Similarities and Differences between the Tarot and Cartomancy

In the hope that more and more people will make the distinction between the Tarot and cartomancy, we've comprised a list of similarities and differences between these two divination methods.

The confusion probably owes something to the fact that the origin of the Tarot is unclear. There are several well-argued scenarios. Some think that it first entered Europe from Egypt or Mesopotamia while others believe that the Tarot is derived from cartomancy and it has moved in a (totally) different direction. One other theory says that they were brought into Europe by the nomadic Romani people coming from Northern India.

Even the etymology of the word "Tarot" is ambiguous:
- some consider it derives from the Italian "tarocchi" denoting a type of blood orange;
- others argue that it comes from the Arabic "turuq" meaning "ways", "taraka" denoting "to leave" or "tarh" meaning "omission";
- one other theory says that it comes from the Egyptian "tar" denoting "way" and "ro" meaning "royal".

Cartomancers usually use the 52-card French deck. Others employ the 32-card piquet deck. They feature four suits: the hearts (red), the tiles (diamonds), the clovers (clubs) and the pikes (spades).

The Tarot is a 72-card deck, divided into two main categories: the Major Arcana (numbered in Roman numerals from I to XXI, while the Fool is the only unnumbered card) and the Minor Arcana consisting of four suits of 14 cards each, namely ten numbered cards and four court cards. The suits are the Wands, the Swords, the Cups and the Pentacles, while the court cards are the Page, the Knight, the Queen and the King.

It is widely believed that the imagery of the Tarot was especially designed to suit divination purposes. Some voices argue that its symbolism was actually a secret language meant to be revealed to the initiates. Moreover, each card in the Major Arcana is linked to a spiritual entity belonging to the cabalistic Sephirotic Tree. They are also associated with planets, proving that the Tarot is actually interconnected with both astrology and numerology.

Cartomancers and Tarot readers use spreads that are identical or fairly similar, depending on the querent's problem. That is probably one of the reasons why many people mistake cartomancy for the Tarot or vice versa.

Maintenance-wise, many Tarot readers believe that they're not supposed to let other people touch their cards. Some think it's compulsory to clear and cleanse their deck(s) once in a while wheres others argue that they should be stored somewhere special, wrapped up in a dark blue or violet natural fiber (cotton or silk) cloth or tucked into their original boxes.

The reason why many Tarot readers obey these rules is rather subtle. Each person has their own energy, each Tarot card has its own energy and considering that information is also a type of energy, it's obvious that Tarot readers should avoid interacting with too many sorts of energy when trying to deliver a clear message. That's also why tarologists must relax and clean their surroundings before giving readings. Moreover, a strong connection must be established between the Tarot reader, the querent and the cards in order to facilitate the merging of sense and intuition.

The Major Arcana of the Tarot can also be used for meditation purposes. Their symbolism allows Tarot readers to sharpen their intuition. They can also teach their querents to meditate on them in order to reach their potentials by becoming more aware of how they can make the circumstances work in their favor.

If cartomancy is almost always synonymous with fortune-telling, no one can say that the Tarot predicts the future. But it can tell what could happen based on one's present circumstances. What it actually does is to help the querent get in touch with his/her inner voice in order to better themselves and/or their lives.

Cartomancy used to be more popular and widely used than the Tarot, but today more and more people have become interested in the latter, meaning that we've come to the point where querents are more interested in changing themselves and their lives for the better than being told what the future has in store.

Therefore, although cartomancy and the Tarot share some similarities, these two divination methods are nonetheless essentially different. If you're not totally convinced, maybe it's high time you try our free online Tarot generators or request a personalized Tarot reading.

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