I was raised to believe that tarot cards were the work of the devil. The Church taught me to fear them, to see the practice as demonic and evil. In practice, like many of the things I was taught in the Church to be evil and demonic, tarot is quite the opposite.
What began as early as the 1300s as a game where players would compete to get the most points possible, initially it was comprised of 4 suits, each containing 14 cards. (What we now know as the Minor Arcana) In the 1400s the deck expanded to include archetypal “Triumph” cards (later re-dubbed as the Major Arcana), by the 1700s occultists began using the cards as a means for divination. (Think Professor Trelawney vibes) As time progressed, drawing upon themes from various spiritual and psychological traditions, tarot has evolved to be an incredible tool for mindfulness and developing intuition. Nowadays people all over the world use tarot as a psychological tool to aid in mindfulness and help build self-knowledge, acceptance and inner strength – which is precisely what made me forsake my former teachings and decide to get into it myself.
It was YouTube that offered me my first glimpse of tarot. My friend, Cate, was visiting during lockdown (she was a part of our bubble at the time) and she asked me whether it would be OK if we watched some Minnow Pond Tarot. I said “sure thing”, and we proceeded to watch some, my friend shared with me how she watched her reading every week and found it incredibly helpful. I was a little sceptical, but after that day occasionally would pop up on my YouTube feed and I’d give it a watch, perplexed but albeit intrigued.
A few months later, when we were able to meet in larger groups, another friend brought out a tarot deck and offered to read for people. I can’t remember what the reading said now, but I distinctly remember it being incredibly spooky how on the money some of the things she said were and it helped me to make some difficult decisions at the time.
Then last summer, when I was finally allowed to visit home for the first time in over a year, I was visiting Emma, one of my oldest pals. I remember we were sitting on her bed, catching up on everything that I’d missed, and she mentioned they’d been dabbling in tarot again after buying a new deck. She offered to give me a reading and then asked if I wanted to give it a go. I said, “OK, but I don’t know what any of the cards mean.” “Just give it a go”, she said, handing me the little book of interpretations she got with the deck. After doing a three-card (past/present/future) reading, she told me that she thought I had a real gift for it, and offered me her (old) deck as, traditionally, that is how you are meant to acquire your first deck.
I spent the days and weeks that followed pouring over books and YouTube to understand more about it. I offered to read for anyone that would accept, and started to get an understanding of what each card represented. I’ve even signed up to an online Tarot School with the incredible Kevin Garcia, which is giving me an even fuller understanding of it all. I found it to be immensely helpful for organising my thoughts, getting new perspectives on situations and has helped keep me going during some pretty stressful times.
So have I become an occultist? Not quite. As mentioned above, tarot has evolved since the early days and, while some still use it in more let’s say ceremonial situations, the majority use it as a tool for mindfulness. The power comes not from the cards themselves, I mean let’s face it many people are using decks that were probably was produced in factories producing the likes of Uno and Exploding Kittens, rather the power comes from the person who is reading the cards. Each card represents a perspective, a stage in life, or an archetype, and can provide a mirror for us to see ourselves. Practising tarot has allowed me to reframe past situations in a new way, reflect on the potential futures that may come from my current situations, and ultimately brought to the surface the parts of myself that I would otherwise ignore.
I’m going to be using this blog to talk about things that come up during my (almost) daily readings. I may share full spreads, or talk about specific cards that I’m relating to right now. I’m doing this partly for myself, so that I have something to look back on in the future, but I’m also doing it in the hope that it may help others, either simply through the lessons I’m learning myself, or inspiring people to start practising themselves.