Thursday Thirteen: Secrets of the Tarot.

2swords 2wands 2disks 2cups

(The wild deuces of the Rider Waite traditional deck from

Tarot cards are a little set of symbols that have brought big fun to my life.  Their origin is a bit hazy, and the controversy surrounding them is plain crazy, but they are undoubtedly one of the premiere sources for distilled archetypes of the human condition.  Today I will give you a short introduction in 13 chunks.

1. Tarot uses numbers as symbols.  The twos I used for the opening illustration for example?  Well, what does a two feel like to you?  A relationship?  A difficult decision?  A matched pair?  Every number is charged with a parallel meaning, and every individual can figure it out in a personal way.

2. Swords are thoughts.  We think, therefore we are.  Our mental faculties often get the better of us.  The swords of Tarot focus on the immaterial, cold, calculating processes of the brain.

3. Wands are impulses.  We are willful creatures.  We want.  We have urges.  We enforce our power over others.  We dominate the world around us.  The wands bring our hammer down.

4. Disks are physical.  We are born of the Earth, and we return to the Earth, and in between we play with stuff.  Material blessings and curses are represented by disks.

5. Cups are feelings.  We get swept away by emotion.  The cup is full, the cup is empty, and our heart washes back and forth along with it.

6.  As a basic set of symbols, Tarot can be customized.  One of my favorite decks is the William Blake Tarot, by Ed Buryn.  Ed is the coolest of people, he used to live here in Miami, and he translated the traditional suits like this: Swords = Science.  Wands = Poetry.  Disks = Painting.  Cups = Music.

7.  There are some exquisite decks out there.  We adore the artistic interpretation involved in an original version of the Tarot, and every year there are whole new sets of eye candy to wallow in while we randomize the symbols into timeless truths.

8.  Tarot is copyright free.  I like this one a whole lot.  Whoever invented Tarot did it before the age of greed.  And it turned into the 52 card deck of playing cards we use for Poker and Crazy Eights, which is also copyright free.  Lovely.

9.  Someday I will create my own version.  It may not happen soon, or it may be my next project, but I will complete the exercise.  Maybe a superhero version, maybe modern movies, maybe pure metaphysical symbolism.  When it grabs me and sweeps me away, it will be done.

10.  Tarot creates a new profound poetry every time we spread the cards.  We don’t use it to tell the future or to uncover secrets.  We use it for customized interpretations of our place in the Universe.  It is a set of symbols that combines to speak.  Like everything else in life, you can hear it as a wonderful song or as incohesive noise.

11.  Tarot gives people an excuse to believe in magick.  You fake it until you make it.  And then it is as real as anything else.

12.  Tarot trains the brain to see symbolism in every phenomenon.  I love living like that.  Imagine what it would be like to receive enlightened wisdom from a random rock on the side of the road.  There is deep meaning all around us, since all meaning comes from within.

13.  Tarot gave me something to Thirteen!  The number 13 card of the Major Arcana in Tarot is about fresh starts.  Since it is the last entry on today’s list, I guess I better go figure out what I can start up brand new for the first time.   If it is something I can share with you, I will use it for next week’s Thursday Thirteen.  See you then.


That’s the 14, sometimes called Art.  Create your own translation from one dimension to another, number it to thirteen, post it on Thursday, and link it here:



Filed under Thursday Thirteen.

16 responses to “Thursday Thirteen: Secrets of the Tarot.

  1. What a great list. There are so many different type of decks too, something for about every taste.

    Happy TT

  2. I’ve always been curiously fascinated by the tarot.

    Thanks for the crash course!

    Happy Thursday!

  3. palofmine

    Great list, I enjoyed it very much! Come take a look at the most popular resolutions of the New year!


  4. Outstanding, so informative. I have always been curious but never did get into them before I had the kids and now, well I rarely do things like that for myself…maybe something to ask hubby for.
    Thanks for the very informative and interesting topic this week…mine is seriously lame, but #13 says it all.

  5. marnini

    Tarot cards have always been a guilty pleasure of mine. I haven’t done them in some time. But I always looked at them like a horoscope
    Great list

  6. We used to have a set of tarot cards but it got lost in our move I think. I never got too good at reading them, but they’re really intriguing!

    Have a wonderful new year…when my number 14 comes into play 😉

  7. I am the Queen of Wands. Just am. Everytime I get befuddled, I do a reading.

    “Just be the Queen of Wands” is the answer. I curl my lip at the prospect! lol!

    I do love the tarot. I am amazed at it’s capacity – odd that you picked Temperance. This is a card I don’t understand well. Balance – that’s what I think it means…. shrugging.

    Happy TT!

  8. Fascinating and a nice reminder to fish out my Thoth deck. I’ve been doing cards/oracles since the 90s and have fallen somewhat out of practice. One exercise I enjoyed was to pull a card out of the deck each morning and see how it manifests. If I got the Tower, something would break…usually in a crashing down kind of a way. Etc. 🙂

    I have three TTs this week:

    Review of 2007:

    Motorcycling review of 2007:

    13 RV adventures in 2007:

  9. The Thoth deck is the one I use most, and the daily card is great fun.

    Temperance, Claudia, is about turning one thing into another with patience and skill.

    Glad y’all dig the Tarot as much as we do. It is a very pure artifact of communal human consciousness.

  10. I would love to have my cards read…but I’m afraid of what they’ll say!

    Thanks for sharing what the symbols mean. Interesting.


  11. I forgot to say that one of my favorite decks was always the Hello Kitty. Unfortunately it’s out of print now, and selling for a small fortune on Ebay. 😉

  12. Tarot is such an influence on other media that it’s good to have a basic understanding of it. Happy TT.

  13. Very interesting list. I don’t believe in any supernatural or occult aspect, but I do think tarot cards are very attractive.

  14. Wow — that actually makes it all seem so simple!

  15. Slip, it is that simple. It really helps to learn it from within by interacting with the numbers and suits and pictures first. Then read the interpretations in the books. I have studied at least twenty sets of interpretations, and I still like my own best of all.

    Linda, I was going to mention the Hello Kitty set but ran out of space! That is an amazing phenomenon, selling for thousands on ebay. We could have bought it for twenty bucks, but the art wasn’t very good. Who knew?

  16. Who knew, indeed? I wish I’d bought a deck, just for the cuteness and silliness factor.

    I think what consolidated the tarot for me was a class I took which explained that the ten numbered cards tell a story/a progression: I, we, a solid team, a team that can’t go anywhere (4), a turning point…etc.

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