Introduction to the Tarot
The Heritage of the Tarot
Just as the true beginnings of the current human race remain somewhat of a mystery, no one can accurately trace the exact origins of the Tarot. The Tarot was an established tradition within ancient Egyptian culture, so it is not illogical to suspect that these cards pre-date that great culture. My theory on the origins of the Tarot pre-supposes recognition of the one-time existence of the cultures of Atlantis-Lemuria from which all current cultures devolved. These cultures were more advanced in every way than those that followed. But like today’s “advanced civilization” some factions chose to conquer nature, rather than work harmoniously with her. People were advancing (like today) spiritually and technologically, but a growing polarization was occurring simultaneously between those who would use these advancements for constructive ends versus those bent on destructive ends. The wise ones from these countries were aware of the impending danger to their more evolved way of life and encouraged migrations to safer territories. In order to preserve the occult knowledge and traditions of these civilizations, a portable and compact tool with symbols that could span language and cultural barriers had to be devised. What could meet this challenge better than a deck of cards? We will never know what those original decks looked like; but a set of symbols encoded with ancient mysteries is surely the fore mother of the modern Tarot.
The Nature of the Tarot
So, what is the Tarot, anyway? The Tarot is an ancient symbolic system presented as a deck of 78 cards, ranging in size from smaller to larger than standard playing cards. The deck is divided into two parts – the Major and Minor Arcana. The Minor Arcana is further divided into 4 suits – Wands, Cups, Pentacles and Swords – which represent the elements Fire, Water, Earth and Air, respectively. The Major Arcana deals with archetypal energies such as Strength, Justice or Transformation. These are broad, abstract, philosophical concepts depicting the macrocosm of the universe, while the more mundane and down to earth affairs of the microcosm are dealt with by the Minor Arcana. Using the Tarot with skill, one can come to a greater understanding of past, present and future events.
A Tarot reading is done basically by drawing a card or cards from the deck and placing them in certain patterns or “layouts.” The reader studies the images and meanings of each card and of the cards’ positions and interactions in the layout. From all this input, with a hearty dose of psychic energy, she synthesizes the messages of the reading. I tell my clients that a good reading should feel like a confirmation of their own inner knowing – that is, if they’re fairly conscious. A few surprises and ‘aha!’ experiences are always a nice bonus.
The Wise Woman’s Tarot
With few exceptions, most traditional books on the Tarot are racist, sexist, and classist in their interpretations of the cards. They are often intentionally vague in order to further mystify an already mystical art. In fact, in the past, occultists have prided themselves on shrouding their “secrets” in a cloak of mystery. The veil of secrecy and the use of “blinds” around the Tarot were not only instituted to keep all but the sincere from penetrating its mysteries, but also, as with other professions, to keep the average person in awe of the abilities of the few adepts.
In this new Aquarian Age of Enlightenment, it is no longer desirable or for the good of the universe to hoard esoteric knowledge. Thus, in contrast, The Wise Woman’s Tarot aims to be totally accessible. It is designed to be user-friendly, enabling one to easily “read” these special cards. A substantial portion of this book, as well as the layouts of the cards are geared toward demystifying the Tarot and making it available as a basic tool for psychic development, empowerment and divination.
Most books written on the subject are also grossly inadequate as teaching aids. This one aims to do better. We are, of course, not all equal in abilities and talents. Not everyone has the gift of prophecy or is capable of giving counsel-an integral part of the process. People have different aptitudes; some of us will quickly become skilled astrologers or numerologists, while trance-mediumship may seem impossible to grasp. Some can make magic with a hammer and nails, while others can’t draw a straight line. ALL of us, however, have SOME degree of psychic abilities – whether or not we choose to use them. With the help of The Wise Woman’s Tarot, anyone who is interested in the Tarot and willing to put in the effort to study, can learn to read the Tarot and develop their psychic abilities in the process.
The Wise Woman’s Tarot offers three original angles in its approach to the Tarot: In a well-researched blend of matriarchal mythology, mysticism and the esoteric meaning of the Tarot, the text gives a broad background on global women’s herstory; the cards reveal a new set of symbols drawing from matriarchal myths and symbols from cultures all over the world. Another theme is wholeness, with each archetypal metaphor making a contribution toward this end. Finally, through the design and positioning of the cards in this deck, I present a graphic expression of our spiritual evolution.
The Wise Woman’s Tarot — as a set of book and cards — integrates all these strands into a radically new recreation of the Tarot growing out of the deepest respect for and considerable knowledge of this system. After more than a third of a century working with the Tarot as a reader as well as a teacher and student, I have come to know this system deeply and to respect the cards as an excellent medium for psychic work. My reworking of the Tarot deck and story was not undertaken lightly. Over the many years I spent creating, developing and birthing The Wise Woman’s Tarot, I delved deeply into the esoteric roots of the Tarot. My efforts were rewarded with psychic flashes and insights reflecting a need for adjustments to the traditional deck. The order of the 78 cards of The Wise Woman’s Tarot Deck differs considerably from that of other decks and some cards have been eliminated or added.
For example, I felt that the traditional Empress card embodied a broad concept which could be clarified by separating it into two. This resulted in cards III, Fertility – Oshun, who embodies the sensual and fertile side; and V, The Nurturer – Venus of Willendorf, who represents the mothering aspect. These and other changes are explained in detail in the pages to come, along with my rationale for the new order. This book/deck set together constitute a Pandora’s Box of women’s mysteries. The book is the key to the images painted by Barbara Vogel, which follow the design, content and color schemes laid out and explained in the text. The card frames, designed by Tara, are in coded colors representing the elements of the suits of the Minor Arcana, and the color of the ruling planet or sign of the Major Arcana. Each color is composed of two hues, with an embedded pattern constructed from the main symbol of that card or suit.
It seems to me that The Tarot is ever evolving. As one of the latest developments in this living evolutionary process, The Wise Woman’s Tarot is a new reflection of the Tarot’s ancient character, ushering it in to the 21st Century as a timeless yet thoroughly contemporary tool for psychic awareness. Complete with its totally original deck and companion volume, The Wise Woman’s Tarot is revolutionary.