What is tarot?
The word “tarot” conjures many images. Some see Miss Cleo, in her floral-print bandana, chanting, “He’s cheatin’ on you!” in her singsong Jamaican accent. Others think of occultists hiding in dark little rooms, giving dark messages of doom to the tortured souls who dare seek their counsel.
Tarot also evokes a number of emotions. Some fear it, others question its validity, and still, others see it as the key to unlock all the hidden mysteries of their pasts, present, and future. I’m not going to argue down anyone’s view of the tarot, but I will tell you what it means to me, personally, and perhaps my views will help shed some light for those who are fearful, or, at the very least, dispel some myths.
Isn’t tarot just a bunch of hocus pocus?
The tarot itself is not magical. A tarot deck is nothing more than 78 plastic-coated paper cards with symbolic images on them. Some of the images are beautiful, some are frightening, and still, others are mysterious, and that’s the whole point.
The imagery on the cards is designed to be provocative, to spark a reader’s intuition. Many tarot readers don’t claim to be psychic in any way. A good tarot reader pulls the cards and interprets them based on her knowledge of the tarot’s symbolism, her understanding of its traditional meanings, and her own intuition and ability to “read” people.
Is tarot evil?
Since there’s nothing particularly mystical about the tarot, it’s also safe to say that it is not evil. There are no demons working through the cards. Spirits don’t speak to tarot readers like they do in big Hollywood movies (at least, not any of the tarot readers I know!). People don’t become possessed, or have terrible things happen to them, as a result of using tarot cards. That’s all the stuff of myth, legend, and sensationalism.
If tarot readers aren’t psychic, and the tarot isn’t magical, then what’s so great about it? That’s a valid question. Ask yourself what’s so great about talking to someone who can give you insight and advice.
That’s what tarot is all about. What’s so great about the tarot is that it brings about a process in which we get to know ourselves better. It impels us toward self-exploration. A tarot reader is a guide who helps you explore yourself from the inside out, and gives you insight and perhaps advice to point you in the right direction.
What can the tarot do?
It might be easiest to answer what the tarot can’t do. You’ll find people making various claims about what the tarot can and cannot do, but here’s how I see it: The tarot can’t accurately predict your future. It can show possible outcomes, but the future is not a static thing; it’s subject to change, depending on our actions.
The tarot does not provide definitive answers to questions. As a reader, I can’t play Miss Cleo (who, as you probably know by now, was a fraud) and tell you whether your boyfriend’s cheating on you, or if your wife is happy in your marriage, or if your son is going to pass his SATs. Those types of concrete answers aren’t what tarot is about.
I can help you look inside yourself for the answers to your questions, though. Perhaps you want to know how to tackle a tough situation at work or recover from a temporary slump. Maybe you’d like some advice to guide you toward a satisfying relationship. The tarot can do that, in the hands of a skillful reader.