I'm certain many of you have been drawn at one time or another to a mysterious gypsy tent at a festival of some kind, complete with a crystal ball, incense smoke and a Stevie Nicks-inspired witchy woman offering to tell you what "the cards" hold for you, for about $25 or so, right?
Or perhaps you even bought a deck yourself and just knew that with practice, this would be the key to unlocking what karma had in store for you, only to spend hours staring at pictures of medieval men clasping coins and Knights on horseback or the dreaded Death card — what good could possibly come of that card, anyway?
Tarot is centuries old. Played as a card game in French parlors and all across Europe, it became a tool of Divination around the year 1600. The name Tarot is said to come from Egyptian roots, and reference the Book of Thoth and even Isis, one of the oldest gods/goddesses of Ancient Egypt.
But the interpretations of the history of the cards are as varied as there are decks on the market.
The most widely used (and well known) is the "Rider-Waite" deck. These images have come to symbolize the mysticism and esoterica that we now associate with Tarot.
I began dabbling in Tarot in my early 20's. My first desk came with a large black cloth with a numbered outline of an elaborate 12-card spread and a book that deciphered the meaning of each card if it appeared in a certain position.
One reading would take HOURS, as I looked up each card in the spread, read it's meaning, attempted to interpret the meaning in the position and then apply it to myself somehow. Eventually those cards and that cloth ended up in the back of a drawer somewhere and forgotten. It just wasn't approachable or practical.
Years later, as my yoga practice developed and true sense of self emerged, I came upon another deck of cards. I was instantly drawn to the simple yellow box and knew it was time to pick them up again. As a devoted student of both mythology and Jungian psychology, I began to see the cards in a very different light.
The cards are archetypal in every way. Jung wrote that archetypes are the unconscious images of the instincts themselves, in other words, that they are patterns of instinctual behavior. The cards represent universal truths. A true reading is not fortune telling, it's good psychology. The exact same cards drawn for one person may take on an entirely different meaning if drawn for someone else. It's simply a key to unlocking the subconscious mind.
Try this simple reading I put together to help get you started with Tarot. And remember, practice makes magic!