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Dear Madam Lichtenstein
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How does one explain the mysteries of the Tarot? How does it seem to magically reveal the future? I surely can’t explain, but then why ask why?

Let the cards do the talking as we just listen. As a professional Tarot reader who has been divining the cards for more years than I care to admit, I believe that the cards will tell you what you deeply feel. It is for this reason that the Tarot is an excellent meditative and actualizing tool.

The Tarot has an illustrious history, hearkening back to ancient Egypt during the time of the Pharaohs. The oldest known honest to goodness Tarot deck dates back to 1428 which was painted to commemorate the Visconti marriage in Italy. At the time, Tarot and other “card games” were used exclusively at the court and was regarded as a privilege of the aristocracy. Thank goodness we no longer have to be royalty to read, although some of us do have attitude...

In 1856, author Eliphas Levi published a rather intriguing article linking Tarot and the Hebrew alphabet. We now know of course that Tarot is part of the mysteries of the Kabalah, which is the book of Jewish mysticism. Once shielded from all “non members” (not Jewish, not male, not learned in Talmud and under the age of forty) kabalistic study is now available to anyone interested in delving into its mysteries. Even today, there are many Tarot decks with Jewish and Kabalistic symbols incorporated into the design. The more you understand these symbols, the greater your ability to delve into the full meaning of the card.

There are now more than fifty types of Tarot decks (and counting...) with a mad rush of “Po Mo”s (post modern) designs flooding the market every day. Need a round deck? A miniature one? One for witches? One in german? There is a deck for everyone! Generally speaking though, all these decks have some things in common; 78 cards divided into Major and Minor Arcana sections. Each card has its own range of meanings depending upon whether it is drawn right side up or “reversed” (upside down). Woe betide the reader who can’t tell the difference!

The 56 Minor Arcana cards resemble the usual deck of 52 playing cards (with Aces, Kings, Queens, Jacks and tens through twos) with the addition of four “Knights”. There are four “suits” — The “Club-like” Wands (business), the “Heart-like” Cups (love), the “Spade-like” Swords (difficulties) and the “Diamond-like” Pentacles (money).

It is said that the 22 Major Arcana cards add more intense implications to the forecast. These cards have dramatic names to go with their dramatic meanings. Monikers like “The Fool” (who are you calling Fool, fool?), The Devil (Watch where you’re pointing that pitchfork, buddy!), and Death (Yikes! Actually not a bad card...) all contribute to the mystique of the Tarot and separate the good reader from the fraud.

Here is a quick cheat sheet of the meanings of the Major Arcana:

The Fool —The beginning of things, learning by experience.
The Magician — Concentrated and directioned energy.
The High Priestess —Inner wisdom. Going with your own counsel.
The Emperor — Setting down foundations and aggressively going forth
to success.
The Empress — Productivity, fertility, Beauty.
The Heirophant — Reunions and changes in philosophy.
The Moon —Deception and disillusionment. Also denotes
creativity and intuition.
The Sun — Your great wish. Happiness.
The Chariot — Making your own success.
Force — Undirected force.
Justice — Legal Issues. Need for balance and justice.
Temperance — Delays. Situation needs time.
Judgment — Weight lifted off ones shoulders.
The Lovers — Having to make a decision
The Hanged Man — Being in suspension. Having to get out of a rut.
The Hermit — You know the answers. Learning from experience.
The Devil — Problems you can see and therefore solve.
The Wheel of Fortune — Good luck.
The Star — Promising and hopeful situation.
The Lightening Struck Tower — Dramatic or catastrophic changes.
The World — The great experience. Global change.

This is enough to get started. The best way to learn Tarot is to just jump right in. Find a deck that you like, buy a book or hire a teacher and start mixing. Just remember that it is difficult if not impossible to read your own cards so avoid aggravation by learning with a friend!

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