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Tarot Cards: You Get What You Give
Tarot cards are a key tool in the intuitive reader's collection. Find out what to expect from a reading with Groupon's introduction.
Instead of wondering how tarot-card readings tell the future, a more appropriate question might be how tarot cards help us see the possibilities for the future—and make better decisions with that information. For many non-mediums, reading tarot is more an exercise in generating new understandings of one's life situation than in fortunetelling.
It begins with the questioner. After he or she has set a goal for the session—and has perhaps shuffled the deck of cards while thinking of a question—the reader lays the cards out in one of many patterns, or spreads, and interprets the cards that come up. A standard deck contains 78 cards comprising 22 major arcana cards and 56 minor arcana cards, the latter being grouped, like playing cards, into suits—for instance, cups relate to emotions, whereas pentacles hold sway over the physical world. In fact, it's thought that the modern tarot deck first served in a game similar to bridge in 15th-century Italy; what are now the major arcana then functioned as a sort of fifth suit of trumps.
Appropriately enough given this history, the major arcana take precedence over the minor arcana during a reading. These cards, bearing symbols such as The Fool, The Lovers, or Death, represent universal concepts and big life changes, though their meanings are not always as straightforward as their names may seem. The artist's illustrations of these symbols can vary widely between decks, in a long tradition that stretches from decks custom-made for ruling families of the Renaissance to today's profusion of cards decorated with steampunk-style drawings or Lord of the Rings characters. In any case, the same card can mean different things depending on its position in the spread, as when a sword—a symbol of conflict—turns up in the "present" versus the "future" slot.