Tarot Cards

 

                                   

                                                           The Fool and his Journey

            Just the name, ‘’tarot cards’’ is usually obscure to the average person of this era, but perhaps you may have noticed them throughout the years in popular culture. For example, chapter 27 of the famous novel, Harry Potter and the Half- Blood Prince, is titled ‘’The Lightning-Struck Tower (Harris).’’ This is a reference to the Tower Tarot Card and one who is familiar with this card will know that the chapter will revolve around letting go and starting anew.  In Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, a character was a magician who was a tarot card expert (‘’Tarot Cards in Pop Culture’’). Tarot cards have also made references in video game series such as House of Dead and Shin Megami Tensei Persona.

            Tarot cards have existed hundreds of years ago although mystery shrouds the origins of these cards (Jean). There is evidence that they have been used by the French and the Italians as playing cards in a game called Trumps or Triumphs in the fifteenth century (Jean). These cards deviated from the normal deck of playing cards through the addition of four Queens, the Fool, and 21 Trump cards (Jean). These cards have transformed over the years from cards being used in a simple card game to cards being used in occult divination (Jean). Currently, each deck of tarot cards is made up of 22 Major Arcanas and 56 Minor Arcanas (Sharman- Burke 7-100).The Major Arcana means ‘’greater secrets’’ and is composed of the Fool, the Magician, the High Priestess, the Empress, the Emperor, the Hierophant, the Lovers, the Chariot, Strength, the Hermit, the Wheel of Fortune, Justice, the Hanged Man, Death, Temperance, the Devil, the Tower, the Star, the Moon, the Sun, Judgment, and the World (Sharman- Burke 7-100). The Minor Arcana is more familiar to people because it divided into suits like modern playing cards, but there are some minor discrepancies. Instead of the modern day suits of Spades, Clubs, Diamonds, and Hearts, the suits of the Minor Arcana consist of Cups, Wands, Swords, and Pentacles (Sharman- Burke 7-100). Furthermore, there are four ‘’face cards’’ in the modern playing deck as opposed to the five ‘’face cards’’ in tarot cards (Sharman- Burke 7-100).

When people have complications in life such as uncertainty in the future of a job or relationship, they may go to a fortune teller to seek advice. Many people believe the thought of fortune telling is not only silly and inaccurate, but also method to gain short cash, this is untrue when applied to tarot cards. Tarot cards are used today and will continue to be used in the future because they are beneficial in understanding the world by offering advice to further the understanding of one’s self and others, offering an incredible insight in the concept of life, and offering wise guidance in taking future paths.

The Major Arcana of the tarot cards appear to be allegories for humans; people have traits that make them distinct, but they may contradict our traits in times of struggle. Everyone in this world differs from every other person through their appearances, actions, and personalities. Similarly, no two tarots are alike. Each tarot card has its own distinct illustration and through these illustrations, their meanings can be derived through key symbols (Venefica). This can range from dogs which represent loyalty and faithfulness to mountains which represent aspiration and achievement (Venefica). There is a second meaning to each card when a card is reversed (‘’Mystic Eye’’). Often times, a card in reverse position will deal with the opposite meaning or negative aspect of the upright positioned card (‘’Mystic Eye’’). For delineate these ideas, we can observe the ninth tarot card the Hermit. The Hermit is portrayed as a cloaked man wandering in the darkness with a staff held in one hand and a lantern held in the other hand (Greenaway 39-40). The darkness is a symbol for hidden truths, the staff implies that the Hermit is on a journey, and the lantern symbolizes the light in that darkness (Greenaway 39-40). With these key items, we can determine that the Hermit is a card that reflects soul-searching and traits such as patience and advice are attributed to this action (Greenaway 39-40). This card can represent someone who is experiencing rough times, perhaps someone who is searching for a companion or seeking a purpose in life (Greenaway 39-40). When reversed, they person may be impatient and unsocial, refusing to accept aid from others that could be beneficial (Greenaway 39-40).

By understanding the major tarot cards, we are in a sense understanding about ourselves and others. Each tarot of the Major Arcana can represent any individual to an extent. By knowing what card applies to a person, a person’s trait can be determined. Claire of the Universal Psychic Guild states, ‘’ I have been doing clairvoyant readings for over 20 years and have helped hundreds of people find peace and direction in their lives’’ (‘’Universal Psychic Guild’’). Tarot cards have changed the way people perceive themselves and the environment in which they live.

