What is Tarot?
by Isha Lerner
I was given my first Tarot deck when I was eighteen years old. It was a used deck found in a used book store. My aunt found it and thought I would enjoy the pictures. That deck with its elaborate and mysterious pictures was instrumental in changing my life.
The Tarot is a deck of seventy-eight cards that has stirred great historical and intellectual debate. We do not know its exact origin, the complete code, nor the mystery that ties its symbolic imagery together. We do know, however, that the Tarot deck is the ancestor to our modern playing cards and throughout history, this pictorial masterpiece has been described as a game, a fortune telling device, a work of art, a secret doctrine, and ultimately, a mirror of human unconsciousness.
The Tarot first surfaced in our modern culture during the 1960s when music and art struck a psychological chord within the inner fabric of social reform. Its imagery and symbolic implications appeared on rock star's album covers, in psychology books, and many artists, poets, and musicians were inspired by its intrigue and mysticism. Historians studied its artistic lineage and the spiritually-inclined used the Tarot as a medium to enhance self-reflection and personal inquiry. The Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, introduced a new field of exploration, the study of alchemy, as a means to understand the transformation and metamorphosis of the human soul through what is today known as Jungian Psychology. With his interest and use of ancient symbolism, including tarot, Jung's work opened the door to new dimensions of thought and human growth.
Powerful Work Of Art And Script
The Tarot is a powerful work of art and script. We might compare it to an old growth tree, for its far reaching branches of diversity serve as a canopy, or motherly shelter, protecting the many influences it has incorporated throughout time. This ancient body of knowledge, when researched and understood, offers a sound perspective of the evolutionary path of human consciousness through the ages. It can be viewed as a sequence of images portraying the passage of the soul as it journeys through the cyclical stages of birth, death and rebirth. The seventy-eight card deck serves as one of humanity's sacred texts, as it is an anthology of alchemy, kabala, number magic, astrology, art, religion and mysticism. At its best, it stands as a school, a secret doctrine, or an open field of study, void of dogma and hypocrisy. The seventy-eight card Tarot deck is a balanced, non-dualistic representation of the school of life.
Landscape Of The Soul
Much like the mysterious and imaginative expression of our dream life, the Tarot is a panoramic view of the landscape of the soul. It can be studied as an intellectual pursuit, void of the hype and superstitions that cloud its integrity. Unfortunately, it can also remain misunderstood and feared by those who do not wish to explore its deeper implications, symbols and wisdom. If you feel inclined to study Tarot, I suggest you begin by researching the backstory of the Tarot through the ages. I also suggest you take seriously the study of alchemy, the laws of nature, numerology, the poets, astrological and planetary correlations, archetypes, psychology, art and other forms of symbolism and imagery found throughout different periods of religious, political, and social significance.
Everything goes, everything returns, eternally rolls the wheel of being ... Crooked is the path of eternity. Nietzsche