Tarot reading can be spiritual, supportive or psychological

By Hanh Quach
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 7, 1996

Katherine K. Gardiner
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Debbie, a local tarot card reader, demonstrates how she reads a customer's cards. She uses the cards to see images about the person's future and then interprets them.


This deck of cards doesn't contain the conventional hearts, spades, clubs or diamonds.

Instead, pictures symbolizing strength, love and death have some people believing that tarot cards can tell the future.

Although tarot cards are commonly stereotyped as "fortune-telling," Charlotte Jaffe, a UA fine arts graduate, says most people use them as a "visual oracle."

"The more removed from the fortune-telling stigma, the better (the tarots) are because they are tools for deep psychological profiles of self," Jaffe said.

Tarot card history is vague, but use of the cards in Europe has been documented as early as the mid-1300s.

A variation of the card game called Ludas Cartarum was introduced by a German monk named Johannes in 1377.

But some religious leaders still discourage the use of tarot cards. "We would advise people not to use (tarot cards) because it could encourage them to rely on something false," says Bob Krepps, director of the Campus Crusade for Christ.

In the Catholic faith, Father Fred Lucci of the Catholic Newman Center says belief in tarot cards diminishes peopleÍs belief in God. Believing in the cards would "put faith in something other than God, and that shows doubt," he said.

However, the Arizona Student Pagans support the use of the cards, says former president Raya Fand, who added that the group also holds tarot workshops.

She says several beliefs surround the groupÍs use of the cards. Some believe in a supernatural interference that can shape destinies and determine which cards are drawn, Fand says.

Others read the cards like a Rorschach, or ink-blot, test, "eliciting and clarifying things from the subconscious," she says. "Many people use them for more psychological reasons, as personal tools for growth, or as a mirror for the present or even a divination," Jaffe says.

Tarot reading is based on the idea that there are universal archetypes present in every person, which are stored as energy. The 78-card deck is divided into two sections, Major and Minor Arcana.

The Major Arcana contains 22 cards, each representing one archetype or energy. Symbols such as the High Priestess, Death, Magician, Devil and Empress are part of the Major Arcana.

When a card is drawn, that energy is more present on the surface of the person, Jaffe says.

Although some cards, such as Death and Devil, may have sinister connotations, she says the negative images associated with these symbols do not apply in the tarot.

"No card is bad," Jaffe says, and adds that each card carries a meaning to reflect a part of life that people need to acknowledge. For example, death means change. This change can be in diet, job or relationships.

"You can learn to interpret them easily, but it depends on how open-minded you are," says Debbie, a local card reader who goes by her first name only. "I can look at the cards and little things will jump out at me," she says. Debbie has practiced her craft for 10 years.

The Lighthouse Book Store, 909 E. University Blvd., has more than 35 different decks of Tarot cards. Most decks contain the standard Major and Minor Arcana, but the artistic illuminations on the cards differ.

Jaffe compared the selection of cards to the selection of art. "You choose a deck that appeals to you that can help you reach a different state of mind and allow you to be open to your intuition and open to messages," she said.

But Jaffe warns that a person must not become too dependent on the cards.

"By overusing the cards and not respecting the strong energies within them, then you'll receive jumbled answers," she says.

Debbie suggests that the reason clients come to see her once every two to three months is because some of what she predicts happens. She says the events must have time to occur before the next reading. Debbie charges $25 per reading, but some local psychics charge as much as $60. "People come in for a purpose. They need to know something," says Debbie, who sees roughly three people a week.

"There definitely is a purpose for a reading. People need to be helped and guided."

According to Jaffe, "With the New Age movement, people have noticed that theyÍre lacking something in their lives and they want to get more into themselves."