What Is Tarot Card Reading?

Tarot reading or tarot card reading, is a practice of using cards from a deck of tarot cards, to gain insight into the past, present and future of a person. It is a subset of Cartomancy. Till the 18th Century, tarot cards were actually used just like a normal deck, to play card games. It was only in the 18th century, that protestant clerics and free masons, started applying some divinatory meaning to all the cards.

They suggested that the cards and the pictorial representation, were indicative of the past, present and future of the person selecting them. Thus began the process of finding hidden meaning within the cards.

The Tarot card deck, had 78 cards. These include 14 cards of each suit (club, spade, diamond and heart), along with them 22 trump cards. Trump cards include the Fool or the Magician, among others. These were the original playing deck.

Let us now understand the distribution of these tarot cards, for divinatory purposes.

Tarot Cards: Suits and other specifications

• The modern deck is divided into four suits. Just like a playing deck has aces, clubs, diamonds and hearts; the reading cards are divided into 4 suits, namely: Pentacles, Swords, Cups and Wands.

• Each suit had 14 cards and the numbering is put on the card to represent the objects in numerical form.

• So if there is a card with the number X and the picture is that of Wands, it will be called ‘The Ten of Wands’. Similarly you have the ‘Four of Pentacles’ and ‘The Nine of Swords’, etc.

• Along with these you have the 22 trump cards. These trump cards are significant, since most often they are read as the cards that talk about events or circumstances, from the past, present or future.

• The most famous trump cards are; The Fool, The Magician, The Tower, The High Priestess, The Lovers etc.

• Each card represents a certain meaning or has some connection to the life of the individual who draws it.

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Tarot Card Spreads

The tarot cards are placed in different ways, to form different shapes, based on the kind of reading or the purpose of the reading. Although it is not compulsory, that is how traditionally it was done.

1. Tetraktys Spread

Here, 10 cards are placed to form a pyramid. 4 cards at the base, 3 in the row above, then two above that and finally the last card on top. This spread is used to predict the overall state of a person and his wellbeing. It covers basic physical elements and spiritual elements.

2. Cross and Triangle Spread

This spread is formed by placing three cards at the bottom, followed by 3 cards placed on top of the central card, one above the other, then two cards on the side and one last card at the top. It depicts a cross and is used to gauge an overall sense of the life direction of a person.

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3. Celtic Cross Spread

The best known spread of the whole process, the Celtic cross is aimed at giving an idea about the overall life and expectations of the person. People go for this reading, mainly because it covers a lot many aspects of a person’s life and gives an overall view.

4. Relationship Spread

As the name suggests, this spread is aimed at answering all questions to do with relationships. Not necessarily love relations but any relationship. The spread uses 9 cards, where the first 5 are placed one above the other and then three are spread across from the 4th card.

5. Past Life Spread

This is also known as the reverse spread. It is shaped in an upturned triangle, the exact reverse of the Tetrakyts spread and talks about past life effects. Reading of tarot cards is done across the world and is followed in large numbers. Although there have been reports of a lot of hoaxes, it is an occult science that has been grabbing world attention for years.

They say, in life you have to play the hand you are dealt. Tarot may just show you your cards. Even if just for leisure!


by Awnish Todi