What is the purpose of Tarot cards?
If you were to ask people, “what is the purpose of Tarot cards,” what do you think their response would be? What would be yours?
Surprisingly, the purpose of Tarot cards is not what a lot of people think. They are not a fortunetelling device or for making psychic predictions. But this is where it gets a little tricky. They seem to reveal the past, present, and potential future. So then, how are they not a fortunetelling device?
The creator of the most well-known Tarot cards (Rider-Waite Tarot); Arthur Edward Waite said, “The allocation of a fortune-telling aspect to these cards is the story of a prolonged impertinence.” Why do you think he felt it was profane or inappropriate to view Tarot cards in this way?
The purpose of Tarot cards – profound or profane?
To shed a little light on this paradox, it helps to know what the difference is between the true purpose of Tarot cards (profound), versus the by-product they seem to produce, which is referred to as revealing the future or telling a fortune (profane).
In simplest terms, Tarot cards serve as a conduit between the higher self or soul (unconscious), and consciousness. Therefore, the purpose of Tarot cards is to reveal or illuminate what is unconscious, so that it may become conscious. This includes those events, situations, or people who have (or will have) bearing on our lives in a significant way. This psychic revelation via Tarot cards facilitates movement forward in our lives with greater clarity and understanding.
Simultaneously, Tarot cards offer profound spiritual guidance regarding those thoughts, emotions, decisions, events, people, or patterns revealed, but it is always our choice to reflect further on the guidance we receive or to disregard it.
It’s similar to the parable reflected in the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, when guardian Angel and messenger of God, Clarence Odbody, allows George Bailey to “see into his future.” Clarence didn’t do this so that George could experience being in the future or knowing his future (profane), rather, to enlighten him of his current actions that would create that future. This allowed George to understand the value and meaning of his life at present and those lives he touched (profound).
It isn’t how you know it, it’s what are you going to do with what you know?
Seen from another perspective, simply hearing from a psychic or Tarot reader about when you might meet a new guy or gal is not at all helpful, if that new person turns out to be similarly hurtful or unloving as previous relationship experiences might have been. Wouldn’t you rather understand a possible cause of these previous choices and what you can do to change that dynamic in order to attract a healthy and loving relationship instead?
In that sense, do you think your soul wants you to know your future (impertinence) or for you to understand your present life process and soul evolution so that you may live a happier life? Which is more profound versus profane?
Is the purpose of Tarot cards to reveal the past, present, and future?
Albert Einstein said, “…the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” Therefore, our concept of “time” is a construct and doesn’t exist. Information in and of itself is essentially inert or displays “potential.” It has no concept of time or space and it has no power until acted upon in some way (cause), to which an effect is created.
Depending on the Tarot reader and how they might interpret Tarot cards, timing can be ascertained. However; in my opinion, timing is irrelevant and for the same reasons as indicated in the It’s a Wonderful Life example. The importance of time was in George’s present, not in his past or future. Showing his past or potential future was used only for the purpose of understanding his life now (the present).
Psychic abilities emanate from the unconscious and/or Collective Unconscious (God Mind), which is our very connection (energetically) to everything in the Universe. There is no separation and no concept of time. Similarly, neither psychic abilities nor Tarot cards have a concept of time and both present this Collective Unconscious information or “potential.” As such, any divination or revelation made, which is then interpreted by a psychic or Tarot card reader, is reflective of this Unconscious potential, often expressed or understood within our understanding of time: in past, present or future tense.
In other words, any revelation, no matter the time period referenced, will have some relevance to know or understand at the time of your Tarot card reading. As any truly loving presence would be, and without judgment, Tarot cards seek to serve us in the highest possible way. Through illumination, the Tarot reflects those thoughts or actions already taken (past), in process (present), or the potential result, if we continue in a particular direction.
Is the purpose of Tarot cards evil or demonic?
