The world of tarot cards — what they are and how they got started

By Lexi Meola

Elm Staff Writer

Designed to help gain awareness from a person’s past, present, or future, tarot cards have become increasingly more popular in the last few years.

 According to Insider, “Tarot readings help a person understand what he or she needs to know about a particular situation.” 

Through readings, tarot cards are an interesting way for someone to learn more about themselves. The point of the tarot cards is to reveal something about the person getting their cards read; one can read for other people or read their own cards. 

Every tarot deck contains 78 cards, sorted into the minor arcana and the major arcana. The minor arcana has 56 cards, whereas the major arcana has 22 cards. 

While reading tarot cards is meant to guide those involved, it does not predict the future in any way. There are multiple decks that people can choose from varying in style to help guide them. Many people look at Tarot to calm nerves about a change in their life.

Whether the cards are general or examine a specific aspect, there is a deck of cards meant for everyone. 

 “Even beyond that, each card is packed with information — some systems rely on numerology (i.e. where the card falls in the deck), astrology, and the Kabbalah to give deeper or slightly different levels of meaning — and each deck is even slightly different,” NBC News writer Jenni Miller said.

While most people think of tarot cards as something that others benefit from, the cards are meant to help the reader as well.

“Next time you are feeling anxious or worried, pull a card for a reminder or advice,” Gaye Weintraub, owner of the holistic wellness company Soul’ed Out said to Insider.

 “For many, tarot reading is a self-care practice that allows individuals to be introspective,” Nylon reporter Ida Yalzadeh said on Sept. 18. 

There are many people in the Washington College community who actively participates in tarot card readings.

Sophomore Steven Marvel also had a view similar to Yalzadeh regarding tarot because he started tarot for his enjoyment.

“Back when I was in high school, one of my friends was reading tarot cards and I took interest in it after getting my cards read,” Marvel said. 

After spending time learning how to memorize with his own deck, he was comfortable with the practice of tarot card readings. He said that once he no longer had to rely on the guidebook, reading the cards was much more enjoyable.

Though it is not something he actively does, Marvel says reading tarot cards brings him a sense of calm.

“A good start is to go with Rider Waite deck because it is the classic and a good beginner set,” Marvel said. 

“There is a superstition that if you buy your own Tarot deck that it is cursed,” Marvel said. “The only deck that this does not apply to is the Rider Waite deck since it is considered the beginner set.”

He said that once you become comfortable with your deck then you could move to a more advanced deck. 

In the Tarot community, when you are gifted a new deck, you can then pass on the Rider Waite deck to someone else if you choose. 

According to Miller, tarot is something that many people have picked up during quarantine. It brings a sense of relaxation and calm to people and it is a good source of self-care during a stressful time.

If you are interested in getting into tarot card reading and learning more about it, look for the Rider Waite deck and just enjoy the experience that comes with doing tarot readings.

Featured Photo caption: Whether for divine understanding or as a calming activity, reading tarot cards has become a popular practice within the past several decades— here is their history. Photo by Rebecca Kanaskie.

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