The Difference Between Tarot And Astrology
At first sight Astrology and Tarot might not seem terribly closely related; astrology is based on the movement of heavenly bodies as they appear from Earth, whilst Tarot cards are 78 pieces of cardboard with some decidedly odd pictures on them. Astrology is the far older discipline and has been dated to the 3rd millennium BC. Written evidence for the use of Astrology dates back to 1700 BC during the reign of the Babylon King Sargon of Akkad. The history of the tarot is a little less certain. It seems that mystical cards were used as a form of prediction in India and the Far East in ancient times; however, how much these had in common with the modern Tarot pack is debateable.
By the Middle Ages the Tarot had reached Europe, tradition has it that the cards were brought by Gypsies or even the Knights Templar (the Knights Templar do seem to have been a busy bunch). Tarot cards may have arrived in Europe but they did not reach the form we would recognise until the 14th century. By this time astrology was well established and respected. Not only was it used to predict the future, astrology was a vital part of medicine and political decision making. Astrology and the Tarot continued to be popular until the 18th century when science became such a powerful cult that anything that could not be explained was discarded. Still, you can’t keep a good form of divination down and the Victorians soon resurrected and further developed both Astrology and the Tarot until they reached the popularity they still have today.
So what do the Tarot and Astrology have in common? Both are highly symbolic. If you find Death lurking in your tarot reading it is unlikely to point to your demise. Similarly, Jupiter in the sector or ‘house’ of your chart relating to your home does not mean largest planet in the Solar System is about to land on your front lawn – so that’s a relief. Astrology works on the principle ‘as above so below’, in other words the position of the planets (including Pluto – yes, I know it’s not considered to be a planet anymore: it’s been demoted – poor thing) give a map which points to future trends. This is not prescriptive, it just means certain patterns or situations are more likely to develop at a given time: how you react to them is up to you. This has personal repercussions too. Everyone who is born will have their own personal natal chart based on the time and date of their birth. It will show where the planets and certain other heavenly bodies where at this time and how they relate to each other. This natal chart will tell the astrologer about the rhythms and likely patterns of your life and also give clues to your personality – the good and the, well, less good. This will help give you an insight into what aspects of your character might benefit from a little work. Astrology, tends to operate on set rules, for example, a planet in a given house will have a number of possible meanings which will remain constant from astrologer to astrologer – although their exact interpretation may vary.
Tarot on the other hand is rather different.
Perhaps you have noticed a plethora of books on Tarot cards and their meanings? That’s hardly surprising as almost every reader interprets the cards in a different way. Indeed, many readers argue that you should not learn Tarot card meanings from a book at all, but interpret them solely from your own intuition. Unlike Astrology, the Tarot does not tend to be overly concerned with a person’s intrinsic character traits, although it does consider how their behaviour and attitudes at a given time can play a part in the development of a situation. What it does share with Astrology is the idea that it does not foretell an unavoidable future – which would be a waste of time if you think about it. Rather, the Tarot is used to spot trends and the optimum time for action (or inaction). As the new kid on the block the Tarot frequently uses Astrological ideas in its methodology, such as using a person’s Sun sign to suggest a card which will represent them in a spread. Astrology does not reciprocate and tends to stay aloof from Tarot related shenanigans.
Whilst it is true that Astrology and the Tarot share common ground such as their belief in divining future trends rather than foretelling an unchanging set of events, they also differ. Tarot reading is a largely intuitive act with comparatively few set rules whereas Astrology is more prescribed with each event having a finite number of interpretations. Astrology is interested in a person’s innate character, whereas Tarot concentrates on how their behaviour at a given time will influence events. One thing is for sure; both forms of divination have a long and fascinating history.
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