MANILA -- (UPDATE) Tarot cards have been shrouded by mysticism and curiosity for the dark arts for centuries. But in this day and age if you still think tarot cards are instuments of occult reserved for necromancy, you’re dead wrong.
"Tarot reading can be very fun and exciting and it can also be eye-opening and therapeutic," Loise Veloso, a 25-year old online tarot reader, said.
While many still link tarot readings to the use of black magic to reveal one's destiny, many emerging young practitioners like Veloso, use the cards as a medium to promote mental health.
"Tarot reading teaches you to be self-aware and be more conscious of life. It’s accepting who you are (the good and the bad), embracing yourself, and being your most authentic self... it empowers people to be more conscious and self-aware. It can help people take a new step for them to change their lives for the better," Veloso explained.
ROLE OF PSYCHOLOGY
While skeptics may pass off the ancient deck as fictional as witches and wizards, the truth is modern-day tarot can better be explained through the lens of psychology than through sorcery.
Although each tarot practitioner has his/her own style in doing readings, one of the most popular approaches was influenced by Carl Jung, a renowned psychiatrist and one of the founders of analytical psychology.
According to Jung, achetypes are models of personalities that affect human behavior found in the personal and collective unconscious.
The collective unconscious, defined as the universal experiences, ideologies, and mental structure common to mankind as a whole, Jung claims, explains the similarities in ancient myths, legends, and stories found across cultures through out history.
While Jung did not include tarot in his journals, he compared the deck to the archetypes, in one of his lectures in 1933.
"They are psychological images, symbols with which one plays, as the unconscious seems to play with its contents. They combine in certain ways, and the different combinations correspond to the playful development of events in the history of mankind," Jung said.
The archetypes are manifested in the symbolism of each card, revealing that the power of these cards isn’t anchored on a supernatural source -- but from the images' ability to capture and mirror the innate desires and dilemmas of humans.
"It is exciting to learn tarot because of how relatable the cards are in our lives. The earliest tarot has been around since the 14th century and we, in modern day, still experience the same human conflicts as those in the 14th century. Literally, what everyone goes through," Veloso said, sharing a similar sentiment.
Jung's school of thought on divination is also shared by Veloso and many other like-minded tarot readers.
Jung believed the future can be predicted provided "we know how the present moment evolved from the past," a thought similar to the nature of the most beneficial effects of tarot reading -- self-reflection and self-discovery.
"Tarot is a tool for reflection, guidance, insights, and divination... The best way to use the cards is to get a deeper insight and guidance into the bumps in the roads that we face," Veloso said.
"We don’t have to be a clairvoyant, have our third-eye opened, or be psychic in order to use this tool," she added.
DIVINATION TRANSLATES TO CONTEMPLATION
The millennial manghuhula emphasized that tarot divination does not determine your destiny. Given that Veloso interprets the future based on the inquirer's current energy, mindset, and emotions, she encouraged to think of it instead, as a glimpse of the possibilities.
"People think that the future is set in stone when that is further from the truth. We are here, in the now, in the present moment. Tomorrow hasn’t happened yet... Your life is completely yours to control and that what we think and do now, will affect the next thing that comes your way," she explained.
What tarot readings can do is help Veloso identify the thoughts and emotions of her clients in the present moment, the roadblocks they are facing, how it affects them, and how they can go forward.
"The cards will always shows your inner beliefs and how it affects with what’s happening externally... Tarot reading is as complex as life. Life is an ebb and flow. As cliche as this sounds, what goes up must come down, and what we think we become," she said.
The practitioner reiterated each person has complete ownership of their future and only they can tailor their fate.
While the cards guide the customers in figuring out their desires, priorities, values, and difficulties, it is up to them to make use of the information. In the end, he future will soley be determined by their actions (or inactions).
"Don’t look at tarot as 'these are facts, so live with it' kind of thing but let the messages from the tarot be guides and insights, moving forward in your life," she explained.
Veloso noted that the more aware a person becomes and the better they understand themself, the easier it will be for them to steer their life to the direction they want.
Veloso utilizes the cards to help people better understand themselves by helping them confront the thoughts they stored in their unconscious out of denial or by unlocking those they are simply unaware of.
"[The cards] will show where and how you can still improve. It can be a slap in the face when you don’t want to hear the truth from the cards. It definitely calls you out to look within and to face the reality and it can be empowering in a way that it’s up to you to change your life in the way you want it to be instead," she shared.
Although the young fortune teller, with the help of psychology, clarified the nature of divination provided by the ancient cards, the important question however, still remains -- what is the driving force behind them?
The biggest (and oldest) misconception of the cards is that its power is rooted from evil entities such as the devil. It is afterall, not uncommon for horror movies, folklore, and even religious groups to portray the cards as an instrument for heinous witches, malicious sorcerers, and nefarious demons to push curses and other malevolent motives.
While conservatives might quickly tag the millennial as a wicked witch or a devil-worshipper, Veloso quickly debunked this myth and admitted she asks God to communicate the answers she seeks.
"I start with a prayer of invocation to place me in the light of the Holy Spirit and the divine intelligence or God... Tarot cards are simply a tool for us to tap into the messages that we need to hear from God, angels, or our spirit guides," Veloso said.
The practice of the ancient cards has evolved over the centuries. When the cards first emerged in the 14th century, the deck was designed for a game.
The historic decks weren't taboo until the 18th century, when occult followers utilized the spreads for divination, after giving the imagery painted on the cards a deeper meaning.
However, since the church condemned any activity related to divination, tarot readers were forced to keep their practice a secret -- earning the cards the bad rap that hovers over them to this day.
