Oracle & Tarot Cards
TAROT AND ORACLE CARDS
Historical Background of the Tarot
The earliest surviving Tarot deck is handpainted and comes from 14th century Italy. It was a wedding present from an Italian nobleman to his daughter. The cards were a game known in Europe as tarocchi which is a game of numbers, where each card has a value and the highest hand wins. However no-one really knows the origin of the cards.
The illustrations on the cards contain mystical symbols, mythological and religious themes which show the major themes of life, making them a tool for inner guidance or as a validation for one's own intuitive process.
Each card is called an 'arcanum' (which means mystery) and the deck is divided into 2 sets of cards - the Major Arcana of 22 cards, which explores in depth the major universal principles or archetypes that all of humanity experiences at different times in their life - the lessons we need to learn. The Minor Arcana consists of 56 cards which show everyday situations and the different kinds of people in one's life. Generally the cards are used to find an answer to a question but they may also be used to get an overview of one's life or one card may be selected as a symbol for meditation.
How to Select a Deck
It is important to select a deck which is right for you. There are many, many decks on the market which is great but can be confusing for a beginner. If you're a beginner it's wise to avoid anything that is too specialised with specific imagery or cultural themes, such as Native American, Arthurian etc. Once you have a good grasp of the symbolism of the Tarot you can move on an buy a new deck which appeals to you on a personal level. A good deck to start with is any of the Waite decks or the Mythic Tarot as the symbols are clear and consistent and will provide good visual 'prompts' saving loads of learning and memorisation. Another point to remember if you intend to take a class, is to check with the teacher which deck they work with as they often require you to use the same one as they do.
When you open your deck for the first time, do it in a respectful way, maybe lighting a candle - whatever way you choose it's nice to have a little ceremony of some kind, making your entry into the world of Tarot a special experience. It's also good to get a special tarot pouch or piece of silk to carry your cards in. Then its time to get to know all of the cards - they will probably be guiding you through the adventure called life, for a long time to come! The purpose of the tarot is to help you grow as a person so that you stop seeing life as a series of 'problems' but rather challenges which test us and help us to develop and grow strong. The more you get to know the cards, the more you will see your own experiences in the cards, bringing the tarot to life. Its wisdom will then become a part of your life.
In addition to the Tarot, there are many oracle card decks available with a huge variety of themes - from angels, archangels, ascended masters and goddesses to animals, crystals and fairies to name just a few. It just depends what speaks to you and once you start collecting, you'll probably want more than one set. It's best to 'play' with some of the cards in store whenever possible to see which ones you really relate to.
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