The Tarot Tradition: Two Big Questions
Since I've created a Tarot deck, a lot of people ask me questions about Tarot, everything from the history (which I usually have to look up to give accurate answers) to Tarot's connections with various kinds of spirituality. One question that I've gotten over and over again in various forms is this: Does Tarot belong to a particular spiritual tradition?
The short answer is no.
Now for the longer answer.
The beginnings of Tarot are shrouded in mystery (or, more accurately, in a lack of historical records). But the cards have been used for both fortune telling and meditation for centuries, by a wide variety of people from different backgrounds. Tarot jumped in popularity in the early 20th century with the publication of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck and since then, it has continued to grow, with more and more people finding meaning through the cards.
What kinds of people use Tarot cards? Liberal Christians. Pagans of all flavors. Ceremonial magicians. Jews who are interested in mysticism. People who don't use any kind of spiritual or religious label. Transpersonal psychologists and some Jungian psychologists use Tarot cards as a tool for exploration and insight in their counseling sessions. That's quite a wide variety of people, isn't it?
How is it possible for all these different kinds of people to use Tarot? Because Tarot cards, in whatever form you prefer (there are hundreds of different decks now) are a self-contained system. I suppose you could classify them as occult, but really, they don't belong to any particular spiritual tradition. They are their own thing and can be used as a helpful tool by people from a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. It's especially helpful that we now have so many different decks to choose from, so each person has a good chance of being able to find exactly the symbol set that works for them.
Ultimately, this is what Tarot is: a symbol set that we use as a tool for personal transformation and enlightenment.
The second most common question I'm asked is where does the information in a Tarot reading come from?
The short answer to this one is: wherever you think it comes from. In other words, we can't really say for certain, but there are a lot of opinions (aren't there always?). Some possibilities: your own subconscious, your higher self, your spirit guides, the divine, any combination of the above.
Each person's opinion will depend on their own worldview, and that's just fine. The important thing is that Tarot cards work as a functional tool for helping us to gain insight into our lives. We can use them to make ourselves better people, to find greater satisfaction in life, to learn and grow and ultimately, to make the world a better place.
I bid you peace.