Growing up in an area of the US where anything outside of mainstream, conservative Christianity was considered suspect, tarot reading was considered a parlor trick at best and downright evil at worst. It had a reputation as a kind of “dark art”; something you should stay away from if you wanted to keep your salvation intake.
I looked at tarot through this narrow lens too for many years. It was during and after seminary that I finally felt free. I began to understand that this quest for goodness, and what we call God (known by many sacred names), is a journey with many paths. But this is a post saved for later…
Tarot has an old history which culturally is interesting to study. 78 cards, 22 of which are symbolic, archetypal cards called the major arcana, and the remaining 52 correspond to the 4 suits of a regular deck of playing cards with different names for the suits. Tarot has been understood as a divination tool as well as a game, but predominantly, in this time, we see it as a means of self-development and healing. It is looked at more as a way to gain understanding on a deeper level and to make smart choices accordingly, rather than as fortune telling.
Fortune telling always sounded very rigid to me, not taking into consideration the nuances and fluidity of life. Like any other narrow form of thought, it makes us more hyper-vigilant and of a closed mind, unable to see possibilities, unable to acknowledge the beauty of difference. Fundamentalism of all types is dangerous, as we see in our current world.
Tarot, as I utilize and understand it, is an instrument of invoking intuition in myself and in the questioner. It is a form of guidance that helps us look deeper within for answers and create new possibilities for moving forward. It isn’t magic and the cards are just cards. But there is sacred all around us and the Divine is ever present. There are many ways that we can see and understand ourselves deeper so that we live more in line with the good… the beauty, the kindness, and the purposes of our lives.