Movies and television have stereotyped tarot card readers as gypsy women clad in multi-coloured flowy robes, seated in a dimly-lit room foretelling impending doom. Perhaps, this notion has created an intrigue about the practice of tarot reading. To satisfy this curiosity within me and hoping to learn a little something about this esoteric practice, I met tarot reader Sheelaa M Bajaj at her Bengaluru office. 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.
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.
What motivated me to learn other modalities was the desire to be a problem solver rather than just giving guidance as most tarot readers do.