The Truth About Tarot
There are a great many myths and superstitions, as well as down right untruths, regarding the origins, use and purpose of Tarot cards. It's important to understand the differences between the three. A myth is a story with a purpose, usually to explain away mysterious phenomenon. One of the myths associated with the Tarot is that no one really knows from whence it came. A twist of this myth says that it was brought back from Egypt by returning Crusaders. Another states that they were brought into Europe by traveling gypsies who used them for the purpose of telling fortunes.
There are many superstitions surrounding the Tarot. Some of them involve the acceptance or paying of money. One states that money should never be exchanged for a deck of the cards, while another advises against charging money for a reading. A third superstition holds that the first deck of cards a reader owns should be presented to her/him as a gift by a third party. Still other superstitions abound regarding the care and storage of the cards, admonishing the owner of a deck to refuse anyone else to touch their cards. The superstitions responsible for causing the most fear is the idea that reversed (upside-down) cards are bad, and the appearance of the Death card is a warning of actual physical death.
The most blatant lie connected to the Tarot is that they are evil, their powers joined with Satan, and anyone who uses them is dabbling in Black Magic, or a Satanist. There is absolutely no foundation of truth to this falsehood.
There does seem to be some confusion about the Tarot's origins. The oldest known surviving deck comes down to us from 15th century Italy. Only 15 of the cards from several decks, originally designed, remain. The deck was then called tarocci and used to play a game called tarocchinni. As these cards came from northern Italy, some have thought the name made reference to the Taro River, running through northern Italy.
It has been considered that “turuk”, an Arabic word meaning “pathways” is the basis for the spelling as we now know it. This would support the idea that Crusaders brought the cards back from Egypt. Though not the Tarot deck specifically, it is known that playing cards were introduced to Europe in the early 14th century after the last Crusaders returned home. In addition to the language and spelling connections, some students of Tarot believe much of the vibrant imagery lends credence to the Egyptian origins.
The Gypsy myth is probably the widest spread rumor or myth. No one really knows the origin of the gypsies. There has been conjecture based on cultural, linguistic, and genetic evidence pointing to origins in India, having been hired as troops to repel a Muslim invasion during the 11th Century. It's thought their dark looks were mistaken for those of Egyptians, thereby earning them the nickname of Gypsy. Culturally, Gypsies believe in the supernatural, omens and curses. The practice of fortune telling is only done for outsiders as a way to earn money, and is usually done by trickery, rather than a true understanding of “seeing”.
Considering that the Gypsies employed trickery as a way to part clients from their money, it isn't surprising that superstitions surrounding the exchange of money for tarot readings has sprung up. It's best not to buy into silly superstitions instead of relying on plain old common sense. Thorough research into a potential reader's reputation is called for as well as gaining testimonials from other paying clients about the authenticity of the reader is a necessity.
There is nothing to support the belief that the first deck of cards should be received as a gift. This assumption probably stems from the same belief regarding the exchange of money. Anyone who wished to own a set of cards for themselves could circumnavigate the repercussions of exchanging money by having someone else do it in their stead.
To this day, many people are of the belief that inanimate objects can and do pick up energies from their surroundings. Our scientific understanding of energy and its ability to transfer and transform would seem to agree with the notion that guarding the cards by proper storage and handling is a necessity. However, I own many decks of Tarot and they've all been handled by people other than myself. Nothing untoward has happened. In fact, I would much rather the cards were touched by the person receiving the reading, so as to have a chance to feel their energy as a means to divining the meanings best suited to their questions.
While the Death card can on rare occasions signify an actual death, the meaning is much less threatening. The death it refers to has to do with the death of situations, habits, time frames, etc. It represents endings, irreversible changes which can not be turned around. It is not a negative card to receive.
Reverse cards are just that, reversed. Some practitioners interpret them as having the opposite meaning of the upright version while others believe the reversal is a sign that the upright meaning is of a lesser degree or importance. There are sometimes situations where every card drawn is reversed. It may be because the deck wasn't shuffled well enough, or it may be an indication of extreme importance requiring rapt attention.
There is no documented historical evidence supporting the theory that religious authorities ever targeted Tarot as being evil or a thing of the devil. There are scriptures admonishing man against seeking the services of an oracle or “seer”. People have interpreted the passage to mean any tool that can be used to divine the thoughts, feelings, behaviors and impending acts be they of a human or natural origins.
I can't make an absolute statement about whether Satanists use the Tarot or not, as I've never met one. I have, however, met many people who use the Tarot daily as I do, and none of us are Satanists. I suppose one could use the Tarot to attempt to foresee the absolute future, but it would be a waste of time. Tarot readings are about the here and now. The story the cards will tell is about the nature of energies surrounding a topic; how past events and behaviors influenced today, how our thoughts, emotions, and the energies surrounding us will influence tomorrow. It is always in reference to what is going on right now, in this moment. With the information you receive, you can decide to continue as you have, or to change something you are doing, or thinking. You will in effect, change the outcome.
Tarot is a tool for knowing thyself. It brings understanding and conscious awareness of how your subconscious thoughts and beliefs can affect your physical reality in order that you can grow spiritually. There is nothing evil about self-awareness.
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