A Brief Lesson
Some Background, My Teacher,
and Pamela Coleman Smith
The Magickal Art of Tarot
Tarot is a boundless picture book of cards.
Each time the cards are laid out, they tell a story. The
cards are for growth on a personal and spiritual level;
they can be used for divination, giving help and guidance
to others. There are many ways of interpreting the Tarot,
but the best way is through your own inner meanings, feelings,
The Tarot is read with symbols, which trigger
the psyche thereby allowing the Reader to interpret those
messages. The Tarot is the most involved form of divination.
Knowledge of basic alchemy, astrology, numerology, mythology,
the Qabala, the Bible, philosophy and psychology as well
as symbology is a must! This may seem overwhelming to
those interested in the Tarot, but to gain the "Wisdom
of the Tarot", one must have the Knowledge and the
Understanding to use it. Continuous study and proper meditation
When consulting the Tarot, you come face
to face with the Inner Self. If you listen to your Inner
Self, you will be guided on the right path. Tarot may
show a situation that is unpleasant, although it also
shows the solution(s) available. Tarot should only be
used for guidance in the most positive way and never used
to destroy or control others.
The Tarot consists of 78 cards which are
divided into two sections called the Major Arcana and
the Minor Arcana (Arcana means hidden/secret knowledge).
Major Arcana - 22 cards
that deal with the Major issues in one's life, the important
or serious issues that need attention first and foremost.
These particular cards are used with meditation to help
reach the higher or spiritual levels of wisdom and understanding.
These cards are numbered 0, The Fool, through 21, The
Minor Arcana - 56 cards
that deal with the daily situations in life. These cards
are important but not as important as the Major Arcana
cards are. The Minor Arcana is divided into four groups,
known as suits:
Wands - representing the
Element of Fire
Swords - representing the Element of
Pentacles - representing the Element
Cups - representing the Element of Water
Each suit of the Minor Arcana contains 14
cards consisting of: Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,
Page, Knight, Queen, and King. The Kings, Queens, Knights,
and Pages are known as Court Cars and represent the person,
place or thing you are reading and the people involved.
You cannot tell the age, sex, or skin color from the cards.
The Court Cards show the Inner Person, what the person
is like on the inside according to the Element they are
in. Everyone fluctuates between all the Court Cards.
There are no cards that are "all good"
or "all bad"! Each card of the Tarot has a basic,
overall meaning. One should remember that each card is
positive and negative, both in the upright as well as
the reversed position. Every symbol, color and number
along with the position in the layout of the reading adds
or subtracts to the basic meaning as well as any cards
that are surrounding them.
There are many superstitions connected with
the esoteric arts and should be looked into. What you
believe in is what you create. Should you choose to use
rituals, it is better to create your own, such as shuffling,
cutting or laying out the cards. Find a pattern that is
comfortable for you and covers whatever questions you
may have. Tarot cards are just paper; there is no magic
in the cards. The Power and Magick is within you! You
are using Knowledge that you yourself posses, so learn
to use this power to guide yourself and others on the
Path to Enlightenment. Validation comes from your clients.
Let word of mouth be the tool of your success. I wish
you Much Success and Enlightenment on your Journey with
Original: Copyright 1986
Revised: 1988, 2003 by
Permission is hereby given to copy
this commentary provided it not be altered in any way
and it can only be reproduced in its entirety with proper
credit given to: WinterSky, a.k.a. MoonRaven.
For many, many years, I worked with the
Tarot but continuously felt drained by it. I found I seemed
to be giving people more negative readings than I was
positive. So I worked more with the cards myself than
doing readings for others.
The problem was I wasn't really listening
to my inner self, I was reading by the "books",
meaning the booklets that come with the decks. After looking
seriously at the books and pamphlets, I realized that
a very large percentage of the meanings were dark or negative,
giving disastrous results in a reading.
You see, I had a grandmother that was very
psychic, a witch. She did readings of various kinds, including
using cards. She was ridiculed and told she was crazy
and even locked up in a mental hospital a few times for
observation (the Burning Times are not over!). My grandmother
made excellent predications and thus people came to her
for it, yet also feared her. They kept trying to lock
her up. Anyway, when I was but 13 or 14, I asked her to
help me understand the cards and read them better, more
positively. That was my last communication with her. She
contacted my father, told him to tell me to stay away
from the cards and died days later.
I was scared, baffled; it made me wonder
just what my grandmother may have seen for me in my future
should I continue with the cards! I had them, used them,
yet was very uncomfortable with them. On the other hand,
they kept calling out to me, drawing me to them more and
Finally, after giving another disastrous
type reading, I decided to seek help and guidance and
ask the Great Spirit, God/Goddess, whatever you wish to
call on, for this help. I asked to be brought to a teacher
to help me understand, to help me grow. Like lightening,
my words were answered and I was put in touch with someone
who worked in a store, did readings and taught classes.
His name was Mynya. He was wonderful and from the time
I started working with him, the doors to this enlightenment
and this journey flew entirely open, and all I had read
and studied over these passing years was now put clear
and simple for me. I learned the language of the Tarot!
Mynya was very ill as a child and couldn't
go out and play as the other children could. He was under
the care of his grandmother; her name was Julia. Julia
spent time teaching Mynya all the ways of the occult.
You see, Julia was a famous psychic within the Order of
the Golden Dawn! This was the foremost psychic group of
its day. They got together to gather all known information
dealing with psychic research, to find the good and get
rid of the bad. Their idea was to bring Tarot into the
light and get rid of the fears and superstitions.
Mynya followed in his grandmother's footsteps
and now I follow in his.
Julia was the very best friend of Pamela
Coleman Smith who, as I have been told by Mynya who was
told by his grandmother Julia, that Pamela designed the
Tarot deck we now know as the Rider-Waite deck. Julia
and Pamela were best friends throughout life. There are
many things, many secrets, and many firsts to this deck
that Pamela incorporated into this deck.
What's interesting is the during some interviews,
Mr. Arthur Waite was asked why he did certain things to
this deck and many of the questions he could not honestly
answer. He just replied with phrases like, "I felt
like it." Pamela, as all good, old teachers did,
put specific changes and specific "mistakes"
into this deck.
Why? you ask. It was good to see who would
question them. Serious students would ask questions, other
would not. This way, the teacher would know who to focus
on more seriously, on the one who would be serious enough
to pass on the truths and traditions of the Tarot! Some
firsts Pamela did with this deck: She added leaves to
the Wands, making them a "living hierarchy",
not a dead one! Also, she changed the places of the Justice
and Strength cards. Did she misplace them or did she actually
put them back where they should have been from the beginning?
Many of the things she did with this deck,
and there are many, she did with intent. Thus, in my teachings,
I pass along much of what I was taught, but not all and
I too may change some things. All is food for thought
for a serious study of the Tarot. Have a good magickal
journey and I look forward to sharing this path with you
for as long as I can, too.
With Magickal Blessings,
Any questions? Feel free to contact
me at: firstname.lastname@example.org