I have been a Tarot card reader for over 28 years, and my study of Tarot cards will continue for as long as I live. They are that deeply profound. One need only ask themselves who or what stands to gain by labeling Tarot cards as evil or demonic, making a connection between Tarot cards and fortunetelling, or labeling them as the occult.
Tarot cards have long been stigmatized by association to the occult; however, the word occult simply means “hidden” or “known only to the initiated.” There are many occult organizations (hidden or secret) such as: Freemasons, Illuminati, Rosicrucian’s, Skull and Bones, The Knights Templar, or The Bilderberg Group. And many of these occult or secret societies have had some very notable members: U.S. presidents, senators, or other politicians, film and television stars, clergy, Federal judges, and more.
So, whereas it seems perfectly okay for U.S. presidents or clergy to be in occults; Tarot cards are labeled as “occult or occult science” and treated as something evil or demonic. Why?
Again, we have to look at who or what stands to gain. There are a few reasons for the erroneous belief that Tarot cards are evil or demonic. The most glaring is lack of education or knowledge. Most people fear what they do not understand, no matter what that might be. Aside from that, the next most likely cause is religion:
“A man or a woman who acts as a medium or fortune-teller shall be put to death by stoning: they have no one but themselves to blame for their death” (Leviticus 20:27)
“Let there not be found among you anyone who immolates his son or daughter in the fire, nor a fortuneteller, soothsayer, charmer, diviner, or caster of spells, nor one who consults ghosts and spirits or seeks oracles from the dead. Anyone who does such things is an abomination to the Lord…” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12).
You shall not practice divination or soothsaying. (Leviticus 19:26, New JPS)
With Biblical exhortations such as these, one could understand why some folks would run for the hills and believe that Tarot cards are evil or demonic! However, the most obvious inconsistency would be that Tarot cards are not, to our current knowledge, as old as the Bible. The earliest known Tarot decks, or recognized as such, are the Visconti-Sforza or the Cary Yale Visconti, which date to early-mid 15th century (during the Italian Renaissance). Still, this doesn’t answer the “purposeful” connection that was made between Tarot cards and fortunetelling, which would garner the watchful eye and condemnation by the Church.
Pope Boniface VIII (1294-1303) initiated the papal bull: Unam Sanctam, declaring that spiritual and temporal power was under the pope’s jurisdiction. Outside of the Church, there was neither salvation nor the remission of sins, and it was absolutely necessary that every human creature was subject to the authority of the Roman pontiff. Essentially, this reiterated what Gregory VII had declared during his papacy of 1073-1085 and Innocent III during his rule 1198-1216.
Read this as: spiritual and temporal power was under the pope’s jurisdiction and every human being was subject to the authority of the Roman Catholic pontiff. Yes, this meant every non-Catholic person as well, and the various monarchies, many of whom quaked at the possibility of papal displeasure or punishment.
Additionally, there’s this (Universal history of the Church):
“It must first treat of the one true Church which from the time of the Apostles, by its uninterrupted existence and its unique attributes, has proved itself that Christian association which is alone in full possession of revealed truth: the Catholic Church. It must, moreover, deal with those other religious associations which claim to be the Church of Christ, but in reality originated through separation from the true Church.”
Human beings have sought spiritual and temporal guidance through oracles long before the Church or the Bible, such as the Oracle of Delphi, 1400 BCE, the IChing (believed 1600 BCE), or Cleromancy: ancient Egypt, Rome, China or Urim and Thummim.
As the Church sought domination over all of humanity for spiritual and temporal guidance, quite naturally, one can draw a correlation for condemning any other means to attain spiritual guidance, which includes Tarot cards. This condemnation of Tarot cards as strict association to fortune-telling and not spiritual guidance continues today, which includes laws enacted to appease the Church or other Christian based religions. Trust me; I have had personal experience in fighting these erroneous laws, whereby if one uses Tarot cards, they are automatically labeled a “fortune-teller” and treated accordingly, regardless if they are a spiritual counselor and believe that the purpose of Tarot cards is for spiritual guidance.
