The Most Detailed Answers To The Question What Are Tarot Cards

Do You Know What Are Tarot Cards?

Tarot is an ancient and mysterious Western divination technique, not the same as the Eastern fortune telling. Although it has the function of divination, it is contrary to the concept of fortune-telling: “fate is determined by God, things are done by man”. The so-called fate is the inevitable in the accident, and the inevitable in the accident, after the many combinations of the things, people and circumstances you encounter, then the fate is formed.

But the tarot cards are telling you that fate is beyond the control of anyone or anything, even the gods, because it is in our own hands, and it will change depending on our decisions, choices, and perceptions. Therefore, while the tarot card tells you the many possibilities that will appear in your destiny, it also tells you how to deal with it, and even tells you what kind of right attitude you should use to face your life.

What are tarot cards, if we go deeper? Actually, Tarot cards do not refer to a fixed kind of cards, in fact there are many different kinds of tarot decks and custom tarot cards, but most of them are extended from the three major Tarot systems in the world (Marseilles Tarot, Rider-Waite Tarot, Thoth Tarot) as the blueprint. You can choose one of these systems to learn, and after you master it, you can choose your favorite tarot cards or print your own tarot cards to use.

What Is The History Of Tarot Cards?

Tarot cards have mysterious and diverse origins. Because there is insufficient existing evidence and information to determine the exact origin of tarot cards, different origins and histories of Tarot have been circulated in Egypt, Italy, France, Hebrew, China and other places. The following picture shows some of the most familiar time points in Tarot history, and more explanations about Tarot history will be gradually updated in our blog, please stay tuned.

Important time points in Tarot history
Important time points in Tarot history

How Many Cards In a Tarot Deck?

The current standard tarot deck is composed of 78 cards, which can also be divided into 22 major cards (Major Arcana) and 56 minor cards (Minor Arcana). This division is currently accepted in international tarot circles, so basically there are no cases where this version of the tarot is 80 cards and that version is 70 cards.

Of course, maybe you see some versions of custom tarot cards with 80 cards. This is because a few of them are advertising cards or empty cards specially designed by the tarot designer. But the structure of 78 tarot cards is fixed.

What is the use of Tarot cards?

The main use of tarot cards is prediction and divination, which involve psychological expertise and we can call “Psychological projection”. In everyday life, it is difficult for people to be aware of their subconscious mind, but the subconscious mind has a profound influence on how we think ourselves or others, and they are reflected in our behavioral activities. Thus, through the strange and allegorical images and characters on the faces, the tarot deck can drive people to consciously associate with actual or fictional stories and release the subconscious. Similar methods include dream interpretation, meditation, etc.

Psychological projection
Psychological projection

These symbols and pictures will make each person’s association different, and this is the uniqueness of the tarot cards. But at the same time, tarot cards also have commonality, it will distill and depict the points of objective facts that are common to society and commonly experienced by everyone, so that even though the small details are different, the general direction can be consistent. This ensures that the emotions of the divining parties are connected and that what is spoken is not vague.

Before using tarot cards, please take a moment to read more articles that can give you the right guidance, and do not divine blindly and foolishly. Please respect the tarot cards and yourself, and look at tarot divination with the right mind.

How To Use Tarot Cards?

In the traditional form of tarot divination, there are two subjects: the “seeker” and the “reader”. The “seeker” is the one who encounters a problem, feels confused and wants to get directions, while the “reader” is the one who interprets the cards drawn by the seeker. In principle, there is no universally accepted rule for the tarot divination process, and each person has his or her own habits and preferences.

1) Rituals

Tarot decks have evolved over time and developed a dizzying array of rituals. In fact, most of the fancy rituals can be omitted without affecting the accuracy, and as long as they are not pretentious, the reader can selectively perform different rituals according to his/her own preference, or even create a one.

