The Hermit - Self-knowledge and contemplation
The Hermit - Self-knowledge and contemplation




At some point in time in every tarotist’s career, they are faced with the penultimate question, “Does the Tarot really work?” I figure there’s no time like the present to attack this question.


The best way to determine if the Tarot works is to ask people who use it extensively.  Very few people would spend significant amounts of time studying Tarot and using it as a tool for divination/self-awareness/self-discovery/insert-appropriate-word-here if it didn’t work.

When people ask, my answer is clearly, “It works for me.” Although some may find this odd, I have always found that the most interesting aspect of the Tarot is its objectivity. When you seek advice from a friend, family member or councilor, you always come face-to-face with their humanity. They have feelings, opinions, and biases that will always affect their response to your query. The beauty of a Tarot deck is that it just ‘is’. That beauty lies in its construction. The 78 cards contain a significant number of possible outcomes for any situation. These representations are based on universal archetypes and conditions. It remove a level of bias that is inherent in communication between people. Even when you try and work through the solutions to a question on your own without the Tarot, you emphasize some things and omit others. You bias your own exploration.

Using Tarot cards still includes a human element, but the Tarot acts as an intermediary and intervenes on a level that is not personally attached to the querent.  It is instead attached to either universal concepts and archetypes, as is the case with the Major Arcana, or the comings and goings of our daily lives, as portrait in the Minor Arcana. Most interestingly, by shuffling cards and laying them out in a systematic fashion, we allow our inquiry to be temporarily taken over by randomness. We usually place cards within a given framework.  We may choose to use a one-card daily focus or a multi-card spread to place our question into the structure of a spread.  But the cards fall in a random patterns. This pattern is the exact one needed at that moment. Try it again and different cards will fall.   It is in this randomness, this totally new and unbiased way that we look at the answer to the question that we ask that we often find the solution.  When we learn to use the Tarot effectively, we use that randomness to our advantage and bring often overlooked answers to the forefront.

 The best way to answer the question for yourself, though, is “Try it and see!”


  1. Funny how the minute you commit something to writing, you begin to see connections. I am currently reading Rachel Pollack’s newest book “Tarot Wisdoms: Spiritual Teachings and Deeper Meanings” (which, by the way, will be reviewed in an upcoming blog) and, in the section on the Fool, came across an excerpt that I find to be totally relevant to this post. While reading, I came across words like ‘spontaneity’ and ‘curious’ to describe the attributes of the Fool. And to conclude the chapter, just to highlight the randomness of a Tarot reading, she states, “[f]or what could be more Foolish than shuffling a deck of cards and asking it questions about our lives?” May the randomness of the cards and the curiosity of the Fool guide you in your exploration of the Tarot.

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