Dealing divination: the art of tarot
It is not only the cards themselves that hold the interest of these followers but also the psychology, purported powers and history associated with them.
Three years ago, when dental technician Shin Hyo-jin bought her first deck of tarot cards, she was attracted mainly by the images. She later proceeded to study tarot and joined an online club.
“While trying to find out what each of the cards meant, I looked more closely at the people around me. The cards have helped me to mature as a human being,” she said.
Art therapist Shin Cha-sun started learning tarot to strengthen her abilities as a counselor for adolescents.
“When I take out my tarot deck, the children soon become interested in it. Sometimes I teach them how to interpret the cards, and then the children start to share their own concerns and difficulties with one another,” said Ms. Shin.
“Tarot is used for various purposes: games as well as spiritual and psychological outlets. Fortune-telling is one of them,” tarot master Kim Hui-su explained.
Shu dong-yeol, who runs a tarot cafe “Purple Rain,” said the art of tarot is a sort of mirror reflecting the inner psychology of people. According to him, depending on which card a person picks and how the tarot reader interprets it, one can figure out what a person is thinking. In line with this argument, many followers see tarot more as a way of counseling than of fortune-telling.
For counselor Choi Sung-rae, tarot has helped not only his work but also his relations with family members. “Family conflicts have dwindled after verifying the difference in characteristics of each family member through Tarot readings,” he said.
Han Mi-ok, who has once designed tarot cards, said that reading tarot cannot reveal a situation in full detail, but rather, it gives an opportunity for a person to have an introspective view of themselves.
Lee Sun-hwa, a professor at Shanti Gurukul University’s department of counselling, said that a would-be tarot counselor should “have a strong intuition and various life experiences.” “They do not need to have special, cosmic abilities,” she said.
Yun Ha-young, leader of an online tarot card club, said, “ Some religious people boycott tarot, considering it as heresy. Yet, I think that because tarot is closer to being a hobby, there’s no reason people should feel that way about it.”
She said many members of the club follow religions such as Catholicism, Buddhism and Protestantism.
Tarot cards are also a source for contemporary mass media such as fiction, movies, games and animation. This is mainly due to the fact that the art derives from sources that reflect dogma from a variety of religious sectors, including the occult, alchemy, and Kabbalah.
In the novel “Duma Club” by Spanish writer Atturo Perez-Reverte, tarot cards play an essential role in solving murders.
Steven King also wrote a novel titled “Tarot Card.”
Tarot cards have also appeared in recently released movies “Final Destination” by Jame Wing, “The Red Violin” by Francois Girard, and “Nobody Loves Me” by Doris Dorrie.
Culture critic Kim Bong-suk said, “Japan and the United states have popularized tarot and people commonly can observe tarot in movies such as “Lord of the Rings” and “Harry Potter.” For Japan, the images of tarot are actively absorbed into Japanese animation like “The Vision of the Minor” and “Cardcaptor Sakura.”
Tarot is considered the parent of the “Trading Card Game” or “TCG,” a board game created by mathematician Richard Gafiled. Initially named “Magic, the Gathering,” the game is about a battle between two magicians in a fantasy world.
How the cards relate to individual qualities
Finding your individual character card according to your birthday:
According to Tarot masters, everyone has his or her own “character card, which relates to a person’s date of birth. The cards have both positive and negative aspects.
1. Add up the day, month and year of your birthday.
If you were born on Feb. 17, 1970, first add 2+17+1970=1989. Keep adding until you get a number between 1 and 22. In this case, you will need two further steps. 1+9+8+9=27, then 2+7=9.
If your number is 22, your character number is 0.
0. The Fool
The fool symbolizes new beginnings and optimism but is also the card of naivete and thoughtlessness.
1. The Magician
This card means action and power but also represents trickery, deception and low self-confidence.
2. The High Priestess
Shows intuitiveness and understanding but can also stand for emotional insecurity.
3. The Empress
The empress is a symbol of fertility and birth but also domestic upheaval and emotional blackmail.
4. The Emperor
This card indicates achievement and authority but also weakness and immaturity.
5. The Hierophant
A teacher, the Hierophant gives advice, but this advice may be either good or bad.
6. The Lovers
The pair of lovers represents love and desire but also stands for lust and moral lapse.
7. The Chariot
The chariot symbolizes triumph and movement but also rage and tyranny.
This card represents strength and willpower but also the converse of cowardice and fear.
9. The Hermit
The hermit typifies introspection and solitude but also obstinacy and suspiciousness.
10. Wheel of Fortune
This card symbolizes destiny and movement but also obstacles and bad luck.
This card illustrates justice, both good and bad, truth and prejudice.
12. The Hanged Man
This means transition and flexibility but also materialism and egotism.
Represents endings, change and transformation but also stagnation and loss of opportunity.
Temperance epitomizes harmony and health but also impatience and lack of foresight.
15. The Devil
The devil stands for permanence and commitment but also entrapment and lust.
16. The Tower
Symbolizes re-evaluation and necessary change, but the change may be sudden or lead to downfall.
17. The Star
The star means hope and generosity but also self-doubt and lack of trust.
18. The Moon
Represents imagination and unexpected possibilities but also fear and confusion.
19. The Sun
The sun heralds happiness and greatness but also misjudgement and delays.
Judgement represents rebirth and rejoicing but also guilt and loss.
21. The World
This card stands for fulfillment and completion but also stagnation and lack of will.
by Lee Na-ree
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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