What is the Tarot?
The tarot is a set of 78 cards that have been used to gain insight into particular questions or problem. They are also a codex of knowledge that is key to the Western Hermetic tradition, sometimes known as the Western Mystery Tradition. The Tarot originated in the mid-fifteenth century as a deck with which to play a Trumps game called Trionfi, and later Tarrocchi or Tarock. The keys and symbols to ancient wisdom were applied later. However, the wisdom the cards contain comes from a tradition that is much older than the mid-fifteenth century. The cards are broken into three sections, 22 Trump cards that represent archetypes more powerful than humans, 40 numbered cards, known as pips, which contain principles for living. Each pip also has an association with a planet in a particular constellation of the zodiac. The final subset of cards within the deck is the set of 16 royals, 4 royals in each of 4 suits. These represent ways of being, and also forms of human mastery one could achieve.
What does the tarot do?
The tarot can be a divinatory oracle. This doesn’t mean that the tarot can see the future, nor that there are powers afoot operating with different rules. Nope. Everything in the universe has to operate by the same laws, and prediction is hard, especially of the future. All divination seeks insight into a question or situation by going beyond the known, into the divine. The divine can be seen as God, the gods, or simply as that enormous part of the universe that is unknown to us—the 96% of the universe scientists now postulate is made up of dark matter and dark energy.
Why does a well-formed question to the Tarot get such a powerful answer?
To tell you the truth, no one really seems to know. That’s how a mystery works, right? Some believe that the cards are random, and therefore present ideas that the closed-off, shut-down conscious mind has never considered. Essentially they stimulate creativity. Others believe that the tarot accesses powers that are from another place, powers that are willing to act on our behalf. Others believe, like I do, that they come to us through a process that we cannot determine, which appears random, but is in fact governed by ordinary forces, just ones that we cannot perceive. (Think of that 96% of the universe that is composed of Dark Energy and Dark Matter, which we cannot perceive, but we know is there.)
If you are curious enough to ask a question of the tarot, I am available to facilitate that question.