I got my first deck of tarot cards when I was about 23 years old after spending many years hanging out at the mall in the metaphysical aisle of the Walden’s Bookstore, admiring and coveting the various decks (of which there were not NEAR as many as there are today) I chose The Enchanted Tarot, a deck I still own, and a deck I still find quite lovely. All the more still because each card is actually fabric art, each one a tapestry created with applique and quilting techniques. 78 of them. The amount of energy and artistry that goes into making 78 pieces of fabric art is mind-boggling. I should probably use it more often, but the cards are big, and difficult for me to handle, and while the art is still beautiful, it’s very busy which is hard on my old eyes.
It would be the first of many, though it took a long time for me to really come into my own tarot-wise. Some people might find it odd that someone who identifies as an atheist and a naturalist wouldn’t completely scoff at the idea of tarot reading, but there is no contradiction. Tarot fits into my world view seamlessly. The cards offer a short cut to the subconscious and a framework for self-discovery, or, when you read for others, your understanding of human nature and your own life experiences informs your interpretations. Imagery, layout, questions asked all combine to form a psychological playground for you to examine and uncover the inner workings of the human mind.
Besides, they’re beautiful. Every deck is a work of art, multiple works of art. Studies have show that our brain responds to viewing art. There is an increase in blood flow similar to the increase we experience when gazing at a loved one. Art enhances us. It reduces stress, creates feelings of well-being, and increases brain function.
The imagery inspires, while the layout, question at hand, and your personal understanding of symbolism act as a framework to build your “read” upon. Together they create a system of reflection and introspection, that allows you to tap into your subconscious.
Ultimately, tarot is a tool for self-discovery and change. They say we see what we want to see, and sometimes that’s all you will get out of Tarot. You have to be willing to look deeper to where you might uncover a painful truth hiding behind the excuses. The cards are inanimate, they can’t lie to us, we lie to ourselves.