Having a go at tarot

TAROT cards receive a mixed reaction: some dismiss them as utter nonsense, others live their lives by them, and many are somewhere between the two.

Superstitious nonsense of useful guide to life? Katy Evans gives tarot a go and finds it surprisingly revealing.

TAROT cards receive a mixed reaction: some dismiss them as utter nonsense, others live their lives by them, and many are somewhere between the two.

So can tarot really predict the future and help people or is it a lot of superstitious rubbish. I had to find out.

“I'd be too scared to get Death,” exclaimed my auntie, when I told her I'd be having a reading. A similar response was elicited from a colleague: “Did you get Death?” he enquired, with a look of intrigue.

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“Most people are worried about the Death card,” says Sonia Barzey, an experienced tarot reader of more than 15 years, “but it doesn't mean you are going to die. It can indicate the end of something, such as a job, a relationship, a particular situation, depending on the other cards drawn,” she explains.

Sonia is quick to confirm that tarot cannot predict people's lives years into the future. Her readings, she explains, deal with what is happening now and possible outcomes in a few months time.

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“I'm not a clairvoyant or a medium,” she states very clearly, “And I wont predict people's lives - I disagree with people who do that, and there are some that will.

“Tarot gives a snapshot of a person's life right now. It's more about interpreting a situation now rather than predicting way into future.”

Sonia, 37, works part-time teaching drugs awareness to community groups and is also training to be a reflexologist.

Although she was sceptical first, Sonia (pronounced with a full 'o') had her cards read in her early 20s and was soon after giving readings herself.

She thinks that although some people read books and go on courses, tarot is a skill you either have or don't have, like a gift.

“I can't explain how I know how to do this. I think I just have a knack for it. I also go by the feeling I get from the person - most readers do use a bit of psychic ability,” says Sonia.

What does she say to sceptics? “Nothing will change your mind if you're sceptical. Lots of people either believe in it or are on the edge of believing, but total sceptics would never come to see me.”

Often, vulnerable people can turn to tarot for answers, wanting to get a message from a deceased loved one, for example.

“Sometimes people call me and want mediumship, asking why their wife just died - but I can't do that and would never profess to.

“And yes, some people will spend their lives addicted to tarot, running up huge phone bills on those expensive lines when you don't know who you are talking to,” she says.

But although Sonia admits there is a minority who go to extremes, she says that for the majority it is a useful tool for self exploration.

“Everything in tarot is about a journey. It can give you an insight into where you are on that journey and what paths have or will present themselves.

“It can help people to step back from their lives and look at their situation - people often don't get the chance to do that.”

Sonia visits me at my flat but prefers to give readings at her home in Saxmundham where she can tune into her own energy. But she has made an exception and, as it turns out, will be working with a brand new pack of cards.

So, new cards, new location - will she come up with the goods?

Sonia prefers to know nothing about her clients and only asks them one question - that which they want answering.

“It's nearly always about their love life - either that or their career,” she smiles.

I can see Sonia is slightly nervous as she places down the cards I have chosen from the pack, which I shuffled myself, into what she describes as her own modified version of the Celtic cross layout.

“I use 14 cards instead of 10 as it gives a fuller interpretation,” says Sonia.

Having already done my general reading, which ended up being focused all on career and money, Sonia does another reading for relationships as nothing arose in the first one.

Again, I select 14 cards, the first of which is the ace of swords, which Sonia says means a commitment. “This card represents you; perhaps you are looking for a further commitment,” she suggests.

The card crossing it is the Moon, which is a major arcana card, like a queen or king in a normal suit. “The mysterious Moon in this position represents obstacles, secrets, hidden depths.”

Sonia feels there is an undercurrent of things happening that I don't know about, although she is sure it doesn't represent an affair and is something beneficial.

The third card is the ace of cups. “This says you might well get what you want. It could be a new relationship, or a new path or new beginning in an existing relationship.

“There's something fresh or new relating to something material because of this Page of Pentacles - a gift card. Pages shake things up in a good way,” she smiles.

Pentacles represent money and material possessions and as I have drawn a few, Sonia says they represent a stable home life and financial stability.

But there is also lots of change indicated. Death, a major arcana and so feared by many, crops up. “This is a card of change that is unavoidable. You can't stop the change happening,” she says.

This could be a change in where I am going to live, perhaps because of a change in the relationship,” she adds.

The wands, in this situation, relate to a decision or property. “You need to think about property; there's a warning to protect your own assets.”

And, as in the first reading, I have drawn the five of pentacles, which warns of a potential financial loss or deception.

