The meaning behind tarot card readings


Photo By Elliot Krippelz

Tarot cards and an incense burner lay on a bedside table. Tarot cards can be cleansed with incense smoke before being used.

     Tarot readings have gained popularity in recent years because of their ability to accurately predict events. Many people find it hard to believe that a few cards can explain your future or past, but when done correctly, tarot readings can be prescient. 

     A standard tarot deck consists of 78 cards with different symbols and meanings on each of them. 22 of the cards are considered the major arcana, which has a meaning that isn’t divided into three sections. The other 50 cards, classified as the minor arcana, are split into wands, swords, pentacles and cups. Each section beside the major arcana has cards one through ten with a king and a queen. While every card has a purpose, the major arcana cards have more specific and direct meanings. 

A tapestry showing the moon tarot card is hung on a wall. The moon card represents deception and illusion. (Photo By Elliot Krippelz)

     When doing a tarot reading, the reader shuffles the deck until certain cards fall out. The cards that fall out are the prediction to the question asked for the reading. Depending on the type of reading and question, the number of cards that fall out is decided by who is giving the reading. Tarot readings are a fluid type of spirituality that has no specific rules on how to do it, which is why people have different styles and techniques while giving readings. 

     The question of whether tarot readings are accurate or not is difficult to answer as it depends on who is receiving the reading. Tarot isn’t a psychically defined answer with extreme specifics; it is up for interpretation and what resonates with your specific question or issue. Tarot can be as broad or specific as you intend it to be, as it can be about your life in general or something specific like a love interest.

     Sophomore at Sheyenne High School Lillian McAndrew has been studying tarot and astrology for around three years. McAndrew knows how to accurately interpret the cards and the functions behind them.  

     “It depends on the [type of reading] you’re trying to look for. It can be accurate for a long period or [only] accurate for a few weeks. [Tarot readings] almost always have meaning, whether it makes sense now or in a few years,” McAndrew said. 

     These readings have been practiced for thousands of years, and the meanings behind them change with culture and as time goes on. There is no set explanation for any specific reading, which is why there are different styles in the tarot community itself. 

     Journalist Hunter Oatman-Stanford writes for Collectors Weekly online magazine, specializing in political history and its impact on contemporary culture. Oatman gives insightful detail about the history of tarot readings and how they may differ among people. 

     “The meaning of divination cards changes over time, shaped by each era’s culture and the needs of the individual users,” Oatman-Stanford said. “However, using cards for playful divination probably goes back even further to the 14th century.”

     The question of whether tarot is scientifically accurate is difficult to answer because of the interpretation aspect that comes with readings. While scientific findings can’t fully prove readings to be accurate, the user may have beliefs on the matter that make them feel as if they are. When the user gets a reading that is perceived as accurate or meaningful this truly immerses them in the experience. 

An informational tarot reading book and a deck of cards lay on a nightstand. Tarot can be used as a resource to better understand yourself. (Photo By Elliot Krippelz)

     German broadcaster and author Hannah Witton specializes in writing about relationships and their taboo aspects. Witton wrote in her article My Tarot Reading Came True about how a reading she received was proven accurate with her future relationships. 

     “With hindsight, it makes a lot more sense. Now, I believe The Hermit [tarot card] wasn’t about taking a break from work, it was about taking a break from men/relationships,” Witton said. “Around that time I had nothing going on. I had a bit of a complicated situation with a crush, but that was never going to amount to anything, and I was alone after a breakup thinking about what I wanted and what I needed.”

     Witton explained how she is skeptical of the whole realm of tarot and horoscopes in general. Having an accurate reading and understanding early on what the cards are implying further immerses the experience surrounding tarot readings.

     While tarot cards do have specific set meanings and purposes, the meaning behind tarot readings is heavily influenced by personal experiences and beliefs and is dependent on the person receiving them. A positive or negative reading can give someone an immersive and meaningful experience.