It’s not uncommon that the term tarology seems to stir some to puzzlement. In the case of my work and perspective on the Tarot & its practice, there are a few important distinctions to make between the study & practice of tarology, and tarot reading as it seems to conventionally be understood.
The first thing worth talking about is the Tarot itself.
What’s Special about the Tarot?
The Tarot is made up of 78 cards. They are organized very similarly to playing cards, but include an additional 22 cards called “The Major Arcana” and include an additional “face card” in each suit. This is not intended to be a history lesson on the Tarot, but the earliest known decks are traced back to the Renaissance. The symbols featured within the Tarot, however, have been echoed throughout the entirety of human civilization & artistic expression.
The Lay of the Symbolic Landscape
What makes Tarot a unique tool is it enables us to access discrete symbolic representations of our experience. The Majors present large, nearly omnipresent archetypes that are dominant within the psyche. The majors tend to be forces that initiate some form of change in our experience, like the major plot lines in a story. They are like the different kinds of “roads” that we travel in life, and generally correspond with big lessons that are rich with wisdom.
The minors are organized into four suits and numbered in a manner just like playing cards (Ace-10). Each suit pertains to area that is common to human life—ambitions & willpower; emotions, desires and pleasure; thoughts, perceptions & communications; material life, things of value, and the exchange thereof.
Additionally, there are 16 “court” cards (think face cards in a playing deck). These are complicated because they often represent people (and people are complicated) but the easy way to understand in this short explanation is that they correspond to personality types, the way we are currently acting or approaching a situation. There are four in each suit, and they are ordered from Page, Knight, Queen & King. Their rank indicates their relationship, maturity & use of the energies surrounding their suit (their “kingdom”) and each have their own strengths, weaknesses, advantages & challenges.
Putting it All Together
The Tarot in its completion portrays one way of perceiving the story of humanity, or rather, the story of human consciousness. This may seem to be a tall order, but the reality is that you can take virtually any story that has ever been told, and depict it entirely through the images of a pictorial Tarot deck. (That is, a deck that features scenes on all the cards).
Understanding that the Tarot has this capability is vital to understanding its capability in provoking the kinds of experiences that it is capable of provoking. It is considered by tarologists as a mirror of the narrative that pervades all human consciousness on this earth, its bits and pieces, and is presented in a way that is intrinsically simple to relate to. You can hold any card up to anyone in the world, regardless of language, and they will describe it in a similar way—across languages, across cultures.
In short, Tarot is a symbolic language of human experience.
The Approach of the Tarologist
The main aspect of a tarologist’s approach is one that strikes a balance between rational & irrational. A tarologist’s approach is one of study, practice and experimentation. We treat the Tarot as a way of achieving personal growth. and treats it as a way to experience personal growth. In this sense, we seek wisdom in our experience through the Tarot’s language, and in the context of a session, we employ techniques in which we have grown confident.
While I would say that many of us in the niche of tarology have a deep reverence for the mystery presented within the symbols & process of the Tarot, we also approach it with a sense of healthy skepticism and high-level ethical considerations.
Everything that we think about has symbolic associations attached. Through those symbolic associations, we arrive at emotions, related thoughts, and these networks of associations give rise to our perception of a situation & resulting behavior/action.
Symbols are the abstract bytes of information that makes up the average person’s abstract processing system. They are like a code, and networked together to physical sensations & reactions, essentially result in a program of behavior.
What we are essentially talking about is viewing human consciousness as a form of software that can be adjusted.
Given the make-up of the Tarot (as has been presented above), the Tarologist perceives the language of the Tarot as a suitable method to engage the swirling sea of symbols in the inner human experience.
When the tarologist & client are sitting in a session, before any cards come out, they create a map that aims to symbolically mirror the context of the question and the intended aims of the session. The querent then selects the cards to enter the positions of the map.
Within the session, the most common threads of experience include:
- The tarologist guides the querent into exploring the mapping of these symbols & scenes in their own holistic (inner & outer) experience.
- The tarologist provokes consideration into how life might change if associative links change. (IE, if one’s perception in regards to an ever-present archetype changes, how might their behavior change?)
- The tarologist forecasts a targeted time-frame in the querent’s experience, providing insight on thematic challenges & advice on how to respond to them.
- The tarologist provides several different roads of possibility, and forecasts what they may entail or feel like.
- The tarologist provides ways to practice (alternative) methods of changing perception & behavior (when the client expresses desire to change the experience of their identity &/or expression).
The Distinction between Tarology & Typical Tarot Reading (fortune-telling)
When consulting the Tarot, the aim of the tarologist is to identify something applicable, something that can be worked with to better the situation. We aim to prepare clients; to facilitate their engagement of their opportunities & challenges; to draw attention to potentials; and perhaps most importantly, facilitate the client’s journey of self-knowledge & self-understanding, so they may live a more aware, more empowered life.
Conventional tarot reading (and fortune-telling, to be more specific), by contrast, doesn’t often have this goal. The experience is a simple question/response. This dynamic equates to ”telling and being told. This often does not have a positive impact on the querent’s sense of agency & the roles that they are capable of playing in their own destiny.
The Fact Worth Remembering
When many people consider tarot reading in the conventional guise of fortune-telling, they approach from an angle of removing their own agency to have their circumstances told to them. Entertaining as this might be, it has many subtle implications.
The tarologist’s #1 priority is helping you recognize that you are a conscious being, capable of initiating changes & possibilities in your experience. You have agency, and the tarologist is here to help you use it.
For many of us in this field, we come to know and believe in the process of the Tarot by our own experience.
Being a tarologist is to personally engage in thought-experiments that take a unique, yet nonetheless extraordinary type of tenacity. We recognize that that the Tarot is an agent of change, and the work of a tarologist is to personally accept the changes that it is capable of bringing. This involves peeling back our own layers in ways that can at times be uncomfortable, but ultimately bring about a greater level of authenticity & depth of understanding that makes us living proof of the benefits of engaging the Tarot.
Still have questions?
If you’re authentically curious about what a Tarology session could do for you, please feel free to get in touch and field whatever questions you have.
Thanks for reading!