What are Tarot Cards, and How Do They Work?

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30th March 2017 / 11 comments

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What are Tarot Cards?

The Tarot is a pack of cards that were created in the 15th century, intended as a form of entertainment. Tarot card games continue in many countries, France and Italy in particular, to this day. In the 16th century, the Tarot was discovered to be a powerful divination tool, and is one of the oldest forms of fortune telling we know of. Tarot cards are still used by psychics across the world today.

There are many different varieties of Tarot card decks, with different designs and sometimes even different numbers of cards. The most popular, and widely-used is the Rider-Waite deck, created by A.E. Waite in 1910, and published by Rider & Company. Waite was an important member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a well-known occult group. There are 78 cards in the Rider-Waite deck, and this is now seen as the ‘standard’ Tarot Card deck by the majority of readers.

See Also: Our ultimate tarot card guide – descriptions and meanings for all 78 cards

There are two parts, known as ‘Arcanas’, in a deck of Tarot Cards; the Major Arcana, and the Minor Arcana. The Minor Arcana, similar to other playing cards, have four suits; wands, swords, cups, and pentacles. In each suit there are 10 pip cards from ace (1) to 10, and 4 court cards: the king, queen, knight and page.

The Major Arcana is made up of 21 numbered picture cards that each represent a different principle or concept. There is also an extra, ‘special’ card, numbered zero, called The Fool. The Fool is arguably the most important card in the deck, and the Major Arcana is believed to represent the Fool’s Journey through life. It is often believed that the Fool represents you, the person having the reading.

The Minor Arcana represents smaller, everyday situations that we deal with, whereas the Major Arcana focuses on bigger, more long-term ideas and situations. That’s not to say though that the Minor Arcana is less important, but if big changes are coming in your life, you will usually find more Major Arcana cards in the hand you’re dealt.

How do Tarot Cards work?

Just as there are countless different decks of Tarot Cards, there are also a wide variety of different Tarot spreads. What spread they use is completely up to the reader, and some may have a favourite, go-to spread they use regularly. Readers can also use different spreads depending on the theme of the reading, or the situation you wish to find out more information about. The reader will usually decide which spread to use once they have met you and had a chance to chat and read you a little before they begin.

To begin, the reader will usually shuffle the cards whilst concentrating on you and your question. During a face-to-face reading, the reader will usually invite you to also shuffle the cards too. During a telephone reading, however, this is obviously not possible, so instead the reader will ask you to concentrate on what you want to find the answers to, and the energy you create together will determine which cards appear in the spread.

Once the cards have been laid out, the reader will then turn over each in turn, and will explain to you what each one represents, and what this means for you. It’s important not to give too much away in your reactions, as this risks influencing the reader. Each card that is revealed is like a piece of a puzzle, and the reader will begin to put the meaning together. Once the last card has been turned, the reader will be able to see the full picture, and advise you on what the cards say about you and your life.

Should I have a Tarot Card reading?

Though Tarot Cards are a divination tool, you should not simply expect a psychic reader to tell you your future; they don’t work that way. Instead, Tarot Cards usually look at your present, and the themes that are currently at play in your life. They also look to your past, and what has brought you to where you are today. As the reader is deciphering the meanings of the cards to you, it usually becomes very obvious about what these things mean for your near or long-term future.

If you find yourself stuck in a situation and are unsure of how to move forward, the Tarot can be an effective way to explore your options, and show you the best thing to do. Tarot Cards are a fantastic way to get a fresh perspective of your life; they can reveal influences on you that you weren’t even aware of.

A Tarot card reading is also effective if you are the brink of a big change, or are starting a new phase in your life. Many people have a Tarot Card reading at the start of a new year, or near a Birthday. It is a great way to take stock of your life where you are right now, and look at what can happen in the future.

Even if you are a little sceptical or are not a believer in Tarot, we recommend trying a Tarot Card reading. The cards usually make a believer of somebody who wasn’t sure before their reading, and you may find yourself surprised. At the very least, a Tarot Card reading is a good tool to unlock the subconscious mind, and help you think about your life at present, and in what direction you wish to go in the future.

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11 comments on "What are Tarot Cards, and How Do They Work?"

  1. Anonymous says:

    I find having a tarot reading is a very positive way to look into a situation. I use klare on here for a tarot reading she is amazing at her job 😊

  2. Anonymous says:

    hard to learn but what a powerful tool

  3. char9974 says:


  4. Anonymous says:

    Very interesting & tarot readings are great to have done

  5. Anonymous says:

    Very interesting article

  6. Anonymous says:

    Very powerful tool what an interesting article

  7. Anonymous says:

    Extremely interesting

  8. sabrena3488 says:


  9. sabrena3488 says:

    Angel cards I love them

  10. Anonymous says:

    Tarots reading are great!

  11. helen1884 says:

    An interesting article and also worth having a tarot reading if you're at a crossroads on the journey through life. Thanks.