Tarot in the 21st Century by James Wells

Several hundred, even fifty years ago, most people did not move around, did not wonder what would make them happy, did not pursue that which was not in accordance with what others - family, religion, state - had laid out for them. As a result, Tarot readings for those people was about what lay ahead, how their "predestined" path would unfold for them, if they would be happy or miserable. The information was not questioned. Such prognostications usually came to pass. After all, life didn't change much, and in their eyes, it was their fate. Some people still live like that. But, at least in Western culture, no longer as often.

In the 1960's, many people began to experiment and rebel. They discovered that human beings possess the power of choice and free will, that we are architects of our reality. Books about Tarot became available to the masses. In the 21st century, we are, on the whole, a changeable people. Life is not carved so deeply in stone, not so predictable. We have myriad futures open to us. The Tarot (and other divination modalities) has become a powerful mirror of our true essence, a strategizing tool which can shed light on possibilities, reveal which paths will most likely hinder our growth, and point to paths will most likely allow us to blossom into our full expression. Many creators are now birthing Tarot decks which reflect humanity's rich diversity of culture, philosophy, and artistry. Tarot is no longer just a minion of fortune-telling parlours, but rather is a partner in "fortune-creation"! It is a respected psychological tool, a focus for meditation, and an instrument of healing. We are presented with options which allow us to choose (or not) more cleanly, to create vibrant lives, and to know ourselves.

Two examples will illustrate what a powerful and practical role the Tarot can play in 21st century life.

Scene 1: In her meditation room, Lena shuts off the phone and lights a stick of refreshing incense. Removing her Voyager Tarot deck from its box, she mindfully shuffles the smooth pasteboards. The woman takes three deep breaths and declares, "The universe, working in me, through me, with me, and around me, gifts me with self-knowledge through these beautiful cards." Lena chooses a card and turns it over to reveal the Hermit. Propping this card before her, the woman looks deeply into the picture, takes in its details, breathes in its essence. She gently lowers her eyelids and reproduces the card in her mind's eye, enters the scene, becomes the image. Inwardly, Lena asks, "What do I most need to know about my life right now?" Our seeker notices the Mayan mask, the healing hands, and the harvested wheat stalks. She becomes conscious of the snakes and the Egyptian hieroglyphics. After a long silence, an awareness courses through the woman - there is a deep well of ancient wisdom within her and within all human beings. This wisdom can help her to grow and to heal the rifts between her and her older sister, because she now realizes that there can be no rift - they are connected by the same lessons. Lena now knows that if she trusts her inner wisdom, she will say and do the most appropriate things in this matter. Our seeker thanks her inner knowing as revealed through the Tarot, opens her eyes, takes a deep breath, and smiles. She is refreshed and hopeful.

Scene Two: An hour before meeting his new financial backers, Jeff decides to consult his 1JJ Swiss Tarot deck. He likes the cards' simplicity, prefers to combine numbers, suits, and concepts than to meditate on pictures. Before he draws any cards, Jeff creates a three-card spread, a "gameplan" for the reading, composed of open-ended questions. Question One is, "What is the best thing I can do or say during our meeting?" The card he draws in response is the Emperor - be powerful and authoritative, take charge of the meeting. Question Two is "What is the worst thing I can do or say during our meeting?" The answer to this is the Page of Coins - proposing risky financial plans, leaping into a business agreement without thinking, asking for sums of cash above and beyond what he truly needs. His final question, "Based upon implementing the above strategies, what is the most likely outcome of our meeting?" is answered with the Four of Coins - all parties demonstrate security, manifestation of money, the financial backing he seeks comes to fruition. Jeff returns his cards to the desk drawer, empowered to carry out his business meeting in the most appropriate manner possible.

There are many ways to employ the Tarot. Whichever way you choose, may your journey be rich and alive!


James Wells is a Toronto-based Tarot Consultant, Reiki Master, weaver of rituals, and workshop facilitator. His mission is to create sacred space for soul work and constructive feedback. James is a member of the International Tarot Society and the Daughters of Divination. Contact him at (416) 966 - 2685 or his website.

Article 2002 James Wells
Image from the PoMo Tarot by Brian Williams 1994 HarperSanFrancisco
Page 2002 Diane Wilkes