In this way, rituals become more like personal habits and can make people feel comfortable, thus achieving the effect of concentration. However, there is a small disadvantage of using rituals: once the habit of practicing rituals is developed, it may cause the reader to become too dependent on the rituals. If the ritual cannot be performed, he or her may feel out of sorts and the accuracy of the solution may be affected.

Common items for the rituals
Common items for the rituals

Though there are no set rules in tarot divination, we can still draw from past experience a few steps that must be followed:

2)Ask a constructive question  

This is an key point in tarot divination, and how to ask a good question is not as simple as you might think. Here is a guideline for reference: ask questions that have “room for change”.

Instead of asking “Will he leave me?” and wait helplessly, you should ask “How can I improve our relationship?” or “What does the current situation look like for me and him in the future?” . It is critical to understand that the answer provided by the tarot cards is not the only result, but rather – the result of the situation as it evolves without human intervention.

To use this analogy, we can think of life as a computer game with multiple endings, where each choice the player makes leads to a different ending, and the tarot cards are a cheating tool that can secretly tell the player what ending he will get if he goes ahead with his current choices. And if the player is not satisfied with the ending, he can always change. Therefore, the real result is still in the hands of the player/seeker. 

3) Adjust the environment and mood  

There is a close relationship between the mindset of the seeker and the reader, so please do not come to tarot analysis with the mindset of a game, especially when divining for others, make sure that they really want to solve the problem, not just for fun, disbelief, or even wanting to test the reader’s power. If this premise is not achieved, it is easy to get incorrect results, and not helpful to solve the problem at all.   

And there are no strict limits when it comes to the environment. A quiet place can help you relax and concentrate, but if you have the ability to concentrate in a noisy environment, why not? Of course, the most basic thing is to have a clean table, which should not be too small to avoid inconvenience when shuffling or using large card formations. For those who are more sophisticated, you can put a cloth on the table to protect the tarot cards, and the black one is especially recommended, as it makes the images of tarot deck look particularly clear and sharp. 

Black tarot cloth-what are tarot cards
Black tarot cloth

4)Decide the tarot spread and layout

Choose a suitable spread according to the question of the seeker. It is always better to decide the spread before shuffling the cards, otherwise the cart will be put before the horse. While deciding on the spread or layout, the problem of using the indicator cards or cutting cards will also be solved. Please stay tuned for more detailed explanation of the tarot spreads in our blog. 

5) Shuffle and cut several times / How To Shuffle Tarot Cards?

How to shuffle and cut tarot cards? Generally speaking, you need to shuffle and cut the tarot cards in a certain way and a certain order. Because these process represents the order and wisdom that emerges when chaos and chance mix. When you shuffle and cut the cards several times, the deck becomes a pile of cards with a completely new order. Then you can draw the corresponding cards with your consciousness and intuition. In other words, we are in communication with the tarot cards during the whole process of shuffling and cutting. Here are some of the more commonly used methods: 

  • The universal method

First place the whole tarot deck face up and on the table, then scrub like the following GIF, both clockwise and counterclockwise are OK. This way is suitable for any tarot card, you can shuffle the cards completely, and separate the upright and reversed cards. The only disadvantage is that it is more demanding for the desktop environment, and it is best to have a tarot cloth.

The Universal Method
The universal method
  • The upright & reversed method

If you don’t like reversed tarot readings, you can use these methods pictured below. These shuffles are suitable for smaller venues and do not disrupt the position of the upright or reversed. However, be careful to move gently, otherwise it will easily leave creases or rough edges on your tarot deck.

Side-drawing method
Side-drawing method
Frontal drawing method
Frontal drawing method
  • The splitting method

This is somewhat similar to the shuffle method of playing cards. First, the tarot cards are divided into several copies and dealt out separately. Then the cards are taken back in no particular order. If you prefer to use the reversed cards, you can also put it upside down, and then shuffle the cards again by drawing. This way is very good for the divination parties to concentrate and thus get a better sense with the tarot cards. The drawback may be that it is more troublesome to use.

