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Tarot Cards – Right Or Wrong?
“What are those?” My grandmother pointed to my deck of cards.
I looked at her, excited to tell her. “Tarot cards.”
Her eyes widened and she glared at my mother and father. “Who let her have the Devil’s toys?”
My mother and father looked at each other. “I bought them for her.” My father spoke.
“And you claim to be a religious man?”
“I don’t see anything wrong with her satisfying her curiosity.”
“It’s a shame! You can’t claim this is a religious house if you allow the Devil’s instruments in it!” My grandmother suddenly lost her temper.
“But Grandma, they’re funny and beautiful.” I argued.
“Get rid of them.” She seethed.
I was once told by my parish priest that the occult was a dark art. Of course it can be either, but tarot can be used for divination or entertainment. I came from a devout Catholic family. Every Sunday my parents and I attended mass, prayed and went to breakfast afterwards. There were prayers before every meal, Bible study after school, and limited television on the weekends. For my family, Jesus was always someone we tried to impress.
I became interested in tarot when I was fourteen. I saw a fortune teller using a tire when I was at a carnival with some friends the summer before. I was drawn to the designs on them and the way the fortune teller placed them on the table in what I would later learn was called a spread.
I asked my dad about the cards a few months later to see if he had any information on them and he offered to buy me a set. I didn’t understand how a deck of cards could cause so much turmoil in a family. Because it seemed to be a religious question, the only person I could think of to ask was my parish priest.
“The tarot is part of the occult, which is demonic. Why would you, as a good Catholic girl, want to play with something as dangerous as this? Why would you allow Satan to tempt you?” Father Burns told me.
Okay, so tarot is part of the occult and the occult is demonic, but how can Satan tempt me if I just look at them? I had no idea how to read them. I decided to educate myself.
The Tarot originated in Italy in the 14th century. It was used by the Jews for divination purposes or to tell the future. The deck consists of 22 major arcana cards, cards that look like the king, queen, and jack in a deck of playing cards, which represent life, and 56 minor arcana cards, cards that look like the numbered cards in a deck of playing cards, which correspond to to the major arcana somehow. Each card has its own meaning.
The card my father bought me was the medieval Scapini Tarot, created by Luigi Scapini. The Scapini Tarot recreates the images of medieval Europe through costume, symbolism and scenery. Many images on the cards were inspired by Italian Renaissance masterpieces. The cards are complete with gold backgrounds and symbolism for the reader to interpret, linking this particular deck to the esoteric tradition of the tarot. Because each tarot card is different, the Scapini deck includes suits of swords, cups, wands, and coins. These suits correspond to the traditional tarot suits of swords, cups, wands and pentacles. Playing cards can also be used as tarot cards. The colors in tarot correspond to the four suits in a deck of playing cards: spades, hearts, clubs and diamonds.
Occultism has been part of American culture since the mid-nineteenth century. By 1871, there were an estimated eight to 11 million psychic and occult followers. In 1979, according to Time magazine, an estimated 40,000 “witches” were active in the United States. Today, that number has quadrupled. Over 300 educational institutions, including universities, offer programs and even degrees on New Age subjects. Of these institutions, about 100 in America alone offer courses in witchcraft. According to The Statesman’s Yearbook 2007, Illinois had a total population of 12,419,293 in 2000. Of these, 6,457,000 were Christians and 270,000 Jews. The other 5,692,293 were unknown. These unknowns may be occultists.
The reason for the high number of occultists in America is the abandonment of orthodox Christianity. It is a fact that wherever Christianity is practiced biblically, occultism is rejected.
People leave the Christian religion for many reasons, some of which include interests in other religions and the offenses of the church. However, most leave the religion hesitantly. For example, a man named Jason* left the Catholic Church mostly because of his homosexuality. He simply did not agree with the Church’s teachings on not only homosexuality, but the ordination of women and papal infallibility. Jason still has great respect and love for the Catholic Church, but will not return unless he sees a change in the things he disagreed with.
Tarot is studied by occultists and pagans. Paganism has had a huge influence on Christianity. For example, Catholic infant baptism was derived from a pagan ritual. Many pagan rituals were incorporated into Catholicism: the use of incense, gene inflections and the practice of facing east to pray. Unfortunately, most Christians have either denied or forgotten this.
Biblical evaluations of tarot state that the cards ignore human sin, contain a “secret doctrine” that few are privy to, and that the cards are dangerous when used to control one’s destiny because of the symbolism. The realization is that tarot cards correctly say that man needs help spiritually.