Centuries have passed and conservative holy groups stilll frown upon the cards. However, it has not stopped the youth from developing an interest in it.
An ever-growing number of young people are turning to the tarot cards for guidance and contemplation. Along with the staple posts of pristine beaches, hipster cafés, dogs, and various memes, you can find tarot cards, crystals, and other divination-related items in an average millennial's social media feed.
SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE
Veloso first became drawn to the art, after she stumbled on a social media account who practiced the craft.
"One time in college, I came across a YouTube channel called 'The Lucky Mermaid.' She’s a clairvoyant and a tarot reader. She does general readings for each horoscope per month. I remember feeling so spooked when she would read my sign because of how much it resonated with me. That was really the first time I was attracted to the power of tarot," Veloso recalled.
Captivated, Veloso soon picked up a deck for herself. And to appease her growing fascination, she began researching about each card online.
"I got a deck for the novelty of it but I remember getting so shocked when the cards I would pull out for myself perfectly described what’s happening to me in the present moment. I knew it was not a coincidence because of the accuracy of it!"
The more Veloso discovered about the craft, the more it sparked her curiosity. Eventually, she started doing readings for herself and then, her sisters.
When she became more confident in the art, Veloso began doing readings online to hone her skills better.
"I started learning more and more! I would be so excited to do readings that I would just give readings to friends and blast out on my social media who would want one, just so I can get more practice," she recalled.
Like how most of us gain new knowledge, Veloso studied about the cards online.
The internet is packed with information on the historical deck. On Instagram alone, you can find over 4 million tarot-related posts from the growing number of spiritual bloggers or healers, oddities merchants, so-called modern day witches, and millennial manghuhulas such as Veloso.
"I would pull a card and check the meaning of the cards. Eventually, I learned how to put the messages together in tarot spreads," Veloso explained
Each deck has 78 unique designs. Whether it is the Empress, the Magician, or the Fool, each card illuminates its own relatable message and story.
"It is important to learn the meaning of each of the cards as a basis of when we start interpreting. So it’s good if you know the major and minor arcana cards, the elements of each of the four suits, the meaning of the numbers, color associations, upright and reversed meaning of the cards," Veloso made clear.
Although she noted that each card has a fixed symbolism, they are merely a guide. Veloso explained that the messages of the cards transform when placed in spreads.
"Depending on the combination of the cards, the messages would come differently... Sometimes, our intuition can even say something totally different about the card because we are drawn to one element of it and not the whole image in the card," Veloso explained.
To decipher the message of a spread, she depends on her intuition and inner wisdom.
KEY TO TAROT CARDS
While each reader has their own unique approach, Veloso believes intuition as the most powerful tool in interpreting the cards.
"Intuition is the act of knowing something instinctively before even articulating or being conscious of the reasoning behind it,” she described.
"I personally believe it is far more important to interpret the cards with intuition when it starts kicking in while reading the card," she added.
Veloso noted that having a deep knowledge of the symbolisms of the cards allows her to tap into her intuition more easily.
"Everybody has it [intuition] but it is better used when we are more educated with the symbolisms and meaning of each card, and if we practice using it often," she explained
For example, the card The Wheel of Fortune generally means karma and the continuation, while The World card signifies mastery and completion. To interpret each for her client, Veloso must listen to her intuition to translate the meaning of the former to the client's external influences (Wheel of Fortune) and the latter card with his or her internal choices (The World).
Since she grew up by the book, Veloso admitted she initially had a difficult time employing her intuition.
Veloso, however, noted that after thoroughly researching on the craft and constant practice, the more natural it became.
"It was hard. I grew up always following the rules, but now, I'm slowly beginning to develop my intuition more. It’s definitely a journey. I definitely, discovered so many things about myself and also discovering my infinite potential in life," she recalled.
“Tarot reading has helped me be way more confident than before because the cards always show that life is a process and it takes work and it takes a lot of practice in order to hone ones craftsmanship,” Veloso added.
The young tarot reader conducts her session through video chats with each session lasting for about 30 minutes to an hour. Each session would start with a past, present, and future reading, before proceeding to a question and answer portion.
Tarot readings are structured as a discussion between the reader and the client. Hence, for a fruitful session, thr pracitioner noted it is important for both parties to keep an open mind and be ready to communicate.
Veloso also encourages her clients to ask specific questions. Questions can range from family affairs, love advise, and career inquries.
"It helps me interpret the cards better if they actually have a specific thing they want to know," Veloso explained.
Every reading, regardless of the outcome, is a learning opportunity. Good or bad, the messages provided by the cards, if used wisely, will help move his or her life toward the direction he or she wants.
Although Veloso solidly promotes this positive mindset, she stressed she is not dismissing the woes of her clients.
"I understand that life has its ups and downs and I don’t invalidate the pains that people go through but rather, choose to empathize with them and show them that in the cards, there are certain blockages in their lives. By empowering them to be more conscious and self-aware, it may help them take a new step for them to change their lives for the better," she encouraged.
While Veloso believes tarot readings are divine messages, she insists, like prayer, action must be taken before they are granted.
There is no magic, no mysticism.
"I do believe in luck, prayers, and crystals and all of those things but I also strongly believe in doing hard work, practice, empathy, and education. For example, we become more lucky when we work hard and when are kind to one another," Veloso reiterated.
Face it, you need not believe in God, in the devil, or any higher being that fuels the card to agree with its essence. In fact, you need not believe in the spread itself, may you be a believer, a skeptic, or a critic -- in the end the only thing that matters is if you believe in yourself.
That's what will decide your destiny.
"Good things will come when we have the right attitude towards situations, hardships," Veloso said.