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Tarot Reflections

June 15, 2005

What Can Tarot Be Used For Besides Fortune Telling?
Teresa Michelsen



Teresa Michelsen is a tarot reader, author, and teacher with more than 25 years of experience reading tarot. She is well-known on tarot e-mail discussion lists, and has published many articles on tarot on the worldwide web. Teresa teaches on-line tarot courses for beginning and intermediate tarot readers, published her first book on Designing Your Own Tarot Spreads in 2003, and published The Complete Tarot Reader in 2005. Her award-winning tarot website,, is a favorite destination of tarot readers who come for her lessons and articles on tarot, her examples of completed tarot readings, and beautifully laid-out pages on tarot cards and readings. Teresa lives near Seattle, Washington, and in addition to her tarot work, has home-based businesses in environmental consulting and mediation.


Tarot has a reputation as a device used for fortune-telling (although historically speaking, this is not entirely the case). This makes some people uncomfortable, who don’t believe the future can or should be predicted. Fortune-telling is also forbidden by some religions, and incompatible with some spiritual approaches to life. However, tarot is a very valuable tool for many things other than fortune-telling.

Questions about the past and present. Fortune-telling implies asking questions and getting answers about events in the future. Instead, you can ask questions as part of a tarot reading that help you understand the past or a current situation, help you develop a plan to achieve a goal, help you gain insight into your own actions or thinking, or figure out ways to improve a relationship.

Bringing positive qualities of the cards into your life. Tarot can be used for meditation or affirmation. For example, choose a card that represents a quality you want to meditate on or increase in your life, or act that way today - maybe it's Strength, Justice, or the Star (which represents acceptance and trust in the universe). Place it where you can see it and think about the image all day. It will trigger that kind of thought and behavior in you.

Symbolic study. Tarot can be used to study archetypal symbols. Archetypes are symbols that all humans have imbedded in our minds from the time we are born - we just instinctively recognize what they mean when we look at them. Tarot is full of these symbols, and by studying them we can learn a lot about the mind and how it works. Tarot also includes symbols based on religion, astrology, alchemy, psychology, numerology, color and other systems that we can learn about when we start using tarot.

Philosophy and spirituality. Tarot can be used to support or develop a philosophy of life and spirituality. The tarot is not just a group of unconnected cards. It represents the journey of the Fool (the spirit) through life and all the things that are learned and understood along with way, all the challenges faced and the ways of overcoming them. Learning the tarot gives you tools to understand the patterns of life and to deal with difficult situations. Tarot can also be integrated into religious and philosophical beliefs and rituals.

Counseling. Tarot can be used for counseling, as a way of drawing out what is going on in one’s mind, especially the deeper layers that may not be easily accessible to our conscious minds. What we see in a card that is rich in archetypal and meaningful content reflects in large part how we are responding to a situation that is on our minds. Counselors can work with clients to draw out these ideas and understand how they reflect inner thoughts and feelings. Tarot cards are especially useful for helping children tell their stories, for fun or in difficult circumstances when they may not be able to tell you directly.

Creativity. Tarot can be used to develop inspiration and plotlines for stories or poems, songs, artwork, and other creative endeavors. Tarot can also be used to brainstorm new ideas when stuck on a work or collaborative project.

Games. And lastly, we can return to tarot’s origins and play it as a game known as tarocchi or tarock, still played in many parts of Europe today. Tarock is a trick-taking game with a permanent trump suit, and is believed to be one of the first uses of tarot cards. Tarot is also believed to have been played as a parlor game where the cards were used to inspire poems or amusing refrains about popular or public figures.

The above article has been reprinted with permission from Teresa’s website.


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