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Well… does the Tarot really work?

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!”

New Tarot Seminar Starts February 23rd

The Magician from the Motherpeace deck.
The Magician from the Motherpeace deck.
For those of you in and around the Orangeville, Ontario area, I have a Tarot for beginners workshop starting up on Monday, February 23rd, 2009. The first class is always offered with no obligation. I firmly believe that guide, student and content need to connect and the best way to determine that is to allow people to come out and check it out. This workshop runs for six weeks and will cover an overview of the origins of the Tarot, The Major and Minor Arcana, Court Cards, spreads, games, and more. It is really intended for those who have little or no knowledge of the Tarot and are looking for a great place to start. Contact me at if you’re interested.

If geography is a problem, the same workshop could easily be adapted to IM, Skype or email.

A ‘minor’ look at 2009

Many use tarot numerology suggested by several tarotists that would reduce the year 2009 numerologically to 2 (2+0+0+9 = 11 à 1 + 1 = 2). When looking at major events like a new year or the turning of the seasonal wheel, the Major Arcana often becomes the focus since these are our ‘big idea’ cards.  However, I’m going to explore a different perspective. What if  we explored the numerology of the Minor Arcana? After all, our day-to-day lives are also marked by the changing of the calendar. Many of us use this time for a look back at the previous year and make major adjustments. But ultimately, it’s the small, routine acts that are altered and lead to major changes. Those daily acts are the domain of the Minor Arcana. And, numerologically, both the ‘two’ and the ‘nine’ are significant in the upcoming year.

Twos are all about balance, duality and choices.  The challenges of the two bring opposition and division. Since nine is the last if the single-digit numerals,  it is often associated with the concepts of abundance and completion. If we combine these two concepts, we have a year in which we could ask ourselves the following questions:


  • What choices will I make to bring events to completion?
  • What conflicting ideas can be brought together, reconciled and/or completed?
  • Will this be the year that societies embrace the idea of a ‘balanced abundance’?
  • What opposition will I face as I work to complete projects and tasks?
  • Is there a balance that you are seeking to complete?


Can you think of any other questions that might include the overarching concepts of ‘two’ and ‘nine’?

‘Cool’ and the King of Swords

He exudes 'coolness'.
He exudes 'coolness'.






My own children often provide the inspiration for my writing.  I always find it interesting to sit with my teenage son or daughter and discuss what they see in the cards.  Their observations are often insightful and poignant.  This morning, as my girlfriend and I drew our morning card, I invited my son, as happens on occasion,  to do the same.  He draws the King of Swords.  “Cool,” he says, in his detached 14-year-old demeanor, and puts the card down without another word.

I go on for a brief moment to talk about what the card means from my own experience. But upon further reflection, I think his one-word answer might have been a more accurate definition.  I think I know what he meant or, perhaps even more relevant, I know what his one-word response meant to me.  It may have had nothing to do with the coolness that does indeed surround the King of Swords.  However, the word “cool” has been added to my own list of key words, phrases, affirmations and insights about the king. 

Our king is emotionally “in check”, intelligent, well-spoken and well-groomed, and, as my son so confidently exclaimed, his detached nature might in fact make him ‘cool’, à la Paul Newman in ‘Cool Hand Luke’  And of course, the cold steel of his sabre could again highlight how ‘cool’ fits here.  Having spent almost 20 years working in education, I know that some of the most poignant lessons about life come from youth. I firmly believe that Art Linkletter and Bill Cosby were dead on when they quipped, “Kids say the darndest things.”