Tarot cards are seeing a resurgence in popular culture. The centennial psychic medium is being embraced by a new generation of seekers, artists, and even those who typically shun all things from the new age.
But if you’re imagining crowded tents and window displays with neon light, think again. Today, tarot culture has found its most welcoming home online. Any superficial Google search will reveal a thriving community of tarot readers online, tarot boutique designers, tarot-based apps, and tarot bona fide personalities whose Twitter and Instagram accounts can attract hundreds of thousands of followers.
It is a trend worthy of mention, if for no other reason than the fact that tarot has historically been an underground activity, and one practiced by the spiritually minded. So what explains the rise of tarot to the mainstream, especially among a generation better known for pragmatism than for spirituality? Why tarot above other psychic media? And why on the internet, of all places?
Tarot could be the most democratic of all psychic media. In clairvoyance and other types of readings, the answers are at the discretion of the psychic. In the tarot, the cards are ready for everyone to see and for everyone to interpret.
The images in the tarot Cards are bold, evocative and easy to understand for anyone, at least on a basic level. Of course, there are multiple layers of meaning, but depictions of the Madman dancing to the edge of a cliff, or the man hanging upside down, tap into the human experience in a way that even the uninitiated can collect and apply to their lives.
That could be one of the main attractions of tarot: the fact that the manager is aware of the same information as the reader. The psychic can be privileged with background knowledge, but the letters themselves are open and free for interpretation, no mediator is required.
At least that’s the attitude among the new generation of tarot enthusiasts. Some purists would argue that the real tarot requires deep study and preparation. But others think that intuition and intention are enough to open the inner vocabulary of tarot.
One of them is Kim Krans, an indie tarot-cover creator whose self-published cover, “the Wild Unknown” has landed on the New York Times sales hit list. “It doesn’t even matter if people know what the letters mean or not, or if they have this deep relationship with the tarot,” he told Huck Magazine. “He’s beating them the way they’re ready to be beaten.”
This is certainly attractive at a time when power is being abused, information seems suspicious and transparency is almost extinct. Call it open source mysticism: an encounter with tarot illustrations, which at the same time veiled and Universal, both mysterious and instantly relatable, is proving a liberating experience for those who feel powerless.
“It is not surprising that many of the online communities [tarot] are driven by strange people or people of minority segments of society where people feel that they are not seen nor heard”, Fiona Lensvelt, co-founder of Litwitchure, a popular “cabaret tarot” with headquarters in London, told The Guardian.”Because the tarot allows you to consider a problem, give it a voice, work through.”
It may seem ironic that a practice commonly associated with destiny can be a tool for liberation. But that’s exactly what’s happening. Today, people are beginning to approach the tarot less as an oracle predicting the future and more as a meditative narrative tool that can clear up their obstacles and give them a sense of control over the present.
Leaving the Future Behind
Whether or not the tarot was used to “predict the future” is an argument for historians. But that was his reputation at least. Today’s tarot enthusiasts, however, are more than happy to throw away the chains of divination for a softer and more introspective practice.
Take Litwitchure from Lensvelt, which is advertised as a secular tarot service that focuses on the literary aspects of tarot cards. For her and many like her, tarot cards are more an organizing principle than an oracle; they simply articulate, through established archetypes and some self-reflection, the range of emotions, patterns and obstacles common to all of us, but unique within each of us.
Some purists may disagree with this demystification of tarot. But it has brought many into the fold who could otherwise mock anything like the occult. For many, tarot is starting to feel at home with yoga, meditation, and other full-attention tools.
Of course, there is no ignoring the visual appeal of the tarot. The illustrations, especially those of the iconic Rider-Waite cover, appear to be chiseled out of time itself, looking like small windows into the theater of the unconscious, ethereal, attractive, and yes, a bit sinister.
Or to put it another way, they come off the screen. Which might explain why the tarot has become a cause so popular in the accounts of Instagram, covers, diy funded by crowds and even the runways of haute couture.
That’s one of the reasons the tarot may have found such a cozy home on the Internet. But the burgeoning tarot online readership industry, applications, and practitioners ‘ communities show that enchantment goes beyond ink.
On the one hand, people can enter at their own pace. Maybe an artistic design of the tarot card catches the attention on Instagram and you start following a tarot blogger. Slowly, you begin to absorb little things on the cards as they appear in your feed. Next thing you know, you’ve started identifying with the cards, and this without a single visit to a fortune teller or a new-age bookstore.
Kim Krans is an example of the Internet’s ability to launch the tarot into the mainstream. “The Wild Unknown” was a self-published project until social media shot it on the best-selling list. “My sledgehammers wouldn’t have spread the way they didn’t spread on Instagram,” he told Huck.”
Tarot’s online reading platforms, such as Keen and Psychic Source, have also flourished. Both curious and initiates can read their cards via Skype with the click of a button. There are a lot of Sites these days that offer tarot card readings online, further narrowing the gap between Mystique and mainstream. Although some still operate on the promise of old-school divination, many practitioners are offering readings that take a more meditative and introspective approach.
The Tarot Culture
Of course, tarot is not the only thriving psychic medium online. You can find Media, clairvoyants, dream analysts and Rune readers and crystal balls all over the web, often sharing a single platform where web cameras and live chats allow customers to get to them instantly.
It is tempting to say that the re-emergence of the tarot is an extension of the greater popularity of online Psychic Readers. But there is a cultural era spirit around the tarot that doesn’t seem so strong with, say, palm reading or crystal balls.
The different images of Tarot definitely play a role. But it is the combination of visual symbolism and literary interpretation that makes it a perfect subject for internet obsession. The same analytical fervor that led the lost viewers to swarm discussion forums seems to be at stake with the tarot. With space for discourse, multiple interpretations, endless theorization and esoteric cross-references, it is not surprising that tarot has transcended mere practice and become the centerpiece of a culture.
New Big Tarot’s Tent
It is impossible to say whether the online resurgence of the tarot is just a passing trend or an indicator of a new life for the old practice. But in these fractured and chaotic times, it is proving to be one of the most powerful tools for autonomy and direct experience. And with the ability of the Internet to make the tarot more accessible to people and more adaptable to their needs, there is an argument for the tarot to become a permanent, albeit slightly re-equipped, outlet for reflection and expression. If the internet continues to help the tarot undo the shackles that once made people talk about it in silent tones, it can continue to speak louder, and more and more people can begin to listen.