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Planning Retirement Online

Out of the box -  Tarot cards

                          October 2009


This is our regular OUT OF THE BOX feature where we give suggestions on different things to try.      

If you have tried something unusual or different, tell us all about it - and send in a photograph as well if you can – so that we can share your experiences with others.



This month……

Tarot cards

Tarot Meanings - The Fool Have you heard of tarot cards? Their popularity comes and goes, but they seem to be making a comeback now.

Tarot really refers to any set of 22 pictorial playing cards that are today used for fortune telling. For some, they play an important role in life; if you are a sceptic like me, they are just a group of highly artistic pictures with an international history. But whatever your beliefs, it is interesting to know more about them.

Tarot cards are “read” to assist with the interpretation of various aspects of your life and the future; they can be used for simple fortune telling, for divination, meditation, contemplation and other uses. Many say you cannot really read the tarot cards yourself as wishful thinking and inner fears get in the way of a genuine interpretation. So while many people do attempt to read their own cards, generally tarot cards are read by professional interpreters who can use them to cover a wide range of areas, both psychic, emotional and practical, in your life.

There is quite a lot of dispute about tarot cards, some saying that they were introduced to Europe by the by gypsies from Asia. But in fact serious studies indicate that the Tarot came to Europe about the same time as any other form of playing card, in the early/mid 1300's. It is most closely related to the 'Mamluk' deck of the Islamic world, which had suits of cups, coins, swords, and polo-sticks.

The Tarot was originally used for a game called 'tarocchi' in Italy, which is sort of a distant cousin to bridge. Tarocchi is still played in some parts of the world, not usually with the same decks that the 'fortune tellers' use.

One of the earlier associations of the tarot with the occult was by Antoine Court de Gebelin, a relatively obscure Parisian mason who wrote about the deck in the 1780s.

Tarot The Tarot was originally a deck of 78 cards, divided into 4 suits of 14 cards (the standard ace-10, then page, knight, queen, and king) plus 22 un-numbered 'triumphs' or 'trumps'. Over the years, the trumps became numbered 1 to 21, with one card (the fool) remaining un-numbered or sometimes being 0. The 4 suits are commonly called the 'Minor Arcana' and the trump cards are called the 'Major Arcana'. The most commonly found suits for Tarot decks are cups, swords, wands or staffs (originally polo-sticks), and pentacles (originally coins).

Today many chain bookstores sell a selection of tarot cards and new age stores will also have a wide selection. There is a wide selection of tarot cards, some with beautiful artwork; others with clear symbolism, and you need to select a deck that feels right for you. The most popular is the Rider-Waite deck.

If you buy a deck of tarot cards, you will usually find a book comes with it; otherwise there are numerous guide books available in normal book shops. Bear in mind that Tarot reading is all about a personal interpretation of the cards and their meanings. It is all quite complex. Over time, enthusiasts become familiar with the meanings and symbolism of each card but to begin with it can be overwhelming.

One of the basic readings is the three card reading. This reading is simple but said to be very powerful and give the reader a general overview of any question or problem in life.

As an example of how tarot cards can be read, to perform this three card reading, first you shuffle the tarot deck while you think of a question you would like answered, or a problem or situation that you would like more insight into.

Then you place the cards, face-down, on a flat surface. Draw the top card and place it in front of you on the left. Draw the second top card and place it to the right of the first card. Draw the third top card and place it to the right of the second card. These are the cards you will read.

Turn the cards over in the order you placed them down, from left to right. The first card you drew represents past influences. This card shows people or events that were important in your situation, but are now passing out of it. The second card you drew represents the present. This card shows people or events that are currently important in your situation. The third card represents future influences. This card represents people or events that might be important to you in the future. This card is the most uncertain, as the future is constantly changing due to our actions and the actions of others.

The tarot is used by followers as a psychic tool to help make balanced decisions, but for sceptics like me tarot is still a fascinating subject thanks to the the wonderful design of some of the cards.



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