Tarot — My Next Step

It seems strange to me that although a tarot deck is comprised of 78 cards, almost all the deep studies focus on the Major Arcana (the twenty-two cards depicting the human archetypes that show a person’s spiritual evolution into enlightenment).

The other 58 cards in a tarot deck are classified as the minor arcana. The minor arcana is sometimes divided into two also, with forty cards being called “spot” or “pip” cards, and sixteen being the court cards (what are known as face cards in a normal card deck).

Most books about the tarot speak only of the Major Arcana, giving detailed descriptions of the cards, information about the symbolism on each card, as well as an extensive interpretation. Very little is said of the minor arcana. Even the books that are geared specifically to certain decks, give barely more information than is in the small leaflet included with most decks. Most of those books seem to be fill, devoting much space to a description of each card, which seems redundant. After all, I can see what the card looks like. What I don’t know is what it means.

Because of this, I have compiled my own book of interpretations of the minor arcana gleaned from a variety of sources. Still, the biggest emphasis is on the Major Arcana which leads me to believe that those twenty-two cards are the real power and the rest of the cards are more like helper cards to further develop a theme created by a layout of the Major Arcana.

In fact, there are tarot decks (some of which I have) that only include the Major Arcana, and there are divinatory spreads that only use the Major Arcana.

I am about to graduate from a daily single-card tarot pick to a two-card spread so I can begin learn how to read the cards and to figure out how they influence one another. Oddly, it’s hard to find such information. Most sites or books that talk about the various spreads will say what each card stands for in the spread, but not how to read them. Mostly, they say to rely on your intuition.

The first year of using the decks my brother collected was set aside for single-card readings. The year will be up in less than two months, so I need to figure out the next step in my tarot education. This second year (or at least the first month or two) will be for two-cards so I can begin to get an idea of how they influence one another.

My idea is that since the Major Arcana is . . . well, major, I should choose one card from the Major Arcana to answer my question (which is usually “What do I need to know today?) and then choose a card from the Minor Arcana to further develop the thought in some way.

Another possibility, of course, would be just to use the Major Arcana, but I wonder if that would limit my education too much.

A third possibility would be to forget the easy two- and three-card layouts and go directly to a complicated spread, then spend a week deciphering it. (All the tarot folk say not to do a major spread every day, but how else does one learn?)

I still have a couple of months to decide what to do.

Wait! I just thought of something — I could ask the Tarot what my next step should be!


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10 Responses to “Tarot — My Next Step”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    I agree, it’s a shame that not more information is included on the minor arcana, especially since they can be particularly revealing or portend good things. The nine of cups is commonly known as the “Wish Card,” for example, giving you a pretty good idea of what it stands for. And I’m always happy when the seven or ten of pentacles show up, because they’re a good sign for my finances. And if the nine of swords shows up, I worry about how my anxiety is going to mess with me in the coming week, lol.
    If you need to talk to anyone about the cards, I’m always happy for a chat. I generally do one or two a day as practice, so I’m always happy to give you a few pointers on reading or combinations. Though your idea for a reading of two cards a day sounds good. One major arcana and one minor arcana sounds would probably give you a good reading.

    • Malcolm R. Campbell Says:

      There is a lot of information; it’s just not included with the deck because it won’t fit without making the boxes much larger. Hundreds of books are out there with the answers, my favorite being The Book of Thoth.

      • Pat Bertram Says:

        I have more than a dozen books, but none give the information I want, like how the cards work together. I guess I’ll just have to learn as I go along.

      • Pat Bertram Says:

        I was mistaken. I do have The Book of Thoth — I’d put it with my alchemy books (also a legacy from my brother). How funny — I haven’t looked at that section of books for over a year, and I just happened to glance at them, and there was the book.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of one major and one minor arcana. The major to tell me . . . whatever . . . and the second to offer additional information. I’ll post my findings when I graduate to two cards and if you see something I missed, I’d appreciate your commenting.

  2. Estragon Says:

    Knowing nothing about tarot, but reading between the lines of your post, perhaps…
    The major arcana represent self-knowledge – the various and sometimes conflicting aspects of one’s own persona – as seen by oneself, and as seen by others.
    The minor arcana represent external factors – the numbers as the probabilities (or fate, if you prefer), and the court cards as the powers-that-be which inevitably affect the course of our lives.
    An initial two-card reading might then consider the tension between major arcana cards and/or the role of chance and external powers in the evolution of that tension?

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      You seem to have as good as or even a better grasp of the tarot as I do, though to be honest, I’m still trying to see what the point is.

      So a two-card reading could reveal the tension (or role) between internal and external factors? Or it could point out the conflicting aspects of one’s persona as well as the role external factors play? Should be interesting to see what I can see when I get to that point. The more I consider two-card reading, choosing one from each of the arcanas, the more interesting the exercise seems.

  3. Joe Says:

    ” (All the tarot folk say not to do a major spread every day, but how else does one learn?)” I’ve never heard that, and I also remember being told you should never do a reading for yourself, which is utter baloney. Again, how else would you learn? I’ve done hundreds for myself and only a few for others because I don’t generally tell people about my deck, and the readings are generally petty accurate, esp if I’m emotionally worked up about the question. Something about that seems to create a clearer reading, each time. If I’m only mildly curious, I get mild responses. It’s like a mirror. Interestingly, I’ve had the same deck since age 19 and it’s been almost 30 years and holding up really well, and I am still referring to my reliable resources. 🙂

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      The cards often reflect what I am thinking or feeling, but since I know what I am thinking and feeling (or obsessing about), they don’t really tell me anything. Still, anything that has been around for so many hundreds of years is worth studying, especially since the materials have fallen into my hands.

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