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What Is Tarot? History, Magic, and Practice

Updated: Oct 26, 2023

What's in the cards for you, shooting stars?

tarot spread with crystals

What Is Tarot?

Used in both Eastern and Western traditions of card play, divination, and magic, Tarot decks danced in the hands of travelers on the Silk Road and the royal court of the Italian Renaissance, spanning the centuries and into the modern era. The 78-card deck displays provocative imagery in two arcana - a Latin word translated to “keys to mystery” - one of which expresses archetypes in human life (Major) and the other which symbolizes the day to day happenings of humanity (Minor). No one is quite sure where the imagery of the Major Arcana archetypes comes from, but even the famed psychologist Carl Jung thought the symbols held promise for understanding the human subconscious through understanding archetypes.

Both Major and Minor Arcana are shuffled within the same deck, and no Tarot reader knows which cards they will pull for their waiting querent, or client. However...

By understanding the diversity of meanings each card holds within its painted faces, a good Tarot reader can divine the past, present, or future.

While the veiled history of Tarot is enough to spook even the bravest of folk, there is nothing to be afraid of. Tarot cards are simply a good way to tap into your intuition - your gut feelings - for any situation you’re curious to know more about. The cards will “tell you like it is” depending on the context of the question.

How do they work?

Coming from the realm of divination, or fortune-telling, Tarot picks up on your energy surrounding a certain topic or person and give advice based on the symbolism of the cards pulled.

hidden tarot cards with crystals

Each card has a multitude of meanings depending on:

  1. The context of the question

  2. How the cards are spread upon the table

  3. The individual’s own interpretation of the card combinations

Minor Arcana cards often deal with the energy of the day-to-day, something temporary you are passing through or which is coming to you/from you. For example, the Page of Cups can indicate the arrival of a new, young love interest into your life in a relationship reading, or it can mean some new, young, emotional energy could be injected into your work in a career reading.

Regardless of how the card is interpreted, its fundamental symbols remain the same. The Page is a messenger and often symbolizes a young person in your life, and Cups have to do with emotions and relationships, closely associated with the element of water.

The appearance of Major Arcana cards indicates a deeper, broader influence on you, an overarching theme you should keep in mind as you move forward. For example, when the High Priestess appears in a reading, she indicates a need to trust your intuition in that situation. These cards are particularly useful for meditation or focusing on a specific goal, as their symbolism expands beyond the immediate future.

Many of the Major Arcana archetypes include frightening symbols like Death, The Devil, or The Tower. But these do not foretell disaster!

tarot six card spread with crystals

The true message of these cards symbolizes the energy surrounding you, whether it’s transformation and rebirth (Death), watching your indulgences (The Devil), or riding through change (The Tower). These cards are often paired with others in a reading, whose symbols can help clarify where the energy is coming from and your best course of action.

Why should I use Tarot cards?

Tarot is an ancient tradition found across many different cultures around the world. Whether you believe in the esoteric and spiritual power of Tarot is up to you, but receiving a Tarot reading can lead to new understandings of yourself, your community, and even the world you live in.

Seeing the cards physically represent what you've been feeling can lead to new insights - even inspiration.

Tarot has a tendency to reveal aspects of yourself or your experience you’ve not yet considered, allowing you the space to think, assess, and potentially move in a new direction.

Where do I begin?

If you’re interested in learning more about Tarot cards and their meanings, I suggest the lovely diviners of Biddy Tarot to get your start. They provide descriptions of each card in great detail and easy-to-read language, giving you some insight into how to build your own Tarot practice, as well.

Tarot is a collaborative and compassionate community, and there is no better way to engage with the craft than by sharing the achievements and wisdom of others. Check out this episode of Mentali-Tea, a podcast that discusses mental health issues with empathy and humor; this ep features Katherine Wehler, a studied energy healer, astrologer, and tarot reader, where she discusses how tarot and astrology helped her cope with her health issues.

Anastasia of Kissed By Venus

If you’re looking for convenience and detailed, empathetic readings, send me an email at to get my list of current rates and talk about what type of reading works best for you.

And when you subscribe to my blog, you receive a FREE 1-Card Tarot Reading from me and more insightful spiritual content in your inbox each week!

Most of all, Tarot is a tool for self-discovery and is a great way to connect with the Universe and yourself. Wishing you the best of luck on your Tarot journey!

Good vibes always,


Kissed By Venus


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