Your First Deck
You have just received your first Tarot Deck! How Exciting! So many depictions of the human experience, such beautiful art! What does it all mean? Where do I even begin?
The Tarot: a pictographic novel of the Hidden Mysteries as revealed through the story of the Fool’s Journey. Essentially it is a comic book but with all the pages loose. This allows us to travel the Fool’s Journey, from birth to enlightenment, by any path we choose.
Due to its symbolic and archetypal nature the Tarot is often used as an oracle for divination purposes. But this is not its only use and certainly not its first use. The Tarot is a study guide disguised as a play thing. Like all books it may seem to carry the personality of the story it holds but it is just an inanimate object, neutral in its nature, coloured and energized by those that use it.
How do you bond with your deck? You learn how to read it. Tried as I might to learn science by putting my text books under my pillow at night, it just did not work. I had to eventually study them to learn science. It is the same with Tarot. To learn the lessons inherent within the imagery of the Tarot you have to learn how to read them.
Does the thought of memorizing 78 cards seem overwhelming? To me it does. So let’s begin somewhere easier. Start first by laying them out in front of you in numerical order. There is a story being told to you in pictures. Find your main character and follow them through each card.
You will begin to see recurring symbols and themes. The first is obviously the four elements as depicted through the four suites and their four objects. You should be able to see just by looking at the art which suit associates to which element. If you can’t then go find another deck. If you come from a witchy background you’re in luck. You already know how the four elements associate to the human experience and our environment. These associations all apply.
You may notice a recurrence of shapes. Circles, squares, triangles and crosses show up everywhere and lend to the story. This is symbology 101 which I will explore in a future post.
Get a grip on the colour story. There are really only 7 of them. A quick brush up on colour associations as taught through the Hindu philosophy of the human energetic anatomy is a good place to start.
Like the Golden Compass you can peel layer after layer of meaning out of each card but once a basic understanding of symbology is accomplished the rest is essentially story telling, so know your story lines. The Fool’s Journey, The Hero’s Story, The King’s Betrayal, the Grail Quest, The Descent of the Goddess, and the Hermit’s Tale are all archetypal stories that run through the human experience and are alluded to within the Tarot.
The Tarot can be the beginning of a life time of exploration into the human condition. It is a spring board to a myriad of other esoteric, symbolic and sacred teachings while also being a landing pad where all these teachings come together in one format. The longer you work with the Tarot the more you will discover. Enjoy the ride.