On May 16, 2016 the Vatican released Iuvenescit Ecclesia (the Church rejuvenates), which discusses charismatic gifts (spiritual gifts). Perhaps the Church is finding its way toward acceptance. Perhaps the world and our laws should follow suit. Perhaps the only way for one to ascertain the true purpose of Tarot cards is to delve into the study of them and decide for their self.
Gypsy fortunetellers – did they create Tarot cards?
The association of Tarot cards and gypsy fortunetelling is also one of prolonged impertinence. The word gypsy is, in and of itself, a creation. It may have found its basis from the Greek word Aigyptioi, meaning Egyptian; however, it neither describes the people from Egypt who are in fact Egyptian; not gypsies, or the Romani (Romany) people for whom the derogatory phrase “gypsy” was coined, as they are from India; however, many settled in the Balkans.
How did this false attribution start? Tarot cards share some similarities to regular playing cards. Playing cards were first introduced into Europe by the Mamluks, who were at one time Egyptian slaves; arriving from Egypt, but not of Egyptian origin. It could be argued that some Mamluks were of Balkan origin; however, the Balkans are a mix of Bosnian, Croatian, Greek, Turkish, and Romanian people (not to be confused with Romani), among others, and none of these peoples are Egyptian or “gypsies” either.
Some have thought that gypsies created Tarot cards; for the association to gypsy fortunetellers. This isn’t true at all. Tarot cards, as we know them today, originated in Italy. In all likelihood, the association was made due to the regular playing card (Mamluk-Balkans) and its similarity to Tarot cards.
It is perhaps true that some Romani people seized upon the lore and mysterious nature of Tarot cards, and because they were itinerant or nomadic peoples, may have helped to spread them throughout Europe. To this day, Tarot readers in general are portrayed as gypsies on television or in movies, and the likely cause for Tarot cards and Tarot readers who are not “gypsies” to receive a bad rap. This is likely due to those who took financial advantage of people and were easily able to move before being caught. Obviously, this is not at all the purpose of Tarot cards, nor were they meant to be abused or used in this way. It was simply a very unfortunate way to play upon human vulnerabilities or curiosity and they were quite successful at it.
The purpose of Tarot cards is in the mystery of Tarot cards
Tarot cards are shrouded in mystery, eternally fascinating, and they have an air of profound significance. Most people who hold a Tarot deck in their hands or flip through the cards looking at the various imagery, can’t help but feel that they contain some vital, profound secrets — invariably producing a déjà vu feeling that it’s somehow familiar and you know it; but, what you know and why you know it is elusive. Perhaps, this is the reason why so much has been read into their history and meaning, and why the true purpose of Tarot cards has seemed elusive.
Tarot cards, especially the Major Arcana; incorporate essential Truths and spiritual teachings within their symbolism, along with archetypes. These teachings are found in all religions without exclusivity or particularity to one, and they do not issue or represent judgments or control of any kind. They describe the human condition, which encompasses all human experiences, and they provide profound spiritual guidance, which is Universal and equal to all human beings.
Much like our own family stories, which are passed down from generation to generation, these stories may have had a basis founded on truth, but they may also have had numerous embellishments throughout time, which eventually obscures the truth. These two elements alone — the mystery of meaning, and the passage of falsified attributions, have contributed to obscuring the true purpose of Tarot cards, which is simply gaining knowledge of the self and spiritual evolution of the soul.
Tarot cards are a powerful tool into gaining a deeper understanding of self — Know Thyself (Oracle of Delphi). It goes without saying that every Tarot reader will interpret Tarot cards very differently. As with all things, great care is necessary in finding a Tarot reader who operates with integrity and knows the true purpose of Tarot cards.
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Tarot is commonly misspelled as: Taro, Tarro, Tarrot, Traot, Tarots, Terro