Tarot cards are a common method for psychics, mediums and ordinary people to attempt to divine future events, often by asking specific questions. Divination using cards in this fashion is referred to as cartomancy. The cards, after being infused with a person’s psychic energy, are spread out on a table for interpretation. There are established patterns of cards which give each position a particular meaning but a reader might lay them in any order at all and some just lay cards out one at a time in a pile. The cards themselves can have multiple meanings and so allow for the tailoring of a reading to any situation. The interpretation of the cards can therefore be performed in such a way that the answers received are vague enough to seem to be relevant to anyone yet appear to the recipient to have meaning only to them.

Much like astrology the answers obtained through Tarot rely on the client to make the connection between the pronouncements and events in their own lives. Predicting that the future holds a change of circumstance relating to finance is something everyone can identify with. It seems likely that the idea behind modern tarot has some connection with the concepts of sympathetic magic where the representation of a thing gives power over it. The symbols on tarot cards represent the hopes and fears for the future we all have, and in giving these future events physicality in the form of the tarot cards some of us feel they have power over them, even if that power is only of prediction.

Once again, it is our need for control that allows us to believe in something that has no rational basis, how could paper and paint possibly show anything more than a pretty picture? The psychological requirement for assurance is a very real need and for some this need can only be filled by those who promise a glimpse of forbidden knowledge, for knowledge is power, but false knowledge is power over you.

Resources

http://skepdic.com/tarot.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarot