So this is one of witchcraft’s more commonly portrayed aspects in modern media. Everyone knows of the crazy old gypsy woman reading Tarot cards and palms at her velvet-covered shop with a big ass crystal ball and jars filled with unmentionable items.
While some of this is true for witchcraft (looking at all those memes about mason jar hoarding), Tarot is way more basic than that.
Tarot decks are made up of 78 cards. These cards are split into two main categories, Major arcana and Minor arcana. Major arcana makes up 22 cards of the deck and have all the most famous cards, like The Lovers and Death. The Minor arcana cards make up the remaining 56 cards of the deck and are split into four suits, like a standard deck of cards.
However, the suits are different than a standard deck. Where a standard deck is made up of Hearts, Diamonds, Spades, and Clubs, a Tarot deck is made up of Cups, Pentacles, Swords, and Wands. Now the Tarot suits do coincide with regular suits, so if you’re trying to be sneaky or looking for a new Tarot challenge, you can use a regular deck just as you would a Tarot deck. Cups coincide with Hearts, Pentacles with Diamonds, Swords with Spades, and Wands with Clubs.
An interesting note about the Major arcana is that although they are numbered, they are numbered from 0 to 21, instead of 1 to 22. We’ll go over more of the Major arcana later on.
Tarot is a form of divination magic, like reading tea leaves or casting oracle bones. Another form of card divination is using oracle cards, which are different than Tarot cards because oracle cards can come in different kinds of deck sizes and content, whereas Tarot is normally based on one set standard.
Tarot decks are usually illustrated and based off the Rider-Waite Tarot deck structure. Most decks use their face illustrations off the standard Rider-Waite deck that’s been in print since 1910 and are considered the standard for Tarot decks. Nowadays, there are many illustrators creating their own stylistic face illustrations for their own Tarot decks, drawing from the Rider-Waite deck as the foundation.
Speaking of the Rider-Waite deck, many pros agree that to start learning with a deck based on the Rider-Waite deck since it is such a common and accessible deck. As well as being the most common deck available, since everyone uses it basically, the resources online are countless if you need help interpreting a card or learning a new spread. Besides online, Tarot has been around since the Middle ages, meaning that there are books upon books you can reference, although some books reference how Tarot was used as a simple card game before it was used for divination purposes.
That’s just some of the basics involving Tarot. With a topic this old and rich, there’s always more to explore and discover and learn.