The Tarot is a representation of the Universe, the Divine and all Creation. It is concrete – as well as mysterious and ineffable.
Anybody can work with the Tarot. It is a tool to develop the intuition as well as an interaction with the workings of All-That-Is. The Building Block method provides an easy to follow system by which to understand the workings of the Tarot, and to synthesise the constituent parts into a meaningful whole.
Alchemists and Occultists probably developed the system as a means to record Universal Truths symbolically, thus preventing the abuse of power by the uninitiated.
Tarot card games became an enormously popular form of entertainment Europe as of the 1450s. By the early nineteenth century conflicting theories surrounded the origin and correct use of the cards, which had come to be associated with fortune-telling, gypsies and charlatans. The inexhaustible wisdom expressed in the Tarot was explored and re-systematised by members of esoteric orders such as the Golden Dawn, and practitioners of Magick such as Aleister Crowley and Arthur Edgar Waite. Various forms and interpretations of the Tarot have proliferated since the Tarot’s popularisation as a divination system in the 1960’s.
The Tarot is perfect in its form and design, since it is a microcosm of the Universe. It integrates the qualities of the Archetypal realm, the Five Elements, Numerology and Astrology into a coherent system. Its correspondences and associations are endless – a reflection of the workings of all Creation.
The Three Arcana: The Parts of The Tarot
The Tarot consists of three distinctive parts:
The Major Arcana (“Greater Mystery”) contains 22 Trump cards, which are distinguishable by their rich and evocative images. The Arcana represents life as a journey of Archetypal Initiations into different levels of experience. Archetypes are symbols or personifications of spiritual or psychological truth, like the gods and goddesses of the various pantheons. The Major Arcana is a formula to better understand life, love, growth, and spirituality. It can also provide insight into the alchemical process, hermetic magic, the creative process or any other subject to which intuitive solutions are sought.
The Minor Arcana (“Lesser Mystery”) reflects the human experience in the world of matter. It is divided into four suits of ten cards each. In this way, numerological energies are blended with those of the four elements. The suit of Swords represents air; Wands – fire; Cups – water; and, Pentacles symbolise earth.
The Court Cards – Kings, Queens, Knights (Princes) and Pages (Princesses) in each suit – represent personality traits or the people that inhabit our lives. By blending each element with a ‘modality’ derives astrological correspondences. Modalities render each element as Cardinal, Fixed or Mutable (this is explained in the Building Blocks of Tarot course section on Astrology).
Modern playing cards are a simplification of the Tarot. They have lost much of the profound symbolism of the original, yet reflect some interesting features.
- Four Suits symbolise the elements and seasons in a year
- Thirteen cards in each suit correspond to the lunar months in a year
- Fifty two cards – weeks in a yearThree hundred and sixty five pips represent the days in a year.