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Volume 91, Issue 35

Friday, October 31, 1997

flesh and bones


Pick a card and choose your destiny

By Tiffany Humphries
Gazette Writer

A darkened room, mystical music, a haggard-looking psychic with a crystal ball before her and the smell of incense in the air – the typical setting one would expect for a psychic reading. Not this psychic though. Orreanna still tries for that ambience yet her way of predicting the future is by using a deck of cards. Not just any cards, but the tarot.

Orreanna says tarot cards are a popular diversion throughout the world – and their use is something which is growing as we approach the turn of the century.

"A lot of people are terrified of the year 2000," Orreanna states. "People will really dig into things such as fundamentalist religions and divination; they need to believe in something." It's certainly one take on the ever-growing trend of New Age interest.

Tarot cards have a long history, however, the cards could be considered the ultimate mystery because no one truly knows their origin. "And that's perfect, isn't it," Orreanna admits. "The cards are full of conflicting ideas and so they cause us to search out their meaning for ourselves."

Conflicting ideas, indeed, are also part of the many theories about the origins of the tarot cards. Scholars believe the cards were derived from Egyptian icongraphy and philosophy, while others contend the cards originated in India with the Gypsies, says Orreanna.

Orreanna also explains another theory of tarot cards which claims they are Jewish in origin; there are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet and 22 cards in the Major Arcana of the tarot, which many people consider to be more than a coincidence, she says. The word tarot itself may very well come from the word 'tarok' which was an old card game played all over central Europe.

Yet another viewpoint is that the symbolism of tarot is far older than the cards themselves and have existed for as long as thinking humans have existed.

But what are tarot cards? Physically, they are a deck of 78 picture cards named and split into three divisions: 22 Major Arcana, 40 Minor Arcana and 16 Court cards. The Minor Arcana and Court cards have four suits, each corresponding to the suits of modern playing cards; tarot cups have become hearts, coins (or pentacles) have become diamonds, wands are now clubs and swords are now spades. The cards are shuffled and chosen by a reader and laid in a spread in which each position has a specific meaning. All of this is done to unlock the secret or 'arcane' meaning of the tarot.

Spiritually, though, tarot cards are a tool for looking at the universe in a different perspective. A different viewpoint can lead to what might have otherwise been invisible and can make people more self-aware.

"If it takes cards to lead a person to [enlightenment], then so be it," Orreanna declares. "I feel strongly about self-awareness. It is effective to find, not a solution, but self-awareness, which leads to solution." In effect then, the cards themselves aren't really necessary, but as Orreanna puts it: "Intricate symbolism, to a thinking person, which leads them to explore further."

London psychic Bob Masschelein admits he has never used or studied tarot cards. "In many situations, like if I talk to a parent about their child, what could cards tell me? They are very limiting," he says.

In the media, tarot cards and anything non-Christian-like, are usually looked upon with mistrust and associated with the notion that somehow one is in collusion with the devil. "I call that ignorance and a total lack of information. It all depends on responsibility," Orreanna shakes her head and continues. "You can use fertilizer to grow plants or you can use that same fertilizer to make a bomb and blow up a city. The important thing should be what you're doing, not what you're doing it with."

At the end of the evening, Orreanna delivered one more soul-searching morsel. "Revelations 3:20 reads, 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him and he with me.' That is how I see the tarot; it is the universal mind's invitation to open up your own mind."

©Graphic by Colin Dunne

To Contact The Features Department: gazfeat@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1997