I’ve been interested – and I have to say it’s been on and off – in the Tarot for a few years now. I began with a Rider-Waite-Smith deck, the de facto standard, and it continues to be my usual deck (I’ve since picked up the lovely Thoth Tarot, Aquarian Tarot and Deviant Moon Tarot among others).
I find the cards and their symbolism fascinating, but, having delved through much literature and come across a wide variety of interpretations of the origins, involvement of other mystic or mystically associated systems, meaning, predictive power and effectiveness of the Tarot, I have come to my own conclusions.
Firstly, the Tarot has no magical, mystical or predictive power whatsoever. It’s simply a series of drawn symbols on a set of cards. Anyone who claims more is entering the realm of faith, and that seems to be fine for a lot of people, but not for me.
Nonetheless, and ironically, because it needs no superstitious or supernatural association, the Tarot is very powerful and useful tool of exploration. The subject of its investigation is the mind, and in particular the mind of the subconscious.
Tarot symbolism allows you to bypass rational thought and access deeper and less understood emotional undercurrents. In essence, it gets past the gatekeeper of clarity and what we call sense, and integrates what we rarely, if ever, (except perhaps under deep psychoanalysis or hypnosis) embrace or even acknowledge.
Tarot changes the mind.
That is its value and its great power.
Although I have read the Tarot for others, I regard that as an imperfect use of the art. Rather, I believe you should teach yourself the symbolism and its meaning and use the cards as an exploration of your own mind. Some authors I have read dismiss or belittle this approach, claiming that only someone else can effectively do a Tarot read for you. This is nonsense, but it helps support an industry of Tarot readers and why not? People need to make a living and many people get a lot out of a visit to a Tarot reader.
But not me. The Tarot is of great use, particularly when I feel a degree of emotional turmoil and I cannot parse exactly what is behind it. It acts as a conduit between conscious and unconscious thought and allows both understanding and integration.
That’s a heck of lot in itself. I find it sad that it is hyped as being far more than that, but it’s quite understandable. At heart, everyone wants to believe in miracles.