The Tarot is a tool for viewing the deeper meaning of life using mystical pictures and symbols. The symbols and the order in which the Tarot cards appear in a Tarot reading, can be used as a divining tool for spiritual guidance and spiritual development. Working regularly with the Tarot can also enhance psychic ability.
The Tarot comprises 78 cards which include 22 major arcana cards, 56 minor arcana cards and 12 court cards.
The word arcana derives from the word arcane and means hidden mysteries or secrets known by only a few.
Gypsies have been using Tarot cards for hundreds of years for predicting the future, reading fortunes and communication. Due to the fact that the Tarot portrays mostly symbols and pictures, it transcendes language barriers.
The Tarot was admonished by the church and considered to be evil and to this day it still holds an element of fear and black magic. However, the Tarot is merely a powerful tool for divination and relies on the interpretation of the reader.
The famous Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung studied the Tarot and the archetypal symbols depicted, assisted him in analysing the subconscious issues of his patients. An archetype is an original model or prototype after which, other things are patterned.
Understanding the Fool's journey simplifies the Tarot archetypes.
The Fool is the first major arcana card and he represents innocence, purity and a willingness to take a leap of faith. This is much like a new born child, fearless and trusting.
The second and third major arcana cards are the Magician and the High Priestess, with the Magician relating to the Fool's masculine, yang, active, conscious energy and the High Priestess, his feminine, yin, passive, subconscious energy.
Many schools of thought believe that we carry innate knowledge from previous lives, in our subconscious and our conscious energy is affected by our surroundings. So, even from birth, we are processing internally and externally, our experiences in life.
Major Arcana cards three and four introduce the Empress and Emperor archetypes. On the Fool's journey they represent the influences of the mother figure, the Empress and the father figure, the Emperor. The Empress is depicted as open, embracing and free from structure whilst the Emperor is structure, discipline and security.
Each archetype the Fool meets on his journey is explained in depth as part of the weekend tarot course.
Court cards include the page, knight, queen and king of each suit. In some decks the page is referred to as the princess. Court cards are mainly people influencing our lives.
The minor arcana cards comprise four suits, much like basic playing cards.
Pentacles, also known as coins or discs, represent the earth element and correspond with diamonds. Pentacles relate to security, health, finances. A suitable expression to summarise pentacles is "feet on the ground".
Cups, the water element, are emotions, love and belonging; the suit of hearts in playing cards. Expressing emotions give rise to sayings such as "turning on the water works"
Wands, the fire element, also known as staves, rods or batons are clubs in the standard deck and relate to self-esteem, achievement and confidence. Wands are ambition, passion and driving force."The fire in the belly".
Swords correlate with the element of air and the playing card suit spades and refer to our thoughts and ideas; our intellect. The expression "air head" describes a person who's thoughts are all over the place.
Abraham Maslow, a New York psychologist and founder of humanistic psychology produced a paper entitled Maslow's hierarchy of needs. As a visual aid to explain his theory, he produced a layered pyramid. The Fool's journey equates to this pyramid.
The basic needs are conveyed in the suit of pentacles; survival, security, health and family.
Cups, emotions, friendships, sexual relationships form the next level of the pyramid followed by wands, the confidence, self-esteem and achievement suit and swords; thoughts, problem solving and acceptance of facts being the apex.
Sigmund Freud the founder of the psycho-analytic
school of psychiatry, giving birth to psychoanalysis. His revolutionary theory of personality development introduced:
- The conscious mind includes everything that we are aware of. This is the aspect of our mental processing that we can think and talk about rationally. A part of this includes our memory, which is not always part of consciousness but can be retrieved easily at any time and brought into our awareness. Freud called this ordinary memory the preconscious.
- The unconscious mind is a reservoir of feelings, thoughts, urges, and memories that outside of our conscious awareness. Most of the contents of the unconscious are unacceptable or unpleasant, such as feelings of pain, anxiety, or conflict. According to Freud, the unconscious continues to influence our behaviour and experience, even though we are unaware of these underlying influences.
The Tarot explores the conscious and unconscious mind in pictorial and symbolic form.
Having studied psychology myself, I find it fascinating that world famous psychologists' theories correlate with the Tarot.
I shall be unravelling the mystery of the Tarot by looking at one Tarot card each week, offering my understanding of that card.
If you have other feelings about the card displayed, please email me or add your comments to my blog. Connecting to the subconscious via Tarot readings is amazingly insightful.