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The Tarot is like a brilliantly coloured picture book from childhood, consisting of 78 cards. Whatever pack you choose it is remarkably easy to read just by looking at the pictures and relating what you see, feel and the words that come into your mind to answer the question as you look at the card you have chosen apparently by chance.

The first 22 cards are called the Major Arcana (Arcana means hidden secrets). They are based on major people idealised types or situations that affect our lives or strengths we need in life , the Mother, the Father,, the charismatic Trickster who is necessary to bring about change but must be carefully watched when he or she appears , the Lovers, the Hero riding off in his chariot to make a place in the world and qualities such as justice, moderation and strength and rebirth or new beginnings

The Minor Arcana includes 40 numbered cards from Ace (or one) to ten in each of four suits, Pentacles, coins or discs that deal with money, the home and the practical side of our lives,. Cups or chalices, love, relationships and emotions, Wands, spears or staves, creativity, career, health and action and Swords overcoming difficulties, logic, learning and determination. The sixteen Court cards, the Pages or Princesses, Princes or Knights. Queens and Kings of each suit, usually refer to specific people or stages of development and so for example you may find  a Knight of Swords who could be a sixty year old man who has never grown up but goes from relationship to relationship creating hurt.

Selecting your Tarot pack

Choose a pack with an illustrated Minor Arcane and you can begin reading your cards at once. Easy packs to work with include the Rider Waite, an excellent pack for beginners and experts alike and the system on which many other designs are based, the Celtic based Druid Craft Tarot  and the mediaeval and highly coloured Morgan Greer. Some people buy more than one Tarot pack and you can easily work with two different kinds at once by shuffling them separately and choosing cards from both. Then if the same card turns up in both as you pick from them separately you know it is really significant 

Reading the Tarot card

Pick a card every morning from your shuffled face down pack to show you what is around you in the day ahead. Even if you do not know the meanings you can easily work them out form the pictures.

If for example you picked the Empress card, usually a very pregnant woman surrounded by fruit and flowers, then it would indicate a day when you will be at the centre of other peopleís world, maybe caring for them emotionally even if you are an employer. Or you might be having a family gathering and so it would suggest the event would go well and you would cope. Whatever the event ahead the card you choose will offer you guidance about it.

But if you felt you were tired of sorting out other peopleís problems and messes then the Empress card would forewarn you to make yourself less available and be tougher.

You can also pick up to nine cards from your shuffled face down pack to answer a specific question either for yourself or for a friend or family member. Read each card in the order you picked and it will form a natural sequence. Many cards speak for themselves and for example the eight of wands or staves, the suit of fire and action, shows long wooden sticks, sometimes with growing leaves on, flying through the air. Not surprisingly it is to do with travel and movement , such as a sudden hosue move or holiday

Generally the explanatory leaflets in cards can be a little confusing and give you unrelated meanings. If you want to learn more about the individual cards there are many excellent books that will teach you about the myths behind each card and more detailed meanings. But these are guides and if a card seems to mean something different when it turns up in an actual reading, follow your intuition.

How Tarot reading works

The cards that are picked will precisely answer the question asked. This happens by a psychic process called psychokinesis or mind power. Just as people using a pendulum can find oil or water with it, even hundreds of metres under the earth, so your hand is drawn by your unconscious mind to take out from the pack those cards that most accurately answer your questions.

Your clairvoyant or psychic inner eye uses the basic pictures on the cards and from them creates all kinds of images in your mind, that almost always are accurate if you relax and trust the information you are given intuitively, however unlikely.

Your clairaudient or psychic ear may also suggest words or phrases that explain the card meanings in relation to the question or person you are reading for. Some people believe that our guardian angels and spirit guides speak to us through and about the cards, but others think this is their own wise inner or evolved spiritual self. Either way it works.

Finally clairsentience or psychic sensing, the same ability that enables us to know instantly if a sad event or a quarrel has occurred in a house you visit for the first time or that you instantly trust or distrust a stranger, will help you automatically to decide what the meaning of the card is in this case, whether a positive encouragement or a warning.

Is it safe to read Tarot cards?

Tarot cards are cards, just that and have no power in themselves. B movies whip up hype about three cards, the Death card, the Devil and the Tower. The appearance of the Death card never in real life means someone is going to die. Rather it is a very positive card, saying that you are coming to the end of a natural phase and that is necessary to move on when you are ready for a new phase and new growth, just as winter must end if spring is to come. Indeed in some Celtic packs the Death card shows the old grandmother of winter who will give birth to the maiden of spring. The Devil card is very much a Christian invention and in some packs is shown instead as the powerful antlered or horned pre Christian Animal God who released the animals to the hunters. We all have negative feelings and they are part of us and essential if we are to change and to stand up for what is right and important. The Devil card may appear at a time when you are smiling till your mouth aches but there is something you need to say and do in a strong but non destructive way. The only harm in the Devil is if we deny we feel angry or guilty at being treated badly  or try to push our negative feelings on to someone else and blame them for our unhappiness or suppress everything till we do yell, cry and put ourselves in the wrong.

As for the Tower that is the tower of freedom from the things that have been restricting us from doing what we want or maybe we have been waiting like the princess in the fairy tales for someone to rescue us instead of climbing out of the tower ourselves or knocking it down.

There are no bad cards in the Tarot and even those that show obstacles, for example the nine of swords, a woman with her eyes closed in bed ,with swords on the wall behind her, show that the swords are just in her nightmare. The card says the situation is not as bad as she fears or has nightmares about. Indeed she could use the power and logic of swords to bring change to fight through and win.

Nor are the cards telling you what will happen, only  showing you possible paths ahead and usually alternatives so you get to choose and to decide when to put you feet on the road towards those possibilities. After all if you have a lovely Prince of Cups love card turn up regularly in your reading, if you are staying in every night eating potato chips, it is unlikely your Prince will knock at the door. The card is saying even if you have been hurt in the past, you need to get back slowly into life and open yourself to the possibility of god love so that you are receptive. Maybe this means noticing the ordinary looking but kind guy in the next office who always brings you cappuccino when you work late.

So enjoy your cards and rather using them to predict your future, use them to decide what you want out of the options on offer and go out and make your future.

Cassandra Easonís Complete Guide to the Tarot published by Piatkus and The Complete guide to the Tarot (by the US Crossing Press/Ten Speed), Tarot Talks to the Woman within (Quantum/Foulsham) and A Complete guide to Divination (Piatkus) may be helpful if you want to know more about the Tarot      



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