deck is so named for the Rider and sons company, which originally published it in 1909. Arthur Edward Waite, who designed it and Pamela Coleman smith, who illustrated it.

What is in a Deck?

The traditional tarot deck is made up of 78 illustrated cards, 56 of the cards are similar to a normal pack of playing cards, with four suits, plus four court cards, the suit of wands, the suit of cups, the suit of swords and the suit of pentacles these are called the Minor Arcana and 22 additional cards called the Major Arcana.

Tell Me More…

The word 'Arcana' means secrets or mysteries.

┬ŁAs the terms 'Minor' and 'Major' suggests the two arcana are not equal, the difference in them lies in the different aspects of human existence that each depicts. The cards of the major arcana stand for the major issues we face in life and in contrast the minor arcana is seen as the more mundane and superficial occurrences in life, together with our reactions to them, events and experiences and people that all make up a part of someone's everyday existence. The cards are simply a tool that aids the intuition of the person doing the reading, this is one reason why a tarot reading can be so very different from one reader to the next even if the same cards are drawn, Tarot is wide open for interpretation and perspective, Tarot is to me, a psychological tool.  I believe through symbols and universal archetypes we use the imagery of the tarot to help us unlock the parts of our subconscious mind that already contain the answers to the questions that we are asking.

No-one can predict the future with any certainty because you have the power to change any outcome as nothing is set in stone, if you don't like the predicted outcome then change the situation, The best way to explain it I have found, is seeing the tarot like a calculator, based on the numbers you put in it will give you a sum at the end, if you don't like that sum change the numbers your putting in, that could be your actions, attitude, words, and even your thoughts, the tarot can serve as a guide for what numbers you would have to put in to achieve the sum you would like, but the actual effort lies with the person themselves. 

Tarot Questions & Myths

That you must be given your first pack.

In my experience, you need to connect personally to a deck as they will work better with you, so one you choose yourself will work much better, you know yourself better than anyone else could and it's an intuitive process.

You shouldn't let anyone touch your cards except for you.

This is personal preference, it is not going to stop you being able to read the cards, I know people that do let people touch them to put their energy into them and I know people who do not let any person touch their cards as not to mess with their energy programmed into them already, both types are excellent readers, so it depends on how you feel or your approach.

You shouldn't read for yourself or anyone close to you.

This is due the difficulty in remaining objective, especially if you are close to the issue at hand, for example a close friend in an abusive relationship and you cannot stand the partner.  I think this is personal preference, when I was very young I was told this by a mentor, so I never read for myself, I feel this hampered me in the beginning, admittedly some people may struggle giving themselves an objective reading and keep pulling cards until they get the reading they want, but I think self-reflection and daily drawing of cards is a good thing, so I would recommend reading for yourself, it can only go towards your personal connection to the cards.

The death card means someone is going to die.

The death card represents change, it may mean the end of one job and the start of another, it means there is an opportunity to change the path that you are on and move towards the next step of your life.

You need to know every card meaning before you read for anyone.

No of course not. Practicing is the best way to learn the meanings, the more you use them the easier you will find it.  If you focus too much on what the tarot card means in someone else perspective, you will miss the opportunity to create a personal and intuitive connection to the cards you have chosen and you will lose the chance to tap into the deeper spiritual wisdom that makes the tarot truly special. There is also the danger it could become a chore rather than a passion, it will be all about what you remember rather than what you feel.

You must store your cards in black silk.

This is purely personal preference, you could use cotton or velvet, a box, plastic container or an old margarine tub. They are your cards, I would recommend not just chucking them loose in your handbag though!

Types Of Tarot Reader

Over the years, I have often and regularly come across people who don't really know the difference between a tarot reader, a psychic and a medium, I think it is one of the most important things you should know when getting or giving a reading, make it clear about what you offer so not to confuse people who may be thinking they are getting something else entirely from what you are offering.

Not all psychics are mediums who can connect with loved ones that have passed on, or connect to spirits.

Not all mediums have a psychic ability to foresee the future outcomes of the path that you may be on or see issues around you at the present.

Not every tarot reader can get a connection to a loved one in the spirit world.

Some readers do have the added skill of being a psychic or a medium and visa versa.

Straight Tarot readers use Tarot as a tool to help you connect to your higher self, a neutral person who can tap into your higher self and give you some guidance to move forward. They have a deep understanding of the varied meanings of the cards and the combinations of them. They can give you the information you are looking for and some solutions to your situation.

Psychic Tarot Readers combine their tarot knowledge with their intuitive or psychic abilities, so they can do all the above and usually able to give information on all levels of the past, present and possible outcome.

Mediums that use tarot.  A medium serves as a channel for communication from the spirit world. They can connect with loved ones or spirit guides, and while a medium can be intuitive, a psychic is sensitive only on an intuitive level and do not get messages from the other side.  It is a fine line, but one that is there, and many have both abilities and would be calling themselves psychic mediums, although I would favour the word intuitive as psychic does have a stigma thanks to all the unsavoury con artists in the industry.

To sum up, be aware some people will make such an assumption that you have the gift of mediumship or psychic ability.  You wouldn't want the querent to get angry or disappointed and bad mouth you all over town because you did not make it clear what you were offering in the beginning, which once everyone knows what to expect your more likely to deliver a better reading.