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.”