Tarot 101: What it is, what it isn't and why I LOVE it

It's been over a year since I started using and reading tarot cards - at first this was just something I did for fun, but pretty quickly tarot has become an integral part of both my self care practice AND my business.

Today's blog post has been brewing for some time. I've wanted to share more about tarot - share my story and why I think these little cards are amazing, but also clarify what these cards are NOT.


My tarot story

If you had asked me just over a year ago what I thought of tarot cards I probably would've shrugged my shoulders (and maybe even rolled my eyes). I didn't have any experience with tarot outside of how it's portrayed in the media: cards being read by turban wearing psychics who's eyes roll back into their heads when they're getting messages from the world beyond.

While I DO believe in energy and that there is SO much more to the world than what we can see with our eyes and rationalize with our brains, I've never been one to believe in someone who can predict the future. Even through my more recent experiences with oracles and energy healers the past year (I promise I will be sharing more about these soon!!) I still think that the future is up to us here in the present.

All that being said, I was skeptic when my friend Erika pulled out a deck of spirit animal cards during a weekend getaway last summer. Skeptic, but open (basically my motto for life these days ha!). We ended reading cards and talking about life for over 3 hours - sure, she knows me well but the cards allowed our conversation to go places and talk about things we likely wouldn't have on our own.



THIS is why I fell in love with and continue to use tarot:

the cards are a beautiful and REAL way to reflect.



The tarot cards allow us to ask ourselves questions and open up the conversation around things we are dealing with in our lives, whether that's something we're conscious of (impending job change, a relationship, etc) or something that's more under the surface (belief systems, fears, patterns of behavior).

The cards definitely have a dark side - it's not all rainbows and butterflies, which I appreciate because life isn't all rainbows and butterflies. There's struggle, challenge, pain and discomfort along with joy, magic, peace and happiness. The tarot encourages us to look at it ALL - feel the feelings, learn the lessons and move forward.

I also love tarot because it allows me to connect to my intuition. I must listen to that inner voice when I decide what sort of spread to pull and how to interpret the cards that come up. It's been a really cool process learning to trust my intuition more and more through readings.

And while I do believe there is magic in the cards, I do not believe tarot cards can predict the future. I think the power is in YOUR interpretation  - what YOU hear and feel and see during your reading, and how that facilitates self-reflection, insight and, ultimately, action.



Where did tarot originate?

The tarot originated sometime in the 15th century in various parts of Europe when a special deck of cards with additional trump cards with allegorical illustrations were added to the common four-suit pack.

The original purpose of tarot cards was to play games, and while some link tarot readings back to ancient Egypt and the Kabbalah, the first documented use of the cards for divination purposes wasn't until the late 18th century.

From there, the mystical tarot spread in popularity - likely through the upper classes of society - and different decks were created throughout the world.



Like common playing cards, the tarot has four suits (which vary by deck and by region). Each suit has 14 cards: ace through 10 and then four court cards (King, Queen, Knight and Jack, or like in my deck Father, Mother, Son and Daughter). These cards are known as "The Minor Arcana" (Latin for lesser secrets).

In addition, the tarot has 22 more cards known as "The Major Arcana" (Latin for greater secrets). These cards are said to be more powerful or more energetic than the other cards in the deck.


What exactly is a tarot reading?

A tarot reading is when you have one or more cards drawn from the deck and interpreted for you. There are an infinite number of tarot "spreads" - different configurations of cards drawn to address questions or areas of your life.

The most popular spreads I use in my readings are:

  • Single Card / 1 card - Great for beginners, and for a simple message. I often draw a Single Card spread in the morning or before beginning a big project for one card of guidance or inspiration.

  • Clarity Spread / 4 cards - To provide clarity on a specific situation. One card in the spread represents the situation itself, the other three cards provide clarity and insight.

  • Relationship Spread / 5 cards - To provide guidance on a specific relationship (can be done with another person, or with respect to your relationship with self/a project/a hypothetical person). In this spread each of the cards represents something: you, your challenge, the other person, their challenge and the uniting factor.

You can also have more involved spreads such as a Year Ahead spread or the fairly well known Celtic Cross spread. The person reading your cards will likely pick the spread (most readers have a few they prefer to work with) or ask you if there's something specific you'd like to address in the reading, and then choose the spread accordingly. Most tarot decks come with guidebooks with recommended spreads for you to experiment with.

A reading will typically start with the reader asking you to provide a bit more background on the situation, relationship or question that you have. He or she will then draw the cards and provide an interpretation, and there will be time for discussion and reflection.


Which deck do i choose?

If you're interested in playing with the cards yourself, you're first step will be to purchase a deck, which should come with a corresponding guide book to help you learn how to read and interpret the cards.

There are many, many tarot decks out there these days. The most important thing when choosing a deck is to pick one that resonates or speaks to you. Go to a mystical bookstore or crystal shop and browse through the decks - look at the art, flip through the guidebook and read some of the card interpretations. Use your intuition here and go with what your gut says YES to.



This is the deck I use: The Wild Unknown by Kim Krans.


Booking a reading

If this post has you curious what it's like to experience a tarot reading - you're in luck! I currently offer 1:1 readings over the internet and am available for small group gatherings and events in NYC!



1:1 readings - Click here for details + pricing!

Groups and events - Contact me for details!



As always, I LOVE hearing from you (really, I do!!) and I'd especially love to hear your thoughts about tarot - have you tried it? Are you open to trying it? What's your experience (or your resistance) to the cards?

Leave a comment below and let me know!