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Tarot Cards

Tarot readings are arrangements of cards drawn from a shuffled deck. The layout of the cards is known as a spread, and determines what each card refers to. For example, the Two Paths spread is used to understand an upcoming decision, and hence it uses cards to represent the different options and their outcomes.

Decks: Tarot decks consist of 78 cards. 22 of the cards are major arcana (trumps), such as The Lovers, The Fool, The Pope, and The World. The remaining 56 cards are minor arcana divided into 4 suites of 14 cards each. The suites are Swords, Cups, Wands (sometimes called Rods or Staves), and Pentacles (sometimes called Coins or Discs). Although the traditional meanings of the cards are the same regardless of the specific deck used, the imagery and language associated with each deck tends to make it particularly useful for some types of readings. For example, many of our visitors find the Renaissance Tarot particularly good at questions of passion, mastery, and reason.

Reversals: About half of the cards in a reading are drawn reversed (upside down), which either negates or inverts their meaning. For example, Death upright means “change”, but Death reversed means “stagnation”.

Constitution of a Typical Tarot Deck

A traditional Tarot deck is divided into two types of card – the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana. The Minor Arcana consists of four suits – Swords, Wands (sometimes Staves), Coins (sometimes Disks or Pentacles) and Cups. Each suit has ten ‘pip’ cards numbering Ace to ten, and four ‘Face’ cards (similar to a traditional deck of cards). Each suit is usually commonly associated with one of the four elements, with Wands relating to fire (or air), Cups with water, Swords with air (or fire) and Coins with Earth.

The Major Arcana contains 21 picture cards, which are known as ‘Trump’ cards, plus one card which is The Fool (numbered zero). Their uses vary from game to game, but for the purpose of divining these cards typically represent major revelations or events. These are the cards most commonly associated with Tarot, as they have unique pictures and numbers (usually expressed as Roman numerals).