What Is Tarot and How To Use a Tarot Deck - Teal Swan Articles - Teal Swan Jump to content

What Is Tarot and How To Use a Tarot Deck

Chances are if you have even remotely dipped your pinky toe into spirituality, you have heard of Tarot.  Traditionally, since the 1400s, the tarot was a deck of cards much like playing cards.  Traditionally there were 78 cards in the deck.  And originally people would play card games with the deck.  The original tarot was a lot like the modern day playing cards, which all have specific suits that dictate the way the game is played.  Each card of the tarot symbolizes something and based on the symbol drawn the game unfolds in a specific way.

But the tarot’s purpose extended far beyond a card game.  Symbols are used to represent entire concepts such a spiritual principals, philosophical ideas and societal archetypes.  And each card in the tarot does just that.  It represents an entire concept.  And as such, it is used as a tool of divination.  Divination is the practice of seeing the unknown by supernatural means.  For example, most people do not see the future.  But tools like tealeaf reading or looking into a crystal ball can potentially allow people to see the future.  Tarot cards function like that.  And this is the primary function of tarot cards today.  In principal, whatever card is drawn or dealt is revelatory or provides insight to the person the divination is in service of.

There is no way to tell you the single origin of the tarot cards because the tarot cards that you see today, which are designed and used strictly for occult practices rather than for playing cards, are a very rich blend of influences.  The symbolism of the cards has roots in things like Egyptian mythology and Jewish Kabbalah and Gypsy beliefs and Buddhist Dahrma and Christian doctrine and Celtic Druidic practice.

Most decks are divided into the major and the minor arcana.  The major arcana consists of 22 cards.  They are the foundation of the tarot deck and in general reveal major life changes as well as the path of awareness, meaning and understanding.  The minor arcana consists of fifty-six cards and they are made up of four suits which ultimately represent the elements. The cups, pentacles, swords and wands.  They relate directly to things of a more practical and human nature and in general, tend to reveal things that are critical to know but that are more down to earth and day-to-day in nature.  Used together the major and minor arcana reveal the full story of the interaction between supernatural and worldy influences.  They reveal the relationship between the earthly realm and the divine realm relative to the subject at hand.

In traditional tarot, it matters whether the card is drawn in reverse or right side up.  Because the meaning changes depending on which way the card is drawn.  There are different arrangements for the cards to be drawn in.  These are called ‘spreads’.  And every practitioner has a different way of shuffling, cutting, dealing, choosing, and cleansing the deck.

Like astrology, traditional tarot is like Pandora’s box.  And it can literally be a way of life.  You can dive so deeply into it that there seems to be no end to the information and subtleties you find.  For the sake of a video this short, there is just no way to summarize even a fraction of it.  So if you are interested in it, by all means, dive into it. Study all the various interpretations and opinions on this highly symbolic and esoteric tool that you can find.

Oracle cards serve the same purpose as tarot cards.  Oracle card is a catchall term for cards designed for divination but that are not designed in accordance to the structure, tradition and archetypes of the tarot form of divination.  As such, they do not necessarily inherently have the ancient, esoteric thought form of ‘Tarot’ attached to them.  There is no inherent tradition or particular structure to them.  All that is left up to the creator of the cards.  The decks can contain any number of cards.  They are also designed around a particular theme such as angels or spirit animals etc.

I love both forms of divination.  I have found oracle decks that I far prefer to many tarot decks and tarot decks that I far prefer to many oracle decks.  To generalize however, the thing I love the most about tarot cards is that they, and the spreads used to read them, are designed to weave together a full picture or story of the subject in question.  Many oracle decks are not designed to paint a full and detailed picture or story of all that is going on or what will happen and why.  They are more geared towards quick insight and breaking patterns that are limiting us through providing insight or awareness.

Even though there is a difference between the tarot cards and oracle cards, in many circles, you will hear the names used interchangeably because their purpose is the same.  For the rest of this article, assume that by saying tarot cards, I’m referring to any cards, including oracle cards, whose purpose is divination.

In reality, no one needs a tool in order to divine.  Every being walking this earth is an extension of source energy and therefore has the capacity to experience the mind and heart of what we call the Universe or God.  You are like an antennae who is born to receive the frequencies in the universe that exist beyond your limited time space reality.  Not many people manage to stay conscious of that receptivity to the degree that they can make use of it.  And for this reason, using an intermediary tool, such as tarot cards can be beneficial when the intuitive ‘signal’ is not clear.

