What is the Tarot ?

The world of tarot cards is steeped in mysticism, intrigue, and symbolism. For centuries, these enigmatic cards have been used as a tool for divination, offering insights, guidance, and reflections on our past, present, and future. But what exactly are tarot cards? How do they work? And why have they captured the imaginations of millions of people around the world? In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of tarot cards, exploring their history, meanings, and uses. Whether you’re a curious beginner or an experienced practitioner, join us on this journey as we unlock the mysteries of tarot cards and gain a deeper understanding of this ancient art of divination.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. History of Tarot Cards
  3. Structure of Tarot Cards
  4. Meanings and Symbolism
  5. Tarot Spreads and Readings
  6. Types of Tarot Decks
  7. Using Tarot Cards for Self-Reflection and Guidance
  8. Common Misconceptions about Tarot Cards
  9. Ethics and Responsible Tarot Practice
  10. Conclusion
  11. FAQs

History of Tarot Cards

The origins of tarot cards are shrouded in mystery, with various theories and legends surrounding their creation. Some believe that tarot cards originated in ancient Egypt or China, while others attribute their origins to medieval Europe. The earliest documented use of tarot cards dates back to the 14th century in Italy, where they were used for card games and later evolved into a tool for divination.

Structure of Tarot Cards

A standard tarot deck consists of 78 cards, divided into two main categories: the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana comprises 22 cards, each representing a significant archetypal symbol, such as The Fool, The Magician, The High Priestess, and The World, among others. The Minor Arcana consists of 56 cards, divided into four suits – Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles – each with 14 cards representing different aspects of human experience and emotion.

Meanings and Symbolism

Tarot cards are rich in symbolism and meaning, with each card carrying its own unique message and interpretation. The images, symbols, and colors on the cards are carefully crafted to evoke specific emotions, insights, and reflections. For example, The Fool card often represents spontaneity, unpredictability, and new beginnings, while The Tower card may symbolize sudden upheaval or change. The interpretation of tarot cards can vary depending on the reader’s intuition, the context of the reading, and the individual’s personal beliefs and experiences.

Tarot Spreads and Readings

Tarot cards are often used in spreads or layouts, where the cards are drawn and arranged in a specific pattern to provide insights and guidance on a particular question or situation. There are numerous tarot spreads, ranging from simple three-card spreads to more complex spreads like the Celtic Cross, the Tree of Life, and the Zodiac spread, among others. The positions of the cards in the spread and their relationships to each other are interpreted to reveal messages, themes, and potential outcomes.

Types of Tarot Decks

Tarot cards come in various artistic styles, themes, and interpretations, giving rise to a wide range of tarot decks. Some popular tarot decks include the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, which is considered the standard deck and widely used in modern tarot readings. Other popular decks include the Thoth deck, the Marseille deck, the Wild Unknown deck, and the modern and diverse decks that represent different cultures, spiritual practices and interests. Each tarot deck may have its own unique interpretations, symbolism, and artwork, providing different perspectives and insights for the reader and the querent.

Using Tarot Cards for Self-Reflection and Guidance

Tarot cards are not only used for divination and fortune-telling, but also as a tool for self-reflection, personal growth, and guidance. Many practitioners use tarot as a means of tapping into their intuition, connecting with their subconscious mind, and gaining deeper insights into their thoughts, emotions, and experiences. Tarot can provide a mirror for self-reflection, helping individuals explore their innermost thoughts, fears, hopes, and desires. Tarot readings can also offer guidance and advice on decision-making, problem-solving, and navigating life’s challenges, providing different perspectives and possibilities for consideration.

Common Misconceptions about Tarot Cards

Despite its long history and widespread use, tarot cards are often misunderstood and associated with misconceptions. One common misconception is that tarot cards are solely used for fortune-telling and predicting the future. However, tarot is not about predicting the future with absolute certainty, but rather about offering insights, guidance, and possibilities based on the current energies and circumstances. Another misconception is that tarot cards are associated with occultism or dark practices. While tarot has been used in various spiritual and esoteric traditions, it can also be approached from a secular and psychological perspective as a tool for self-reflection and personal growth.

