How the Tarot Works
Regardless of its history, the Tarot is, without a doubt, one of the most useful spiritual tools at our disposal. That’s because it not only bridges the gap between the mundane and spiritual worlds, but also delivers clear and accurate advice that we can use to our benefit. That’s good news.
The best news, though, is that people can use it to empower their lives and increase their productivity. It doesn’t take special card-reading skills or psychic ability. A high IQ isn’t necessary, and neither is a red phone to the spirit world. All it takes is a firm desire, a little imagination, and the ability to follow a storyline. It’s as simple as that.
Working with the Tarot comes easily because it speaks to us in images-a subliminal language that the brain not only understands, but uses to process every single thought we think. Here’s how it works.
When we look at a picture, the mundane self (the conscious mind) immediately strikes up a conversation with the inner child (the subconscious mind). And as they talk, the subconscious mind searches the memory banks for every image that relates to that picture. The pictures form in the mind’s eye and when that happens, both sectors of the spiritual self (the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious) come alive. The personal unconscious processes every bit of personal knowledge that we’ve ever accumulated in connection with that image. The collective unconscious gets busy, too-it searches out every related instinctual and intuitive reaction, draws its own conclusions, and matches those up with the data collected by the personal unconscious. Once they have all the information together, they tie it up into one nice, neat little package and deliver it to the conscious and subconscious minds. The brain’s work is done and-voila!-we suddenly understand what the image is saying.
Even so, many people have difficulty using the Tarot. Why? Simply put, they just try too hard. They think that they’re supposed to get some sort of mysterious set of messages. That being the case, they send their brains into overload with the search. And when it comes back empty-handed, they pack up the deck and put it aside, never to be used again.
The truth of the matter is that the Tarot is nothing more than a set of pictures designed to tell a story. In fact, it’s much like reading a comic strip without the benefit of words. Once we determine what the characters are doing and how they’re interacting, the message comes through loud and clear. There’s nothing to ponder, nothing with which to tax our brains. We see it and understand it. End of story.
That’s all well and fine. But other than the fact that the card images speak to all parts of the brain, what makes it a spiritual tool? Isn’t it just another fortunetelling device?
Contrary to popular belief, the Tarot does not in any way forecast the future. Instead, it gives us choices and allows pause for thought. It taps into what we either cannot see or refuse to see on a mundane level, and puts it right in front of us. That, in itself, is quite a feat. But it doesn’t stop there. It goes on to show us what is likely to happen if we continue upon the current path. We can then decide whether it’s in our best interest to change the route or move forward as planned. And that’s something a mere fortunetelling device can’t do.
Finding the Right Tarot Deck
Long ago, my mother presented me with the Rider-Waite deck. I studied it. I worked with it. I even went as far as to memorize the instruction booklet. But no matter what I did, I simply couldn’t make it work for me. To say that I was disgusted was the understatement of the century. I’d always been able to accomplish anything I’d put my mind to, and for the life of me, I just couldn’t understand why I was having so much trouble. Suffice it to say, the deck finally wound up on a shelf-never to be used again-for even looking at it made me feel useless and stupid. As a result, I resolved never to pick up another Tarot deck again.
Of course, there was a lot I didn’t understand about the Tarot back then. There was nothing wrong with the deck. There was nothing wrong with me. In fact, the only problem with either was that we just didn’t belong together. Not knowing that, though, cost me dearly. And it almost kept me from ever discovering the empowering joys of the Tarot.
This doesn’t have to happen to you. Finding the deck that’s right for you isn’t difficult, but shopping for it may take some patience. That’s because there are literally hundreds of decks to choose from. And if it’s your first deck, you may not even be sure of what you’re looking for. It’s a trial and error process much like finding the perfect outfit. You see it and like it, but can’t get the whole picture until you try it on.
Fortunately, most stores that carry decks now have sample copies on hand. This allows you to look through the cards and play with them a bit before you buy. That’s very important stuff, because there’s nothing worse than taking something home that just won’t work for you. That being the case, be prepared to spend a little time-at least twenty minutes or so-with any deck that appeals to you. Examine each card and see how it makes you feel. Make a few notes. Pay special attention to the coloring, the imagery, and, of course, any emotional response that particular cards evoke in you. Then take your notepad and go home.
Leaving the store before you buy is imperative because it prevents the two most common problems involved when searching for a deck: first, you’re not tempted to buy on impulse (impulsively purchased decks frequently wind up unused because they seldom really speak to you); and second, you’re more apt to search a little further for the perfect deck if you haven’t already purchased one. With that in mind, wait a day or two and pull out your notes. Then take a good hard look at what you wrote down. Does the deck still appeal to you as much as it did then? Is the imagery still as vibrant within your mind’s eye? If you can honestly answer “Yes!” to both questions, then it’s definitely the deck for you. If not, keep searching. And above all, don’t worry. The perfect deck will definitely present itself in short order!
