ATC – What is tarot?

I am currently going through Beth Maidens’ Alternative Tarot Course and I must say that I very much liked the first chapter of it. The course is week-based, parted up in eight chapters that you can do in a week, but you can also take much longer if you want to. The first chapter is all about you as a tarot reader which meant I could think and write a lot and didn’t have to get to my cards too much. I liked that, both because I think it is a good thing to look at what you actually think about those cards, and (mostly, I must admit) because I’m still not very comfortable reading with my cards. It’s scary and it’s difficult.

This is a fairly short exercise that I managed to strech out into a full two-pages in A4 of handwritten rambling about tarot. The exercise is called “What is tarot?” and its aim is to get you thinking about what you actually think about tarot, what you believe it can and can’t do and so on. It is already over a month ago that I did the exercise but I’m not going to do any altering of my answers. This is what I thought at the beginning of the course and that’s all that it is. Perhaps some ideas have already changed, perhaps everything’s pretty much the same. We’ll see.

What is tarot?

I first came across tarot when it was mentioned in a children’s book I read at about age twelve. I didn’t know what it was at the time and I didn’t really think about it until I was about sixteen. By that time I broadly knew what tarot was and I was looking for something spiritual that spoke to me. I liked the mystery of the cards, and the idea that they can tell you things you already know, somewhere.

The reason I want to learn tarot is that I like the mystery of it, that I think it can be a very useful tool in figuring out some personal matters, and that you can sometimes also help others in the same way, that I want to use it for story-telling/writing, that I think it can be fun to take it not so very serious and use it for ‘future-predictions’ (I don’t believe you can predict the future) but most of all, and that kind of sums it all up, because I long for something more.

Learning tarot in three words:
fun, difficult, introspective

Tarot’s main purpose (for me) is to be introspective. I do not believe it can predict the future or tell you something completely new. I think it can only tell you what you already knew or give you a new point of perspective towards the things you already know. Therefore the word introspective: it helps you to look inside yourself to find the answers you seek.
It is a tool. It does not give you anything presented on a plate. If you want to learn, to develop, to grow, you have to do the heavy lifting yourself. Tarot can only light the path for you.

What I don’t believe about tarot I have mostly already said above. I do not believe it can predict the future or anything like that.

I think the most important qualities for a tarot reader are to be honest and inquiring.
You have to be inquiring because you have to be willing to find out what the cards stand for, what the hidden meaning can be. You have to be inquiring to even draw a card in the first place.
You have to be honest because if you are not, there’s nothing the cards can tell you that will make you think about things differently.

In learning tarot, I hope to be able to look deeper inside myself and maybe to help others with problems they face.

I think my main challenges will be to learn the basic meanings of the cards, because my deck is not so full of clues like the RWS or decks like that, and to learn what cards mean in relation to each other.

I will try to overcome these challenges by working hard, using my intelligence and perhaps, although this course is not about that, use/learn keywords for each card, just to point me in the right direction.

I just hope it will be fun and I will gain new insights.



The Alternative Tarot Course, from which this exercise was taken, belongs to Beth Maiden. Please check out this page if you’re interested, or her website with lots of other interesting tarot and general woo-woo stuff.

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