Tarot Cards And How Tarot Readings Work

Divination Through Taromancy and Cartomancy

The Sun, the House of God (the Tower), the Nine of Swords, the Magician and the Devil, French Tarot cards, France, 17th century
17th century tarot cards. De Agostini / G. Dagli Orti/ Getty Images

Tarot cards are one of many forms of divination. They are commonly used to measure potential outcomes and evaluate influences surrounding a person, an event, or both. The technical term for tarot reading is taromancy (divination through the use of tarot cards), which is a subsection of cartomancy (divination through cards in general).

"Predicting the Future" Through Tarot

Tarot readers commonly believe that the future is fluid and thus absolute predictions of future events are impossible.

Instead, they focus on possible outcomes as well as examining influences related to the issue at hand. These may be influences which the subject might not even be aware of before the reading.

Tarot reading thus arms the subject with additional information so that they may make more informed choices. It is another avenue of research, so to speak, and should not be seen as coming with any guarantee of ultimate outcomes.

Spreads

A spread is the arrangement of cards dealt in a reading. Each position in a spread is associated with a different aspect of the question posed. The two most common are probably the Three Fates and the Celtic Cross, but there are many others.

The Three Fates consists of three cards. The first represents the past, the second represents the present, and the third represents the future.

The Celtic Cross consists of ten cards representing a variety of things including any past and future influences, personal hopes, and conflicting influences.

Major and Minor Arcana

Standard tarot decks have two types of cards: Major and Minor Arcana.

The Minor Arcana are similar to a deck of regular playing cards. They are divided into four suits, with each suit having one card for 1 through 10. It also includes face cards referred to as the page, knight, queen, and king.

The Major Arcana are stand-alone cards with their own unique meanings. These include cards like the Devil, Strength, Temperance, the Hanged Man, the Fool, and Death.

Sources of Knowledge

Different readers have different ideas of where their talent comes from. For many psychics and magical practitioners, the power is inherent within the reader to tap into universal understandings. The cards are simply a medium to help trigger that personal talent. Others may speak of tapping into a "universal mind" or "universal consciousness." Still others credit the influence of gods or other supernatural beings to place the cards in a meaningful order.

Some readers refrain from explanations altogether, acknowledging that they do not understand the specifics of how it works yet recognizing that it does, in fact, work. Such a mindset might be comparable to all of us who use cars on a regular basis even though most of us have very little idea of how a car actually works.

Power of The Cards

Few readers would suggest that anyone could just pick up a deck of tarot cards and produce a meaningful reading. Often, the cards are viewed as having no power at all and are simply a helpful visual cue to aid the reader.

Others believe there is some power in the cards that accentuates the reader's own talents, which is why they'll only work from their own decks.