How To Read Tarot

Tarot is divided into two sections: Major and Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana starts with The Fool, which represents a fresh start. To grasp the full meaning of “The Fool,” we must examine our own cards.

I think many of us have heard that there’s something spooky and mystical regarding Tarot cards. There are all kinds of rules: “Never use someone else’s deck” “Never use a used deck.” “Never touch another person’s deck.” “Sleep with your deck.” “Wrap a special scarf around your deck.” And on and on.

However, when you are ready to choose your deck, it’s really about which deck truly “speaks” to you. The first deck I owned was actually a used one I purchased from a local metaphysical bookstore. The pictures were simple and lovely, and I was at a point in my life where I felt rejected. Holding that used deck, I felt as if the two of us — the deck and I — were supposed to go home together.

It’s been almost 20 years since that day, and I still consult that deck from time to time — because it’s always right! I have noticed that it’s developed a rather sage-like attitude and it’s stubborn: it becomes stiff sometimes, and it won’t shuffle for certain questions it doesn’t like.

The Tarot is divided into two sections: Major Arcana, and Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana starts with The Fool, which has no number and represents new beginnings.

To grasp the full meaning of “The Fool,” we must examine our own cards. Most representations of this card are of a Jester or a Joker — walking joyfully over a cliff. In my deck he is following a butterfly, carrying a bindle with all his possessions in it, and being trailed by a dog — with a May pole behind him.

The journey he is about to take will carry him into the unknown, but when I look much more closely there is a river beneath him with trees, valleys, and villages in it — and new things left to be seen and uncovered! If this card appears inverted (upside down) it represents folly, mistakes, impulse, intoxication, ignorance, and recklessness. However, if you look at the picture inverted it may show you that this person is about to have his world turned willy nilly. You’ll also want to remember that The Fool has no number. This may signify that beginnings can occur at just about any time–there is no set pattern! We’d like to believe that our lives have order, yet the joke is truly on us at times.

One of my favorite times that The Fool visited was during a reading for a young woman who was trying to pin down the location of a particular guy she really liked. She’d been calling him, and he wasn’t answering. I laid the cards out, and in the portion of the spread that represented “current things” — what I like to call “the hot seat” — sat The Fool.

Surrounding The Fool were a lot of cards that had blue in them; there were also several knights and pages. “I think he’s skiing,” I informed her. “I also believe he’s with his family, because there are a lot of kids around him.” Of course, that brought her no immediate satisfaction — but a week or so later she called again and told me that he indeed had been on a skiing holiday with his family — and he was learning on a kiddie slope!

And so we begin.

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