"Reading the cards" is synonymous with fortunetelling
in the minds of many people.
For centuries, people have turned to the little pasteboard picture
cards for answers, enlightenment and entertainment. The Tarot has inspired artists,
mystics, philosophers, religious and ordinary people to create systems of belief
and meanings tailored to it - and in the process create new views and versions
of the Tarot to reflect their own beliefs about life and spirituality. The Tarot
has been studied by some of the greatest (and most bizarre) minds in every generation.
For some, it is a tool for personal enlightenment; for others, a key that unlocks
the door to the future.
Some believe that a deck of Tarot cards holds some mystical ability
to foretell the future. Others insist that it is only an enabler - that it helps
people to unlock their own psychic powers. There are therapists who attribute
miracles to the power of the Tarot to offer insight into everyday life, and
others who see it as a parlor game, and still others who use it as a prop to
help them fleece the unwary and gullible and desperate. What is the Tarot that
it inspires so many and varied interpretations and beliefs?
A Simple Deck of Cards
The Tarot is a deck of cards consisting of 22 trump cards
known as the Major Arcana and 56 cards of four suits known as the Minor Arcana.
Each of the 22 trump cards is given both a name and a picture. Each suit of
the Minor Arcana has fourteen cards - ten numbered 'pip' cards from Ace through
10 - and four 'face' or 'court' cards. The court cards are most often named
Page, Knight, Queen and King, but in some decks the Page and Knight are replaced
with Prince and Princess or another variation. In all, there are 78 cards in
a traditional Tarot deck, and over the course of history, each card has become
associated with particular meanings and significance.
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