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If you’ve been feeling a bit lost recently, you may be attracted to astrology and other spiritual practises. Tarot is an ancient system of fortune telling that has been around for centuries and is still widely used today. Express.co.uk chatted to tarot queen Kerry King to find out everything you need to know about tarot.

What is tarot reading?

If you’re thinking about having your cards read, you probably already know that tarot is a bit like fortune telling.

The system first came about in the late fourteenth century, tarot expert Kerry King explained.

She said: “European artists developed playing cards, for games, which featured four different suits: staves or wands, discs or coins, cups, and swords.

“By the mid-1400s, Italian artists started drawing extra cards, more sumptuously illustrated, to add into the existing deck.

“They were called trump, or triumph, cards. Wealthy, noble families commissioned artists to create their own decks, featuring family members and friends as the triumph cards.

“At this point in time, there were no printing presses, and very few people could afford to hire a painter to craft their own personal decks so, for a few centuries, customised cards were something of a privileged rarity.”

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Tarot was initially intended to be a parlour game in both France and Italy, but in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century it was used as a fortune telling tool.

It wasn’t until the late 1700s that what we know as tarot today began to take form.

Kerry said: “By the eighteenth century, people were beginning to attribute specific meanings to each card, and even offer suggestions as to how they could be laid out for fortune telling purposes.”

The first deck of cards for fortune telling purposes was produced in 1781 by French occultist Jean-Baptiste Alliette.

Kerry added: “By the end of the Victorian era, occultism and spiritualism were booming, and many rich people would throw parties where there’d be a séance, or a fortune teller.

“It was an accepted form of entertainment and titillation for the upper classes, and tarot was a part of this trend.”

Can tarot cards predict the future?

Since the 1700s, then, tarot has been asked to predict the future.

Kerry said that tarot readers who are also psychic can give you an even more accurate prediction than those who aren’t.

She explained: “Some psychics use tarot cards simply as a prompt, as an intuitive visual stimulant to their powerful clairvoyance, rather learning and using all of the card’s pre-determined meanings.

“My own personal experience is that my readings work best in the short to medium term future.”

Tarot readers will have their limitations, but Kerry herself can see things unfolding that are already underway or about six months to a year off.

Some people are skeptical about tarot because, of course, we all have free will.

Doubters will argue that no one can possibly know what you are going to choose to do in a year’s time.

To this, Kerry said: “I don’t think anything is set in stone, so the further out you want your tarot to go, the riskier the validity of those answers becomes.”

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How does tarot work?

Tarot isn’t just about fortune telling though, Kerry is a firm believer that tarot can improve your life through helping you to reflect and gain insight.

She said: “Tarot is a lens to look at your life through, an objective one because the card meanings are pre-determined.

“You simply ask questions (about the past, present or future), draw cards to answer them, and interpret those meanings in relation to your question or situation.

“That’s the magic bit really; creating the interpretation.

“Any system which helps people reflect, consider their options, gain insight, and make informed decisions has got to be positive.

“Tarot isn’t dark, dangerous, evil, supernatural, or occult. It’s a system of wisdom, developed over centuries, that can be used to answer any question.”

How many tarot cards are there?

There are always 78 cards in a tarot deck, with 22 major arcana cards and 56 minor arcana cards.

Kerry explained: “There are 22 major arcana cards in a tarot deck, numbered from 0 – 21.

“The major arcana are the ‘power cards’ of the tarot, representing the soul’s journey towards enlightenment, fulfilment and completion.

“The minor arcana cards are divided into four suits (Wands, Cups, Swords and Coins or Pentacles).

“The minor arcana are concerned with the everyday events, opportunities and challenges of life which are in our own control and influence.

“The major arcana are like ‘power cards’, revealing messages or unseen forces from the Universe).

“As such, the minor arcana cards have more narrow and specific meanings.”

Can a tarot reading be negative?

We’re all terrified that what lies ahead of us is dark and daunting, especially if it is predetermined.

However, what the cards reveal isn’t necessarily set in stone.

Kerry said: “There are some cards which have a negative edge, because they talk of hardships or unexpected setbacks or painful events.

“The truth is, however, in life, that it’s from hardship and failure that we learn most.

“And they are usually the first agents of positive change, they provoke us to be different, to grow, to strengthen, and to live and learn.

“So, nothing in itself is negative, it’s how you handle it. And tarot is very good at advising on how to handle the hard times, and come better and stronger.”

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