Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tarot Demystified

Not all Tarots decks are created equal.

(image by Ciro Marchetti, taken from his site

There are over 1000 different Tarot decks in print.  If you don't happen to be a Tarot reader or collector, you might think that the only difference between different decks is the artwork. But actually there can be a lot of variation between decks. And they are not necessarily interchangeable. They don't all answer in the exact same way. Personally when I read for others, i need to sense which of my decks will give them the answer in the best clearest way. That is part of the process of the reading to me. Some of the ways they differ are:

** the number of cards in the deck:: A traditional Tarot decks generally has 78 cards, divided into two main sections.   Major Arcana (about the important life issues in our lives) has 22. and the Minor Arcana (about the more everyday aspects of life) has 56. The Minors are divided into 4 suits numbered 1 through 10, plus the court cards, just as a deck of playing cards are.

Although that is the norm, some decks have more cards to them, or less. Some decks add an extra card or to the Majors. Some decks have an entire extra suit. The largest deck I have, which is also one of my favorites, is the "A Fool's Journey Tarot". It has an entire extra suit. plus 2 extra cards to the Majors and one extra random card. There are also Majors only decks that contain only the cards of the Major Arcana.

Decks that do not follow the tradition of having Majors and Minors with specific meanings are called Oracles.,not Tarot. They take a different format,. in fact there is not real format for an Oracle deck. But they can and do work equally well for many readers. They certainly do for me.

**The style or artwork used in the Minor Arcana: The Minors 1 through 10 are called the pips. Some decks have non-illustrated pips (basically the images are just symbols) and some have illustrated pips.("real" images) Some readers prefer one, some the other. I guess that boils down to personal taste, but here are some images to show the difference.

Here is the 2 of Cups from my 1JJ Swiss Tarot (a non-scenic pip)

 And here's the same care in my Victorian Romantic Tarot  (a scenic pip)

**the tradition behind the deck: Most decks follow the pattern of one of the three traditional early decks. The Thoth Tarot, The Tarot de Marseilles, or the Rider-Waite Smith Tarot. Some break out on their own, but most follow one of the three. The latter is the most common and actually the deck that us most often recommended to start with as a reader. And most learning books teach that method. Not everyone feels called to use that deck though and its not a necessity.

**specific decks for certain types of questions: While any Tarot deck will answer any question, some decks seem better suited to certain types of questions that others. The card images have a lot to do with what a reader will see in the cards too. Some use them more than others, but I don't believe anyone ignores them completely. The Bright Idea deck is amazing for brainstorming and seeing things in new ways. The Osho Zen Tarot, with its focus on Eastern Philosophy is excellent for spiritual questions. As is the Angel Tarot if that is part of your belief system. And decks with imagery representing days gone by tend to be well suited to past life readings. Two of my favorites for that are the Symbolon Tarot (called a Tarot but really an Oracle) and the A King's Journey Tarot.

** the imprint of the deck creator and artist, in the artwork: Each deck is really an individual thing. Someone created it and they had a vision of something they wanted to add to the world by creating it.  As well, a lot of how Tarot works is through the card images. One of my favorite quotes is "Tarot is like visual poetry". And so it is. And each deck does of course have different artwork. That each of us, being individuals will see and be affected by somewhat differently.

Tarot has a lot to do with symbolism. And each card image contains a lot that can be taken symbolically. as does any image. A deck creator has specific life views and beliefs on what life is and can be, the meaning of life.  As we all do of course. But their deck will be created in line with their beliefs. And that will tend to flow and can be seen throughout the deck. And it will affect what the reader sees in the cards of that deck. Sometimes if the life philisophy of a deck is too different from our own, we won't "get" the deck or be able to read well with it. Every reader has a few decks like that, that they bought and found they could not read well with. But which decks these are vary from person to person. A deck that does not read well for one reader may well be the one that reads best for someone else. It's an individual thing.

**the "dark" decks vs the light-filled decks: Then there are what are called the "dark" decks. They tend to be the vampire based, slightly to quite scary or unsettling images kind of decks. Some readers are very fond of them. Some stay away from them. I personally stay away completely from the dark decks, as they are not representative of who I am as a reader. For me readings are about making the querent feel better, not unsettlied. And about finding the light in the situation, not looking in the dark side of life. But hey to each his own and there are decks that suit any need,

**keywords: Some decks have keywords on them that tell you a bit more about the intended meaning of the card. Generally one key word per card.They are like a hint of the direction of the card can take you. I personally enjoy keywords, But a lot of readers don't so that too boils down to personal taste.

**decks read differently for each reader: And last but not least, deck read differently for each reader. As readers we are all individuals. And we all learn to develop the reading style that works best for the individual we are. Our personality and our goals and even our belief system has a lot to do with what it is possible for us to see in a card. These are unique to each of us.

Some readers are very blunt and direct. They just state the facts that they see and do not analyse. A different type of reader who looks for the causes and cures of situations will tend to see different things in a deck than a more blunt reader will. It's what you look for. Not to judge any different style of reading, just to say that the two types of reader will not see the same thing in a deck because their focus is different;

And OUR lifeviews. One reader who believes in reincarnation may see that in the cards. But another reader who does not believe in that will never see that in this same cards.

**beauty is in the eye of the beholder: All of us like to work with artwork that appeals to us, that we find beautiful and that draws us in. When we feel an affinity for a certain style of artwork, it's easier to connect with it and work with it. Naturally as all human beings have different tastes, that differs from person to person. 

There are also decks created from the artwork of well-known artists. I have the Golden Tarot of Klimpt myself. which is one of them. But there are many others as well. As readers we are blessed to have such a wide variety of decks to choose from that we can all find SO many that are wonderful for us personally.
Coming next month: the difference between Tarot and the other divination methods I use

No comments:

Post a Comment