The Sacred Tarot
Program and Astro*Image cards by Michael Erlewine
Text by Arthur Edward Waite
Paper playing cards originated in China before the 10th Century, when the Chinese began converting wooden domino-like blocks into paper so they could be better shuffled and dealt. The Asian cards gradually migrated eastward and the modern four-suited decks with court cards came out of the Middle East and were picked up by the Crusaders and carried throughout Europe by 1200 A.D.
The word "Gypsy" comes from the word "Egyptian" and it is said that the practice of using playing cards as a form of divination came from Egypt many centuries ago and was originally derived from the worship of the god Thoth, the god of intuition. It became popular to have someone experienced with the cards perform readings. Everyone from commoners to kings had their favorite fortune teller and card readings went in and out of fashion. The French in particular helped to develop the modern deck as we know it today. It was in France that the four suits (hearts, clubs, diamonds, and spades) first appeared around 1480 or so.
It is said that in 1572 there were over 30,000 astrologers/card readers in Paris alone card reading was the rage among the lower classes and clandestinely among the rich and influential. It was considered lowbrow, but had a huge following even among the rich and famous.
Perhaps the most popular deck (and the one used in this program) is the Rider-Waite-Smith deck first published in 1909, using the lovely images created by illustrator Pamela Colman Smith. The Smith illustrations are used here with the kind permission of U.S. Games (http://www.usgamesinc.com/), the maker of many find sets of cards.
The tarot deck consists of 78 cards, with four suits, Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles, each suite containing (similar to Western playing cards) an Ace, cards two through ten, and the court cards Page (Jack), Knight, Queen, and King. There are referred to as the "Minor Arcana."
There are literally dozens of spreads used by tarot enthusiasts around the globe to lay the cards out for interpretation. We have included the most authentic and popular ones here and they are detailed above.
One Card Reading
This reading provides a single card as an answer to your question. With the one-card reading, it is especially important to get your mind right before requesting the reading. Let the mind rest and allow the question you have to arise. Take your time and let the mind clear.
When the question is clearly held in mind, then press the orange button. You can then turn over the cards one-by-one or show them all at once by pressing the "All" button in the lower right-hand part of the screen.
Two Card Reading
With two cards, the left card represents the nature of the question and the right-hand card the answer or outcome to be expected.
Three Card Reading
With three cards, the left card represents the question from the point of view of the past, what has already happened. The center card represents the present, what is happening now, and the right-hand card represents the future, the outcome for this question.
Here we have a pyramid reading of seven cards. The cards are always read from the bottom up, and from left to right. Starting with the card in the lower left-hand corner of the pyramid and reading left to right we have:
(1) The foundation or basis of the question.
Celtic Cross Reading
(2) The obstacles that must be negotiated.
(3) The Angels or intercessors that bring help.
(4) The surprise or unexpected events.
(5) The hopes in mind.
(6) The fears in mind.
(7) The final outcome - key card.
One of the most popular of all card spreads, the Celtic Cross layout is not only used in Ireland, but all over Europe and America. There are ten cards to be read as follows:
You Now - Your representation in this query.
And the four final cards:
What covers or must be dealt with in this concern.
The Past - What has gone before.
The Future - What will come from this.
Basic Motive - What is behind the questions, the motivation.
The Goal - What you hope to achieve.
Your Right Now - How do you figure in this.
Wheel of Houses Reading
Environment - What surrounds you, the circumstances.
Hopes and Fears
The Final Outcome
The Wheel of Houses reading borrows something from astrology, in particular the twelve houses, each which pertains to a different part of life. You can read them in numerical order or choose whatever areas of life most interest you. The twelve houses are:
1st House - You, yourself, ego, Self.
2nd House - Your support, resources, money, property
3rd House - Communications, exchange, letters, gossip
4th House - Home, family, practical, basis
5th House - Expression, creativity, children, offspring
6th House - Health, compassion, care, concern
7th House - Marriage, public, outer world
8th House - Business, removing excess, bare bones
9th House - Religion, travels, essence, key truths
10th House - Vocation, career, where you can see to work
11th House - Community, friends, commitment
12th House - Sacrifice, sublimation, putting up with
This "Rainbow" reading uses four cards as follows:
You - Your nature and motives.
Greater Star Reading
Past - What came before this time.
Now - What is happening at the moment.
Future - What will come of this concern.
The Greater Star reading is historically one of the most loved and popular, perhaps because it covers so many major areas of life. The areas it covers are as follows:
Here and Now - What things are at this moment.
The Grand Spread Reading
Covers - What looms just ahead or confronts.
Recent Past - What has just taken place regarding this question.
Distant Past - The distant history of the question.
Influence Going - The influence on the question that is now passing.
Influence Past - The influence which has already past and does not concern the question any longer.
Influence Peaking - What influence is currently hold greatest sway.
Influence Coming - What influence is just now emerging.
Current Methods - What is in play now affecting the question.
Total Methods - The overall methods affecting the question.
Current Goals - What you wish to have happen in the short term.
Total Goals - What you wish to have happen in the long term.
Near Future - What will result in the near future.
Outcome - How it will turn out. The key card.
This more extended reading is very possible and allows the user to cherry pick the areas of most interest and ignore the rest, if needed. Otherwise, the cards are read from top to bottom, and from left to right. The categories are pretty obvious and need no explanation here. Just pick the ones that grab you attention and read the results.
Seven Days Reading - The Weekly Reading
Here is a reading for the current week, from Sunday through Saturday, using the original astrological meaning of the weekdays coupled with their playing card influences. In addition, there are four additional cards:
Surprise - What you could not expect to happen.
The Twelve Month Reading
Key Person - Who will appear this week.
Personal Status - You personal state of mind.
Social Status - How you appear to others this week.
Here is a reading for the entire year, a card for each month plus an extra card that represents the nature for you of the entire year.
The Relationships Reading
This reading allows you to compare yourself to another person and the relationship between the two of you, whether that be romantic, family, friends, co-workers, or what-have you. There are two columns, one for you and one for your partner, arranged as follows:
Your view of the partner, their view of you.
Swan's Wing Reading
How they appear to you, how you appear to them.
How you feel about them, how they feel about you.
What you really want from them, and what they want from you.
How you might improve you end of the relation, how they might improve theirs.
The outcome of the relationship.
Also sometimes called the "Ellipse Layout," the Swan's Wing is a very popular traditional layout for looking at the tarot. Th is layout is read from left to right and includes:
The Past - Whatever about the question that is influenced by the past.
Right Now - The present moment and how that moment affects the questioner and the question at hand.
The Future - Literally, the future, what will come of this concern.
What to Do - This is the appropriate action to take in this regard.
Outside Influences - What is influencing the question from the outside, including obstacles, other persons, etc.
Hopes and Fears - What does one dare to hope and what fears may arise.
Final Outcome - What will come of the this question, how will it turn out.
Here is one of the oldest and most-used of all tarot readings with a lot to recommend it. Laid out in the form of a one-sided cross, here is how to read it.
The significator (you, the question, etc.) is the fourth cards from the left and it is covered by the current state of things, what fills your current state of mind.
The three cards on the far left all refer to the present state of the affairs in question.
The three cards below the center of the cross refer to the past, from the near past (just below the cross center), to a couple of months previous, to the lowest card, some three months previous.
The three cards above the center of the cross are the future, as measured from very near to the far future or final outcome.
And last, the card at the very center of the cross, and the two to its right mark the feelings of others as they influence this question.
User level: Intermediate. If you already know astrology, this gives you an extra, visually-enhanced way of understanding and interpreting it.