In celebration of last week’s National Psychic Week, we decided to get in touch with our spiritual side and learn the ancient art of tarot card reading. After all, aren’t we all a little psychic if we just put our cleared minds to it?
First step: We needed a deck. The one our writer bought is called the “Rider-Waite Deck.” It’s the standard tarot card set, published in 1910 by members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, an occult club with a really cool name. We got the miniature kind because it was cheaper and also because it was much, much cuter.
The little booklet that comes with the deck has instructions, but the language is a little too mystic, so we turned to Google for answers. Sure enough, on a website called mindbodygreen, we found a woman who is far more straightforward.
As per the instructions, our writer divided the tarot cards into major and minor arcana. The major arcana are the ones with the words on them — the Magician, Justice, the Hanged Man, stuff like that — and the minor arcana are the numbered cards divided into four suits: cups, wands, pentacles and swords.
We were told to place our cards on a sacred altar. We don’t have a sacred altar, so our writer put them on her rug, which is incredibly comfortable. The online psychic said she likes to put a crystal by her cards to “neutralize the energy,” so we put a cool dragon that our writer bought in Chinatown on top of ours.
Now our writer was ready to do a reading using the basic three-card spread.
The major arcana card is the “archetype” — the overarching theme of the psychic reading. The three minor arcana cards represent the physical, mental and spiritual realms, respectively, or the past, present and future. Apparently, it depends on how you’re feeling, and you should just go with what feels spiritually right for you.
We asked our writer’s housemate — who had wandered into the room looking for leftover cheesy sticks — if she would sit down for a quick reading. She said, “How quick?” and then agreed. We put on some ambient techno-spa music and began.
The top one — the major arcana — was Judgment. According to biddytarot.com, which is a way easier resource than the previously mentioned tarot card booklet, judgment can mean “judgement, rebirth, inner calling, absolution.”
Our writer told her housemate that she was feeling judgmental about something — perhaps to do with her club? She got slightly offended, so then we said that maybe it is her “inner calling” and that she is ultimately right about something. She seemed unconvinced but less upset.
The next card was the Seven of Cups, which refers to “fantasy, illusion, wishful thinking, choices, imagination.” We had absolutely no clue what to say about fantasy in relation to the “physical realm.” Our writer told her housemate that a wish she had was going to come true soon.
The second card was the Nine of Pentacles. This one is “gratitude, luxury, self-sufficiency, culmination,” and it’s supposed to correspond to her mental realm. Our writer told her housemate that she is self-sufficient — which is not interpretation but, honestly, we were at a total loss. Then our writer added some stuff about how she could do it and that she was feeling grateful. To this, our writer’s roommate said, “Yeah, I’m feeling really happy! Everything’s good.”
We did it! Maybe. She’s always pretty happy.
The third and final card is the Seven of Pentacles, the “spiritual realm.” The Seven of Pentacles represents “vision, perseverance, profit, reward, investment.” Our writers informed her housemate that with perseverance, she would know herself, and that the resulting spiritual peace would be very rewarding.
After our writer’s experience, we think it’s best to leave this to the real psychics. Turns out, we seriously lack mystique, and there’s probably more to tarot card reading than making up sentences with whatever words are on the cards like we did for fifth-grade homework. We weren’t quite able to channel good vibrations into a deep understanding of our writer’s friend, but we did gain a newfound respect for paid psychics. Whether they really predict the future and commune with the spirit world or just memorize 78 tarot card meanings and develop a knack for mysterious but convincing oratory, it’s all seriously impressive.
Contact Miya Singer at [email protected].