How tarot cards really work | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

I have had a long fascination and a love-hate relationship with tarot cards. I didn’t bother to try to learn how to read the tarot until I read a long and analytical article about it by the Russian mystic and pure mathematician P.D. Ouspensky in his classic book, “A New Model of the Universe.”

According to him, no one can learn how to read tarot cards unless he or she has the natural talent for it. He said reading the tarot is not a question of intelligence, nor the ability to analyze things, but the ability to intuitively know things without rational basis. No matter how intelligent and knowledgeable a person is, he will not learn how to interpret the tarot cards unless he is intuitive.

The reason for this is because the meaning of tarot cards do not come from one’s conscious mind. It comes from one’s subconscious.

The common use for the tarot is for divination or predicting future events. In fact, that is how I first got interested in tarot cards. I didn’t know it has a deeper and more intellectually satisfying use—namely, for spiritual or personal development.

Inconsistent and arbitrary

In 1984, I began experimenting with the tarot for telling the future. I studied the different meanings of each card but found them confusing. They were inconsistent and arbitrary. Nevertheless, I tried to do some readings using the guide that came with the tarot deck.

My first attempt at reading the cards was a big surprise to me. I was 70 percent to 80 percent correct. That encouraged me to go on. I read for fun the tarot for the secretaries at a university I used to work in. Every lunch break, I would read them—until the line became longer for those waiting to be read.

My accuracy became better and better. When it reached a 100-percent accuracy, I stopped because I panicked. I can’t be that accurate. Only God can predict the future that accurately. I have not read the tarot since then. But my fascination for these ancient or medieval cards never ceased.

How tarot cards came to be and who invented or developed them is lost in history. There are several theories as to their origin, but none of them can be proven. Some say the tarot originated in ancient Egypt; others say it began in the Middle Ages in Europe. The conservative Christian Church declared it to be the “Devil’s Card.” You see, orthodox religions have a tendency to condemn anything they do not understand.

But as author Jan Woudhuysen pointed out in his book “Tarotmania: The Definitive Guide to the Tarot,” there is in fact much more to the tarot. In ordinary fortune telling, we use the cards to give us an answer about the future. The esoteric (or hidden) system allows us to use the cards to answer many other types of questions, and what is more, to suggest new ones.

Inherent intuition

“The ability to make use of the inherent powers of intuition is the reward given to those using the system, the ability to generate new questions,” wrote Woudhuysen. “The tarot can help you come to terms with yourself, or to understand other people. If we can understand ourselves better, we have an opportunity to grow. If we understand other people better, we can build up better relationships. The tarot is a means of linking our conscious and our subconscious. We all have the gift of intuition, but most of us suppress it.”

Carl Jung, the great Swiss psychologist and founder of analytical psychology, saw the tarot cards as a means of understanding and integrating the self.

“When we meditate on a given tarot card, we deal with a specific aspect of ourselves. The ultimate aim is the reintegration of our own opposites, a return to the pristine spiritual state of the self,” according to Robert Wang in his “Handbook for the Jungian Tarot.” My upcoming online seminars via Zoom will be Soulmates, Karma, and Reincarnation (March 20, 2 to 5 p.m.), and Self Healing Through Visualization (March 27, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.); tel. 88107245, 0998-9886292; email

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