Tarot cards are a deck used for divination. The cards are ritually shuffled and spread out. Each card’s position in the arrangement of the spread is significant. Tarot card readings are not meant to provide definitive answers; they merely reflect the energies and directions of a situation (Guiley).
The tarot deck is mad up of of 78 cards divided into two groups or arcana (meaning secret or mysteries). There are 22 major arcana cards called trumps or keys and 56 minor arcana cards, arranged into four suits (sets). The cards of the major arcana represent key situational turning points and decisions. The cards are spread out in a circle, known as the journey of the fool (a metaphor for the journey through life), the numbers of the major arcana cards can show you where you are in any life phase. The court cards are the page, knight, queen and king of each suite. They can be interpreted as specific people or situations (Dean).
The 56 cards of the minor arcana relate to events which can be changed They are divided into four suits: cups, wands, sword, and pentacles. The cards correspond to the suits of hearts, clubs, spades, and diamonds in a deck of playing cards. The person being read for either shuffles the cards or places his/her hands on them before they are spread out, in order to transmit some of his/her energy onto them. The tarot reader may deal three cards to represent the past, present and future. Three additional cards can be dealt below them, to clarify anything which is unclear. When five cards are dealt instead of three, the first represents the past, the second is the present, the third reveals any mysteries, the fourth provides suggestions, and the fifth relates to the future (Webster).
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Guiley, Rosemary Ellen, Harper’s Encyclopedia of Mystical & Paranormal Experience, Castle Books, 1991.
Dean, Liz, The Divination Handbook: The Modern Seer’s Guide to Using Tarot, Crystals, Palmistry and More, Fair Winds Press, 2019.
Webster, Richard, Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Divination: Your Definitive Source for Learning Predictive & Prophetic Techniques (Llewellyn’s Complete Book Series (11)), Llewellyn Publications, 2017.