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Tarot - A Deck of Discovery

In this article my intention is to provide a general overview of the structure of the Tarot and to explain the basic purpose and significance of each section of the deck.

I will begin by introducing the major arcana. The major arcana consist of 22 cards. In my own opinion and what is the likely view of the majority of Tarot readers, these cards are the most significant cards in the deck. These cards detail the psychological state of a human being and determine the areas where attention is required in order to promote psychological growth. In essence, these cards reflect our 'inner self' and have spiritual significance.
The simplest way of considering and understanding the phases of growth that are depicted throughout the major arcana is by looking to it as the story of 'The Fool' embarking upon his journey through life.

The Tarot portrays the movement of 'The Fool' key 0, from his first appearance in the major arcana until the end when he reaches 'The World'. This is the last card in the major arcane, key 21 and the point where he has completed one life cycle of evolution. From his first point of expression, leading from him being a spark of enlightened divine perfection, into facing the trials of life and experiencing the lessons of both a positive and negative nature that are required of any human being to grow and evolve until they gain enough wisdom and insight of life to become, once again, an unbound enlightened being. On reaching this stage 'The Fool' has evolved into the same state of consciousness he was at when he first arrived onto the earth plane.

The next section of the cards is the minor arcana. These cards add fullness and depth to the details given in the major arcana. The minor arcana represents the 'outer life', for example, relationships, events, work and any projects that are significant in influencing the state of mind of the human being in psychological terms as demonstrated in the major arcane.
There are 40 cards in the minor arcane which are divided into four individual suits.. These suits are Cups, Wands, Swords and Coins. You might recognize these suits as bearing resemblance to the suits demonstrated in regular decks of playing cards where we have Hearts, Spades, Clubs and Diamonds. The four suits of the minor arcane are governed by the four elements earth, water, fire and air.

Wands - Fire which rules creative energy and ambition.
Cups - Water which rules the emotions, love, feelings and the subconscious mind.
Swords - Air which rules rational thought, logic, intellect and the conscious mind.
Coins - Earth which rules material manifestation, physical growth, finance and industry.

The Tarot shows us the importance of having balance in our lives. Without achieving and maintaining a balance the result can be of bringing harm to ourselves in either a psychological, physical nature or a combination of both factors depending, of course, upon your own life circumstances.

The principle of the four suits and elements I explained above are invaluable to one and other and they do require a balance between all of them to reach the successful completion of any project we embark upon. The element of Fire and the Wands brings the creative, ambitious energy we need in order to invoke the first stage of an idea for a project. This energy then requires the application of the principle of the cups and water which brings us the feeling, emotion and intuition to inspire and move us to take the project in hand. Now we require the application of the Air element and the swords which brings organization of our emotions and feeling into control by applying logic and intellect. This is required to move our project in reasonable and rational terms. All three elements cannot manifest into materialization without the influence of the Coins and earth element which brings the idea into effect by allowing physical manifestation of the project.

The last section of the Tarot deck is that of the court cards. There are 16 court cards all together which are then split into four sections of four cards represented by each of the four individual suits. Again being similar to regular playing cards, we have the court cards consisting of the Kings, Queens, Knights and pages of each suit. The court cards act as the link between the major and minor arcane and show up in a spread representing a whole range of circumstances. These cards usually represent people in your life or an aspect or characteristic of your own personality. They can bring the arrival of a new person entering into your life or someone who is already a part of and will bring change by influencing a certain situation. These cards can also represent an event, a shift in circumstances in your life or the arrival of news or a message from someone.

The appearance of court cards in a spread brings a vast amount of possibility of what they may represent. In this instance the best way to determine the true meaning is to simply trust your intuition when reading the cards rather than making an assumption of what you think it should mean! These cards can sometimes be confusing, however when you trust your own intuition you should not ever fail!

So you can conclude from my explanation of the Tarot that specific sections of the card deck does determine different areas of our lives and being, but no one area is any more significant than another. All aspects are required to integrate together into bringing a complete structure and balance. This is the whole point of the Tarot. It is a valuable tool and will detect the area in our life that is out of balance, causing us problems in effect. After determining the problem itself we can then use the advice of the cards which will show us the best course of action and the most likely outcome as a result. However, how we choose to use that advice is entirely up to us. We are the master of our own destiny, in effect; we create our own life path for the future regardless of what path the Tarot might advise us to choose.

© Ashleigh Stewart

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