The Tarot is divided into two distinct and separate decks that can be used together, if you wish, or they can stand alone. These decks are known as Arcana’s. Arcana means secrets or mysteries and no it does not mean the cards are imbued with secret, mysterious, magical powers. They do however help you uncover the secrets or mysteries of you. These decks are divided into the major arcana (22 trumps) and the minor arcana (56 suit cards). The original decks were comprised of only the major arcana, the minor were added during our more recent history. The major arcana in some mystic traditions had less cards than our current 22 cards.
I started by just using the major arcana. The major arcana are Archetype cards which means that they represent a very typical example of a certain type of person or thing which is so ingrained into our society that they/it is present in the collective unconscious of our species thanks to our ancestors (it is a Jungian philosophy but you can also apply Sheldrake’s Morphic Resonance theory).
We all have a basic understanding of Time, Birth, Death, Good vs. Evil, Love, etc. they are as ingrained as our biological function to breathe. We can learn to understand the mechanics of this function (breathing) but the truth is we do it naturally and without thought. It is the same with the Archetype, the difference is that rather than being a biological function this is psychological, societal and emotional one.
We all take a journey and that is what the major arcana cards represent. Our soul’s journey through life and it starts with the fool (which is me, you, anyone that is living). We all start off blissfully ignorant, but excited about life, (probably because we have no clue that our journey is going to be an initiation). The Fool is the only card in either deck that lacks a number (or is assigned the number 0 representing unlimited potential). The reason is because it is the fool’s journey and the fool is always present.
I suggest separating the cards into two decks (major and minor) and just work with the major at first. Do not work with spreads, simply working with each individual major Arcana card starting with 0, the Fool and working through to #21, the World will suffice. Buy a notebook and list the card you are working with, what aspect, event, issue, person, etc., that you are working/dealing with (or through), the questions that you asked yourself and the answers that you obtained through self-reflection. You can even add the date and time if you wish. I found this helpful because issues do have a way of cycling back through until we reach the heart of the matter.
I will reiterate one more time…these cards were initially a tool for focus, self-reflection and learning for initiates of religious practice that means monks, priests, priestesses, shamans, clergymen, rabbi’s, etc. way before they were used as a divination tool by fortune tellers and alleged psychics. It is a bit like a Mandala. It is a focusing tool and you can make them as simple or as complex as you need. I am going to keep it simple.
0 -The Fool (Awareness (physical)/Beginnings/Trust)
The Fool doesn’t mean that you are stupid or naïve, it is a very powerful card and represents a new beginning. This is metaphorically the first day of the rest of your life; a journey of self discovery. Keywords: carefree, foolish, important decisions, risks, new beginnings, optimistic, trust, innocence. As with all the cards, you should be asking yourself, “What is going on in my life right now?” or “How does this card apply to my life at this moment?” “What aspects in/of my life do I need to pay attention to?” Specific questions for this card: “What chapter of my life has just ended? and How do I feel about that?” What is in store for me next? and How does that make me feel?” “What are my options/opportunities?” “What risks are involved?”
What to remember about this card: Life is an adventure, enjoy it, be positive, see it with the wide-eyed, innocence and open- hearted optimism of a child.
# 1 -The Magician (Attention/Action/Skills)
The Magician, still the Fool, but with a bit of skill, talent, logic and intellect at his disposal. This card represents a realization of potential power, basically you have realized that you can attain a desired goal or effect by using specific tools that are at your disposal (talents, skills (logic/intellect), God-given gifts). Keywords: power, skill, concentration, action, communication, perception, making connections, problem solving. The questions that you need to ask are: “What are my motives for pursuing this goal/desire?” “What methods (talent/skills) would best be utilized to achieve said goal?” “What do I need to communicate clearly to others or myself to attain my goal?” “Are events/people in my life making me feel powerful or powerless?” “What skills/talents do I have at my disposal to improve this situation?”
What to remember about this card: You already have everything (tools/skills/talents) that you need to achieve your goals and have a successful life. If you can dream it, you can do it. You are a powerful conscious conduit, create your life.
#2 -The High Priestess (Awareness (emotional)/Memory/Wisdom)
The High Priestess represents the Fool’s awareness of how emotions play a role in life. You have realized that emotions play a vital role in how to deal with situations. You are learning to work with intuition and to trust it. You have understood that if you feel uncomfortable about your motives, actions or other people, you have an urge to step back. Listen to your intuition and trust it. Look inward and find a deeper level of understanding. Focus on the spiritual side of life. Keywords: Intuition, gut-hunch, higher-power, mystery, feelings, expressing emotion, harboring secrets (about self; things you don’t want to deal with).
Questions to ask yourself regarding this card: “How do I feel (emotionally) about my current situation, events, or relationships?” “Do I trust myself, inner-guidance/intuition? if not, Why?” “Do I believe in a Higher Power?” “Why? or Why not?” “How can I develop a more Spiritual side to my life?” “Where do I lack Faith in my Life?” “What inspires me?” “What aspects of my emotional life am I not dealing with? and How is that hindering progress in my journey towards better health, relationships, career, finances, etc..” “What are my dreams/aspirations?” “Do I feel I can achieve them? Why? Why not?” “What are my dreams (sleep visions) telling me?” What do I need to emotionally come to terms with?”
What to remember about this card: Trust your intuition/feelings, it will always point you in the right direction. Learn to recognize the signs/meanings and guidance that the universe is giving you. The Universe has your back so delve deep and uncover what you are hiding from yourself so you can move forward.
Photo: Window. Udaipur, Rajasthan, India. Nikon DSLR 5300, by Pamela