Tarot Cards And How Tarot Readings Work

Divination Through Taromancy and Cartomancy

Tarot Cards
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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—people who interpret tarot card layouts for others or themselves—commonly believe that the future is fluid and thus absolute predictions of future events are impossible. Instead, readers focus on identifying the possible outcomes for the person getting the reading—known as the subject—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 readings are thus intended to arm the subject with additional information so that they may make more informed choices. It is an avenue of research for subjects who face difficult choices, so to speak, and should not be seen as coming with any guarantee of ultimate outcomes.


Celtic Cross Tarot Spread
Lay your cards out in this order for the Celtic Cross. Patti Wigington

The tarot reader begins a reading by dealing from a series of cards form the deck and placing them in an arrangement called a spread. Each card dealt is interpreted by the reader based in part on the face value and on the position in the spread: The spread position indicates a different aspect of the question posed. There are many spreads used by readers, and the two most common are probably the Three Fates and the Celtic Cross.

  • The Three Fates is a spread of just three cards. The first represents the past, the second represents the present, and the third represents the future. The Three Fates is one of many three card spreads: other common ones are current situation, the obstacle, and advice to overcome the obstacle; and what the subject can change, what she can't change, and what she may not be aware of.
  • 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 (Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles), with each suit having ten cards numbered 1 through 10. Each suit 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 how the right cards for a given subject and her troubles are the ones that are dealt to the spread. For many psychics and magical practitioners, the cards are simply a medium to help trigger the reader's particular talent to sense a subject's situation and help her understand it. Other readers 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 the tarot spread 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.