The other night, as I frequently do, I was helping my wife do a reading. I decided to lay out all the cards in order to help her make sense of the meanings. And I started thinking, “I wish Arisa (my Tarot teacher) had written a book”. Well she had. Just not the one I wanted.

So this is my attempt to put down in writing what I think is important in understanding the Tarot. I make no claims to great ability giving readings. There are many Tarot readers out there with more experience and giving better readings than I can.

On the other hand, there is a lot of foolishness being spread that doesn’t need to be out there.1

For example, I went to the book store looking for a specific Tarot book, and found one on different spreads. I picked it up thinking it would be interesting to look at. I quickly found three different variations of the Tree of Life Spread, only two of which were labeled as such, and at least three variations of the Celtic Cross, none of which explained why there were differences, the history and development of the Celtic Cross, or the common variations within it.

People! It is not in the spreads. Neither is it in the cards.

Yes, yes. I know. Your deck has extra special illustrations by a renowned/obscure/mystical/historic illustrator that has occult/feminist/esoteric/shamanistic meanings of the Wiccan/Native American/Egyptian/Kabbalah/Medieval available in the accompanying book.

But they are just cards, and it’s just a book.

You are you. And you are a being of immense history and knowledge, with dimensions and connections you are barely aware of, having understanding beyond anyone’s capability to put into a book along with accompanying illustrations.

But most of us, from time to time, are full of crap. So it’s nice to have a bull shit detector.

Hence the Tarot.


1   See Michael J. Hurst’s “Gresham’s Law of Tarot History

Naturally enough, most Tarot websites and online Tarot forums tend to cater to the interests of the majority of Tarot enthusiasts, people who yearn for ancient secrets, initiated mysteries, and other esoteric lore. That’s their audience, and in most cases that audience is devoid of both historical knowledge and critical thinking skills. Tarot is a cult object. It was openly called “holy”, “sacred”, and “the absolute key to occult science” by an earlier generation, and is deemed to be “inspired” and representing “universal truths” (psychological and/or spiritual) by many of today’s cultists. Two central reasons seem responsible for the general acceptance of such rampant idiocy: preconception and an abhorrence of critical thinking — after all, essentially religious positions cannot be empirically or rationally refuted.

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