The resurgence of tarot card reading
How tarot has made a resurgence on our tables
Words— Yang Shi
A tarot card a day keeps the shrink away. A maxim that has become an integral part of my morning ritual. In 2019, we still got bills to pay and selfies to take. Overwhelmed by our duties of model citizens and the slippery slope of social anxiety, we operate through life and work in varying degrees of clarity. As a result, we find ourselves drifting in the conundrum of our existence while constantly browsing the Internet for answers. Perhaps it is time to look elsewhere for inspiration— let’s ask the tarot for some celestial guidance.
Last winter, during a trip to New Orleans, I made my entree into the realm of folk magic. My daily obsession consisted of sifting through the endless stash of esoteric trinkets, colourful charms and hidden gems found at their many voodoo shops. The only item I brought back home was a beautiful vintage deck of tarot cards.
Prior to my trip, I had little knowledge of tarot other than the fact it was available in all sorts of alluring variations bursting on every single Instagram feed. Influential luxury houses, notably Gucci and Dior, deeper explored this trend by incorporated elaborate tarot-inspired imagery into their otherworldly collections and campaigns. Rumour claims that Monsieur Christian Dior himself was highly superstitious and had his cards read before each show.
Despite the cyclic recurrence of tarot cards in pop culture, their exact origin remains an enigma. Historians believe they have evolved from traditional playing cards used in Europe in the 15th century, brought over from Islamic societies. It was only in the late 18th century that tarot cards found their divinatory purposes.
But how did such an archaic practice seep into the mainstream and captured the fickle collective imaginary of the 21st century?
The answer is simple: tarot is more psychology than mythology. It resonates with our contemporary desire for introspection by allowing us to reconnect with the spiritual and to disconnect with the digital. An analog app that offers earnest counselling and shed new light on old ideas. In a tarot reading session, the mind is propelled to unspoiled perspectives, cleansed from information overload— its focus and energy redirected inward. Each card can be interpreted in myriad ways, enabling us to adopt a flexible mindset and to reconcile with the ever-changing nature of our world— the notion of the absolute truth might be as elusive as the technological reality which confines our activities. The Death card means the end of a state, but also rebirth. The Fool card, displaying a carefree youth ambling towards the unknown, symbolizes recklessness but also an openness to experience.
Each card reveals a unique story but never fails to convey a universal theme namely, family, God, tradition, nature, loss, and love. Themes that tap into the essence of our human experience, map out our soul and echo our deepest concerns and aspirations. This mechanism is known in psychology as synchronicity— the choice of card helps us communicate with our ego about things we already know. Through this restorative self-discovery journey, we grow more attuned to our needs and inclined to exhume our fears.
In the end, tarot made a resurgence in times of adversity— to live in the real world is not as scary as to live on the Internet— and through introspection, we will gain the insight and the confidence within to step into our precarious future. So next time, when you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, close your phone, take a deep breath, do like Monsieur Dior— draw a tarot card and peer into the landscape of your infinite potential.