How I Explain Tarot to Friends

tarot to friends

When friends ask me about Tarot I tell them it’s like a deck of playing cards but so much more. Instead of 52 cards, there are 78 illustrated cards with colorful artwork showing many of life’s major milestones, everyday situations and personalities.


Like playing cards, a tarot deck has some cards that carry more importance, such as the 22 Major Arcana cards (0-21). 


The major mysteries reflect some of life’s major lessons, like love, temptation, loss, change and success. 

Tarot cards are like a road map for life, a visual representation of life’s journey with possible destinations and detours.

Some figures on the tarot cards represent traditional archetypes like hero, mother, father, teacher, etc. An archetype can be a character, action or situation. Archetypes are common in every culture, especially in myths, legends, folk tales, literature and movies. Even comic books have heroes, helpers and bad guys.


The Minor Arcana is another group of cards in the tarot deck, 40 cards showing small but meaningful “mysteries” in daily life. 

Like playing cards, there are four suits, similar to clubs, hearts, spades and diamonds. Each suit has 10 cards, Ace-10. Numbered cards are pip cards.

Tarot’s four suits are based on natural elements. 

  • The Wands Suit (Clubs) is based on fire and falls in the spiritual realm. 
  • The Cups Suit (Hearts) is Water and is in the emotional realm of feelings and relationships. 
  • The Swords Suit (Spades) is Air and falls within the mental realm and matters of the mind, such as intellect, thoughts, beliefs and communication.
  • The Pentacles Suit (Diamonds) is Earth and deals with the physical realm of the body and activities like work and worldly possessions like money and land. 

Each suit has four Court Cards that can represent people and personalities in our lives:

  • Youthful Pages
  • Adventurous Knights
  • Influential Queens
  • Powerful Kings

HISTORY – Some people think tarot cards are ancient because many have Egyptian, Greek, Judaic and early Christian symbols on them, but tarot likely started in Italy in the 1400s as tarocchi, a card game for the wealthy. Before the printing press gained widespread use, most tarot cards were painted by hand. This elite status probably added to tarot’s mystique. 

TOP DECK – The recommended deck for learning and teaching is the Rider-Waite-Coleman deck because it has great illustrations, symbolism plus numerological and astrological associations. 

Once this classic deck from the 1900s is learned, it is easier to understand almost any tarot deck.

Written By Sherri Vasquez

Sherri will be teaching and Intro to Tarot class at Discover Your Spiritual Gifts in March. Find out more here.

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Vialet Rayne of Discover Your Spiritual Gifts created an inclusive and welcoming spiritual center and metaphysical store in historical downtown Littleton, Colorado. Discover Your Spiritual Gifts is a haven for those seeking and teaching spirituality. This sacred sanctuary and loving community exist to heighten our individual and collective consciousness while unearthing and sharing each individual's inner gifts.

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