Ashley Safran has always been interested in the supernatural elements. Tarot cards always intrigued her, so when she saw them being sold in a bookstore, she had to check them out.

“(Tarot cards) just seemed right up my alley, and I’ve actually tried learning how to read the cards on my own,” Safran, a freshman studying creative writing, said. “But I have a variety of books on what the cards mean to help guide me.”

The ancient art of tarot card reading has awed and amazed the public eye for centuries. It is a mystical practice that has changed since its early beginnings, but its history reveals how the practice has evolved into what it is today.

The earliest known tarot decks were not actually designed for mysticism but were meant for playing a game similar to the modern game bridge, according to Collectors Weekly. 

Wealthy families in Italy payed artists to handcraft decks known as “cards of triumph.” Those cards were marked with suits of cups, swords, coins and polo sticks, which were eventually changed to staves or wands, and courts consisting of a king and two males of lower rank.

Tarot cards later incorporated queens, wildcards and the fool to the system, for a complete deck that usually totals 78 cards. 

Today, the 56 suit cards are commonly called the Minor Arcana, while the remaining 22 wildcards are known as the Major Arcana.

There are different layouts for tarot cards: The basic three-card layout tells the past, present and future, and then there are more complicated ones like the celtic cross layout, which is more useful when you might have a specific question in mind to ask, according to ThoughtCo. 

Safran has her own deck that she uses for the purpose of divination, the practice of obtaining knowledge for the future.

Safran’s particular deck of cards comes with a little book that helps her interpret what the cards might mean.  

“It’s very useful when I come across a card I haven’t seen or dealt with very much before,” she said. “To me, tarot cards are similar to an ouija board. The cards decide your fate and answer any type of question you might have.”

A lot of what Safran reads from people is based on inference. It helps if she knows the person she is reading, but she tries to keep the results vague so the person can interpret it however they want.

Taylor Highbloom, a freshman studying journalism, believes in the mysticism of tarot cards.

“I just feel like the practice has a lot to do with the spirits and the signs the psychic gets from you,” she said. “It’s definitely a cool gift to have, but I also know there are posers out there.”

Highbloom believes there are people out there who are truly gifted with the practice of being able to read into someone’s life through tarot cards.

“I don’t actually think what a psychic says about someone’s life has anything to do with cards,” Highbloom said. “I just think some people are capable of spiritually reading into you, and the cards are just there to maybe lead them.”

Grant Guggenbiller, a freshman studying chemical engineering, does not believe in the powers of tarot cards.

“The practice of tarot card reading seems too far-fetched to me,” Guggenbiller said. “I think it’s just a way to trick people into believing some sort of magic that doesn’t exist for monetary purposes.”

Guggenbiller thinks that the practice is so popular because the mystique arts are intriguing to people, and someone who has never seen or heard of tarot cards before would still pay just to check them out.

Though some people do not believe in the art of tarot card reading, it does not stop Safran from wanting to delve deeper into what tarot cards have to offer.

“There’s still a lot I have to learn about the practice of tarot card reading,” Safran said. “But it’s always kind of been my thing to be interested in this type of stuff, so I’m eager to learn more.”


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