The four suits of the minor arcana have also been identified with the four symbols of the legend of the Holy Grail: lance (rod), cup (cup), sword (sword), cup (pentacles). The Major Arcana also has Catholic symbolism. For example, the Hanged Man, card number 12, a man hanging upside down from a cross by the ankle, signifies the death and resurrection of Jesus.
For me, Tarot readings were always steeped in the mystical; carnival readers in dark tents, with black velvet draped over the table and chairs and small crystals hanging from the ceiling.
I used to think so. Now that I realize that carnival Tarot readers are probably only after money, I searched for what a real Tarot reader looks like and acts like. I couldn’t find it in any book, so to find my answer I visited a “real” Tarot reader.
I visited a website to try and get some information on where to get a good reading. The information told me to stay away from calling 900 numbers such as Psychic Friends and Miss Cleo because usually such numbers employ people who have no reading skills and they do what is called “cold reading”. Cold reading is where a reader names a number of people and ideas that the person reading may or may not be familiar with in the hope that the person will offer some valuable information to further the reading. Cold Reading has been compared to fishing; the reader just keeps throwing useless information out there until they get something useful. These numbers are usually scams.
When I arrived, I noticed that the place I was in looked like a normal house. When I rang the doorbell, a woman in her 40s, dressed in a t-shirt, jeans and fuzzy bunny slippers, answered the door. “Hi.” She greeted me.
“Um, hi.” She probably guessed that I was taken back by her attire.
She invited me in and instructed me to take a seat at the kitchen table (which, by the way, had a St. Patrick’s Day tablecloth on it.) While she got me a cup of coffee, which was in a cup that read: “World’s Greatest Mom” on the side she carried the cards over to the table.
She sat across from me and took the cards out of the old sock she had them in. “Why do you have them in a sock?” I asked.
“So they can become personal. It is believed that if you keep your cards in a personal place, you will bond with the cards, giving you a more accurate reading.” She smiled. “What is your zodiac sign?”
“The weight.” I replied.
She searched through the cards until she came to the Justice card. She put it aside, separate from the rest. “Why don’t you include that one?”
“This card represents you.” She held up the card, she put it aside.
“Why does it represent me?”
“Libra stands for law and justice. This card corresponds to that.”
I nodded and she told me to shuffle the cards. I did and gave them back to her. She posted them in what was described as the “Celtic Cross” post. The spread had two cards in the middle, one on top of the other, making a cross, four cards in a circle around those cards, and four cards stacked up along the side of the circle. The cards that are in and make up the circle describe a person’s problems, obstacles and past and near future. The cards running up the page describe a person’s inner thoughts and feelings and surroundings, ending with the final outcome prediction of that person’s question.
She was correct in predicting some things in my reading such as my past relationships and general obstacles. However, she did not get many of the future predictions correct, the predictions that she told me would happen within the next month.
As we sat down to dinner, my grandmother asked me if I had gotten rid of the cards yet. My parents looked up from their plates and listened intently, wide-eyed, wondering what I was going to say.
“None.” I said simply.
“Why?” Grandma asked calmly.
“Because Grandma…” and I continued to tell her what I had learned about the Tarot. It was something I wanted to pursue and I didn’t like anyone being mad at me, especially her. I always wanted my grandmother to be proud of me.
When I finished explaining, I expected her to scream and shout, but it never came. “Hmm.” Was all she said and that was the end of it.
People either read or go to Tarot readings because they are either looking for some interesting fun, or they are turning away from their religion and looking for different spiritual outlets.
I had talked to several different people, all of whom told me they read Tarot because it’s “fun,” “interesting,” or “because my family hates it,” but only one person told me, “I read Tarot, because I want to know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I hate surprises.”
This surprised me. “Do you really believe you can see the future through the cards?”
“I don’t think so, I know.”
This sent up a red flag to me. This is an insane person who bases their life on Tarot… get away! This I thought immediately. However, through my research I have learned that most people who read Tarot do so for spiritual purposes and believe what they see in the cards. Because of what is portrayed in the media, I took this person to be completely crazy.
Through the research I’ve done, I’ve learned more about the Tarot and perhaps matured a little while searching for answers.
“Your grandmother is leaving.” My father called to me as I rushed down the stairs to say goodbye to her.
“I’ll see you next month.” she said to me as she kissed my forehead.
As I turned to walk away, I heard her call after me, “What you said last night at dinner really made sense.”
I turned to her and smiled. I just wanted her to understand. That was all I wanted.
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