Ethics and Responsible Tarot Practice

As with any divination or spiritual practice, it is important to approach tarot with ethical considerations and responsible practice. Tarot readers should always respect the querent’s autonomy, privacy, and boundaries, and provide readings with integrity, honesty, and sensitivity. It is essential to use tarot as a tool for empowerment, self-awareness, and personal growth, rather than relying on it as a crutch for decision-making or seeking definitive answers. Tarot readers should also be mindful of the potential impact of their readings on the querent’s mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being, and provide appropriate support and referrals when needed.


Tarot cards are much more than just a deck of cards with pretty pictures. They are a rich and complex tool for divination, self-reflection, and personal growth. The history, structure, symbolism, and uses of tarot cards are diverse and intriguing, offering a wide range of possibilities for exploration and interpretation. Whether you approach tarot as a spiritual practice, a psychological tool, or simply a source of inspiration and guidance, the journey into the world of tarot cards can be a fascinating and rewarding one, unlocking mysteries and insights that may surprise and enlighten you.


Q: Can anyone read tarot cards?

A: Yes, anyone can learn to read tarot cards. It requires practice, intuition, and an open mind. There are many resources available, such as books, online courses, and workshops, to help beginners get started.

Q: Do tarot cards predict the future?

A: Tarot cards do not predict the future with absolute certainty. They offer insights, guidance, and possibilities based on the current energies and circumstances. The future is not set in stone and can be influenced by various factors, including personal choices and actions.

Q: Is tarot a form of fortune-telling?

A: Tarot can be used for fortune-telling, but it is not its only purpose. Tarot cards can also be used for self-reflection, personal growth, and guidance, offering insights into one’s thoughts, emotions, and experiences.

Q: Are tarot cards associated with any specific religion or belief system?

A: Tarot cards are not associated with any specific religion or belief system. They have been used

across different cultures and belief systems, including but not limited to Christianity, paganism, New Age spirituality, and secular psychology. Tarot can be approached from a variety of perspectives and used in a way that aligns with one’s personal beliefs and values.

Q: Are tarot cards evil or dangerous?

A: Tarot cards themselves are not evil or dangerous. They are simply a tool, and their interpretation and use depend on the intention and approach of the reader. Like any tool, tarot should be used responsibly and with ethical considerations, keeping in mind the well-being and autonomy of the querent.

Q: Can tarot readings change the course of my life?

A: Tarot readings can offer insights and guidance, but they do not have the power to change the course of your life. The ultimate responsibility for your actions and choices lies with you. Tarot can provide information and possibilities for consideration, but it is up to you to take action and make decisions based on your own free will.

Q: How do I choose a tarot deck?

A: Choosing a tarot deck is a personal preference. There are countless tarot decks available, each with its own unique artwork, symbolism, and energy. It is important to choose a deck that resonates with you, visually and intuitively. You can start with a classic Rider-Waite-Smith deck or explore different styles and themes to find the one that speaks to you the most.

Q: Can I read tarot cards for myself?

A: Yes, you can read tarot cards for yourself. Many practitioners use tarot as a tool for self-reflection and personal growth. However, it is important to approach self-readings with an open and unbiased mindset, and be aware of any potential biases or blind spots. It can also be helpful to seek guidance from other trusted readers for different perspectives.

In conclusion, tarot cards are a fascinating and versatile tool for divination, self-reflection, and personal growth. They offer insights, guidance, and possibilities based on the current energies and circumstances, and can be approached from various perspectives and beliefs. Responsible and ethical tarot practice involves respecting the querent’s autonomy, using tarot as a tool for empowerment and self-awareness, and understanding that the future is not set in stone. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced reader, the world of tarot cards is vast and intriguing, waiting to be explored and interpreted in your unique way.