Tarot is the Word

By Jeanne Fiorini

The practice of working with the Tarot is tricky in so many ways: understanding the complexity of the system, learning to recognize the voice of intuition, managing the life-changes that arise as a result of the introspection and self-reflection which Tarot fosters, building a set of personal guidelines, and the stamina required to read for others. To complicate matters, Tarot history, as well as modern Tarot experts, holds fast to differing scenarios about both the origins of the system and the meanings of the component parts. There isn’t much about the Tarot that is written in stone, even when we consider the word itself. 

Somewhere in the early studies of Tarot, I learned that the word was derived from the Sanskrit Ta Ro meaning “royal road.” These early notes also cite that the Egyptian sun god Ra was originally named Ra Ta, meaning, roughly, “heaven” and “earth.” (Looks like Ta Ro spelled backward to me.)

Of course there’s the fabulous anagram that can be found on the Wheel of Fortune card, the sentence created when you spin the four letters on the wheel around in various directions: The wheel of Tarot speaks the law of Hathor. Here it is broken down:

Wheel = Rota, the Sanskrit root for “wheel”

Tarot = Ta Ro, “Royal Road”

Speaks = Orat, Latin root for “speak”, as in “Orator” and yes, “Oracle”

Law = Tora, or Torah, Hebraic divine law

Hathor= Ator, an early Egyptian goddess representing the lunar aspects of creation

Beginning students LOVE IT when we unearth that little gem in Tarot class.

Onward with the possibilities. One could derive a connection between the Age of Taurus the Bull/Torro/Taureau/Tarot (2000 years bce) and origins of the system. Many people ascribe an already-established relationship between the medieval European card game tarocchi and the development of the Tarot as we know it. And then we have the gypsies; the Rosicrucians; The Golden Dawn; and so it goes. As with much that has to do with Tarot, we get to choose the creation story that best suits our ideology and sensibilities.

Sometimes folks who are unfamiliar with Tarot will ask about its proper pronunciation: “Is the emphasis on the first or second syllable and do I need the ‘the’ before the word?” I like to say that as long as you’re not saying anything that rhymes with “carrot” you’re probably OK.

If you become so enthralled with the Tarot that you want to share its wisdom with others, you’ll become a reader and then are faced with the dilemma of what to call yourself. The simplest route here is to go with “Tarot Reader.” But I must admit that even after more than 20 years in the field, that moniker still prompts in my mind the vision of a large and foreboding woman with a tightly-wrapped head and way too much eye makeup. Sorry. 

Many people use the term “Tarotist” to describe the work. To me this sounds too much like terrorist for my taste. Surely there are those who would equate the two and I don’t want to add any fuel to that fire, let alone the fact that terrorizing folks is the opposite of what I hope to achieve through reading Tarot.

The Tarot Professionals network  (http://www.tarotprofessionals.com) has registered a trademark on the word “Tarosophy” to describe those people whose contribution to Tarot is to “ensure it is better considered, integrated, made more accessible, better educated, or re-invented for contemporary society, always raising the level of Tarot towards its spiritual integrity.” 

Wow. Well-said, but not usable as an everyday designation.

For the time being, I’ve settled on the term “Tarot Practitioner.” It sounds professional and covers the myriad ways a person could use the Tarot to work with/speak to/play with/counsel clients. I am really pleased with the fact that the business name TarotWorks came while taking a nap prior to a networking event at which I was going to have to describe my work. Thank goodness I didn’t have to come up with that one on my own.

When typing that business name, however, I often miss a beat and end up with “TartWorks.” (Who knew that those typing classes in the 11th grade would come back to haunt?) TartWorks is either a bakery that provides sweet little pies or a business that furnishes sweet little things for a less-wholesome purpose. And oh Lordy please let my finger not slip from the “T” to the “F” on the line below, since FartWorks is not a company of which I wish to be the president.  

After viewing a few of my YouTube Tarot Tips, a decidedly not-metaphysically-minded college friend of mine commented, “If you were political instead of Tarotitical you’d be on CNN.” That’s a wonderful pun and a real nice compliment … maybe there’s a future as a “Tarotitical Analyst.”

I’ve gone on record as preferring to be known simply by my name with no added jargon and especially without a string of initials after that last “i.” That is unless I’m forced into it, whereupon it becomes Jeanne Fiorini, NFI. (No F*@! initials). Up to this point it hasn’t been important to provide a list of credentials to validate the work. But I sure would like an easy way to describe what it is I do all day.

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