Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Terrific Tarot

One of the most important Shamanic abilities is divination. Divination is the ability to foretell the future. Shamans from around the world use various tools and techniques for divination. Some methods to foretell the future include runes, bones, scrying, meditation, and reading animals’ innards. Perhaps the most-widely used method for divination, today, is Tarot.

Pronounced (Tare-oh), a Tarot deck consists of 78 cards including the major arcana, the minor arcana, and four suits of cards numbered 2 to Ace (2-10, plus Jack, Knight, Queen, King, and Ace). Most will immediately recognize the similarity between a deck of Poker playing cards and a Tarot deck. This is because the Poker deck and most playing card games are derived from Tarot. So, when you are playing Poker, you’re actually reading your fortune!

The origins of Tarot are somewhat murky. Some authors claim that Tarot first began with the Egyptians or Ancient Sumerians. However, there’s no archaeological evidence to support this, nor have any Ancient Sumerians made themselves available for interview. Tarot first appeared in Europe in the mid-1300s. Known as Carte da Trionfi or Triumphs, the game of Tarot spread throughout Italy during the Renaissance. Eventually, the card game was adapted for divination purposes. So, apologies to those who would prefer a more sinister or mystical beginning to the Tarot deck, but it actually started off as a card game for European nobility.

We’ve noted the components of the Tarot deck – Major Arcana, Minor Arcana, and 4 suits of Deuce through Ace. Typically the suits are Wands, Coins, Cups, and Swords. But of particular interest is the Major Arcana. The progression of the Major Arcana is also known as the Journey of the Fool. It is quite interesting because the Major Arcana corresponds nicely with the archetypal Hero’s Journey as defined by Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell.

The Journey of the Fool begins at CARD 0, which of course is, the Fool. The next card is the Magician, symbolic of possibilities. Along the way, the subject encounters obstacles, does away with old ways of thinking, harnesses new abilities, and completes the journey to the cosmos with CARD XXI – The World. So, the Journey of the Fool (also known as the Major Arcana) is the symbolic and allegorical representation of a Spiritual Journey or a Voyage to Enlightenment.

As far as individual Tarot readings, no one method of having cards read is better than the other. The difference will always be with the experience and competence of the reader. It’s the interpretation that’s important, not the actual symbols. Some Tarot readers and psychics don’t even utilize the images on the cards to convey meaning, but rather use the rhythm of the Tarot to tune-in to the querant’s energy and auric field. (As an aside, the person who lays/reads the Tarot deck is the Reader and the person who asks questions or who is obtaining a reading is the querant.)

Some questions about Tarot that often come up are 1) What does the Tarot mean?, 2) What is the significance of the Devil Card? (cue the spooky music), 3) What does the Death card mean? First, Tarot is like a series of signposts. You should never allow a signpost to rule your life. But if it’s a persistent message, you should probably heed it. So, Tarot can mean everything, but Tarot can also mean nothing. Simply, its what you make of it.

Second, what is the significance of the Devil card? The Devil card symbolizes Materialism or being a slave to base or materialistic desires. Its not an actual Devil. If the Tarot reader starts to say that they see tremendous darkness around you and they can remove it for $$$$, leave immediately! The reader is a fraud.

So, if you’re having a Tarot reading and see the Devil card, don’t panic. Its just a reminder not to become a slave to materialism. The other mysterious card is the Death card. Automatically, when a person sees this card, the next question is, “Who is dying? Is it me?”. And the answer is, of course not! You’re not dying.

The Death Card symbolizes a possible end or change of state. Most life comes from the death of something. New flowers and pine trees, grow only after a fire has scorched a forest. A new life, such as a baby or marriage, comes only after old ways have been eliminated. So, an unexpected ending often welcomes a new beginning. In short, there is nothing to fear.

That’s a fairly decent review of the Tarot. If you have any questions, just email me at omar@elementalshaman.com.

- Omar W. Rosales

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