Movies and television have stereotyped tarot card readers as gypsy women clad in multi-coloured, flowy robes, seated in a scantily-lit room foretelling impending doom. Perhaps, this notion has created an intrigue about the practice of tarot reading. To satisfy this curiosity within me, hoping to learn a little something about this esoteric practice, I met tarot reader Sheelaa M Bajaj at her office in a suburban Bengaluru locality. Dressed in formal attire sitting in a brightly-lit room, looking nothing like the stereotype, the charming tarot reader shared insights about the practice. Excerpts from the interview:
What is tarot reading?
Tarot is a tool of divination that taps into one’s intuition to provide guidance. Tarot readers use a deck of 78 cards. We read the pictures on these cards and access information from a subconscious level. Some readers also connect to a higher power–you may call it God, the archangels or the universe. The deck of cards is divided into major arcana and minor arcana–which are read together. The major arcana represents all the major events of a person’s life and minor arcana represents nuances, emotions, money, opportunities and people. Each card has a positive or negative interpretation based on the question it is drawn for. These cards are associated with energy that is derived from the reader, rituals and the blessings the cards have been through.
Can you tell us the meaning, and perhaps, the origin of the word tarot?
Some studies suggest tarot was first practised by the gypsies of Europe, while others say it originated in Egypt. These cards were used for recreational purposes in Europe in the later part of the 13th century until the 17th century. In the 18th century, these cards were first used for fortune-telling by the mystics in Europe. The origin, however, of the word tarot is uncertain. It is said that the word originated from Tarocchi (Italian for playing cards) which later became popular as tarot in French.
“A tarot reading can also reveal the innermost thoughts and feelings of a person.”
How do you read these cards?
The most important thing in tarot reading is to capture the reader’s and the subject’s energies so a connection is made with the cards. The cards are shuffled and cut in a certain way. When the person picks up a card in a particular format with a question in mind, their energy is reflected on that card. This allows us to understand their state of mind and problems. The card reveals if their decision would be positive or negative with respect to the situation.
In addition to this, there are two parts to the cards that are picked. Firstly, we invoke the higher power to help us guide the client through the reading. Secondly, there is an energy that connects the higher power to the subject’s consciousness. This helps us tap into the person’s energy and get guidance from above to help him. When a card is picked out, it is not a coincidence. Tarot is like a mirror that reflects your universe or like a key that gives us a glimpse into your world.
In what situations do you advise people to go for a tarot reading?
I suggest tarot reading for people who are stuck at crossroads in life. Every choice they make leads them to a different outcome. Tarot can guide them to take a path that will maximise their happiness and minimise their misery. A tarot reading can also reveal the innermost thoughts and feelings of a person. This helps in making changes or decisions pertaining to career, health and relationships. Many times people disregard guidance from tarot as it might not be what they had in mind or desired. And at other times, people misunderstand tarot to be a tool to peek into the future. Tarot cannot predict your future as you are creating your tomorrows through the choices you make today.
You are a tarot reader and a numerologist. Are there any other modalities you specialise in?
When I started my journey I learnt Reiki. Now I have reached a level where I teach the discipline. Under the guidance of Grandmaster Lillian Too, I studied Feng Shui in Malaysia. The other techniques I practise are crystal therapy, gemology, healing with herbs, past life regression, meditation, angel healing, pranic healing and karma healing. What motivated me to learn other modalities was that I wanted to be a problem solver rather than just giving guidance as most tarot readers do. For instance, if tarot indicates that the blockage is from planets, I can use numerology to do the trick. Through the knowledge of various modalities I seek to help people solve their problems.
Edited by Shayan Belliappa