Like any good divination tool, the deck you choose should be a vibrational match to you.  It should be one that you resonate with.  This yields the best results.  The cards that ‘speak to you’ will perform the best for you.  You can of course have many tarot decks in your arsenal instead of just one.  But you will find that naturally, you will have a ‘go to’ deck that is your principal tool and you will soon notice that you will gravitate to specific decks for specific issues and applications.  Just like there are different tools for different jobs, there are different tarot decks for different divination purposes.  For example, one deck may be a much better tool for divining relative to a situation that involves a romantic relationship than another.  Or one deck may be a much better tool for divining life purpose.  So set the intention for the universe to draw you to your deck or decks and also, let yourself intuitively gravitate towards the one that you feel would be best for each scenario you want guidance about.

Because the cards are simply a tool that assists the intuition of the person doing a card reading, a reading is really influenced by the reader. A tarot reading is just as vulnerable to projection and spiritual bypassing as a straightforward psychic reading.  This is why a tarot reading can be so very different from one reader to the next, even if the same cards are drawn. Tarot is wide open for interpretation and perspective.  This is also why as a reader, it is critical to deepen your own spiritual practice and be deeply committed to awakening and deeply aware of your own strengths and shadows so that you can be a clear channel for the people hiring you for readings.  This is also why it is important to really ‘feel out’ the person doing your reading and to realize that not all readers are created equal.  I personally find that the very best diviners in general, including card readers, tend to have a deep and even dark, esoteric feel to them.  They tend to be the least afraid of information beyond the senses and as such, have the fewest filters for interpretation.  These people also tend to have the highest level of genetic influence for esoteric art forms, which lends itself to the craft.

That being said, the best reader of any specific deck often has an energy that is the most close to the energies that deck is designed to access.  For example, a person who has an angelic presence is most likely going to give you the best reading out of an angel deck.  A person with an earthy, shamanic energy is going to give you the best reading out of a shamanic deck.  A person with a dark arts energy to them is going to give you the best reading out of a shadow deck.  This is because their own frequency is not so different from the interdimensional energies you are consulting during the reading and so their translation will be much more exact.

In general it is a good rule of thumb to follow your joy.  But I want you to start playing around with fear a bit.  There is a kind of fear that happens when you are headed in the direction of expansion.  Lets call this good fear.  It is just resistance to something that is in alignment for you.  For example, we may feel fear committing to someone who we really love because of the fear that we may lose them in the future.  This fear is a growing pain.  It’s about getting out of your current comfort zone.  There is another kind of fear that clearly says, “this is not good for me, there is actual danger here and this person is really out of alignment”.  This fear is an indication that something is not right for us personally.

If we are not receiving our intuition clearly, there is a good chance that fear has muddled the specific subject we are struggling to understand through a tarot reading.  Our conscious mind is not seeing something clearly because our subconscious is involved.  As a result, our conscious mind will have resistance to becoming fully aware.  Because of this, you will most likely feel a bit of anxiety relative to a reader who is able to divine clearly for your specific situation.  Not the ‘this is not right for me’ guidance that there is actual danger but the resistance to growth or knowing kind of fear.  For this reason, provided you want an honest reading as opposed to simply a feel good reading, it is actually a good idea if you feel this shred of fear relative to a reader, to ask yourself which kind of fear it is and to ultimately select a divination expert who evokes a bit of this ‘outside my comfort zone’ fear in you.

Using tarot cards can definitely sharpen your intuitive ability.  Like anything, it can also become a crutch that you become dependent on for lack of self trust.  But you will begin to notice that your readings (whether you are doing them for yourself or someone is doing them for you) will become more like confirmations than revelations.  This is your validation that the insight already belonged to you and that you were simply not trusting it.  Then you can practice writing down your intuition about the answer before each card is drawn.  Eventually the cards will be more ‘fun to use on occasion’ or in situations where you are truly not clear, rather than essential.  As you use tarot cards, you become more and more familiar with the unique feeling of interdimensional beings and information and thus more and more adept at evoking it and interacting with it and channeling it.

