How Does Tarot Work? And Can it Make Me Happy?

It’s Mystic Monday today for the Guinea Pig Diaries and I’m pleased to welcome paranormal writer and Tarot reader, Kirsten Weiss sharing how and why Tarot can make you happier!  Thank you, Catie Rhodes, for introducing us!  Kirsten did a reading for me last week, and it was very reassuring.  Take it away, Kirsten!


Several years ago, I was at a low point in my life and I went for a tarot reading at a fortune teller’s café. It was just for fun. I’ve been reading tarot cards unprofessionally for over fifteen years now, so I can read for myself. But I wanted to hear what someone who didn’t know me had to say.

The reader told me I’d go on a trip in mid-May and I’d meet someone. Maybe it was because I was watching for it, but I did go on a trip in mid-May. And yes, I did meet someone special.

So does tarot work as a self-fulfilling prophecy? A sort of psychic placebo effect? Or is it something else?

The Hanged Man Card from the 15th Century Visconti Sforza tarot deck. In Renaissance Italy, traitors were hanged upside down so it's also known as the Traitor.

The Hanged Man Card from the 15th Century Visconti Sforza tarot deck. In Renaissance Italy, traitors were hanged upside down so it’s also known as the Traitor.

There are lots of theories about the origins of tarot, but the earliest known tarot decks were born in Renaissance Italy, and used in the game Tarocchi. What makes a tarot deck special is its fifth suit – called the trumps or Major Arcana. These are the cards most of us are familiar with from movies – the Lovers, Death, the Hanged Man. Tarot expert Robert Place speculates these trump cards were modeled on the Italian “triumph” morality parades of that time period.

The other four suits, called the Minor Arcana, are close to what you’d see in a deck of “normal” cards, though the court cards are a bit different. Tarot decks have four court cards per suit: King, Queen, Page or Princess, and Knight.

So how does it work?

Jung wrote about tarot: “[The images] are sort of archetypal ideas, of a differentiated nature, which mingle with the ordinary constituents of the flow of the unconscious, and therefore it is applicable for an intuitive method that has the purpose of understanding the flow of life, possibly even predicting future events, at all events lending itself to the reading of the conditions of the present moment.” So perhaps tarot allows us to tap into our subconscious understanding of what’s happening, to invoke synchronicity into our lives, and predict things at a deeper level?

Some readers treat tarot as a complex Roschach test, asking questions that lead the client to interpret their own cards. This can open up your hidden assumptions and beliefs, and force you to think outside your usual patterns. But is it future telling?

The Hermit from the 15th Century Viscontin Sforza tarot deck.

The Hermit from the 15th Century Viscontin Sforza tarot deck.

We tend to live in the same patterns over and over. Frankly, it’s not hard to guess someone’s future when we so often repeat the past. What if, however, we could use tarot to understand our patterns, and to break them?

And then there are some people (not me) who use the cards as a conduit for their own psychic connection. I even heard of one psychic who reads the cards face down. She intuits their meaning without having to look at them.

No matter how it works, in the hands of a good reader, a tarot reading can give a person clarity, direction, and hope, as that tarot reader did for me so long ago. It takes us outside of our regular thought processes, forces us to look at our lives through a new lens – the lens of a deck of 78 cards.

Frankly, I don’t care if tarot is “magic” or not. There’s something soothing about shuffling the cards, laying them out, puzzling out what they’re “saying.” And they’re simply beautiful.

About the Author:

Kirsten WeissKirsten Weiss runs the Tarot Card of the Day for the @ParaYourNormal twitter feed and is the author of the Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mysteries: the urban fantasy, The Metaphysical Detective, The Alchemical Detective, and The Shamanic Detective.  Book four in the series, The Infernal Detective, will be available May 21st on Amazon.

Kirsten worked overseas for nearly fourteen years, in the fringes of the former USSR and deep in the Afghan war zone.  Her experiences abroad not only gave her glimpses into the darker side of human nature, but also sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives.

Kirsten, thank you so much for sharing your personal connection to Tarot with all of us.  I had no idea how open the cards were for interpretation and like you said, how they can be an insightful tool, like journaling or blogging is for others; it can show us how we’ve grown and what’s possible.  You’re right, that is beautiful!

See more of Kirsten on Twitter and catch her newest book trailer for The Infernal Detective!

14 responses

  1. At festivals and such, I’ve had tarot and palm readings as a lark. In my day-to-day life, I don’t even read my horoscope. However, it’s eerie to think how spot- on the fortune tellers pegged a few things. Even though some of the things they predicted happened, the way they played out had no relation to what I thought they were talking about at the time.

    1. Well where would the fun be if you knew HOW?! 😉

  2. I have always been interested in tarot… I’ve just never had a reading done. I think it’s about time I change that.

    1. I highly recommend Kirsten! My reading was very reassuring and gave me some direction. Let me know if you do, I’d love to chat more with you about it!

  3. I bought a pack of tarot cards once, but I stuck them in a drawer and promptly forgot about them. They’re probably still there, buried beneath a pile of socks. I kind of want to dig them out now and learn how to read them.

    1. I bought a deck in college when I was exploring different religions. We had a shop in town that sold cards, candles, essential oils and crystals. I use to collect some of that stuff. It was cool to see the difference between the reading I did for myself a month ago and the one Kirsten just did for me. I think having an outsider interpret gives you more perspective but then Kirsten also asked me what cards stood out and what meanings I was seeing to.

      Get that deck out. Might be something you and Tara could do together.

  4. […] How Does Tarot Work? And Can it Make Me Happy? ( […]

  5. Yeah, I want my own deck now too. How fascinating.

    1. Give it a try. I got a lot of perspective from it and a good ideas for going forward. To me, it acted like journaling, but with an outside eye everything was clearer.

  6. Once, about twenty years ago I had a reading done and everything she said has come true. I have a deck, but never had the nerve to do a reading since hers was so good, I think I didn’t want to mess with her mojo. Maybe someday…

    1. Well professionals understand the duplicitous meanings of the cards. My deck guide mostly gives a lot of synonyms for meanings and I’m usually too close to the situation to interpret it well. I got much more clarification through Kirsten’s reading.

  7. I like tarot readings. I’m not sure there is anything magic to it, but it helps me organise me thoughts.

    1. I think so too. I didn’t know much about it until I met Kirsten. And after my reading, I felt it was a like like journaling, only faster and easier to understand than my run on sentences. LOL

  8. […] How Does Tarot Work? And Can it Make Me Happy? […]

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