Let me start by saying that I don't believe in the occult or that the cards tap into some higher-order plane. I think that they were invented by Carney-folk. Like all such inventions their primary purpose is to separate marks from their money. However, a reader may also dispense good advise.

Years ago, I read a novel where the Tarot was important. What I remember most is how the characters were often inspired by details on their very ornate cards while thinking about the problems they faced.

I've been meaning to learn more about the Tarot but wanted to use an illustrated deck where the images are intricate and packed with symbols. Recently I came across the Tarot Illuminati (terrible name), which fits the bill.

You can use Tarot as a tool. The symbolism on the cards in a reading helps the mind to distance itself from the emotional aspects of the issue.

Here is a trivial example of what I am talking about. I've been working at the same company for a year now and have recently had an appraisal meeting. On balance, I'd like to stay but would not be bothered by starting to look for a new job. They are to come back to me with some sort of offer in mid September which will probably make my decision for me.

Anyway, I did a reading with Tarot cards on the question: Should I stay at my current job? As a beginner, I did a simple three-card spread, where the cards represent: Present, Past and Future.

I got: The Tower, The Two of Swords and the Seven of Swords. Yikes!

The Tower (which has a picture of a burning Tower, struck by lightning with people falling from it) represents disaster! The Two of Swords (illustrated by a blindfolded woman holding two swords) represents choice. The Seven of Swords (the picture has someone taking away five of the seven swords) represents theft. I know that these are gross oversimplifications.

The reading was both apposite and unexpected. It put my question in a whole new light. Start-ups are always on the edge of disaster (which is definitely worth keeping in mind); Certainly there is a choice to be made. Am I the thief? Perhaps they cannot afford me! Or are they stealing time from me which would be better spend elsewhere?

The human mind is very good at detecting patterns. So good that it sees them where none exist (i.e. in random data). It also works by telling stories. The cards provide enough randomness and archetypical symbols to allow us (or perhaps our subconscious) to see through to the heart of things.