When you think of the Tarot, what comes to mind? If you're unfamiliar with its practices and uses, many conjure up images of candle-lit caravans and little old ladies adorned in colorful scarves, shuffling mysterious cards and foretelling death and tragic events. While this is what I refer to as the "Hollywood-ized" version the Tarot and its readers, it is 9 times out of 10 the furthest thing from the truth. Yes, the Tarot is a divination tool and that is often times its main purpose. However, what divination means to the average person is usually completely different to what it means to a Tarot reader. While some readers are very gifted psychics, many (including yours truly) use strong intuition and knowledge of archtypeal symbology to help clients weed through their past, give insightful looks into their present, and help them gain knowledge of their futures based on past and current behavioral patterns or circumstances. While this practice does require a certain ability to recognize what the little voice in your head is telling you when comprehending the cards and their images, this is simply using and exercising the natural intuition each of us is born with. No tricks, no traps, no caravan needed; just knowledge, understanding, and trust in your inner voice.
Aside from divination, however, the Tarot has many uses to help enrich a reader or client's life. Even if you don't read the cards, having a Tarot deck on hand is a wonderful way to get creative juices flowing and spark your inner mystic. Below are a few ways which the Tarot can be used outside of its more common application.
Daily mediation is a wonderful practice which can help ground, center, and stabilize the mind, body, and spirit. There are numerous studies on the reparative powers of this centuries old practice (check some out here), and including Tarot is a great way to help expand meditative consciousness. Many Tarot practitioners and enthusiasts will often mediate with or on a card and use it as their meditative focal point. Picking a soothing card like The Star and visualizing yourself in it's calm, blue landscape is an excellent way to emphasis and enhance the state of being you're after within your mediation. Much like listening to soothing music or utilizing prayer beads, the card acts as a focus for the meditation and helps drown out external and internal influences so that a mediative state can be reached.
Much like mediation, Tarot can be used as a focus point during ritual. Whether you're doing spell work or paying tribute to your god(s)/goddess(es)/pantheon(s), setting Tarot cards on your altar helps focus your intent and visualize your outcomes. Honoring your ancestors at Samhain? The Death card is a perfect representation of the themes of acceptance and moving forward. Casting a spell to bring more love into your life? The Two of Cups could help you focus on bringing forth the emotional connections needed to reach your outcome. Don't utilize rituals or have an altar? Why not start now? Create a space in a small corner of your house, nightstand, of dresser using whatever candles and trinkets call to you. Set a deck on it, pull a card, and sit with it for a few minutes a day. This small daily practice can quickly become a powerful ritual to help you focus intents for your daily goals by drawing advice and energy from the cards. A quick Google Image search yields hundreds of great tarot altars, or you can take a sneak peak at a couple of mine!
One the most alluring things about Tarot and its cards is the artwork which adorns each deck. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of decks with just as many themes and topics which, aside from serving as a spiritual tool, consist of unique and captivating artwork to help convey feelings, meanings, and expressions. While most tarot cards follow the pattern of the Major and Minor Arcana and model themselves after the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith or Thoth symbology, each deck is unique in the work and media the artist chooses to use. From ink to paint to graphic collage, to mixed media, vivid colors, or simple back and white, each deck is distinct and should be cherished as works of art in and of themselves. Even if you don't practice or hold an interest in Tarot, the archetypal symbology of each deck has the potential to touch the soul in the same way the works of Van Gogh, Warhol, or DaVinci do. If you're an art collector, tarot decks are like obtaining you own private little collection of 78 breathtaking works. Hang, tack, or glue them to walls, journals, canvas, or frames to create unique, expressive works of art sure to speak volumes to their viewers.
Suffering from writer's block? Don't know what to fill your canvas up with? Is your new sketch book mocking you with its blank pages? Why not use Tarot cards to construct a story or inspire a powerful artistic vision? If you're feeling creatively stagnate, use Tarot to spark your imagination. You don't even need to know the meanings of each card. This is a great opportunity to put your intuition to work and let whatever the card's scenario is serve as a jumping off point for a new artistic expression. Draw one, two, or even three cards to help your imagination weave together a story that you'll be able to utilize in the creative process. Even if you take off in the opposite direction of what the cards initially show you, you'll have at least have lifted the block to get the creative juices flowing again!
The most powerful questions you can ask the Tarot are not inquiries such as "When will I find a boyfriend?" or "Will I win the lottery?" (which, by the way, any Tarot reader worth their salt won't even consider answering. If they do, you're probably being scammed!). The heart of Tarot is that of a tool which can be used for deep, emotional understating and the healing of ones soul. While the cards and their readers are in no way a replacement for needed medical or mental health attention, Tarot's archetypal symbology and ability to unlock the subconscious mind can aide us in healing our minds and spirits, a fact which is often times overlooked by those unfamiliar with what these cards can actually do. If you find yourself at a cross roads in life or feel heaviness in your heart, turning to the Tarot for inspiration and advice on what to do is one of the best ways to utilize a deck. Even with cards like Death and The Devil, the Tarot's messages are more often than not uplifting, motivating, and can help you change directions toward a more productive and fulfilling life. Reputable, professional Tarot readers want nothing more than to help their clients, and if you're willing to listen and put in the work, self-improvement and spiritual fulfillment are completely within your grasp!
Matt is a Chicago-based Certified Holistic Tarot Reader, having studied under Dr. Vicki L. Hunter, PhD, CH of the International College of Humanistic Science. He is also a registered member of the international Tarosophy Tarot Association and is currently working toward becoming a Certified Metaphysical Practitioner. For more information on his readings, insights, and other Tarot infused info, visit his website or "Like" him on Facebook!