I love Tarot. I especially love MY CARDS. It took me a bit of searching to find just the right pack for my beliefs and my sense of the Spirit Energy that guides me in this world. Do your homework, check out the cards, and don't let pretty art fool you into buying a pack of cards that don't actually speak to your practice as well as your pretty. I also suggest not buying used cards. You want your energy alone to rule the readings they give you.
My cards are the Medicine Woman Tarot. Which is getting harder to find, as it was one of the earlier sets of cards-- like 20-30 years ago when they were sort of unusual in America still... According to the Wise Woman who sold them to me. Who was located in a shop I'd never known existed before (even though I go to this little street of shops ALL THE TIME), and whose store seemed to contain one of everything I ever felt affinity with or really wanted my mom to buy for me as a child-- and then wanted for myself as a young adult. It was interesting to see my spirit growth laid out in the dusty corners of a small store like that. A good lesson.
I only got through half the store that day, but the few treasures I purchased there are very special to me. I felt like the Goddess had come down to let me see the trappings-- the important trappings-- of my life to this point, and to help me with my quest for Tarot, for guidance. I can't help believing that the store wouldn't be there if I tried to find it again tomorrow. I was careful not to look back at it when I left, too. It was too magickal, too exactly what I needed on that day at that moment, for me to take its existence for granted.
I've made friends with my cards since then, tracked down the Guide Book that goes with them, and learned a lot from the wisdom they present/represent. My cards are also a bit different in that they don't use the traditional pentacles/wands/swords/cups. I felt these images were from a magick tradition in which I don't take part. And were connected -- in my mind-- with Christianity so strongly that I'd have trouble feeling the hand of the Goddess upon them.
The Medicine Woman Tarot have taken religious names and symbols from all sorts of different spiritual paths-- relying most strongly on the healing images, the nature-connection within each. The goal of the cards is to aid wisdom and self-awareness. To give people the awarenesses and the lessons they need to move forward with their lives in a positive way, becoming their best selves. To this end, the minor arcana are stones, pipes, arrows and bowls. I can attach my mind to that without preconception. It lets me listen to the message as it is, and not through the filters I have developed in relation to any one specific religious or violent imagery.
I have only recently given readings to anyone but myself, and I love doing it. I also find that it is exhausting to give someone else the knowledge from the cards that is meant for them. But it is also very rewarding. Today, I gave a close friend-- a member of my Spirit Family-- a reading from the four elements circle pattern. We spent several hours on it, and she took LOTS of notes-- and I realized that the only way to strengthen my ability to be a channel for others with the cards is to keep doing it. To practice and exercise those "muscles" if you will.
It is the same with meditation, with Tai Chi, with building a Sacred Circle for your ritual, for any practical magick or herbal healing you work to perform for the good of all. And the words of the Tarot are true-- what you give, you get back. When you give, you are not giving to one person, but to the whole world, and when you get it back, it may not be in the same form-- or from the same place-- that it left you. It comes back from far away, from the world at large. It is karma, it is organic connection with all things, and it is a beautiful thought.
This sense of interconnection helps me to give even when I know the person receiving doesn't have the skill to give back to me. (This could be a lack of resources, poverty, inability to communicate clearly, no energy to spare for anything but survival needs, inability to love, or some other illness all together.) I'll get back what I give anyway, from somewhere else. And giving is important. The more you give, the more you get back, and the easier it is to do.
The four elements circle pattern, by the way, follows the drawing of the Sacred Circle, or the location and images of the four Elements. North is the physical earthly world, it is your Earth Life, and it is the time of decay/rejuvenation. It is a reading of the Life You Live on an earthly/physical plain. One card goes there. East is the rising sun, new projects and new beginnings, creativity, sexuality, wisdom carried by the wind. It is your Creative Self. One card goes there. South is your interaction with the world, your projection of self of Your Voice or your efforts and projects and how they are perceived by the world. It brings your voice to light, the fire of your personality is expressed by the card you put here. The West is the setting sun, projects completed, lessons learned, Ending and the waters of rebirth, of rest, of reward, sometimes death, in a symbolic form. It is also your spirit energy and your connection with the higher Soul/Spirit/Energy. Put one card here. Then place one card in the center.
Each of the four Elemental cards is a message-- acknowledgment of efforts and steps already taken, and messages to help you process those things and take the next step-- move toward the best possible self-- in each of these areas. You start, however, with the center card. It represents you (or the person you are reading) as they are at this moment or time in their lives. If the person you are reading does not feel this card is on target-- don't bother reading the rest of the cards, because you are not channeling for them at this time, and the reading would be a waste of energy for you both.
As I shuffle the cards, I often have one that "jumps out" or falls out of the deck. I take these as special messages for the focus of the reading, not connected with anything but a question in their minds, a message they need to hear at this point in their lives. To me, these are Goddess Cards. And I often make a pile of cards to the side of the Element Circle of Goddess Cards-- the ones that come next in the deck after the circle and center have been drawn. Sometimes it is only one card, sometimes (like today) it is four or five. Sometimes I don't pull until I've shuffled again, and sometimes enough Goddess Cards leap out that I don't bother pulling more. Often, the reading of the Circle is just a preliminary focusing of energy and opening of awareness so that the person being read can take in the greater importance of the message carried by the Goddess Cards. Sometimes the message they carry is so accurate that all we can do is laugh. And this feels good, too.
I picked a deck of Tarot cards whose focus is on learning and growing in harmony with life and with the goal of attaining the Best Self-- there are no bad cards in my deck. I know there are bad situations in life, but I think that the cards don't usually need to tell us when we've experienced them. Instead, we need the wisdom to learn, grow, and overcome the bad. To move beyond whatever is unhealthy or is holding us back in our lives-- in our creativity-- in our self-expression-- in our Spirit Journey. And this is what my Tarot cards are intended to do. For all that death is part of life and of the great circle, and ending is required to gain new beginnings, there is no Death Card in my Tarot.
This also makes it unusual.
Find what is right for you.
And Blessings Be.