Treat your tarot cards like a bridge between you and whatever energies in this universe contain the answer to the questions you are asking.  And you want this bridge to be as clear as possible so your consciousness and the consciousness of those who have your answers can connect across it with ease and without obstruction.  This means, clear your space and clear yourself.  For the best results, make sure your body is clear of alcohol and junk food and that you are do not eat grounding foods.  No meat or dairy, no root vegetables.  Make sure the space you are doing the reading in is also clear of clutter.  If you add anything to the environment, make sure you add things that assist the reading, like candles or crystals for example.  Make sure you are not in a rush.  I detest psychic fairs where your readings are done with psychics on a timer.  In this case, time constraint is serving as an obstruction.

Also, just like crystals, some decks need to be cleared and others do not.  Trust your intuition about which decks are in fact improved by not being cleared and which ones need to be cleared.  If in doubt, air on the side of clearing.  Some people are really strict about their decks.  They don’t want anyone else’s energy influencing the decks and so they don’t let anyone touch their decks and obsessively cleanse them if the travesty of someone touching them should occur.

Let yourself be the one to decide how controlling and ritualized you are going to be about your decks, but I do want to just mention that the tarot is a tool for divination.  Your ability to divine exists within you and cannot be ‘damaged’ so chances are to the degree that you are attached to and identified with your deck, you rely that heavily on the tool itself for your intuition and thus distrust your own ‘channel’ to that very degree.  Being extremely attached to your deck and projecting supernatural power onto it does imbue the deck itself with a great deal of power, this is why so many religious relics maintain their power centuries after their creator or owner dies.  But beware that the power you give your decks, may just be power you are not owning in yourself.

Clearing a deck essentially wipes the slate clean so you’re working with a fresh, clean tool that can serve as a clearer channel for the divine.  Some methods of clearing decks are using white sage smoke and smudging the deck, placing a clearing crystal on them that corresponds directly to the energy of the specific deck (use your intuition for this one), setting them out under the moon, burying them in the ground for a night, burying them in salt and shuffling the deck and cutting it until you feel a sense of “completeness”.

The first thing I suggest doing before your reading is to mentally ask for your guides or angels to come in and not only assist, but also provide protection for the reading.  I have a mixed feeling about protection because by focusing on protection, you are also focusing on there being something you need to be protected against.  But if you’re in a state of fear already, you already think you need to be protected against something and so inviting in protection may just help you to release some resistance in this scenario.

I have noticed that if people do not feel safe, the reading is heavily influenced by that energy.  Law of attraction never stops working and so when you are really feeling unsafe, the cards tend to reflect that vibration.  By mentally invoking an energy of protection before you directly begin tuning into and seeking out your interdimensional answers, your reading will be more clear and you will be much more open and receptive to the information received.

The second thing I suggest doing is to close your eyes and hold the question or the entire subject up for question in your being with focus like it is a pearl.  This pearl is your asking.  You’re solidifying it by focusing on it intensely.  Then imagine handing it up and over to whatever energies you want to ask.  You can hand this ‘asking’ up to whomever you are trying to target with your question.  For example, you can hand it up to the universe at large, to your idea of God, to an angel or group of ascended masters.  Then each time you breathe in, over the course of a minute of a two, imagine creating or pulling in a channel of energy (like an open energy tube or vortex) to yourself, the reader, the cards themselves or all three.  We call this ‘drawing down’.  The energy of this channel needs to be one of allowing.  You are not taking the information or answer from anywhere; instead you are building this bridge to make their job of providing information easy.  It’s a message and a vibration of openness, readiness and receptivity.

From there, it’s about using the cards either intuitively or following the instructions for how the creator intended them to be used.  And taking time to let the information process and be absorbed by your being fully.

Trust that whatever card comes up for you is a direct match to your asking and that whatever unfolds during the reading is right for you at this time.  I remember watching a reading where the reader made a ‘mistake’ as to how the cards were ‘supposed’ to be drawn but the ‘mistake’ reading was in fact the one that was in perfect alignment with the questioning.  So, assume that during your reading, the universe at large has taken control of how it will unfold and as such, it will unfold exactly how it is supposed to.  From there, consider the information you receive an offering to you.  It is then ultimately your decision whether to take that offering and make use of it, or not.


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