One final note of advice-especially for beginners. It’s much easier to work with a deck that provides full pictorial scenes on every card, rather than one that depicts only a set number of rods (also known as wands in many decks), cups, swords, or pentacles. In fact, after more than twenty years of experience with the Tarot, I still shy away from those. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with those decks per se, it’s just that their images don’t speak as loudly to the subconscious, and this makes it easy to miss the intended messages.
Blessing the Tarot Deck
Although using the Tarot isn’t difficult, not many people would turn down an extra boost of energy to get the best performance possible. And I’m sure you’re no exception. That’s where blessing the deck comes in. It not only puts you in tune with the cards, but paves the road toward your own personal empowerment. It’s something that’s just too good to bypass.
I’ve provided a sample blessing ritual for you. Don’t be afraid to vary from its guidelines or rework it to suit your lifestyle, though. Know that there is no right or wrong way to bless your deck, and that whatever you decide will work perfectly for you.
1 purple candle
Incense of your choice
Begin by lighting the candle and incense, and placing the deck in front of them. Close your eyes and inhale deeply through your nose. Exhale fully from your mouth. After four or five breaths, open your eyes and pass the deck through the incense smoke, saying something like:
I give you now the breath of Air
Inhale its twirling riches, fair
Being careful not to burn yourself or the cards, quickly pass the deck through the candle flame. Say something like:
I give you now the warmth of fire
So you may answer my desire
Lightly sprinkle the deck with a few drops of water, saying:
I give you water-life’s true force
Drink deeply as you chart your course
Then sprinkle the deck with a few grains of salt, saying:
I give you earth that you may sow
The seeds of power, my Tarot
Finally, lift the deck skyward and say:
Power of the ancient Tarot
Bring your knowledge; let it flow
Into my soul-into my brain
From this deck, let knowledge rain
Then spend fifteen minutes or so in visualization mode. See yourself reading the cards with insight and accuracy, understanding every message completely. Leave the deck in front of the candle until the wick burns out.
After the Blessing
The deck is blessed and it’s ready for use, right? Well, that depends solely upon who you ask. Many folks subscribe to the “put the deck under your pillow and sleep with it” rule. Some disagree, saying that a new deck should be carted around in the purse or briefcase. Still others insist that the deck must be housed with an assortment of crystals-rose, smoky, and clear quartz, to be exact-wrapped in silk, and carried somewhere on the owner’s body. The only thing they do agree upon is the length of the methodology: a one-week period. You’re not alone if you think these sound like strange preparation tactics. But the reasoning behind them is sound. Simply put, it’s that constantly having the deck close to you for the first week literally saturates the cards with your personal energy. And that being the case, it stands to reason that the deck will always read well for you.
But I beg to differ. At one time or another, I tried each of the methods described above. The problem wasn’t that they didn’t work-the problem was that because my personal energy is quite strong, they simply worked too well. And as a result, no one else’s energy was ever able to penetrate the cards-not even temporarily. No matter who shuffled the deck, the reading presented by the cards always seemed to reflect my energy and life, not the querent’s.
For that reason, I urge you to try this first: spend some time-fifteen to twenty minutes-with your new deck every day for a week. Shuffle them. Look at them. Commit some of the images to memory. In short, bond with them. If, at a later date, you decide that you’re not as well connected to your deck as you’d like to be, you can always try one of the other methods.
Storing the Tarot Deck
If you think disagreements fly fast and furious around deck preparation, you should hear the disputes regarding storage. I’ve heard everything you can imagine- from insulating the deck in silk to hiding it in a dark place where uninvited energy won’t disturb it. There are also those who insist on specially prepared wooden storage boxes, velvet-lined pouches, and a plethora of other things. I could go on and on. Fact is, there are as many deck storage methods as there are folks who use the Tarot.
To be perfectly honest, I’ve never found that one particular storage method worked any better for me than another, or that any of them ever improved the performance of any deck I used. For that reason, I believe in keeping it simple. If you find a pouch, scarf, or box that appeals to you, so be it. But if you’re just as comfortable keeping your cards together with a rubber band, that’s okay, too. Just don’t get caught up in an inner struggle over something as trivial as deck storage. Simply do whatever feels right to you, and know that you can’t go wrong.
Authors Details: From the Book “Everyday Tarot Magic: Meditation & Spells” by: Dorothy Morrison