Tarot Cards, formerly known as Triofni Cards, originated as a deck of playing cards in Europe’s various factions for playing games like Italian Tarocchini, French tarot, and Austrian Königrufen. Some of these games exist even today and are played with the same traditional decks. The cards use diverse symbological concepts from various cultures. The cards started being used as a voice of the divine or predicting the future around the 18th century. This practice has increased exponentially over the years and expanded to other countries and continents alike. The widespread use of tarot, in spite of the different interpretations in every culture, is what makes tarot so unique. The decks vary across the countries, with different decks being used in different parts of the world. Every tarot deck carries a different connotation with the art; however, most symbolism remains the same. The three most common decks used in esoteric tarot are the Tarot of Marseilles, the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck, and the Thoth tarot deck. Tarot Cards have now become a cult in the modern world and are associated with psychic abilities. Even though modern technology tries to replicate the practice into online sites and customized tarot decks, the ancient art has not found itself far from the traditional ways, with thousands of genuine practitioners working towards teaching and preserving the art.
Although different decks consist of a varied number of cards, a typical modern-day tarot consists of 78 cards. The first 22 numbered through 0 to 21 are known as the Major Archana. They symbolize a journey, with the first card being The Fool and the 21st card being The World. The illustrations vary across the decks, but the fundamental symbology across decks is the same. The Minor Archana comprises of 56 cards and is divided into four suits; wands, cups, swords, and pentacles. Each of them symbolizes one aspect of life. Wands symbolize energy; Cups convey emotion; Swords represent intellect; Pentacles signify the financial aspect.
Each suit has 14 cards, starting with the Ace up to 10 and then the four face cards; the page, the knight, the queen, and the king. Just like the Major Archana, the Minor Archana is also filled with symbology, but each card follows a specific theme. For example, the two swords show a woman sitting holding swords that make an X in either hand while being blindfolded. The fundamental concept in each deck remains the same that is patience. Still, the interpretation of other attributes and colors changes as per the card reader and the horizon of their knowledge. Sometimes, different decks even have a different name for the same card. For example, the 16th Card of the Major Archana that is commonly known as the tower is known as “The House of God” in Marseille’s Tarot Cards, “Castle of Plutus” in Court de Gébelin, “Misery” or “Prison” by Etteilla, and as “The Beheaded Tower” by Paul Christian. Another key attribute of the Tarot Cards is that they can be interpreted in both ways: upright and reversed. The meaning doesn’t exactly reverse with the card being reversed instead, it depends on the card. Additionally, the cards show different aspects of the same attribute when upright and reversed. It is vitally important that the cards are maintained with care as they hold power. Tarot Cards, though treated by some as playing cards even today, hold ancient knowledge and power that is eternal and can be used to foresee future happenings. A good Tarot practitioner is one who always respects the cards and pays homage to the Divinity of Tarot Masters before every reading.
The cards are shuffled before each spread is laid to prevent any unintentional repetition of cards. Each spread is as unique as a snowflake. Hundreds of spreads exist in the realm of tarot cards and each with a specific purpose and significance. Each spread has a different meaning as each spread aims at answering a different question. From the most basic one card spread to numerous three-card spreads to the five-card yes/no spread to the most complicated of spreads like the Mandala Spread or the Tree of Life Spread, tarot spreads have a lot to offer. A three-card spread can be used for a number of innumerable purposes. Whether it is to understand oneself, figuring out the dynamics of a relationship, finding out as to how to go about a situation, what challenges the future might hold, what decisions would best, and so on. All of these spreads though seem simple at first glance but hold a lot of meaning in the Tarot World. One who possesses paramount knowledge of tarot cards and interpret a lot even with a three-card spread. The five-card yes/no spread also shows guidance when faced with a binary yes/no decision with the cards upright meaning +1 and the cards reversed meaning -1 and the card in the center holding double the value, the plus add towards giving a yes and the minus towards giving a no. The cards too hold meaning and a lot can be interpreted with the cards except for a mere yes/no. One can also try to fathom their dreams and their past life with different spreads. The 11 card turning point spread can provide an insight into one’s life as they move from one plane to the other and it is not a mere coincidence that 11 signifies synchronicity. If the deck of Tarot cards is assumed to be the quiver filled with arrows, it is safe to say that the Spreads act like the bow to give them direction so that they always hit the target.
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