Why Tarot?

It’s very simple. Tarot helps people. That’s why.

Initially the tarot was for my personal use only. I charted my goals and planned out how I would pursue my ambitions with the aid of tarot. I found that tarot helped me stay on track, stay focused, and achieve exactly what I want to achieve. It also helped console me in times of grief, loss, and confusion. When the words and advice of well-meaning people couldn’t help relieve my pain, I found that the tarot could. For me, tarot has always been about self-empowerment.

Then friends would visit my home from time to time and if I wasn’t careful, my cards or crystals would be lying around and of course they would inquire about them.  I would tell them that I study tarot. They may ask a few questions about what tarot is and I’d answer. Later on in time, for reasons unbeknownst to me, some of those friends would remember me in their times of need. They would ask me if I would read the tarot for them, and I would. That was when I saw firsthand how powerful and therapeutic the tarot could be.

Throughout the ages, the greatest leaders of human history have sought out oracles for counsel, especially in critical times. In a way, tarot can serve as an oracle, but that’s not what it really is. That is just a simplified explanation of how it functions. In truth, tarot is a mirror. It reflects back who you are. It shows you your strengths and your weaknesses. It makes you confront the decisions you have made in the past, your attitude, both good and bad, and how these components have affected your life as you know it. Somehow, just the right archetypes are selected each time to help you understand what you need to do to advance forward. It’s uncanny how tarot does that and I have no concrete explanation for why exactly it works, but it does. It tells you exactly what you need to hear to go on (though rarely does it tell you what you want to hear; such is life).

Tarot is essentially a diagnostics tool for decision-making. I am one of those people who creates checklists, to-do lists, action items, and who is neurotically organized when it comes to charting from any given Point A to my desired Point B. And personally I have found tarot to be an incredible supplement to that neuroses. Hence, I practice tarot.

My Approach to Tarot

People who know me through my identity as a corporate lawyer and who also learn of my tarot practice always ask me how I got into tarot in the first place. Wouldn’t a person who grounds all of her analyses on provable facts and cold logic be turned off by divination frou-frou like tarot? No. Tarot is a psychological tool. It helps us tap into our subconscious. Through symbols and universal archetypes, we borrow the imagery of the tarot cards to help us unlock the parts of our minds that already contain the answers.

Plus, yes, the skeptic in me would have been completely turned off by tarot… if there wasn’t so much unexplainable synchronicity about it… if the game of chance conformed with what we knew about probability, except it doesn’t… if those I’ve read tarot for didn’t consistently go, “whoa, what just happened there… how did you know that…” I’m not asking you to believe me or take my word for it. I’m asking you to try tarot out for yourself. Experience the synchronicities and confirm for yourself everything I’ve said.

A friend of mine put it so well that I’d like to quote her: “Whatever case may be made for or against tarot’s predictive power, it has great explanatory power, if you are open to it. That is, whether or not it ‘corresponds to’ reality is moot if you believe that we create our own reality—or story—to some extent, and a tarot reading gives you a story through which to see the world.”

Tarot Scholarship

The most influential factor for me to contribute my writings on tarot is for the progress of tarot scholarship. Tarot is steeped in history, cultural knowledge, and is a science of the mind. The tarot reader is not a mystic, not a fortuneteller, and not a clairvoyant. The tarot reader could be you or it could be me, but he or she is someone who has taken the time to study tarot, practice tarot, and with that knowledge and experience, is there to help you  relate to the tarot cards and find your own meaning. At his or her most effective state, the tarot reader is a conduit, and at most, the tarot reader is an erudite, someone who has taken the time to learn a field and apply that scholarship to help others solve their problems through an analytical process that involves archetypal imagery.

Educating people about tarot is important to me. The ignorance of it induces fear, discredits the intellectual or even emotional stability of those who consult tarot, and denigrates tarot to a mere superstitious indulgence of old maids and cult followers. That is the opinion most people form before they have taken any time at all to understand what exactly tarot is. Thus educating people so that they may adopt informed judgments is an important mission to me.

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8 thoughts on “Why Tarot?

  1. Argus

    I’m currently disorganised.

    And I’ve always thought of the Tarot as a loose-leaf book. When I did dabble in using it as an oracle I found that I was reading the poor Querents as much as the cards, I gave that away; now I just enjoy it as a kick-start for free flow of ideas.


      1. Argus

        Each card is a page is a chapter is a story. I like to rearrange them to see what story they tell now, it’s interesting and fun.
        Also powerful stuff that needs deeper study and more time than I can spare. I know there’s a deeper meaning behind those facile images, but I lack the key.
        I also have the feeling that when someone can actually read that book the meaning can’t be put into words, it has to be experienced. Ouspensky put his thoughts on the Tarot down in his “New Model of the Universe” way back, they made interesting reading.


  2. Why Tarot? Well, why not? It is, indeed, a book that explains the why and, oftentimes, the how of how I got here. The magic isn’t in the cards. The magic is in me. And in my clients. It is a personal choice to become open to the symbolism within the Tarot and to allow it to inform, or potentially help shape, my life.

    I truly enjoy the versatility of this tool we call Tarot and I feel gratitude for the ways the practice of Tarot has helped me and helped me to help others. While I can do what I do without the aid of cards, (some Tarot practitioners are clairvoyant), I find that these lovely pieces of art have a knack for helping others to relax while inviting them to engage their creativity. All of this adds to more lively and memorable reading experiences.

    Taking the time to learn the fundamentals of Tarot, like learning to draw, can be difference between creating stick-figures and 3D jump-off-the-page people. It takes time to learn. There are many things one must know to create amazing art. It starts with a perspective, a line, some shading, the application of light…some of these may feel like rote practice…even boring. But over time, the artist, like the Tarot practitioner, will find within their supply box, a remarkable set of tools. From “This card means (enter key word of choice)” to “I can see that a profound experience you had in childhood is influencing your decision to do ______ today. Do you see how this figure is _____? This is where you are right now.”

    Benebell, I appreciate the intelligent way that you present Tarot and its’ practice. You state that you have a passion for removing the mystery and fear-based thinking that dominates how many perceive the Tarot and I feel like you do so with some success. Tarot is not some woo-woo, weirdo practice dominated by the imbalanced or neurotic (though it can certainly help those who are). It is a tool for living, open to the use of any reasonable person who seeks it.

    Thanks again for a great blog. 🙂


  3. Pingback: To the New Seeker: Advice for Beginners – benebell wen

  4. Gavriel Meir-Levi

    I just ordered your books! I’m really looking forward to learning more about your approach. Thank you so much for doing this work and please thank your husband for supporting your artistic service – website and all that good stuff. It’s really appreciated!


  5. Pingback: Why Tarot? - by Benebell Wen - The Tarot Guild of Australia

  6. Pingback: You can absolutely teach yourself tarot through independent study.suits. - Professional

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