A Few Tarot F.A.Q.s
Please note that this was written in the months just following the 9/11 attacks. ~ Beth
Like many people, you may sometimes have difficulty hearing the voice of your inner wisdom. The stresses inherent in our consumer-obsessed society make this understandable, but now the uncertainty of a difficult economy and the challenges set into motion since Sept. 11 may be leading you to re-evaluate your priorities.
If only we could see into the future, to know the outcome of the road not taken, or better prepare for the ones we do take. That desire has tantalized humans throughout the ages. Is it possible? For over 30 years, I have been reading and studying the Tarot.
I have found that the cards can empower and energize people to believe in their creative dreams. The cards can also offer profound assistance for those coming to grips with and finding the gifts hidden in the inevitable sorrows and difficulties of life.
But can the Tarot tell the future? Let’s look at that and some other Frequently Asked Questions.
What are Tarot cards, exactly, and why would they be able to tell me about my life?
The exact origin of Tarot cards is uncertain. Some of the oldest known decks, as we recognize them today, were used in parlor games and come from 15th century Italy. Their more familiar use for divination and intuitive knowledge became popular during the 18th century.
While there are many kinds of divination and meditation cards available these days, not all of them are Tarot. The Tarot deck contains 78 cards and consists of four suits, usually known as Swords, Wands, Cups and Pentacles (sometimes called Disks or Coins).
The suits contain fourteen cards, numbered from 1 to 10, plus four court cards. This part of the deck is referred to as the “minor arcana.” In addition, there are 22 “trump” cards, also known as the “major arcana.”
Today’s Tarot decks consist of artwork and symbols many generations old and from across many cultures. They are specifically created to illustrate the universal truths of the human condition.
Do Tarot readers foretell the future?
Other readers may answer differently, but I do not claim to predict the future. I personally don’t believe the future is a preordained, fixed event; therefore, it cannot be predicted.
That said, though, I have found that because the Tarot is a way of looking at what energies may be affecting matters, a good reader can often accurately describe influences that may indeed play out in the future.
Like a meteorologist who can assess information from wind patterns, barometric pressure and other data and then make a calculated prediction, a Tarot reader can analyze the factors surrounding the client’s concerns.
As Carl Jung has pointed out, when we are unaware of the inner influences that cause us to think and act a certain way, our outer behavior may appear to be fated, as if it is not in our control.
I have found that the cards offer an extraordinary way to examine these inner influences, to increase our awareness.
In addition, there is another element that most readers are quite aware of — the self-fulfilling prophecy. Often, one’s wishes and fears are made visible in the artwork on the cards, and this can energize the client to act, either for change or affirmation.
An ethical Tarot reader is quite aware of this profound power, and will strive to do no harm with its influence.
Are Tarot readers the same as psychics?
I rely on intuitive information that I am unable to fully explain, but I have also spent many years studying and practicing with the cards, as well as gaining much life experience and knowledge of people. Again, other readers might answer this question with a range of different answers.
Is Tarot witchcraft? Don’t some people consider it delving into the occult or devil’s mischief?
The Tarot is a method of storytelling, with you, the client, as the hero of the story. Its symbols, archetypes, and methods are as old as human language. There are many different Tarot decks available — some use Pagan and Wiccan images, others are strictly Judeo-Christian.
There are decks that feature angels, herbs, cats, crystals, even Gummi Bears. The deck that I use most often is based on Zen Buddhism, but I also enjoy my Pagan and Goddess decks.
Of course, there are some people that devalue intuitive information — even consider it dangerous and immoral, because the rational mode of consciousness is considered the only valid one. Personally, I do not consider any knowledge or system that may enhance our understanding to be evil or off limits.
As to how Tarot and religion may intersect, some spiritual practices encourage the development of intuitive ability, others are neutral, and some are opposed.
If your belief system is opposed to the Tarot, that is your right, of course. Again, different readers may have different styles, but in my own sessions, nothing is done that would conflict with any religion or practice that I am aware of, unless it is already fundamentally opposed to Tarot itself.
How do I know what to ask?
Your questions can cover any area that is of importance to you — your career, relationships, creative yearnings, goals, past lives, personal development. Most readers will agree that the future is not set in stone. Many things can affect it, including your own will to do so.
The phrasing of the question is important. I have found it more useful to avoid “yes or no” questions, and I like helping my clients choose questions that open up possibilities they might not have thought of.
For example, if you were to ask, “When will I buy a new car?” you may have closed off the possibility that you might, instead, buy a used car, or that someone might give you a car, or that you might soon be moving somewhere where you don’t need a car at all.
I also believe that phrasing questions so that the client takes active responsibility is the most rewarding method. Therefore, I discourage questions that focus on someone else or probe into someone else’s personal “space.”
Rather than asking, “Is my husband cheating on me?” I would encourage a question centered on you, like, “What do I need to know in order to ensure that my marriage is a happy one?”
Then, like many readers, I enjoy matching the layout of the cards to the phrasing of the question. I find that the familiar Celtic cross spread is a trusted friend, full of great insight and information, but at other times, I might create a customized layout specific to the situation.
It is important to note that Tarot readings are no substitute for professional medical, legal or therapeutic assistance and we are legally and ethically bound to refuse to answer questions that are beyond our training.
For instance, I would never tell you whether or not you should sue someone, but I could help you gain perspective on dealing with particular personalities or envision creative solutions and alternatives.
What else should I expect?
As mentioned, your reader will help you formulate the questions that you might like to consider. Most readers do not appreciate being “tested,” and your honesty and forthrightness are important. The more background information you are willing to share, the more beneficial your session will be.
Anyone who reads the cards for you should work to make your Tarot session an enlightening and supportive experience. Although I take my Tarot readings seriously, my sessions are not solemn, gloomy or spooky.
I use my customary humor and down-to-earth honesty to deal with my clients’ concerns. And most good readers would agree with me that each Tarot session is held in strictest confidence, as is the client list.
If your Tarot reading does not reveal a scripted future, isn’t that the best news you can get? As it turns out, your future is in your hands and it is probably better than you had even imagined.