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Parapsychology and Magic / Fortune-telling / Divinition (fortune telling) / History of Fortune Telling / 

History of Fortune Telling

The Genesis of Fortune Telling and the Tarot Story

From the village shaman to the Wall Street analyst, human beings have always searched for a glimpse of the future. Any good country fair has its fortune-teller, modeled on the image of a mysterious gypsy woman swathed in colorful scarves and dripping with earrings. In the candlelit tent, shadows flicker and her bracelets softly jingle as she shuffles the cards. "Concentrate," she whispers, as you stare at the colorful pictures, the Empress, the Knight of Cups, the Lovers, the Ace of Swords. What do they mean? Can they really predict the future?

Fortune Telling: A historical glimpse...

There are hundreds of techniques for divination (fortune telling), many dating back to before recorded history. Evidence indicates that forms of fortune-telling were practiced in ancient China, Egypt, Chaldea, and Babylonia as long ago as 4000 BC. Prophetic dreams and oracular utterances played an important part in ancient religion and medicine.

Every human culture has developed its own forms of soothsaying. The oracles of ancient Greece predicted the birth of heroes and triumph on the battlefield. Medieval kings had their court astrologers and wizards, who were consulted about political matters and marriage choices.

Predictive methods of fortune-telling include astrology (interpretation of the movements of heavenly bodies as influences on earthly events), numerology, and the utilization of objects such as playing cards, tea leaves, crystal balls, dice, fire, water, and scattered salt. Fortune-telling as a process of character analysis can take such forms as graphology (study of handwriting), physiognomy (study of facial characteristics), phrenology (study of contours on the skull) ,and palmistry (study of lines on the palm of the hand).

The Tarot Card magic....

Claims have been made for tarot cards' having originated in China, India, or Egypt, but their true origin remains obscure. Tarot cards approximating their present form first appeared in Italy and France in the late 14th century.

At first the tarot was probably used for playing games, though Gypsies may have used it for fortune-telling. From the 18th century, the cards began to take on esoteric associations, as certain European writers connected them to diverse traditions of mysticism, divination, alchemy, and ritual magic. Later in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the cards were discovered by a number of influential scholars of the occult. These gentleman were fascinated by the tarot and recognized that the images on the cards were more powerful than a simple game would suggest. They revealed (or created!) the "true" history of the tarot by connecting the cards to Egyptian mysteries, Hermetic philosophy, the Kabbalah, alchemy, and other mystical systems. These pursuits continued into the early part of the twentieth century when the tarot was incorporated into the practices of several secret societies, including the Order of the Golden Dawn. The cards have retained these associations and are now widely used for fortune-telling.

The tarot is most commonly viewed as a tool for divination. A traditional tarot reading involves a seeker - someone who is looking for answers to personal questions - and a reader - someone who knows how to interpret the cards.After the seeker has shuffled and cut the deck, the reader lays out the chosen cards in a pattern called a spread. Each position in the spread has a meaning, and each card has a meaning as well . The reader combines these two meanings to shed light on the seeker's question.

Early tarot decks were of several types, each varying in the number of cards. The standard modern tarot deck is based on the Venetian or Piedmontese tarot. It consists of 78 cards divided into two groups: the Major Arcana, which has 22 cards (also known as trumps), and the Minor Arcana, which has 56 cards. The cards of the Major Arcana have pictures representing various forces, characters, virtues, and vices. The 22 cards are numbered from I through XXI, with the Fool being unnumbered.

The 56 cards of the Minor Arcana are divided into four suits of 14 cards each. The suits, which are comparable to those of modern playing cards, are as follows: wands, batons, or rods (clubs); cups(hearts); swords (spades); and coins, pentacles, or disks (diamonds). Each suit has four court cards (usually named king, queen, knight, and page) and 10 numbered cards. In ascending order, the value progression in each suit is ace to 10, then page (knave, or jack), knight, queen, and king (though the ace is sometimes assigned a high value as in modern playing cards). The standard deck of modern playing cards was historically derived from that of the Minor Arcana (with the elimination of the knight).

For fortune-telling, each tarot card is ascribed a meaning. The cards of the Major Arcana refer to spiritual matters and important trends in the questioner's life. In the Minor Arcana, wands deal mainly with business matters and career ambitions, cups with love, swords with conflict, and coins with money and material comfort. The tarot deck is shuffled by the questioner, and then the fortune-teller lays out a few of the cards (either selected at random by the questioner or dealt off the top of the shuffled deck) in a special pattern called a "spread." The meaning of any card is modified according to whether or not it is upside down, its position in the spread, and the meaning of adjacent cards.

For example, the first card in the deck is the Fool. Usually portrayed as a young man in jester's garb, carrying a backpack, the Fool represents the spirit of adventure that propels each person on the journey through life. At its best, this spirit makes us creative, independent, and adaptable. At its worst, it leads to impatient, impulsive or rebellious behavior. The card's underlying message is the importance of developing a balance between intellect and emotion, and of pursuing goals that include spiritual growth.

Some of the other popular decks are:

The Rider-Waite Tarot is the classic Tarot deck and is good for all manner of divinations. It is especially suited to questions of the unknown or of a mystical nature, and to issues of the world at large.

The Renaissance Tarot, by Brian Williams, is a more modern creation with symbolism drawn from the heroic age. This deck is an excellent choice when exploring questions of passion, mastery, and the inner workings of human reason.

A person who embodies richness and fertility, generous, opulent, gracious and noble. A cornucopia of delights. A rock of security. A brilliant crystal of insight. A rich field for new growth.

The New Palladini deck, created by David Palladini, was a project that was 25 years in the making. Palladini created the deck to "bridge the ancient and the future" using elements of Medieval, Egyptian and modern art with the intention to create a tool for introspection or "a mirror for one's own development".

As one progresses into a tarot reader it is important to note, that the cards in the tarot are not good or bad in themselves. They only describe certain energies or influences. It is up to you to use this information to make conscious choices about your life. For example, the 'Tower' card may imply a shattering breakup or downfall of some kind, you do not have to view this negatively. Sometimes an explosion of feeling or dramatic shakeup provides welcome relief, clearing the air and freeing up new energy.

It is your concentrated clarity about a situation that gives you the power to mold events along the lines of your choosing. This clarity comes from the wisdom of your Inner Guide paired with the fearless confidence you have in yourself. A reading does not deliver news to you as a passive victim, but as a powerful agent who can use that information creatively. It gives you a picture of the energy patterns in and around you so that you can work with them as you see fit. Always remember that the outcome pictured in a reading is the one projected for now from all the influences of the present moment. If you can identify those forces, you can alter or encourage them as you wish. The future is never fixed. The outcome of your story is not a certainty, but a possibility. You can always embrace or change a direction provided you have the desire and courage to take the necessary steps. At the deepest level, you know what your situation is all about. Your tarot story simply lets you recognize what you already know so you can act consciously.

Perhaps you are concerned that you aren't objective enough when reading the cards. You suspect that you only see in a reading what you want to see, and not the truth. In fact, that is exactly the point! The tarot helps you find out what it is you do believe, so you can acknowledge it. Your unconscious becomes conscious. You can't interpret falsely, but you can fail to perceive all that is there. The tarot is a mirror that reflects your own consciousness back to you. As you learn, that mirror becomes clearer, and you perceive at ever deeper levels.

A tarot practice is based on the understanding that wisdom from some Source will come to you through the cards. At first, you may have to accept this on faith, but after awhile you will receive the "proof" you need in the results you experience in your life. If you can approach the cards with trust, your tarot practice will take off.

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