Most of us have an avid interest in the future. Will I find love? Does she like me? Will he call me?

Will my baby be a boy or a girl? Will I get that job? Which line at the grocery store is shortest? Will the Cubs win the World Series this year? We want to know what the future holds in store for us. We might guess, second-guess, deduce, and wish we were psychic to find the answers to our questions. We ll never really truly know, will we? But there is a tool that we can use to help us see things more clearly, and perhaps shed light on some of the darkness. That tool is a deck of Tarot cards. There s a general misunderstanding about Tarot cards and their use, in today s society. Some think they came from the Gypsies or from Egypt. Others think Tarot cards and divination are inherently evil. Actually, none of these are true.

A BRIEF HISTORY In the early 1400s, a card game known as tarocchi became very popular among the nobility of Northern Italy. It was a complicated game similar to bridge, using a special deck of 78 cards. The first 56 cards, the pips, were the Aces through Kings. They mimicked the playing cards we know today, which had arrived in Europe from Islam, some fifty or so years prior. The other 22 cards, known as the trumps , contained elaborately painted imagery distinct only to medieval and renaissance Europe, with symbology that reflected conventional Christian culture of the time. [show Visconte-Sforza slides]

Such images included The Emperor. The Empress. The Lovers. The Chariot. Charity. Faith. Fortitude. Hope. Death. The World. Judgment.

The Cary-Yale Visconti-Sforza tarot trumps

Emperor

Empress

The Lovers

The Chariot

http://www.tarot.org.il/Cary%20Yale/

The Cary-Yale Visconti-Sforza tarot trumps

Charity

Faith

Fortitude (Strength)

Hope

The Cary-Yale Visconti-Sforza tarot trumps

Death

Judgement [sic]

The World

http://www.tarot.org.il/Cary%20Yale/

Over time, the tarocchi card game became a rhyming game. The participants invented sonnets on the spot about the people in the room. They equated one of these 22 trump cards to a particular individual in the room. The rhyming game then morphed into a game of prediction. Each player took one card and predicted what the future held for another player. By the end of the 18th century, Tarot, as it had come to be called, was no longer just a parlor game, but a method of actual divination, much like casting shells or stones, reading tea leaves, palm reading, and astrology.

By the time an English scholar of occult mysteries by the name of Arthur Waite got a hold of them, other occult scholars (occult, meaning hidden ) had added Hebrew Kabbalah symbolism, Pythagorean numerology, and even ceremonial magic to the cards individual meanings. Waite took the original design and meanings of the cards, and, with the help of colleague Pamela Coleman Smith, essentially revised them. They added imagery to the pip cards where before there was none, and expanded the inherent meaning of each card throughout the deck. [show Waite cards beside Visconte-Sforza cards] [Emperor, Empress, Lovers, Chariot]

Some of the more pedantic readers insist that Arthur Waite s vision of the Tarot did not become the standard deck. But at the very least, it has become the most widely recgonized mainly because, through most of the 20th century, it was the only deck printed in the United States. Consequently, it was on this deck that nearly all subsequent decks were based, until fairly recently. Today, there are hundreds of deck designs in existence, and it s fair to say that most of them are still based on the Rider-Waite-Smith deck of 1909. Not all of them, but a very good many of them.

TAROT, DECONSTRUCTED There are 78 cards in a Tarot deck. They are divided into 22 Major Arcana (Arcana meaning secrets, or mysteries), and 56 Minor Arcana. The 22 cards of the Major Arcana represent major life events and resulting life lessons. [refer to the cards now being shown] [Briefly discuss the Death Card]

The 56 Minor Arcana represent daily, mundane experience. They re structured similarly to the common playing card deck. But instead of Aces, Hearts, Spades and Clubs, [show Aces of each suit from RWS deck] there are Wands Cups, Swords, and Pentacles

Each suit holds its own significance and corresponds with an element. Wands = Their element is fire. They represent inspiration, ideas, even spirituality. Cups = their element is water. They represent emotion. What comes from the heart. Swords = are Air. Swords are of the intellect. Ideas. Thoughts. Communication. Words. The Mind. Pentacles = are the Earth. They show the realities of material life. Of work, responsibility, money. And then, as if that s not enough, each card within each suit, holds its own particular meaning and significance, and follow a natural progression through each suit. The cards 1-10 depict a beginning, middle and end of a journey. The inspiration, the conflict and the resolution. The court cards Pages, Knights, Queens and Kings depict ourselves and the people around us. Youth, Young Adults, Mother figures and Father figures. Messages, Goals, Nurturance, Protection.

