Understanding Tarot

Understanding Tarot | California Psychics

Tarot: The Divination Tool

The tarot is a fascinating tool for divination, belonging to a psychic tradition that has existed in the world for centuries. Depending on who you ask, the early tarot originated in ancient Egypt, while others credit both the French and Italian cultures for passing along the tradition, as tarot decks appeared in Europe as early as the late 14 or early 15 centuries. It has long been speculated that the first Tarot deck, consisting of 78 cards, was a special offering meant for only those who were properly initiated into its deeper meanings.

Understanding the Major and Minor Arcana

The basic tarot deck is divided into what is called the Major and Minor Arcana. If you have seen a tarot deck, you will observe that there are some cards that are more ornately drawn, usually with more symbolic images. These are the 22 cards in the Major Arcana. The Magician, for example, or The Fool, are cards within the Major Arcana. The Minor Arcana are the cards that fall into the categories of cups, swords, wands, coins, and the “court” cards – the kings, queens, knights and pages. Legend has it that those who were trained to appreciate the power of the tarot for psychic readings knew how to use the entire deck; those who were not could take out the major arcana cards and play “solitaire”, “poker” or “gin rummy”. Whether or not those games existed hundreds of years ago, the point is that without the major arcana, the tarot deck is very similar to a deck of cards. (Which is why some psychic readers can do readings with an ordinary deck of playing cards. The two of hearts next to Jack of Diamonds signals a new romantic interest.)

Common Tarot Decks

Most of us who have had a reading in person and seen a tarot deck or tarot images are probably familiar with the Waite-Rider deck. This colorful deck can usually be purchased at a local bookstore or gift shop, and has become a recognizable part of popular culture. (Several years ago, I went to a rock concert and the singer, Madonna, had used animated images from the Waite-Rider deck as part of her background stage performance. It was truly something to see The Fool and The Justice card come to life.) Today, there are literally hundreds of different tarot decks to choose from. Some of these decks are based on a theme and vary in shape and size. I’ve seen miniature decks that can fit in the palm of your hand. There is no right and wrong in tarot decks, only what kind of deck you respond to personally. The relationship you have to a tarot deck is a sacred, like a friendship, and if you are choosing a deck, it is important to find the one that is right for you.

Should You Buy A Tarot Deck?

I’ve heard fellow readers who have argued that you should never buy your own deck. Instead, someone should give you the gift of a tarot deck and that is the deck you should use. It’s a nice idea, and a gifted deck of tarot cards has a lovely vibration as any gift does, but I find it a little silly to think that someone should wait for someone else to buy them a deck of tarot cards before they can start to learn. And if you are gifted a deck that you have no connection to whatsoever, don’t use it. If you are interested in the tarot, and you believe that it is calling you, take the time to research the deck that is right for you. Bookstores tend to keep their decks sealed and behind the counter in some cases, but New Age stores may have sample decks that are already opened, or you can search the name of the deck online, view images, and usually see what a deck looks like. You will know when you see “your deck” – always trust your instincts. I know readers who love a beautifully drawn, ornate deck exploding with color and writing, and other readers who find that type of deck way too fussy. Again, there is no right or wrong, but what is right for you.

The deck that I use includes Egyptian hieroglyphics and is very intricately drawn, but sometimes I work with the Waite-Rider deck, and I’ve found that very useful as well. I chose my Egyptian deck because it was the one I learned with when I first began studying with a relative around the age of 13. This deck has astrological symbols, numerology, and the Kabballah. I feel that the more I study, the more I learn, even today. The Minor Arcana in my deck is more basic, the 3 of cups in my deck is just that, three little cups, whereas, in other decks, you will see a group of people rejoicing on the beach in celebration at wonderful news or a happy event. The meanings are the same, but if you are studying for the first time, you may decide you want to work with a deck that has more images rather than fewer, to help you learn the meanings of each card.

There Are Different Tarot Decks
Just as there are many different types of decks, there are also hundreds of spreads that readers use when doing a tarot reading. You may have heard the term, “Celtic Cross”, “Horseshoe” or the “Yes and No” spread. I turn cards over in a configuration that I’ve created that works for me. I also use reverse placements in my readings. Some readers chose to interpret the cards the same way whether they are right side up or upside down, and this works for them. When I read for a client, I am aware that The Hermit card right side up means that it is time to go deeper within, to be quiet, and to focus on oneself. An upside-down Hermit reveals that perhaps there has been too much time spent in isolation. If someone expresses frustration about dating and I see the Hermit card upside down, I may ask if they are going out and meeting people, or using a dating site?

You will find as you study the tarot that you will develop your own relationship and meanings with your cards. While most books on the tarot will agree on general interpretations, you may decide that in your favorite deck, when the angel in the lovely pink gown show up it means that someone needs to forgive. I’ve found, for my clients, how you interpret the cards matters only when it leads to them having a better understanding of their lives or gives an answer to their question.

Tarot Decks Give Powerful Information

While I have a deep respect for psychics who choose not to use tools, I have found that my deck has been a powerful way for me to receive psychic information from my guides. I am excited when I do a reading and I am able to share something that the client hasn’t mentioned. For example, the Emperor comes up in a reading on romance. I ask: “This woman you are asking me about? You both work at the same company, correct?” and the client confirms that I’m right. Or I see the Five of Coins in a reading about a cross-country move. I am able to say, “You are worried that you don’t have all the money you need at this time.” Or, finally, when the subject comes up about a client’s ex and I see the Two of Cups. I tell her that her ex recently called to get back together and that’s why she’s calling.

“How can you possibly know that!” she exclaims. I tell her, it’s in the cards.


Tarot card readings give you a deeper connection to Spirit. This means you’ll get the unadulterated insights you need about your past, present, and future, but only if you read with a tarot card psychic.

Find a tarot card psychic or learn more about tarot card readings.


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