Friday, March 11, 2016

Out of Darkness Blog Series #2 - A Crash Course in Tarot Cards

         For part two of my four-part blog series for Out of Darkness I'm going to introduce you to Lizette's favorite pastime in the story: the Tarot. When we meet Lizette in the beginning of Out of Darkness, Lizette doesn't have any friends. Her older brother is preoccupied with his own life and her parents are extremely overprotective. All Lizette has to keep her company is her old, worn-out deck of Tarot cards. Maybe she found them in an old box in the attic, maybe she bought them and a garage sale for 50 cents and charged them for her own use. Who knows? 

         I myself have had a fascination with Tarot cards for many years. Before my fascination for the Tarot, I've always had an interest and belief in horoscopes. I'm just a weird out-there believer like that, so it's no wonder I have four decks of Tarot cards. 

         While every deck can differ a little they should all basically have the same general cards in each deck. 

        The four decks I own are: an easy-learn Rider-Waite deck (that has the meanings written on each card), a Tarot of the Witches deck, a Tarot of Love deck, and The Wild Unknown Tarot deck (shown below). 

       The main difference in the decks I own are what certain suits of the Minor Arcana are called (more on this later), certain placement of trump cards within the Major Arcana, and things like that. 

What are Tarot Cards?
Tarot cards are one of many forms of divination. They are often used to predict the potential outcome based on influences surrounding a person or event. They are made up of 22 "Trump Cards" in the Major Arcana and 4 Suits of 14 Cards making up the Minor Arcana.
   Let's start with the Major Arcana... 
As I just mentioned the Major Arcana are made up of 22 "trump" cards that form the foundation of the Tarot deck. 
The Major Arcana are made up of:
Trumps Zero - The Fool (Representing unavoidable mistakes due to your ignorance or naivety)
Trumps One - The Magician (Representing human intelligence, self-empowerment, purpose, the need to control the forces that operate in this world.)
Trumps Two - The High Priestess (Represents divine wisdom, understanding of why things work out the way they do, mystery, also possible secrets that will be revealed at the proper time)
Trumps Three - The Empress (Represents "the mother", procreation, domestic harmony)
Trumps Four - The Emperor (Represents "the father", authority, leadership, protection)
Trumps Five - The High Priest (Represents Divine Will, Mercy, The Search for the Truth, Religious Needs and Inclinations)
Trumps Six - The Lovers (Represents Commitment - personal note: one of my favorite cards along with The Wheel of Fortune and The Knight of Cups)
Trumps Seven - The Chariot ( Represents Victory, also that you may receive help or advice at a time of great need - think like the calvary is coming to your aid)
Trumps Eight - Justice (In certain decks the eighth card may be Strength and Justice would be the eleventh card. Represents Justice and utmost fairness.)
Trumps Nine - The Hermit (Represents self-reflection, understanding, circumspection, hidden truths to be revealed. Can also predict an impending journey in the questioner's future.)
Trumps Ten - The Wheel of Fortune (Represents chance and blind fate, leaving things up to destiny, an unexpected turn of events)
Trumps Eleven - Strength (Represents victory over overwhelming odds stacked against you. Courage)
Trumps Twelve - The Hanged Man (Represents self-sacrifice and personal growth, change of thinking)
Trumps Thirteen - Death (Does not necessarily mean actual death, instead represents a major unavoidable change of life)
Trumps Fourteen - Temperance (Represents patience and self-control, reflection)
Trumps Fifteen - The Devil (Represents the struggle between good and evil, chaos and order. Destruction, turmoil, bad luck. Personal note: my least favorite card)
Trumps Sixteen - The Tower (Represents a setback, your plans crumbling, disruption)
Trumps Seventeen - The Star (Represents hope, bright prospects, insight)
Trumps Eighteen - The Moon (Represents mystery, intuition, psychic ability, deception)
Trumps Nineteen - The Sun (Represents success, fulfillment, happiness, contentment)
Trumps Twenty - Judgement (Represents a new life beginning, decisions made, conclusions)
Trumps Twenty-One (Represents completion perfection, attainment)

The Minor Arcana
As I mentioned above, the fifty-six cards in the Minor Arcana are divided into four suits of fourteen cards. The four suits are: Swords, Cups, Coins (called Pentacles in certain decks), and Wands (called Batons or Clubs in certain decks). 

The suits are further divided into ten (10) Pip cards (Ace-Ten) and four Court or face cards (King, Queen, Knight, and Page; although in my Wild Unknown deck calls these "Father, Mother, Daughter, and Son" instead).

Each suit represents something different. 

Swords - The Suit of Swords deal with conflict, power, and change. 
Cups - The Suit of Cups is often called the suit of love and happiness, as that is what they deal with, as well as emotions. 
Coins -  The Suit of Coins deal with worldly possessions, our homes, money, and careers. 
Wands - The Suit of Wands deal with creativity, inspiration, and dreams. 

While I won't go through and describe every card from every suit as I did with the Major Arcana, I will pick one card from each suit to describe to give you an idea of the differences between suits. 

3 of Swords - Represents separation, removal, quarrels, infidelity, sorrow. A break-up. 

Knight of Cups - Represents True Love.

10 of Pentacles (Coins) - Represents Fulfillment. All that you've worked for has paid off. 

6 of Wands -  Represents very good news, victory, gifts about to be received.

How to do a reading (spread)
I'm going to give you the simplest explanation on how tarot cards are read. There are tons of books out there that will give you more detailed descriptions but for now, let's stick to the basics. 
Usually, I have the questioner hold the cards as they think of what they want the cards to tell them. (No, Tarot cards will not tell you the winning numbers of an upcoming lottery or which horse to bet on at the track... I like to think of this as asking the cards to tell you what's just around the corner for you or what the outcome of a current bleak situation you find yourself in will be.)
Next, the deck is shuffled and cut. (I usually shuffle the cards, cut them into three parts, then place one part over the other and shuffle them again.)
Once the deck has been shuffled the cards are laid out into the spread you have chosen. (I place these face down, then flip them over to reveal their answers so I can draw an interpretation.)

A Few of my Favorite Spreads
No, I'm not talking about dips or jams. Spreads are the way Tarot Cards are laid out to be read and interpreted. Here are a few of my favorite spreads: 

A Three-Card Spread
Want to take a look at what's happened in the past, what's happening now, and what's to happen in the future? This is the spread for you. 

The Year Ahead Spread
Do this at the beginning of the year to see what the year ahead has in store for you.

Celtic Cross Ten Card Spread
This is my most used spread. I use this one most of the time. This can be used for a very general reading. 

If you're still reading this - Congratulations! You now have a better understanding of the use of Tarot cards. I hope you can picture our heroine, Lizette, sitting around in her room shuffling her cards restlessly and wishing for a change in her life. 

Out of Darkness is available for pre-order: 

Coming Tuesday April 5, 2016! 
(Paperback Edition will also be available on April 5th)

Sources used for this blog: Tarot for Beginners by P. Scott Hollander (I recommend for all new Tarot Card users)
The Wild Unknown Tarot Deck & Instruction Sheet 
Photos Courtesy: Myself (those of the Wild Unknown deck on the floor and the desk), Etsy, and Pinterest. 

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