When the cards of the Major Arcana are compiled, a story is formed – The Fool’s Journey. Each piece of the Major Arcana is a metaphor for a stage in life and by understanding this tale, one will learn that each stage in life serves a vital purpose.

 

The first card of the Major Arcana is the Fool. According to tarot cards, we are all Fools, but that is not necessarily a bad thing (Bunning). The Fool is a card of beginnings associated with innocent faith (Bunning). This is a symbol for humans and the beginning of our journey of life (Bunning). Infants are unaware of the dangers that lie ahead, so we proceed blindly in life (Bunning). The next two cards of the Major Arcana are the Magician and the High Priestess (Bunning). The two cards represent the scheme of light and darkness (Bunning). The Magician is associated with activeness and power which represents conscious awareness (Bunning). The High Priestess is associated with the dark and potential, representing unconscious awareness (Bunning). The following two cards are the Empress and the Emperor which represent parenthood (Bunning). As the Fool grows, he recognizes his mother, a character that is warm, loving, and nurturing (Bunning). Then, the Fool meets a father figure who is authoritative and structural (Bunning). The Emperor teaches the Fool qualities and lessons to control his life (Bunning). The next stage in life is represented by the Hierophant (Bunning). The Fool leaves his home to venture in the world and is exposed to new beliefs, a metaphor for a child becoming educated (Bunning). The next card, the Lover, reflects relationships (Bunning). The Fool is initially self-centered, but he begins to desire a relationship with a life partner (Bunning). Similarly, humans will go so far to forge a strong relationship with a partner, even if it means giving up an original goal in life. Then, the Chariot tarot card and Strength tarot card are next (Bunning). When the Fool reaches adulthood, he has a strong identity of himself and will-power to triumph over his environment (Bunning). He also gains the strength, patience, and tolerance to overcome challenges (Bunning). These two tarot cards reflect the time when teenagers mature into adults and become stronger mentally.

The ninth tarot card the Hermit, is a turning point in the Fool’s journey (Bunning). The Fool begins to question why he does everything and ventures to seek answers (Bunning). This card is a symbol for a stage when one loses a sense of purpose in life and seeks to find another (Bunning). The next card, the Wheel of Fortune, resolves the issue from the previous card (Bunning). The Fool has a vision of the world’s amazing design and recognizes his destiny (Bunning). The next card, Justice, portrays the time when looks back onto his past and sees causes and effects that lead him to his present situation (Bunning). The Fool takes responsibility for his actions, so he can lead an honest future (Bunning). The following card is the Hanged Man (Bunning). The Fool will eventually face an overwhelming challenge that forces him to forfeit and become vulnerable (Bunning). At first it may appear that all hope is lost, but as the Fool looked into himself, he began to understand mysteries that were once shrouded and gained inner-support (Bunning). The next tarot card, Death, falls in place right after the Hanged Man tarot card (Bunning). The Fool leaves his past behavior behind him and is reborn as a new person (Bunning). In comparison, humans are always changing and develop new personalities. The fourteenth card, Temperance, reflects balance (Bunning). By appreciating and fulfilling balance between opposites, the Fool learns that equilibrium is a strong force (Bunning). This theme promotes the quote, ‘’Two in harmony surpasses one in perfection.’’