SPREADS Once you have a basic understanding of the structure of a Tarot deck, you re ready to start reading cards and doing spreads. You begin by shuffling the cards and cutting the deck, then arranging the cards into a spread designed to focus on answering a specific question.

Another simple spread is the 3-Card Yes/No spread. [show simple 3-card yes/no spread] This is the first one I learned. There are three cards laid out. Or 5. Or even 7. Cards in the upright position indicate a YES answer. Cards in the reversed position indicate NO. The card in the middle counts as two. If you have more YES cards, then the answer is yes. If you have more NO cards, then the answer is no. An even count indicates MAYBE. Or that you weren t well focused on the question.

There are literally hundreds of spreads to be found out there. Some very simple 1-card spreads, some very complicated spreads that use most of the cards in a deck. The purpose of a spread is simply to provide a framework on which to focus our intuition and deductive reasoning. As you learn more, and do more readings, you will begin to not only personalize the assigned significance of each card, but you will also begin to adapt existing spreads to suit your needs as a reader, or even create new ones of your own.

There are those who approach Tarot cards with a certain amount of skepticism or disbelief. And that s fine. That s healthy, even. But it should also be understood that all of us practice a little divination in our everyday lives. We predict and speculate, wager and bet. We each wonder what the future may bring. And sometimes, whether it be the simplest of situations or the most complex, we just want answers. What should we do? The Tarot can help us find our answers. Do you need to be psychic to glean those answers? No. Do you even need to believe that the Tarot can predict the future for us? Not really. At its most basic level, the Tarot gives us a framework for objective review and introspection. It can even inspire us to see a different perspective and a possible solution we might never have uncovered, otherwise. Does that make it evil or morally unethical? Absolutely not. Tarot is about using intuition, gut feeling, introspection and rational deduction for problemsolving. It gives us one more tool absolutely benign in its function to help us cope and look within to find our own answers.

Bibliography Street, Fred. Top Ten Myths About Tarot Cards and Tarot Reading. www.articlebase.com/print/667700. 2 December 2008. Little, Tom Tadfor. The TarotL Tarot History Information Sheet. www.Tarothermit.com/infosheet.htm. 2000-2001. Pollack, Rachel. Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom. Weiser Books: San Francisco, San Francisco. 2007. Kenner, Corinne. Simple Fortune Telling with Tarot Cards. Llewellyn Publications: Woodbury, MN. 2007. Images of the Cary-Yale Visconti-Sforza 15th Century Tarot Trumps collected from www.tarot.org.il/cary%20Yale/

Outline I. Introduction Most of us have an avid interest in the future. Will I find love? Does she like me? Will he call me? Will my baby be a boy or a girl? Will I get that job? Which line at the grocery store is shortest? Will the Cubs win the World Series this year? We want to know what the future holds in store for us. We might guess, second-guess, deduce, and wish we were psychic to find the answers to our questions. We ll never really truly know, will we? But there is a tool that we can use to help us see things more clearly, and perhaps shed light on some of the darkness. That tool is a deck of Tarot cards. There s a general misunderstanding about Tarot cards and their use, in today s society. Some think they came from the Gypsies or from Egypt. Others think Tarot cards and divination are inherently evil. Actually, none of these are true. II. Body 1. A Brief History ‡ Italy card game ‡ Rhyming and prediction game ‡ Arthur Waite s revision 2. Tarot Deconstructed ‡ Introduce Major and Minor Arcana ‡ Major Arcana ‡ Minor Arcana ‡ Organization ‡ Pips ‡ Court cards 3. Spreads ‡ Briefly discuss III. Conclusion: There are those who approach Tarot cards with a certain amount of skepticism or disbelief. And that s fine. That s healthy, even. But it should also be understood that all of us practice a little divination in our everyday lives. We predict and speculate, wager and bet. We each wonder what the future may bring. And sometimes, whether it be the simplest of situations or the most complex, we just want answers. What should we do? The Tarot can help us find our answers. Do you need to be psychic to glean those answers? No. Do you even need to believe that the Tarot can predict the future for us? Not really. At its most basic level, the Tarot gives us a framework for objective review and introspection. It can even inspire us to see a different perspective and a possible solution we might never have uncovered, otherwise. Does that make it evil or morally unethical? Absolutely not. Tarot is about using intuition, gut feeling, introspection and rational deduction for problem-solving. It gives us one more tool absolutely benign in its function to help us cope and look within to find our own answers.

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