The Tarot is primarily used as a tool for self-divination and one through which practitioners can expand their intuitive abilities. It requires an ability to tap into the subconscious, as well as being able to intuit the meanings behind the cards.
However, the Tarot has given rise to off-shoots of its more traditional structure, and the Angel Tarot is one of these. But those who practice reading with Angel Tarot cards use them differently. For them, the deck is a means through which they can communicate with their guardian angel. Is this actually possible, or are those who use the Tarot beyond the confines of its original purpose just fooling themselves?
In order to answer that question, we need first to take a look at the Tarot and how it works.
How the Tarot works
A Tarot deck holds 78 cards, split into two groups: the Major and Minor Arcana. The Major Arcanum focuses on the grand themes at play in all our lives, while the cards of the Minor Arcanum concentrate those themes, making them pertinent to our everyday lives. As with ordinary playing cards, the Tarot’s cards are also divided up into four suites:
Each of these suites has its own associations with particular elements, symbols and even parts of the body. They are used to help a reader divine the meaning behind each card.
The Fool’s Journey
When we talk about this ‘meaning’, it’s not something that the reader just plucks from thin air and the way that meaning is divined is part of what makes the Tarot so unique. In its entirety, the Tarot deck tells a story known as The Fool’s Journey. The story is analogous, starting with the beginning of the journey as related by the first card and detailing its end, as related by the final card. Each of the 78 cards involved relates to a particular lesson or challenge that the Fool must overcome on his journey towards spiritual enlightenment.
The reader uses his intuitive abilities to make the story behind the cards drawn in a reading specific to the querent. In addition to using his knowledge of the stories behind each card, the symbolism in the artwork and his knowledge of the suites, he also uses his psychic abilities to see just what the querent’s subconscious is hoping to highlight in the reading. It this that is the key to Tarot; it’s an intimate exchange between the reader and the querent, relying on the reader’s ability to forge a strong psychic bond between the two of them. However, there is no suggestion that there are any other forces involved, supernatural or otherwise.
When it comes to Angel Tarot cards, things are a little bit different.
The Angel Tarot
Although the Angel cards are an off-shoot of the Tarot itself, they have evolved to a point where there are a number of fundamental differences between them and their originator. The most obviously noticeable difference is to be found in the artwork. Where the artwork of the traditional Tarot tends to depict arcane, obscure and slightly dream-like artwork, the cards of the Angel Tarot all follow a particular theme: angels.
The artwork in an Angel Tarot deck is likely to be much more accessible and uplifting. Certain cards will be missing from Angel Tarot; you won’t find the ‘feared’ cards, such as The Devil or The Tower. Instead, you’ll come across The Ego and Life Experience.
The cards of the Major Arcanum are still present but not as you’d expect to find them. In the traditional Tarot, the cards of the Major Arcanum tend to represent characters, such as The Empress or The Lovers. In Angel Tarot, these cards are represented by angels and archangels, lending a more religious or spiritual aspect to the pictures.
The four suits, too, are still present, but represented in different ways:
• The Unicorns
• The Dragons
• The Fairies
• The Water
Where is The Fool’s Journey?
As with its traditional counterpart, the suites of the Angel Tarot have an effect with the cards they are drawn with. However, there is some question as to whether the story of The Fool’s Journey is retold, but in a different guise. The naysayers argue that the story cannot be retold because Angel Tarot decks do not always have 78 cards; some hold only have around 65, while others have many more. In addition, there appears to be no central character – The Fool – for the querent to identify with; each card depicts an angel and bears a message of some sort from that being.
However, there are those who argue that the essence of the tale remains unchanged; we begin with ‘lesser’ angels and work our way through the pack to higher angels, such as Archangel Gabriel. The argument here is that the onus is on spiritual progression and evolution, from something naïve to something wise.
While it might look like that the two decks are, essentially, the same thing dressed up in different ways, the most pronounced difference comes in how you use the cards. For those who use the traditional Tarot, the purpose is to communicate with the higher self – the subconscious – in order to uncover how you feel about a certain issue on a more spiritual level.
Beyond the Sensory Spectrum
However, those who use the Angel Tarot tend to approach readings in a different way. For them, the belief is that there is a higher force involved – in the form of guardian angel. The querent asks his guardian angel to reveal to him the best route for him to take in a particular situation and the angel then guides him to draw certain cards.
The reader uses his spiritual abilities and knowledge of the angels represented to explain how the cards chosen are relevant. However, these cards are more widely used without a reader; querents use their guardian angels as the intermediary between the cards, their questions and higher knowledge.
Whether or not you use the Tarot intuitively or under the guidance of a higher being, the quest aspect of the cards are the same: we use them to communicate with forces beyond our usual sensory spectrum to facilitate our spiritual improvement.