I wanted to talk about the differences between runes, tarot, and other divination methods in this post as well as clear up some stereotypes about them and give some advice for the new learner, as I am one myself and I think support and first-hand experiences are always the best.
Basic review: First Impressions and the bookFor my birthday, my mom got me a beautiful Faery Wicca Tarot deck. Now, I am not into the Fae and the religion thereof, but my mom got it for me because of the Irish influence (and also probably because it said "Wicca" on it if we're being honest), and I have to admit that I am growing to like this deck more and more. When I first opened the wrapping, my whole hand got warm from holding the package and I thought to myself that this was going to be a great deck. After opening the package I looked through the book and I was very intimidated, especially because some of the cards weren't labelled in the "traditional" way and that threw me a bit. I wasn't sure if this was a deck for beginners. That night, I read through the book in full and it was actually a lot easier than expected and I guess it goes to show that we literally can't judge a book by its cover. The book gives the classic tarot meaning as well as the Faery meaning and I sort of ignore the Faery meaning because that's not my practice. It also gives a lot of background information in each section of the deck, such as the element cards (the suite cards of wands, swords, cups, and pentacles), the helper cards, and the major arcana which I found to be extremely helpful. The background info is meant to help with the readings so the person who is reading the cards can give some more information to the person receiving.
The colors and illustrations on the deck are also amazing. The drawings are clear and the colors are vibrant. The book also gives the meanings of the symbols on each card, which I find to be a handy asset. There is not too much in-depth symbolism on the drawings, and there is a good mix of feel-good cards and ones that leave the reader thinking. One such cards is the "Judgement" card, which completely appalled me when I first saw it, but I am growing to like it more and more:
Consecrating and cleansing a Tarot Deck
This was the step that most intimidated me. Care of a Tarot deck is quite important because they can be very potent tools and I wanted to make sure that I did it right. I used this site to help me figure out what to do. Firstly, I put them on my windowsill for 24 hours so they could get an even mix of sunlight and moonlight. I slept with them the night after the 24 hours so they could "get to know me" better, and the next day I made a cleansing mix, out of water, sea salt, and a herb mix that my friend gave me, lit a candle and some incense, and cast a circle around me. I sprinkled each card individually with the mix (I actually drew pentacles on a lot of them but then the cards started to get sticky) and put each card over the flame of the candle, not too close, and then through the smoke of the incense. This took a very long time, but it is the most important step, in my opinion. Your cards are a tool for the Divine, and I believe they need to be treated as such. Consecrating is also the step that makes the cards go from simply paper to an actual tool that can be worked with. This step can also be repeated every so often to get all of the emotional gunk off of your cards.
I also found out the hard way not to put your cards too close to the candle. I was pretty careful with mine and still some of the bonding over the top of the cards started to get wrinkly. So please, be very careful and if you think your cards are too delicate for water or heat, you can rub salt on them, give them a moonbath, or pass them through incense to consecrate them as well. It's the intention that counts!
Reading the Cards
No no, I'm not going to go into each individual meaning - that's what the book that comes along with the cards is for! Rather, who should you do readings for: yourself, others, or both? And when should these readings happen?
I made the mistake of reading for my boyfriend first instead of reading for me. The cards, after a person consecrates them, really want to get to know you. His reading was all messed up but mine was spot on. Even if you intend for the cards to help other people, definitely try to read for yourself at least a couple times to help the cards get a feel for you and vice versa. This will also help you with your skills in interpreting the deck as well. Personally, I was very uncomfortable with reading for myself at first because I figured that there are things about my life that I shouldn't know. However, I realized that I can read however I want - I can ask a specific question, do a reading for the week, or just do a general one. If you're not sure of your question, it's okay. The cards know your intention and this is also why getting to know your deck is so important. The more you put into it, the more you get out.
When I read, I do not get the urge to put on a sparkly headscarf and call myself "Madam Olga" or something of the sort. In fact, there are many people who read who are not the people you see along the side of the road with the neon signs in their windows. If a person has a skill for something, they can use it however they want and some choose to make a profit out of reading Tarot. This is their choice, but it can be hard to know who is real and who's faking it. Anybody can read Tarot, but be warned - it might reveal things about you that you didn't want to know. I make it sound really bad, but it's not at all. Tarot decks can be amazingly insightful and can help a person reach deep down inside of them and flush out all the emotional gunk that holds someone back.
So what's with the Death card?
What many people fail to realize about Tarot is that there is much symbolism. Death is not a literal death - you or someone in your life is most likely not going to die. However, a situation might die to make room for something new and better. An unhealthy friendship might die. You catch my drift? It's a death of something so that something more fantastic can come along.
Is Tarot for me?
I'm a beginner and I read Tarot. Anyone can do it, although it does take a certain amount of time and practice, as with anything. It is important to listen to yourself when reading, as this is the best way to strengthen your intuition which will better your reading skills. If you are looking for a divination method that is fairly in-depth and involves some commitment, then yes definitely do Tarot! Tarot is also for people of any religion. Read: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE WICCAN OR PAGAN TO READ TAROT. There are so many different decks and styles, anyone can find something. Remember, it's just a tool from the Divine to help you on your path and help you to understand yourself. Having a deck and learning to read takes patience and trust of yourself and of your deck. If you feel you can commit to these things then yes, definitely try out Tarot.
Up next, Part 2: Runes