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what is tarot?

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    what is tarot?

    assume I know nothing aside from what I would learn watching a few 90s Hollywood movies.

    Hello ! Very good question ! I will try to answer it in my words. It would be wonderful for other people to also add their views.

    The tarot is a pack of cards that started being used in the late Middle Ages - early Renaissance in Italy and then France to play a card game ! Some people believe the images are older - they have older inspiration for sure, but the current accepted theory is that tarot - as we know it today- was created around that period and in that place.

    After many adventures and developments, tarot became a divination tool, as well as a set of images that call the reader to a spiritual/integration journey.

    Now the tarot can be used as a psychological and self help tool too - for example to help people better understand their emotions and deeper wishes, as well as the point they find themselves in their development and possible paths they can further follow.

    It can also be used to obtain certain effects in the real world. As an example, you can focus on a card, bring your mind to a state that resonates with that particular energy and set your intentions, connecting them to the card. It is debatable if what will follow is the consequence of an act of magic or simply of a better organization of mental energy, but an effect is likely to be produced.

    The usual tarot deck contains 2 types of cards - The Major Arcana, consisting of 22 cards depicting highly significant characters and events, frequently considered to reflect our spiritual journey - and The Minor Arcana - consisting of 4 suits - Swords, Wands, Cups and Pentacles, each having 10 numbered cards and 4 court cards - Page, Knight, Queen and King.

    You will find that the Minor Arcana cards are organized in a similar way to ordinary playing cards.
    The four suits actually represent the elements, which in most decks are considered to be :
    Swords - Air
    Wands - Fire
    Cups - Water
    Pentacles - Earth

    In most tarot decks the cards from 1-10 in each suit show different scenes - unlike gaming decks. The meaning is given by the image itself, but can also be derived by the number of the card (each number has a certain meaning, which can be more or less highlighted depending on the deck) combined with the energy of the suit.

    The last 4 cards of each suit are court cards, that usually represent real people. For example Queen of Cups, Page of Swords etc.

    You can find many resources about the tarot on the internet. I think I will open some different threads for them though.

    I personally believe that the cards work the same way synchronicity generally does. Nothing more and nothing less. There is no destiny written from A to Z, that the cards will show you every time. Because life (again in my opinion) is fluid, as is the world and meaning itself. Tarot will only have a positive influence if it is seen as a tool that helps in discovering patterns that appear and then disappear again and again, as everything keeps flowing and transforming itself from a shape into another. It will not (necessarily) show a person will have 3 children, 2 boys and a girl, because we can choose how many children we will have ! But it will show a person's inner struggles in real time and creative ways to solve them or lessons to learn from them !
    It does have a divinatory side, but this is simply because patterns tend to repeat themselves if we don't exert our will to change them. Some the waves of time...can be predicted from the start till end, till fruition. It is possible to see a thread that unravels for a longer period ...BUT I think the discovery of such threads should not be the main purpose of tarot reading ! I would like to avoid fatalistic thinking and I encourage others to avoid it too. Many times a "bad" card just reflects a negative state of mind or an inner growth process that can be painful at first....and not a fated event that can't be prevented !