What is Tarot?

The ways in which this question has been answered takes somewhat for granted that we are referring to a deck of 78 cards, of which 22 are images, and 56 reflect, with the addition of Knights, our ‘standard’ pack of fifty-two playing cards. I am reminded of reading an ethnographic study, in which the native, responding to a question as to the origin of new-borns, indicated the Dreaming or the Stars: the study concluded that the native was ignorant of the relation between sex and pregnancy. Rather, some knowledge, in context, is taken as given, and a student new to a subject may at times want far more straightforward answers to a question which has material, psychological, historical, social and spiritual ways in which responses are possible. Below are some of the many possible answers… reflecting on these, with a deck by one’s side, may certainly deepen our own understanding.

I would like to extand a special thankyou to the many at Aeclectic who have provided the various responses here included and intersperced with extracted quotes from various books – these latter of course taken totally out of their peculiar contexts, and may therefore not reflect respective authors’ central views.

The Tarot is of intense interest to the occult student because it contains an outline of Initiation; and as some form of Initiation has formed the heart of every world religion, the truths contained in the Tarot symbolism are universal and belong to no one race, creed or culture, but constitute a textbook for every serious aspirant on the Path of Light.

~Corinne Heline in The Bible & the Tarot, pp129-130.

Tarot is art. Tarot is a focus on what it is to be human. Tarot is a guide through our conscious allowing us to view the options and chose better paths. Tarot is an ancient gift from our ancestors, and even though we modernize it or view it in different fashions, the basic truth of the human reality is there to be learned from.

~mercenary30 on Aeclectic

Tarot is the instrument of our wisdom.
Tarot is a navigation tool for the soul.
… and my favorite,
Tarot is 78 images that are gateways to the imageless.

~Rachel Pollack, Conference Presenter