The fifteenth card of the Major Arcana is the Devil (Bunning). The Fool meets the Devil, who is a tangible being of ignorance and hopelessness that resides in everyone (Bunning). The next card, the Tower, signifies change (Bunning). The Tower is the fortress of ego that the Fool had built throughout his life (Bunning). The only way to overcome the Devil is to destroy the very building he had created his whole life (Bunning). To destroy this tower and start anew, the Fool must come to accept all the negative aspects he has (Bunning). Like the Fool, humans must accept that they bear negative desires within themselves and overcome obstacles that derive from that desire. The seventeenth card of the set is the Star (Bunning). The Fool becomes calm and his soul is no longer hidden from any disguise (Bunning).  The stars shine above him in the sky serving as a meaning for hope and inspiration (Bunning). After the Star tarot card comes the Moon tarot card (Bunning). The Moon is a card that symbolizes mysteries; everything may not appear to be what is seems (Bunning). At this stage, one may be vulnerable and lost (Bunning). The next card is the Sun (Bunning). The Sun dispels all the illusions of the Moon and gives the Fool a strong feeling of energy enthusiasm, and greatness (Bunning). The next card, Judgment, describes the state when the Fool feels he is reborn into a new person (Bunning). He forgives himself for his past mistakes knowing they were out of ignorance (Bunning). The Fool makes a judgment about his life (Bunning). This card is similar to a day of reckoning where one reflects on the past up until this moment. Finally, the last card of the Major Arcana is the World (Bunning). The Fool ventures back into the open world, but this time he has a complete understanding of it (Bunning). The Fool experiences life as full and meaningful (Bunning). This card marks the end of Fool’s journey and a beginning of a new journey (Bunning). At this point, one has experiences the harshness and joys of the world and has learned to understand the world.

The Fool’s Journey reflects the life that one lives, but nothing is ever set in stone.  People may experience the themes of each card in a different order, but it experiencing the world and reaching the end that is most significant.

References

"Basic Tarot Card Meanings." The Mystic Eye. N.p., n.d. www.themysticeye.com/info/tarotcardm.htm Web. 05 Nov 2011.

Bunning, Joan. "Learning the Tarot." The Fool's Journey. N.p., http://www.learntarot.com/top.htm. Web. 05 Nov 2011.

Greenaway, Leanna. Simply Tarot. UK: Zambezi Publishing, 2005. 39-40. Print.

Harris, David. "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Chapters." David Harris' Science and Literature. N.p., 25/01/2006. Web. 05 Nov 2011.

Jean, Gloria. "Queen of Coins." Tarot~History and Origin. N.p., 07/04/2010. www.queenofcoins.com/tarot-history.html Web. 05 Nov 2011.

"Psychic Guild Blog." Tarot Cards in Pop Culture. N.p., 07/04/2010. Web. http://psychicandastrology.psychicguild.com/2010/04/07/tarot/tarot-cards-in-pop-culture/ 05 Nov 2011.

"Psychic Readings." Universal Psychic Guild. Psychic Guild, 2010. Web. http://www.psychicguild.com/ 05 Nov 2011.

Sharman-Burke, Juliet. Understanding the Tarot. 1st ed. New York, NY: St. Martin's Griffin, 1998. 7-100. Print.

Shepherd, Jan. "The Celtic Cross." Angel Paths. Angel Path Tarot and Healing, 2010. Web. http://angelpaths.com/spreads.html 05 Nov 2011.

Solandia, . "Aelectic Tarot." Decision-Making Spreads. Aelectic Tarot, 2010. Web. http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/ 06 Nov 2011.

Venefica, Avia. "Tarot Card Meanings of the Major Arcana." Tarot Teachings. Tarot Teachings, 2010.
www.tarotteachings.com/tarot-card-meanings-of-the-major-arcana.html Web. 06 Nov 2011.

Persona Tarot Cards. N.d. Photograph. PhotobucketWeb. 20 Nov 2011. <http://s5.photobucket.com/albums/y163/tokage32/Persona Tarot Cards/?action=view¤t=1067065-fools_super.jpg>.

Persona Tarot Cards. N.d. Photograph. PhotobucketWeb. 20 Nov 2011. <http://s5.photobucket.com/albums/y163/tokage32/Persona%20Tarot%20Cards/?action=view&current=1067329-moon.jpg>.

Persona Tarot Cards. N.d. Photograph. PhotobucketWeb. 20 Nov 2011. <http://s5.photobucket.com/albums/y163/tokage32/Persona%20Tarot%20Cards/?action=view&current=1067158-tower.jpg>.

Persona Tarot Cards. N.d. Photograph. PhotobucketWeb. 20 Nov 2011. <http://s5.photobucket.com/albums/y163/tokage32/Persona%20Tarot%20Cards/?action=view&current=1067159-death.jpg>.

Persona Tarot Cards. N.d. Photograph. PhotobucketWeb. 20 Nov 2011. <http://s5.photobucket.com/albums/y163/tokage32/Persona%20Tarot%20Cards/?action=view&current=1067148-lovers.jpg>.