My Latest Tarot-related Activity
Alright, here it is.
Lately I've been doing quite a bit of research. One can simply teach themselves to read Tarot by intuition or memorizing the basic meanings given in the booklet that comes with each deck, or a combination of both methods, but I prefer to delve deeper. I also enjoy astrology and ritual magic, both of which can be connected to the Tarot.
Astrology enhances Tarot, and Tarot and magic can support each other. For those interested in such connections, check out Donald Tyson's book Portable Magic, which talks about using Tarot cards to cast magic spell among other things. Although he doesn't discuss using tarot for divination purposes, the information he offers can be used to supplement your knowledge of the cards and therefore their divinitory uses.
For most people, learning about the 21 cards of the Major Arcana, also called Trumps, is the easiest part. They are the most unique and often attributed the most significance in a reading. Unless you count the Fool's Journey, they have no set pattern the way that the Number cards (Pips) or Court cards do. As is each card in Tarot, the Trumps are assigned astrological significance in the form of a planet, zodiacal sign, or a "higher" element. Some give the World both Saturn and the element earth, but I choose to consider that the element of earth is encompassed by all the number cards and therefore not needed in the Major Arcana.
I may go into more details about the Major Arcana another time.
For now, I've been studying the Number Cards of the Minor Arcana, also know as the Pip cards. Like a deck of poker cards, there are 4 suits, each numbered from 1-10, or A-10. However, the suits are different and more symbolic than that of poker cards, taking into account the elements, medieval social classes, numerological and astrological significance, and even associations with the Kabbalah.
The spades have been replaced by Swords which represent the element of Air, the social class of Knighthood and battle as well as scribes and knowledge. The diamonds have been replaced with Pentacles or Disks which represent the element Earth, the social class of merchants their money but also the working class with their connection to the fruits of the earth. The clubs have become Wands which represent Fire, standing for the ruling class and their dominance, authority, and concern with waging war or instilling order. Finally, the Hearts are the suit of Cups, the element of Water, which represent both the spirituality of the priesthood and to a lesser degree the emotions of artists. These suits make the foundation upon which the number cards are based.
As a general rule, Wands and Cups (fire and water) are opposites and conflict with each other, where Swords and Pentacles (air and earth) are in opposition. Fire and Air are masculine elements and Water and Earth are feminine. Usually, a basic knowledge of the elements is enough to make simple but accurate readings, so studying these should be of first priority to new Tarot students.