The Stubby Anatomy of Tarot

What every professional Tarot Reader would say is that the future is not set in stone; and even if it did, the stone could be broken: Whatever the apprehension of time is, it must be discerned that future is shaped by today’s actions and our view of the future is shaped by the past experiences. (1) Having said that; one might question then, the function that the Tarot serves. The Tarot, being a set of pictured papers in the simplest term, comes in handy when a guidance on the action to be taken is needed. Building upon this, in this blog post; I will try to exhibit the mechanism behind the Tarot and readings shortly.

Future is shaped, but not known by today. Image by MarissaEmeldosSantos via

The most lucid elucidation of how the Tarot works; perhaps is an analogy between the Tarot and languages. Language; according to Merriam-Webster dictionary, means “the words, their pronunciation, and the methods of combining them used and understood by a community” (2) Concordantly, the Tarot is also a language; having pictorial cards as the words and layouts as their compositions, it is trying to be sized up by a growing community of Tarot readers and querents. Therewith, a Tarot deck not assessed as a tool for conversation but rather as a system of signs and symbols that is used to enounce a message, comparably to Machine languages rather than parlances. The Tarot -similar to other languages- has had many different areas of usage throughout history; such as a card  game, a meditation aid, a tool for divination or  for self-manifestation and discovery (3).  These areas can often concur: For instance, to the author, it is really hard to distinguish when the self-manifestation ends and meditation starts. Moreover, it also must be noted that not all of these usages involve the performance of a Tarot reading: Clearly, the card game has its own set of rules and meditating with Tarot might or might not include  a reading. Having said that; still, for the most of the time, Tarot cards are used in the context of a reading.

The mechanism for performing a reading is relatively basic: The cards are shuffled, cut and laid out on a spread to seek guidance on a matter, issue or question. When laid out on a spread, similar to the words forming phrases and sentences, Tarot cards form a meaningful narrative. Taking the endless number of  questions and spreads into account, it is ingenous to wonder how this is even possible – to be truthful, there are no definitive explanations, but some theories on how a Tarot reading “works”. According to the Order of Golden Dawn; who transcribed the Tarot in today’s context; “The most powerful sources of information come from within; the Tarot aids in coming in contact with one’s Higher Self.”(4) In accordance with this, several explanations have been suggested; such as one based on the Jungian concept of Synchronicity (meaningful coincidences) (5) or another  based on the influences of the unconscious mind. As it happens; none of the  explanations have a substantial impact on the readings: The bottom line is the Tarot readings somehow work and arm the querent  with findings that will help him to make decisions. As such, a Tarot reading is never to take over the the willpower of the querent, but to put support behind it. Furthermore; the Tarot readings might include revelations about the potential developments in the future; nonetheless, these revelations are neither certain nor intended to be so: They simply serve as conveyances on the courses of action, to support the decision-making procedure of the querent.

Even though the mechanism is fairly straightforward, diversity in the styles of the Readers and spreads,  could make the Tarot a pursuit which demands studying, constitituvely the meanings of the Tarot cards and technicalities of reading them, from posing the query to revealing the narrative of the spread. And yet, it does not require any supernatural powers such as psychic abilities – albeit the readings seem to be supernaturally exquisite. The perpetuate the analogy above; after gaining the acquintance with the vocabulary and grammer of the language of the Tarot, one becomes able to comprehend the confabulations of the cards and support his decision-making.

Image by suphakit73 via FreeDigitalPhotos

Briefly; the Tarot readings are to support the carving out of a better future – not to read the runes. The narratives from the Tarot readings, more often than not, do not include any breaking news but provide the unparalleled analyis on the already-available information, which does seem as fortune-telling to the untrained eyes. In this blog post, the very first step to getting trained on the Tarot has been aimed – like a picture taken from a long distance.


 (1) Markman, A. (2011, August 12). Your View of the Future Is Shaped by the Past. Retrieved January 05, 2017, from
(2) Language Retrieved January 17, 2017, from
(3) Renee, J. (n.d.). Other Uses for the Tarot: Meditation. Retrieved January 19, 2017, from
(4) Tarot at Joyful Lotus. (n.d.). Retrieved January 19, 2017, from
(5) Taylor, S. (n.d.). Intro to Tarot: Synchronicity and card positions. Retrieved January 19, 2017, from

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