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Introduction to Tarot For the Novice

Author: Grey Ghost
Posted: December 20th. 2015
Times Viewed: 2,036

Divination is a means of seeing beyond the present into the future or past, dependent upon what the witch desires. The primary purpose of divination is to look deeply into the native’s spiritual needs, assisting when possible, aiding the native to advance spiritually. This segment will deal with tarot cards. The deck you use for your readings depends entirely upon you; that is what appeals to your taste and belief system. As research, I looked at several Internet sales points and counted over 90 tarot decks aimed at Pagan, Witch, Shaman, or Wicca belief systems. Strangely that list does not include two of my favorite older tarot decks. Of the decks available, I would have to say that the “Waite” deck, and its offspring, the “Rider” deck, and then the “Golden Dawn” deck probably have the most complete distinct symbolism. These decks have numerous symbols of differing types on each card.

When I was young, after my dad’s death, a favorite aunt began teaching me tarot and astrology. She used a standard deck of playing cards to explain the basics. I practiced on using these techniques to explore my recent loss with little success because, as I would discover some years later, one cannot effectively do a tarot reading for yourself. Divination is a means of connecting your inner spiritual being with another’s inner spiritual being. This can be done with or without the help of your Spirit Guide. When you try to use divination to connect your inner spiritual being to your own inner spiritual being, i.e. “do a personal reading”, there is kind of a short circuit and you tend to end up communicating with your own Id or Ego; not a desired result for spiritual advancement.

There are numerous sets of tarot decks and books that very experienced author/readers have placed on the market in hopes that you will buy them and attempt to learn tarot. The primary problem with this method of learning tarot is that the interpretations of those books are that author’s interpretation of what the cards mean and not yours.

Tarot is Not a science! You cannot come up with a standard meaning for each card, file it away and then when you do a reading fill in the banks as the cards come up in sequence. If one could, then computers could do personalized tarot readings. Tarot is an art, which requires a lot of hours of practice to become proficient at. The cards are only tools used by the artist. Using a standardized text of what a card can represent will not make you an artist of tarot, but you can meditate in depth on each card and produce a list of ideas. At that time that you can do a complete reading without the aid of your book of prompts, you are an artist of tarot.

Choosing a deck is best done in a brick and mortar store. When buying a new deck, I like to pick the deck up, feeling its aura if you will. The best choices in decks I have made have been when they feel warm and inviting to the touch. Somewhere in my collection I have acquired over a dozen decks of which I use only two and of course my wife has her own deck. You could say it is kind of like the “Harry Porter” series of books to paraphrase: “the deck picks you rather than you picking the deck”. One must feel the Magick in the tarot deck to become an artist.

Each card has two basic meanings: when you turn a card up, if the card is right side up you use one type of interpretation and if the card is upside down you use the reverse of that interpretation. Now play close attention to this next comment. There are no “end of the world, doomsday” cards in a tarot deck. The “hanged man” or “death” card does NOT mean someone will die. It is absolutely unethical and morally wrong to give a reading of “death and destruction” to another person just to get a sense of power or to frighten them. [In any of the arts of the Craft, if you have entered into this path with the idea of “look at me” or “see how bad I look in black”, would you please quietly leave the pursuit of the Craft now?]

Let us take a quick look at a card to illustrate: picking a three of wands/staffs by chance from my “Rider” deck. From the little book enclosed with the deck: “A calm, stately figure, with his back turned, looking down a cliff …etc.” And the little book goes on about divinatory messages, “He symbolizes established strength, thought, enterprise, effort … reversed, the end of troubles, the mind becomes free, suspension or cessation of adversity, toil and disappointment.”

Now if I go to another book from a different deck it reads, “Thoughts have form and therefore direction. They have taken shape and have become clear … reversed, failure to listen, don’t accept the thoughts of others.” Two different decks, same card and two very different interpretations, but is one wrong?

No! The authors of the different books saw what they saw and wrote down an interpretation. This is part of the problem that the novice tarot reader is faced with when they first become interested in tarot, that being, the novice tends to insist that the little book is correct and will try to learn the tarot through this revealed information. The Craft must be learned through experimental means to be of spiritual value to Seeker on the path of the Craft. The novice must purchase or otherwise acquire a tarot deck they are spiritually comfortable with and meditate through each card. This takes time, most likely about six to eight months, which most novices are not willing to spend. This latest generation seems to want instant everything, which I suppose is normal, remembering I was in a big hurry to grow up and to learn all the wisdom of the world in one day when I was that age.

In case you might be interested, my interpretation of that card is, “Staffs (air) : Thoughts are taking a new form. Give them breath to be effective. Ideas have taken shape and have become clear. Understanding. Follow up on ideas; continue to pursue them. Although we have many reasons for doing so, we often live with decisions that are bad choices. Some people are happy with this, while you really need a breathe of fresh air at this time to be happy. Reverse: Thoughts are those given to you, not ones you have developed yourself. Failure to listen to inner spiritual self. Lack of understanding. Querent should strive to think for himself or herself. There is more to be known of the matter, but it will require original thought.”

“We can’t always avoid the contradictions of life, and we can’t always resolve them, but poor choices and signs of crisis alert us to other possibilities. Thus, crisis is often the mother of invention, ” as taken from my BOS.

Interesting that I choose this card at random and it came up reversed. That it fits the text must be some kind of art? The kid still has it at sixty-three.

There a number of ways to lay out the cards to do a reading with the ‘Celtic Cross’ probably being the most common. The four seasons lay out, by Chris Reed, is also a good one I found from one of my favorite authors, r.i.p. There is nothing to say you cannot make up your own layout, but you should include a few basic points. The layout should include cards that represent influences and events that affect the native. It should include cards that represent past events and influences. It should include cards that depict the future events, influences and environment that will affect positive spiritual growth. And finally, there should be one or more cards to identify the hopes or fears that will affect the finial outcome of altering the native’s path.

If you are truly interested in learning tarot, I suggest that you first find a competent artist and receive a reading, preferably from two different readers with the question, “should I endeavor to learn the tarot?

Bless'd Be ... Grey Ghost

"The Witches Tarot" by Ellen Cannon Reed, 1989. Llewellyn Press
"Complete Book of Witchcraft" by Raymond Buckland, 1988, Llewellyn Press.
"Rider Tarot" deck U.S. Games designed by Pamela Colman Smith under A.E. Waite


Grey Ghost

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