The other major arcana in the reading is the Wheel of Fortune. “Many people think the Wheel just means good fortune but it can be bad too - it's always on a cycle,” she says.

Sonia is slightly baffled by this 'relationship' reading as there is a distinct lack of cups, which signify love and relationships. One half points to a relationship but the other half, the two lines of cards, seem to focus on money/property. These cards could, she thinks, perhaps be a warning of the outcome from a relationship.

The King of Pentacles is also appearing for a second time. He usually indicates financial stability. “In this reading, I think it's someone you need to be aware of, someone who is financially stable and will go to any lengths to get what they want from a financial aspect,” warns Sonia.

The King is placed next to the Hermit. “Watch out for someone taking you to the cleaners and leaving you with nothing, crying in the corner and having nowhere to turn to.”

The presence of the 10 of wands means the impact of the warning from the five of pentacles (over losing money) is lessened in that all will go right in the end.

I then select two new cards at random: the High Priestess and the two of swords.

“The High Priestess shows a woman in the background, a hidden influence; a third woman sometimes. But the two of swords is good because if means becoming committed. It might mean two people conspiring in the background to plan something.

“It could be a surprise party; it could be a bigger commitment or something you don't like so you take a step back and have a change.”

Sonia says she feels this emphasises the warning from the five of pentacles to do with financial and material loss linked to a relationship.

But she thinks the High Priestess, who is apparently someone I am close to, is being consulted for my benefit so the commitment (two of swords) can happen.

Two more cards are chosen, both major arcanas: The Fool (who also cropped up in the first reading) and Justice.

The Fool means I might not know what's going on. It links to unknown journeys. “But Justice is an anomaly in this reading. Justice can mean legal commitment - a card of negotiations.

“When the Empress is also present it would mean marriage but on its own, means signing on the dotted line,” says Sonia.

In summary, she says there is a major commitment coming up, to watch out for a ruthless person, to check all documents, to not jump in with my eyes closes, and that although the road may be a bit bumpy in places, she has a good feeling from the cards. There will be a change in fortune, although doesn't say for better or worse.

“This is the most complicated love reading I've ever done! This section (first cards) and this section (two lines of cards) don't relate to each other,” says Sonia.

But although being perplexed herself, I was astounded by the accuracy of the reading in terms of picking up on my current situation as I am, at present, in the process of buying a house with my partner (hence lots of money about to leave my account and papers to sign) and also trying to buy another with the assistance of my mother (the High Priestess?)

My mind, of late, has been plagued with thoughts about money, property and career, and both readings reflected this, providing warnings and possible directions. Overall I thought it was remarkably accurate.

“Tarot is a tool of self development to get you to stop and think about the direction of your life,” Sonia concludes. “People come to me to get some perspective. I can help but won't ever tell them what to do.”

Whether or not you believe in tarot, it's an interesting experience to have the cards read by a professional, especially if, as in my case, they turn out to be so spot on.

I can now see how having a reading done once or twice a year could be used as a way of evaluating life but I can also see how it might become addictive - I just wanted to know more and more!

For more information about Sonia Barzey, visit www.tarot-by-sonia.co.uk. A 40 minute, 14-card reading with Sonia costs £25. Shorter readings are also available. Readings can either be done at Sonia's house, or by post or email. Call 07984 677943 or email info@tarot-by-sonia.co.uk


According to www.tarothermit.com, tarot was actually invented as a game, similar to Bridge, in northern Italy back in the early 15th Century for the nobility*

Originally the cards were called carte da trionfi (cards of the triumphs). Around the year 1530, the word tarocchi (singular tarocco) began to be used to distinguish them from a new game of triumphs or trumps then being played with ordinary cards.

Centuries later, devotees of the occult arts in France and England encountered tarot and drew mystical and magical meanings from the symbolism of the cards.

Their fascination led to the reputation tarot has today as a divination tool and occult artefact.

Tarot card meanings:

Pentacles - often represent money and material possessions

Swords - represent difficulties and challenges

Wands - made of wood, Sonia feels the wands represent home and property.

Cups - represent relationships and love.

Threes - things in threes are auspicious

Aces - often represent new beginnings

Nines - also very auspicious

Eights - often present problems

Fives - represent a loss, depending on what the suit.

Some of the major arcanas:

Death - the ending of a situation.

Justice - legalities, signing on the dotted line, sometime marriage.

The Fool - new beginnings, the unknown.

The Moon - mysterious, underlying emotions.

King of Pentacles - someone with power and money.

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