Whether you’ve started following a horoscope account on Twitter, swiped right on someone with a compatible Zodiac sign or blamed your latest gadget malfunction on Mercury retrograde, you might be making more space for the mystical in your life — and you’re not alone. Publications like The Atlantic and The New Yorker have written about the growing popularity of astrology among millennials. And this renewed interest has spilled over to other areas like tarot cards.
“Times are very unsure now so people lean on practices like these for some semblance of ‘security,’” says Chinggay Labrador, a freelance writer, tarot reader and the gal behind Practical Magic, a blog and tarot reading service. More than a science, it’s a way to help counter all the bad juju in the world today and connect with other people.
Chinggay says that tarot cards are a “super fun and a very accessible way to learn more about yourself, people and life in general” but stresses that you can’t take them too seriously. “If you rely on them to tell you what to do all the time and you find yourself getting super obsessed with outcomes then you need to check yourself too. At the end of the day, they’re supposed to help you. If they’re not being helpful anymore, then set them aside and give yourself time to regroup,” she says.
Chinggay recently launched the Pinoy Practical Magic Tarot Deck — “a colorful, modern, and high-vibing collage deck that merges traditional tarot with Filipino themes, words, and images.” The deck features collages with images culled from 70s Pinoy fan magazines, and each card has been peppered with unmistakeable mod-Pinoy flavor. And good news for beginners: you can use this deck, no problem! According to the FAQs, you can use it as an oracle deck; that is: “I suggest just asking a question, shuffling the cards, and pulling one. See how the message applies to whatever you’re asking. You may or may not get a straight answer, but being a tarot reader means you develop the skill of reading between the lines and figuring out what the story is.”
Tarot Card Basics
Ready to see what’s in your cards? We did a quick Q&A with Chinggay to help you get started.
Q: What are tarot cards?
Chinggay: They’re a system of cards based on a game from around 16th century Europe. They’re very much like a regular set of playing cards except there are 78 cards total.
Different people use them for different purposes — divination and fortune telling, psycho spiritual counseling, as a way to collect art. I use them as a way to tap into the subconscious in order to build self-awareness. Practical Magic’s premise is that there is no set future and fortune telling just takes away power and agency from the individual. If you use tarot cards as a way to figure out what’s going on inside your heart/mind/spirit, you understand where you’re coming from so that you can make better informed choices for the future.
Q: Can you describe the cards and their meanings?
Chinggay: There are two parts: the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana consists of 22 cards that cover major themes and shifts in life. They are actually archetypes that people who are familiar with psychology or even storytelling know very well.
The Minor Arcana represents elements of life we come across on a day to day basis. This is the part of the tarot that resembles a playing card deck in that there are suits, pips (number cards from 1 to 10) and court cards (Page, Knight, Queen and King). Each suit represents an area of life. Each number also represents a certain theme and so does each court card.
You read the cards by putting together the meaning of the suit, the meaning of the number/court card and also adding a bit of intuition to the mix. Cards’ meanings are not cut and dry. They largely depend on the context with which you are using them.
Q: How do I get started?
Chinggay: Study and do the work. People think that tarot is some mystical, magical thing but as I explain a lot in Practical Magic, they’re very practical. I had to do a lot of memorization work before figuring out how to use the cards. Do your research. Read. Follow blogs or YouTube accounts to expose yourself to the tarot world. Find a deck of cards you can relate to. Learning the cards is easier when you like the visuals rather than forcing yourself to understand images you don’t find pleasing to the eye.
(You can get more detailed info from Chinggay about getting started here. —Ed.)
Q: What do the cards say about 2020?
Chinggay: Here’s a card I pulled randomly.
The 3 of Cups is about friendship, support and camaraderie. People can think about leaning on their most trusted friends and forming their own circles of trust.