How to read the Tarot and Tarot mapping
There is a body of work that functions as a map of the human experience, and unassumingly, it’s called the Tarot deck.
So here’s my take on How to read the Tarot and Tarot mapping.
This deck is a dear and long time friend of mine and it’s my honour and great pleasure to introduce it to you or, if you know each other already, to spice up your friendship.
When I was first introduced to the Tarot thirty five years ago it was as a deck of separate cards each with their isolated meaning. In those initial years I did a lot of readings for friends and myself as I tried to make sense of all the information there. Sure I was aware of the Tarot’s themes, but they remained just that… themes.
Finally after many years of reading professionally I began to see the distinct patterns and bridges inherent in the cards. I became aware that these weren’t seventy eight individual cards, albeit that they’re divided into sections, but that the Tarot deck was in fact a map with very specific highways. These highways are called the Major and the Minor Arcana. The Minor Arcana then branches off into four smaller roads each mapping out its own particular route.
The Minor Arcana consists of four suits: Pentacles, Swords, Wands and Cups. Pentacles depict the stages that unfold when we apply ourselves to practical matters. First the seed of a new opportunity germinates in the Ace card. In order for us to advance down this path we must develop skills. We then progress through doubts and hard work till finally we produce something tangible. The Swords map out with uncanny clarity the mental process we go through in order to come to terms with our own machinations.
The Wands is a progression of how energetic processes unfold. From the initial motivating excitement of the Ace, we can track the progress of any of our projects through to the completion phase in the latter part of the suit. And the Cups reflect to us the journey we take when our hearts are touched enough to open to something new.
The twenty two cards of the Major Arcana tell another story all together. It is the intricate journey of our personal evolution as we move through the cycles of life.
When I’m confused, faced with daunting choices, or in the midst of calamity, or, I feel the need for clarity, the need to connect more fully with myself or others, I lay out the full deck– all seventy eight cards in numerological order and there it is. This map! And on it I can see just where I am situated. Just as with a GPS I’m able to pinpoint my exact location.
Perhaps I notice I’m smack bang in the middle of the Suit of Pentacles. Suddenly I understand the worry I’ve been feeling. I can see its arising from the fact that the skills I’ve been developing are not yet at a stage where they can sustain me. What comes next is some focused effort before I can reap any real rewards.
I’ve come to realize that no one card stands on its own, but each is bonded to the next by an undeniable, yet unwritten bridge. When we grasp each of these five specific journeys, we come to understand the Tarot. When we pull out a card or a series of cards we know them as part of a whole which then informs the way we interpret a Tarot reading.
Just as each card doesn’t exist separately as an isolated entity, neither does any of our experiences, personally or collectively, (since each of our individual stories is depicted in every deck of cards). By pinpointing ourselves on the Tarot map we contextualize our experience, seeing the bridge that led us to our current place and the one that leads us away from it.
Seeing where we are in the continuum grants us permission and a certain type of safety to fully immerse ourselves in our current experience. Why a map of such intricate and accurate detail should exist is an enigma, a wonder and a great kindness that reaches out to us through that shroud of mystery, to offer us support with its particular insight.
No matter the times – like Shakespeare’s works – the Tarot deck remains unfathomably and constantly relevant to our modern condition. This astounds and amazes me profoundly. I’m moved to want to share this mapping experience with others, so we can receive the great support the Tarot has to offer us, as we travel through this wild terrain called life.
Written by : Shana Matheson – 13th Sister
Shana offers weekly tarot classes in Byron Bay for all levels. Learn how to read the tarot map for you and your loved ones. Private classes also available.