Splitting method Ⅰ
Splitting method Ⅰ
Splitting method Ⅱ
Splitting method Ⅱ

Of course, shuffling and cutting are not limited to the above methods. You are free to choose the way that suits you, mainly to make sure that you can shuffle & cut the cards evenly enough. And it doesn’t matter whether the cards are shuffled by a seeker or a reader, or whether the eyes are open or closed when shuffling or cutting.

6) Draw and spread the tarot cards

Spread out the tarot cards back side up and arrange them in a fan shape like the following picture. The number of cards needed is drawn by the seeker, and then the reader put the cards in a decided tarot spread or layout. The step of drawing must be done by the seeker. If someone else draws the cards instead, there is always a medium in between and it does not reflect the most realistic side of the event. Other than that, it does not matter whether the left or right hand is used, or whether the eyes are open or closed.

Tarot's fan arrangement
Tarot’s fan arrangement

7) Reading/ How To Read Tarot Cards? 

Many tarot cards beginners are desperate to memorize the cards in the process of learning. But since there are 78 tarot cards in itself, plus the reversed cards and spread changes, there is a lot of stuff to memorize. If you simply try to memorize the meaning of the cards, you will definitely exhaust yourself and be inefficient. So, it is advisable to focus on understanding. Tarot cards are cards with images, and you can read them according to the patterns and symbol. Of course, the basics knowledge are also not missing. The following will describe the three main competencies required for tarot reading:

① Master the basic knowledge

This is essential. First of all, you must know tarot’s origin, history, the meaning of its numbers and colors in the cards, and more importantly, the meaning of the four elements in the cards. We will update a new series in our blog later: tarot cards meaning list with pictures. This series will be divided into several articles, to introduce the meaning and analysis of each tarot card in detail. However, when you know them all, they will only help you 50% when it comes to reading.

② Observe the pictures

Tarot cards have images on them. You need to develop a sense of immersion and bring yourself into the picture. Imagine how you would feel if you were in this environment. Find the feeling, and according to your understanding, then combine it with the question needs of the seeker to read the cards. This session will help you another 30%.

③ Cultivate the sixth sense

Cultivate your sixth sense, also known as intuitive power. In fact, when you have been in contact with Tarot for a period of time, you will naturally have a keen insight beyond the others. You will think: “How come I suddenly become so perceptive in the face of problems?”. When you divine for others, as soon as the cards open, you will have a feeling: “Oh, the truth of this matter turns out to be this, and I already have the answer!”. This is your intuitive power, given to you by the “book of wisdom”, the tarot cards! And this ability can help you with the remaining 20%!

How To Cleanse Tarot Cards?

  • Herb purification

There are some people who will buy herbs to burn and then go around the tarot cards like incense to purify. Not only the cards, you can also incense the space you are in to eliminate the negative energy around you. The most used herb today is sage.

  • Natural light purification

Some people do not like strange smell inside the place, so they will use moonlight or sunlight to purify their cards. For example, after a period of use, you can put the cards by a window, where they can bask in the moonlight or sunlight, spread it out, or a whole deck of cards stacked together and let it go to absorb the energy to do the purification.

  • Crystal Purification

Using crystals is also a very common way to cleanse tarot cards. It is said that you just need to place the tarot decks within a crystal cave or use some higher energy crystals and place the cards around them to have a purifying effect on the magnetic field.

  • Powder purification

This method can be said to truly “clean the cards”. It use talcum powder or baby powder to gently rub each card. After this, you will find the colors of the tarot cards are renewed and the energy of the tarot will be more pure.

By the end of this article, you should have a full and certain understanding of the question “What Are Tarot Cards”. The world of Tarot is vast, and what we know is only a part of it. Like the Hermits in the cards, tarot cards are just a mental light for everyone. Every step of using Tarot, we have a collision of consciousness, and what seems to be “unintentional” is in fact “intentional”. When we get the guidance of our mind, we can then be brave enough to make a move and step through the door of destiny.