Trends Journal

The following article was copied with permission from the “Hot Trends to Watch” column in the Trends Journal*, a financial investor newsletter. *The Trends Journal is a quarterly publication of the Trends Research Institute of Rhinebeck, NY. For information on the institute’s work and the journal, click on or call 1-800-258-7363.

Tarot: The Shrink-in-the-Box

A large public, strapped for cash, starved for psycho-spiritual advice and disillusioned with conventional professional guidance, is turning to the Tarot deck. Despite its fringe-and-flake image, the resurgence of the Tarot is not a fad, but part of a widespread new-millennium trend.

Once available only in several traditional designs and found only in specialty mail-order catalogs and little back-alley occult emporiums, Tarot has exploded into dozens of varieties and is now found prominently displayed at the checkout counters of the major bookstore chains. Tarot web sites and chat rooms proliferate on the Internet.

The Tarot deck, an early victim of rational science, has been derided for several centuries by a skeptical public as pure superstition; the province of Gypsy fortune-tellers and sidewalk psychics. But as the millennium approaches, increasing numbers of devotees are rediscovering the deck for themselves.

In this capacity, Tarot has been invested with a legitimacy found among influential and respected leaders in the arts and letters. William Butler Yeats, the great poet and playwright of the Irish literary renaissance, knew the Tarot well and incorporated its symbolism into his critically acclaimed poem “The Tower.” The English poet T.S. Eliot, the Italian novelist Italo Calvino and the most influential German artist of the last Renaissance, Albrecht Durer, have all created works based on Tarot imagery.

Tarot’s popularity today goes beyond the tabloids; its audience is primarily the extensive New Age bookbuying public and a broad stream of Generation Xers. They look to it, not as a fortune-telling tool, but rather as a form of do-it-yourself therapy; a way of unlocking secrets of the self and providing directions toward specific life goals.


Institutionalized sources once relied upon for guidance and counseling have lost their appeal or become less accessible or too expensive. People looking for help have been obliged to find ways to help themselves. Among the reasons for Tarot’s resurgence:

* The loss of faith in traditional religion has left a spiritual vacuum among large numbers of a disenfranchised congregation.

* The decline of the nuclear family, the increase of single family households and an absence of other traditional/ community social units has removed the emotional support system that could once be relied upon (for better or for worse).

* Renewed interest in ancient wisdom and the New Age conviction that a sophisticated spiritual science existed in deep antiquity in which Tarot played a role.

Tarot, seen by practitioners as a form of spiritual solitaire, will become increasingly popular as people integrate its ideas and activities into their daily lives.

Note: Beyond the mystical attraction that Tarot has always exercised, it has in recent years acquired some support from a core of leading-edge astronomers, mathematicians and physicists. They claim that the most recent advances in cosmology find direct parallels to the illustrations of the Marseilles Tarot, the oldest deck known, which some say is derived from the symbolic reliefs of ancient Egypt. (See Paul LaViolette, Beyond the Big Bang: Ancient Cosmology and the Science of Continuous Creation, Inner Traditions International, 1995.)

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