For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated with magic and the occult. Blame it on Harry Potter. I’m not a true believer or anything, but I’ve definitely been known to whittle stick wands (age 11), write fluently in the Runic alphabet (age 13) and ask everyone, “What’s your sign?” (last week). What can I say… it’s my idea of FUN.
So last night, I sat down with my clairvoyant gypsy roommates to – what else? – have my cards read. Normally a basic reading consists of 3 cards, but I decided to go for the big one – a 10-card celtic cross variation. The exercise begins with picking one card from the deck that represents yourself. And since I don’t know much about the meanings, I chose simply on what visually “speaks” to me – and ended up with the 10 Of Cups, above.
The 10 Of Cups just so happens to be perfect for me! Also known as the “Happily Ever After” card, the 10 Of Cups represents peaceful contentment and personal happiness. The idyllic scene shows a man and woman, boy and girl, surrounded by the ones they love. Since this is my “identity” card, it’s not that my near future holds sunshine and rainbows, but that the ultimate dream of family, friends and joy is what’s most important to me. I couldn’t have said it better myself!
What else did my card reading hold? Well, it was mostly work-related. I’m supported by the Ace Of Pentacles – financial stability, thanks to a steady job, but I’m going to have a hard time keeping it all together soon (the Four of Pentacles, reversed). No worries, I’ll learn how to juggle it all in the end (the Two of Pentacles). All in all, it sounded like an eerie premonition of… dun dun dun… student loans. Also in the reading: a friends-based, party-loving lifestyle in my college past (the Three of Cups), and my roommates’ game attempt at relating the confident Ace Of Wands to “a new day” in my love life. That’s pretty much it.
Even if you could care less about the readings, Tarot is full of incredibly interesting visual elements. In most types of illustration, the pictures complement and draw out meaning from the words, but the words come first and foremost. But in Tarot, the illustrations ARE the meaning, the artwork holds all the power. Every composition and symbol on the card can be interpreted, so each kind of deck holds a potentially different future for the reader. With hundreds of decks from the 15th century to the present, that’s a lot of illustration divination!
Some classic decks, like playing cards, are based solely on their suit:
Some contain a bit more symbolism:
And others, well, are a bit more interpretive, illustrative, or just plain kitschy:
I can’t get enough of the crazy variety of art on Tarot cards, so for more info, check out tons of decks at Tarot.com, a lot of useful basic info and videos at Big Tarot blog, and, of course, the Tarot Wiki.