The Tarot has helped me personally through the darkest moments of my life and it continues to help me daily. I learned to understand myself more, and most importantly to see myself objectively so I can take practical steps towards growth and self-awareness. In this Blog we’re going to discuss what Tarot truly is, from a Spiritual and psychological perspective, its origin, and why applying Tarot as a Spiritual Practice, can bring you towards deeper enlightenment and alignment with your Higher Self and purpose. Also included are sample Tarot spreads to aid you on your path to self-discovery.
The true origination story of Tarot Cards is presently unknown, although the earliest known record of these cards go back to earlier periods in France and Italy. However, the images in these cards have connections to Egyptian Hermeticism, the Kabbalah, Christianity and pagan occultism.
The Significance of Symbolism
Before going further, we have to discuss symbolism, because Tarot “speaks” using the ancient language of symbols. Man is a symbol-making Being. Only in modern society have we lost, what I like to call, our “symbol-consciousness”. But, thankfully, it is still part of the Human Spirit and is deeply ingrained within each of us. The Ancients and indigenous people understood that there is profound meaning in everything. Whereas, in our modern cultures, we’ve become so reliant on logic and rational thought that we’ve suppressed this whole other side of ourselves. It’s even gotten to a place where thinking logically and rationally is the only socially acceptable way; if word got out that you heard God in the wind or saw an Angel in the clouds, or if you just knew that the butterfly in your backyard was a good omen then you would most likely be looked at questionably, and in extreme cases, you could be institutionalized. We’re a society that has lost all Spiritual meaning and have become indifferent or apathetic to understanding the language of our Souls, a language now only spoken in our dreams. You can consider dreams as the other part of “you”; the part that knows what the conscious mind chooses not to grasp during our waking moments. Our dreams speak only through symbolism because that is the language that is ingrained in our DNA long before we “perfected” the spoken word, specifically the English language because you can still see the symbolistic attributes of the Hebrew, Japanese and Chinese written language. Egyptian hieroglyphs are definitely steeped in symbolism and you can observe the language of symbolism in our religious texts as well where fire, numbers, snakes and color hold a deeper meaning than what our contemporary mind’s linear and rational methods apply to them. There are still a large population of people who desperately try to view the religious stories and parables as literal and historical fact (although some altered/revised versions of texts do include actual historical human migrations across this planet).
Archetypes and the 22 Major Arcana
Tarot is structured with 22 Major Arcanas (derived from the word “arcanum” which means “secret” or “mystery”. And 56 Minor Arcanas. The Major Arcana is of greatest significance because these are symbols of the various human archetypes; or what I like to call “ways of Being”. Starting with 0 (zero), The Fool archetype represents our inner innocence, the part of us that wants to explore and has full faith in the Universe. I consider The Fool as our inner Spirit and in most Tarot Circles, he is considered to be the main character throughout the Tarot “story” because through his innocence and willingness to explore he experiences the other archetypes in the deck, such as the Magician, Arcana number one. The Magician is the archetype of the “doer”; the one who manifests and brings into reality his ideas and deepest desires. The Strength Card, Arcana numbered eight in modern Tarot decks (it initially was number 11) is the archetype of our inner strength; the part of us that puts aside his/her animal instincts through compassion and understanding. Another example is the Devil; the archetype of self-imposed restriction and oppression which can manifest itself as addiction (the chains of The Devil is a figment of our imagination). We experience and embody these archetypes throughout our lives. (Some believe that we live out all 22 archetypes simultaneously in different parallel dimensions and only when we rise to the levels of self-integration do we become whole, as in the final archetype; The World).
So How DO These Cards “Work”?
How can we rely on what seems to be a random shuffle of cards? How do we know that we are “picking” the right card and that it will answer our question? We must understand that our waking consciousness is only aware of a small portion of what goes on around us. Our bodies and subconscious is more aware of our environment and experiences then what our conscious minds remember or realize. For instance, you’re walking down the street with a destination in mind. You walk by dozens of people, several stores, signs, cars, etc. along your journey. Your conscious mind may not have “picked up” each and every single face you passed by or remembered each sign or car on your path, but actually, your mind, body and subconscious did. In a deep state of hypnosis your mind is able to recall each and every single detail of your journey. This happens because our conscious, rational minds have a mechanistic quality to it; if we have a destination in mind we are focused on arriving and our minds will filter our any data that does not serve the purpose of our conscious travels. Consider this when you shuffle a deck of Tarot Cards. Your mind, body and subconscious knows where each card is placed in the deck and what new sample set of possibilities is created with each shuffle. So when you pose a question, trust that your Higher Being knows which cards to pull. Also, trusting your intuition to decipher the meaning of the cards (as opposed to relying on textbook interpretation, which is OK too, of course) can bring greater conscious awareness to your predicament/inquiry because you are allowing your Inner Being to communicate with your through the language of symbolism.
Using Tarot for Self-Discovery and Spiritual Enlightenment
With everything we’ve discussed so far, can you begin to understand how powerful this deck of cards can be? These cards hold the potential for a deep understanding of the human condition. Being aware of “where you are” emotionally, psychologically and physically is key to Enlightenment. It also helps you to understand where you need to be and what you may have to change to obtain the outcome you so desire. It is a true path to self-awareness.
Sample Self-Discovery Questions to Ask Tarot
I’ll close off this blog with some simple 3-card Tarot Questions/Spreads to use on your path to Self-Discovery, so grab your deck (or go get your first deck) and let the magic of symbols take you on a journey within!
You (this card represents who you are at this present moment in time)
Your current path (this card describes the path you are presently on)
Your potential (this card describes what is available to you if you were to apply your energies in this direction)
What am I inviting into my life right now? (This card describes what energies are coming your way based on where you are, mentally, emotionally and spiritually)
What is this bringing into my life? (this is a deeper understanding of the card above)
What is the best course of action? (this card will offer insight as to what options you have available to deal with the energies you are inviting in your life)
What aspect of yourself are you expressing right now?
What aspect of your Soul wants to be expressed?
How to create alignment with your Soul right now?
How do I feel about myself right now?
What do I love about myself?
How can I create a loving relationship with myself?