What Psychology Revealed About Tarot In Your Life
Tarot cards are a divination tool that originated in Italy around mid-1400s, then traveled to France to be studied by the mystics, then appeared in England in the 1800s as a decision-making tool, and finally they made it into our modern world. How and why they work has different theories and explanations. One that any person should resonate with easily comes from Carl Jung, a famous psychotherapist who opened up a lot of scientific minds to beliefs that also fall under the spiritual realm like the shadow self, alchemy, and the collective consciousness (and most importantly unconscious). He also had his own take on Tarot.
If you are like me and have used the cards long enough, you will see that their predictions can be spot on and never a pure coincidence. Have you ever pulled the same card daily for six months? I have, and more than once. In my experience, while the cards can predict the future, they point to the most likely outcome or timeline based on your current choices. That can always change. The beauty and power in knowing that outcome is that you do have the opportunity to change it.
Because of this, I personally find the cards to be even more useful for telling you, your present more than the future. There are many things going on in our mind that are the driving force behind like events and choices. There are also many things that are hidden or ignored; some we even lie to ourselves about.
This is why Carl Jung’s Tarot understanding is so profound. The cards with their powerful imagery and metaphors take you deep into your subconscious mind and bring what’s hidden to the surface.
“Those are sort of archetypal ideas, of a differentiated nature, which mingle with the ordinary constituents of the flow of the unconscious, and therefore it is applicable for an intuitive method that has the purpose of understanding the flow of life, possibly even predicting future events, at all events lending itself to the reading of the conditions of the present moment” Carl Jung wrote.
Carl Jung’s View of Tarot
Jung viewed the 22 Major Arcana of Tarot (with the 56 Minor Arcana giving additional information) as The Hero’s Journey—a common mythological template for a hero who goes on a journey from its beginning and struggles to transformation and victory to their return. This is the journey that unites all cultures and ages, all tales mythical and historical, all of human dreams and primal emotions.
This is also the journey that you take in your lifetime. Each Tarot card is another step on this journey.
Each of us is a hero or heroine in our lives. We have our struggles and triumphs, our beginnings and completions. Tarot cards can guide each of you through each phase on this journey.
The Hero’s Journey And The Major Arcana
The Hero’s Journey has 17 stages described by famous American Professor of Literature Joseph Campbell, who was inspired by Jung’s work. Other versions may vary a little. The stages can be grouped into three phases: the Departure (where the person is at the beginning of their journey with not much knowledge, skill, or understanding); the Initiation (in which the person is transformed into a more powerful, wise, or strong version of themselves); and the Return.
The Departure phase includes five stages: home, the call to adventure, first help from a mentor (sometimes described as supernatural), crossing the threshold (first transitional period), the belly of the whale (symbolizing death and rebirth, being back in a “womb,” being back in the unknown).
The Initiation phase holds six stages: the road of trials, the meeting with the Goddess (experiencing true love), Woman as temptress (metaphor of temptation that may have the person abandon their mission), atonement with the father (reconciliation with a teacher or higher force), apotheosis (the hero finally gains the status of a hero), and the ultimate boon (achievement of one’s quest).
The Return phase has six stages: refusal of the return, the magic flight (trying to escape to stay in the magic world and not return), rescue from without (being brought back to their real life), the crossing of the return threshold (the hero has to return home with the wisdom they gained), master of two worlds (the hero now has to find a balance between leading spiritual and material lives), and the freedom to live (resurrection).
Here’s how these 17 stages align with the 22 Major Arcana Tarot. Few, like The Lovers card, have a slightly different order of events in Tarot than the Hero’s Journey but all phases happen.
1. Home – The Fool/The Child
The Fool/Child represents new beginnings. The hero is still innocent and lacking knowledge or skill, not really having a clear vision of the future.
2. The Call To Adventures – The Magician And The High Priestess
This is the stage at which the hero hears the call of destiny. It may be it his or her owl soul or an intuitive pull, or it can be a real life invitation to move, change careers, or take on another big life change.
The meaning of The Magician is inspired action, and the High Priestess is your intuition that is guiding you.
3. First Help From A Mentor – The Empress And The Emperor
Your first mentors are vital on this journey. The feminine mentor is represented by the Empress representing creativity. The masculine figure is the Emperor representing structure, focus, and determination.
The first real push to set you off on your journey is done by the Hierophant. He represents one’s belief system, especially spiritual in nature. These are the core principles that will guide your journey.
5. The Belly Of The Whale– The Hermit
The Hermit card symbolizes soul searching. The person goes internally into the inner world with the outer world feeling unknown. It is like being reborn again.
6. The Road Of Trials – The Chariot And Wheel Of Flow
When The Wheel of Fortune turns, big changes are coming. Actually, everything changes. While this card can bring good things, it can also signify big life challenges.
7. The Meeting With The Goddess – The Lovers
The Lovers is the main relationship card and love card in the deck. At this stage you either meet your true love or learn the true meaning of self-love.
8. Woman As Temptress – Death
At this stage of your journey, you may feel an urge to stop, to abandon your mission. Maybe you have found something good along the way and you want to cling to it or you have found difficult challenges and you think of giving up.
The Death card never symbolizes physical death (unless surrounded by other cards and that is rare). Instead it symbolizes the end of something, an end to a life chapter, or death to a part of you that can no longer get you where you need to go.
9. Atonement With The Father – Strength/Passion, Justice, and The Hanged Man
Atonement means taking the right action where previously the person had done wrong. After not quitting the journey in the previous death stage, the hero realizes some of their faults and wants to improve as a person and leader.
The Strength/Passion card gives you the courage and power to do that. The Justice card helps brings the truth to the surface and make everything fair and just.
The Hanged Man symbolizes the need to let go of what was and surrender to life, destiny, and the higher power.
10. Apotheosis – Temperance/Resurrection
At this stage, the hero is recognized for being a hero, and becomes almost divine. To not let this get to his or her ego, the Temperance card provides balances and reminds of the true purpose.
11. The Ultimate Boon –The Devil
The Devil represents the shadow self of an individual, desires, and dark thought patterns. It also represents the biggest battle both internal and external (most often internal). It is the hero’s biggest, most important battle (and their victory)
12. Refusal Of The Return – The Tower
The Tower represents sudden change, a revelation, and an awakening. In the Hero’s journey is comes at a time where the hero is done with the quest and needs to return home but does not want to do so. His or her whole world collapses for a moment.
13. The Magic Flight – The Moon
The Moon card shows the reader that there are subconscious desires and thoughts at play, but most of the time they are based on an illusion. The hero tried to make a magical escape in order to stay in the “magical” world, but he or she must go back to reality, must return home.
14. Rescue From Without – The Star
At this stage the hero feels hope for their real life and going back home. The Star is all about having faith, feeling a sense of purpose, as well as renewal.
15. The Crossing Of The Return Threshold – The Sun
The Sun is a card of victory, success, and positivity. The hero has gone through every challenge, and the sun is shining again for them.
16. Master Of Two Worlds/Resurrection – Judgment/The Aeon
The Judgment card means ascension in the hero’s journey. It is the call for rebirth and completion in order to start again.
17. The Freedom To Live – The World/The Crown
The completion and final freedom is marked by the World/Crown card. This is the end of the hero’s journey, returning home having accomplished the mission.
Where are you on your journey? If you don’t know, the card’s might!