Tarot: Not just for divination

Almost everybody must have heard of Tarot cards and that it is usually associated with fortune-telling or divination. That is how I first got interested in studying the Tarot in 1984. I wanted to be able to foretell what was going to happen in the future.

At that time, one could buy from local booksellers the classic version of the Tarot developed by poet and occultist, A. E. Waite, and beautifully illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith. Today, there are more than 300 varieties of Tarot designs.

I used to regard the Tarot as nothing more than child’s play, until I read a long and in-depth essay about it in a chapter in P. D. Ouspensky’s monumental book A New Model of the Universe. Ouspensky was not an ordinary person, but a man of great intellect and vision. He was a Russian mathematician and a mystic. His book is a masterpiece of erudition and deep insight into a variety of subjects.

Tarot cards.


Photographs by Jaime T. Licauco for the Daily Tribune
P.D. Ouspensky’s monumental book ‘A New Model of the Universe.’

I read several books on the Tarot to learn how to tell the future. My first attempts to read people were quite successful. I was more than 80 percent accurate, which encouraged me to continue. After two months, I was 90 percent accurate. On the third month, I obtained a 100 percent accuracy, which scared me.

There was even one occasion when I read the future of a female friend from Australia who could not get an appointment with a well-known fortune-teller and psychic.

When she finally got an appointment and reading from the fortune-teller, she told me the cards that came out in her reading with the psychic were the same as what appeared in her cards with me.
That was too much of a coincidence! So I stopped reading the Tarot and forgot all about it.

When I read Ouspensky’s essay on the Tarot and his discussion of the esoteric (or hidden) meaning of the different symbols, I got very interested again. He said the Tarot can be used, not just for
fortune-telling, but for spiritual development and self-transformation.

I think it was Ouspensky who said that a man who knows nothing can, in a few years of using the Tarot, become a knowledgeable person. He pointed out that the Tarot is “a philosophical machine, which in its meaning and possible application, has much in common with the philosophical machines that the philosophers of the Middle Ages sought and tried to invent.”

Jungian psychologists say “Everything is based on opposites, male and female. In the Tarot, The Magician is the totality of self. When we meditate on a given Tarot card, we deal with a specific aspect of ourselves. The ultimate aim is the reintegration of our own opposites, a return to the pristine spiritual state of The Fool.”

According to Jan Woudhuysen in his interesting book, Tarot Mania (The Definitive Guide to the Tarot), “The study of the Tarot and the struggle to understand is in fact a method of self-development of the psyche. The Tarot is a means of linking our conscious and our subconscious.

According to another author, it is not important to know how or where the Tarot originated from, for no one really knows where it came from, except that it was first mentioned at the end of the 14th century among the Spanish gypsies. What is more important is how we use the Tarot to reveal esoteric (or hidden) knowledge — about ourselves and the world around us.

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