The Tarot is a deck of illustrated cards divided into suits of minor arcana and individual cards of the major arcana. Each card has a specific quality and meaning. The pack is used to give guidance to a person asking a question about their life. Cards may be chosen individually but most readings consist of a number of cards being chosen and laid down to give the querent a detailed account of their present situation and how best to proceed.
The origins of tarot can be traced back to the mystery schools of Egypt and the teachings of the Jewish Mystical Tradition - the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. Both systems contain information which was communicated and understood through the use of symbols which over the centuries have been passed on in the oral tradition. During the Middle Ages an incomplete collection of symbols was collated and recorded in a deck of cards which is the precursor of the tarot decks of today. These cards were mainly used for fortune telling. Due to the indepth studies of 18th century Frenchman Count de Gabelin and the late 19th century Englishmen Crowley and A.E. Waite,who explored the teachings of the ancient mystical schools, a complete system of divination using these ancient symbols of archetype was created, becoming the tool for self exploration and growth that it is today.
What to Expect
A seeker visiting a tarot reader today will likely receive insight into their present situation, what influences are working in their life at the time and what changes they may be able to make - for instance in their personal attitude to help improve their situation. In terms of the future the reading may indicate how one is likely to be transformed if one allows oneself to move with the energies being shown. Going for a reading one can expect as varied a type of reader as there are tarot decks. Depending on their specific tastes, a reader may incorporate some background music and a sense of ritual and mystique á la Gypsy Lee but others may appear practical, down to earth folk. Either way, they will be looking to help you see your situation more clearly and will ask you to choose some cards from the pack which they will turn and proceed to read for you. Feel free to ask questions and make comments about what stands out in the cards for you as it is about exploring one's own psyche. The messages the symbols have for you are as important as the prescribed meaning. A good tarot reader will encourage you to do this and relate the reading to where you are now, what you may be holding on to from the past, and what you may have to do to achieve your goals.
Training & Colleges
People who become tarot readers are usually drawn to the cards and learn through self study. Although some classes are available there is no strict school or standard set. Personal recommendation is always the best bet.