Sage Goddess Intro to Tarot


What is the tarot?

What exactly is the tarot, you ask? Simply put, a tarot deck contains 78 cards, each rich in symbolism, which can be worked with to gain clarity and insight into your daily life and spiritual journey. Think of it as your personal mystical map guiding you through the chapters of your life and spiritual growth.

Where did the tarot come from?

One of my favorite things about the tarot is no one knows precisely where it came from – making it all the more mystical. Some metaphysical scholars believe it originated during the 1400’s in Italy, others in ancient Egypt containing the knowledge of Thoth, and still others in ancient India or China. All agree its original purpose was that of a game and form of entertainment. It wasn’t until the 1780’s divinatory meanings were assigned to the popular playing cards led by French occultist Jean-Baptiste Alliette. From there, the tarot evolved into one of the world’s most popular forms of divination, with literally thousands of different designs. The Rider-Waite, created by A.E. Waite and Pamela Coleman Smith, is the most popular and widely known and was published in December of 1909. Regardless of where it originated, a proper tarot deck has 78 cards and is divided into two parts – the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana.

What is the Major Arcana?

The Major Arcana are the 22 cards representing universal principles or significant life lessons and experiences. They usually are the more ornate and detailed cards of the deck. Every human being will experience and live these principles during their lifetime in multiple areas of their life. The cards themselves are a map of consciousness, one building on the next, and so forth. The first half of the major arcana (The Fool – Wheel of Fortune) has to do with the principles of our external life, maturing, having a relationship, a career, and a family. The second half of the major arcana (Justice – The World) has to do with our internal development, soul growth, and karmic lessons. The Major Arcana encompass deep spiritual wisdom, such as:

  • Major life lessons
  • Shared archetypes
  • The collective unconscious
  • Experiences of all humankind
  • Your spiritual journey

What is the Minor Arcana?

The 56 cards of the Minor Arcana are also known as the pip cards. There are four suits representing the four elements and how we live them in our day-to-day lives: Wands/fire/action, cups/water/emotion, swords/air/change, and disks/earth/work. Each suit has 14 cards, ace through ten, and includes a set of four court cards: Page/beginnings, knight/movement, queen/advice, and king/power. The Minor Arcana contains commonplace wisdom that connects to daily life, including:

  • Your conscious behaviors and actions
  • Day-to-day experiences
  • How you learn or block your life lessons (Major Arcana) in physical reality
  • How you put your visions into physical form
  • How you participate in your spiritual journey

How to choose and care for your deck

Do you need to be gifted a deck, or can you purchase one yourself? As special as it is to be gifted a deck, selecting your own deck can be just as meaningful and just as powerful. Choose a deck that ‘speaks’ to you, whether it be the art, the captions, the color, or the feeling it gives you. There’s no wrong way to choose – have fun with it! Once you select your deck, it’s always a good idea to clear it of any previous energies and connect it to your own.

  • Smudge your deck by burning sage or other sacred herbs and passing it through the wafts of smoke
  • Place a piece of black kyanite on it (black kyanite is a powerful clearing, protective, grounding, and energizing gem)
  • Set it in the moonlight to clear and energize it – especially under a full moon
  • Shuffling, percussion, and tapping your deck are also quick ways to clear energy

Find a special way to store your deck for safekeeping. A gorgeous pouch, a silk cloth, or a special box is a great way to house your new deck – throw in a few of your favorite gemstones to keep it protected and energized – such as clear quartz, lapis lazuli, or amethyst. I like to place my deck on my altar, surrounded by my favorite spiritual tools.

How to do a reading with your new deck

Prepare yourself, your deck, and your space to receive spiritual wisdom. I love to burn sage or work with some of my favorite essential oils or gemstones to help me feel more grounded, centered, and ready to welcome in higher wisdom. Next, shuffle and spread them out. My best advice is to keep it simple! You can do an in-depth reading with just a couple of cards. My favorite is a 3-card spread, Past, Present, and Future. Let your intuition be your guide. As you choose each card, you may feel some energy, it may catch your eye, or it could even pop out of the deck. Trust that the cards that are meant to be a part of the reading will make themselves known to you.

How to interpret the cards

You don’t need to be an expert or psychic to interpret the cards. With a bit of study, you can do an amazing reading for yourself or others. If you’d like to learn more, there are thousands of books out there to help you with different spreads and interpretations. A couple of my favorite tarot authors are Rachel Pollack, Mary K. Greer, and Angeles Arrien. However, rest assured you can do a meaningful reading without a book or the pamphlet included with the deck. Take a deep breath, become a hollow bone, and let the ancient wisdom flow through you freely. As you read your cards, think about:

  • What is happening in the card?
  • What are the colors telling you?
  • What does the numerology tell you?
  • What do the symbols mean to you?
  • Is there a pattern?
  • What story is coming across to you?

In closing

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned practitioner, the tarot is an ever-popular tool to tap into your intuition and the archetypes that live in the collective unconscious to gain clarity, insight, and wisdom about your life and spiritual journey.

Enjoy the journey!

Are you ready to breathe magic into your life? It’s time to unlock your power and your possibility. Join my Living Magic program to bring magic to your everyday life. Each month, we’ll embark on a journey of experiential sessions that cover ways to practice everyday magic, including crystal wisdom and healing, astrology, and sound healing.

Do you love harnessing the energy of the Moon in all her phases? Join my Astrology & Moon Magic community on Facebook, where we share educational tidbits on working with Moon energy, learn about astrology, and engage in lively, wild conversations with other like-minded people.

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Are you a perfume lover like I am? Do you know the healing magic of the oils that are used to make all of our perfumes? Join my Perfume & Aromatherapy Magic community on Facebook, where you can learn about the properties of certain essences, discover how to work with certain blends to manifest your intentions, and engage in lively, wild conversations with like-minded people.

I absolutely love and encourage all magical feedback from my readers! However, I do not regularly moderate comments on the Sage Goddess blogs. So if you have a specific question or query that you’d like us to answer, please contact us via our Facebook page.

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