Interpreting the Tarot is a highly subjective art form with a few common standards, most especially the need to understand the meanings of the cards before you start doing readings for other people. A lot of that learning is left brain activity, such as memorization. The applications of numerology and astrology are also cognitive activities. These are the basics with which every student of the Tarot must start.
Deeper knowledge, however, comes from the other side, so let’s talk about ways to promote understanding of the Tarot in the subconscious mind. For one thing, your right brain wants pictures, not text. A good way to start is by taking a look at the three different worlds expressed in the major arcana.
Lay out the cards of the major arcana in numerical order in the pattern below. Set The Fool to the side for the moment, and know that it represents limitless potential in the moment before manifestation. Cards 1 through 21 represent three different aspects of the human experience.
1 through 7 = Enlightened Ideals
8 through 14 = Ways to bring those ideals into our lives
15 through 21 = Stages of Enlightenment
As you contemplate the cards in the pattern shown below, take some deep breaths and let yourself relax. You’re not hunting, you’re looking for patterns and relationships. Rest your eyes on the cards and see what comes into your mind. Here are a few clues to set you on your way:
Notice the way each card expresses a nature that is opposite from the card before it.
Each card has a strong relationship with the card directly above and below in this layout.
When viewed from start to finish, the major arcana might be considered to tell the story of a human life from beginning to end.
Associations are also formed through numerological reduction. For example, the Star is number 17 , which reduces back to the number 8. This shows that Strength and the Star are connected in some way. But how, exactly?
Don’t try to push it, just look at the cards and see what pops up. This is an exercise I come back to periodically, and it seems like I always find at least one thing I hadn’t seen before.
So stay relaxed, my friends, but also stay tuned. In our next exercise, we’ll be getting more personal! In the meantime, here’s the layout for the study of the three worlds:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21