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What is the tarot? The tarot is a form of do-it-yourself analysis - a way of unlocking secrets of the self and providing directions towards manifesting your goals. It is a support system that can be relied upon as a friend that can give you helpful advice. It is also a great brainstorming tool that can enhance your creativity. Reading cards makes users more aware of their everyday surroundings, hopes, fears, pasts, and presents. It is an aid to decision-making, which highlights forces and influences in their lives that might otherwise go unnoticed. It offers insight and new ideas. The tarot helps you to be more mindful by helping you tune into a deeper, inner level of awareness. It is a way to journey into yourself and discover your spiritual center. The cards portray all the cycles of human experience - it is a "book" of knowledge. Using the tarot, a focusing mechanism, also helps in the development of your psychic abilities and empowers you to make the best choices in your life. What is the origin of the tarot? There is an old joke told about every kind of scholar: Put two of them in a room and you will get three opinions. Some say the tarot started out as pasteboard pictures of various gods and goddesses used to teach their divine properties to the illiterate and brought to Europe by travelers from India. These travelers arrived when Egypt was all the rage and found it advantageous to be known as "Gyptees". Their descendents are now known as Gypsies. That theory might account for many people believing the tarot originated in Egypt. However, there are those that claim tarot came from 10th century China, and there are advocates for Hebraic, Islamic, or Indian origins as well. One thing seems certain: the earliest and most complete deck of tarot cards dates from the early 15th century, and is said to have been made for the Duke of Milan. Egypt advocates say it derives from the words tar and ro, meaning the "Royal Road". Indian advocates like to remind everyone else that the word taru means "cards" in Hindu and that Tara is the Aryan name for the Great Mother Goddess. Those voting for tarot being a product of the Hebrew culture point to the word Torah, their name for the first five books of the Bible. However, remember that one of the areas where the cards first appeared was Milan, in Northern Italy, where there is a river called the Taro. Hmmm..... There are many who believe the first decks were as likely to have been used as a card game as they were for divinatory guidance. There is probably more than a little truth in that. There is a French word, tares, that is used to describe the small dot border on playing cards. The tarot came a long way in the 20th century. The wisdom of the cards was an irresistible target for great artists, once they no longer were afraid of persecution and ridicule. The tarot attracted both famous artists, like surrealist Salvador Dali, and those undeservedly not so well known, like Pamela Coleman Smith, who under the watchful eye of Arthur Edward Waite, created what we now know as the Rider-Waite deck, the most famous tarot deck of the 20th century. The origin of the tarot and even its original purpose is a subject upon which even the most learned scholars cannot seem to agree. Amy's fabric collage tapestries have been uniquely successful in blending the essence of the fantasy, fine art, and spiritual wisdom of all the nations thought to have originated the tarot. What is the difference between the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana? The tarot may very well have started out a two separate decks: a spiritually oriented deck whose purpose was religious instruction and divination, and the deck used for gaming and gambling. The Major Arcana are the first twenty-two cards of the tarot, starting with the number 0, The Fool, and going up to number 21, The World. These cards represent the "arcane" or secret spiritual principles of life. We all make the journey from being The Fool, innocent and poised on the threshold of a great cycle of growth and experience, and eventually arrive at The World, our graduation and the culmination of a major period of our life. Between these two cards are the twenty other major stages of growth and learning. Once we have gone through them all, we are ready to start again on our soul's quest for experience and self-knowledge. The Minor Arcana are the origin of the modern playing card deck. This deck's four suits - Clubs, Spades, Hearts, and Diamonds - are the descendents of the tarot's traditional four suits - Wands, Swords, Cups, and Pentacles. The Joker in a modern playing card deck is a descendent of The Fool. The cards of the Minor Arcana are not as concerned with spiritual realities as they are with our everyday, earthly reality as human beings. The Minor Arcana help us to bring the spiritual wisdom of the Major Arcana down to earth so that we can use it for our benefit on all levels. How does the tarot "work" when it seems to answer questions so directly? The nearest thing to an explanation of why the tarot works is an ancient theory held by many peoples throughout the world and rediscovered in the 20th century by the legendary psychologist, Dr. Carl Jung. His theory of synchronicity (from the Greek syn meaning "together" and chronos meaning "time") proposed that events happening at the same moment had a relationship of significance. In other words, when you ask your question with sincerity and you intend to get an answer, you will get an answer, possibly in many ways. It depends on how good you are at deciphering the events around you at the moment you ask the question. A flock of birds, cloud formations, or the pattern the wind makes in the trees could hold the answer. The tarot is a sort of sacred machine devised to respond to your question and freeze your answer as a picture of it in time so that you may decipher it. What can using an oracle such as the tarot do for you, and how often do people consult the cards? Using an oracle as a meditation tool helps you to dialogue with your higher self. Consulting the cards creates a safe, spiritual haven where you connect to positive energy and positive emotions. It helps us discover what we really want in life and what we must do as our next step on the path. And you can use the cards whenever you need clarity on an issue, or as an everyday meditation. When you read your message, your attitudes, desires, and strategies for the best course of action can be reflected upon. The process requires opening your mind and trusting your intuition to interpret the answers. An oracle is a tool that helps you tap into your psychic power. What if I do not like the answer I receive? When this happens, it is important to look inside yourself and see why you are troubled by the answer you have received. Do you have the confidence in yourself to believe that you can cope with a wide range of experiences? If not, why not? The wonderful thing about the tarot is that if you get an unfavorable answer, you can ask the tarot for guidance how to change things for the better. Using the tarot to get in touch with your feelings is one of its most important uses. What if I am not sure what the answer means? The large majority of the answers you get will make it seen as though the cards picked from your deck are speaking directly to your question. However, there may be times when the answer you receive does not appear to be specifically answering your question. These are the best times for developing your intuition and your ability to make decisions. Let your mind "free associate". This term describes the powerful way your conscious mind communicates with your Higher Self, the source of your inner voice. It does so using symbols, the language of your subconscious mind and your dreams. Your first impression upon seeing the image(s) of the card(s) you have picked can inspire in your imagination a further series of images connected to and directed by your Higher Self. In the tarot, The High Priestess is the card symbolizing this process. If you still do not understand, pick The High Priestess card out of the deck and look at it for a moment. Know that she is going to guide you as you place her back in the deck and shuffle it while asking for clarification of the meaning of your previous reading. You may experience a flash of intuition that can reveal the meaning that was hidden from you only a moment ago. Tarot readings are powerful. We would like to thank you for giving us the chance to share the precious gift of the tarot with you, a gift that has enabled us to make our life a work of art and our art a work of life.

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