Honestly, I don’t know what to say about Tarot because I feel like I’ve heard and said it all throughout the years. As I mentioned before, I hung out with a lot of Wiccans and this was a common tool. Everyone had their own deck and there were various spreads with people having different preferences. It was interesting how every person seemed to have their own flavor here. That makes it even more difficult to go into detail because there’s an individuality that I saw at times.
I think most people have a general idea of how these work too. You have the person think of question or ask it out loud while one of you shuffles the deck. Depending on the details, you choose the cards and place them one by one. This was typically done face down to prevent either party from jumping ahead or making assumptions in the early stages because of what they see coming. I remember this being important in the 3-card Past, Present, and Future one. Interesting thing is that I only remember seeing the 3-card and the very complicated Celtic Cross in college, which felt like the two extremes. Anyway, you go card by card with each one having a certain meaning, which is also dependent on if it’s right side up or upside down. Again, you have some vagueness to the answers to allow for personal deciphering.
So, what can I really say about tarot? I mean, it does get used a lot in fiction and sometimes even correctly. All I can share are some tips that one can consider when working this into a story.
- Study the spreads that you want to use. Each card has a different meaning and goes in a specific order. Most readers won’t realize if you mess up, but you’d be surprised what happens when people see you put research into this. They accuse you of being a witch and try to burn you at the stake . . . or they point out in a review that it’s really good that you didn’t fake the details.
- Not every deck needs to be flashy with intricate paintings on the back. It’s more important that they are easily identified. I met a few Wiccans who preferred simplistic designs because they had less of a visual distraction. Of course, this decision depends entirely on the character.
- Apparently, tarot began as playing cards, which might not have any purpose other than it’s an interesting tidbit.
- The suits don’t always have to be the established ones because there are different combinations. There should always be four and then the Major Arcana, but you can use a variant. Typically, it’s sword, coin, cup, and baton/staves, but there’s no reason a non-Earth story needs to stick with those exact choices.
- Energy is very important with tarot, which is why you never touch a deck without permission from the owner. Most likely, you will only be allowed to touch it when doing a reading too. The reason is because the owner of a deck takes the time to sync with the cards and put their own energy into it. Random touching can contaminate them and requiring a cleansing. I do remember there being some communal decks, but was always told that they weren’t always trustworthy. You might think this is strange, but fortune telling does require clarity of mind and energy.
That’s all I can really think of as far as tarot goes. There’s plenty of sites out there to help you figure out more. Fortune telling in general is a tough addition to a story because you want to give foreshadowing without being obvious. Yet, being too vague can cause all sorts of problems as well. This might be why you don’t see it that often and villains tend to have the seers who warn them of an imposing threat. That one we can all see coming since we follow the hero throughout the story. Still, using this could always cause a small problem in terms of spoilers, so be careful.