Tarot for Kids and Other Young People

Tarot and young people can be a natural combination. The variety of decks available today can help parents be sensitive to their kids’ (and their own) level of comfort while still offering the benefits of this storytelling system of cards.

Benefits of working with tarot include the chance to practice with new perspectives, increase self-awareness, and invest in problem-solving skills.

Why would tarot promote any of that? – What is tarot, really?

Tarot is a system of cards very like the 52-card pack families already use to play Spoons, Cribbage, or War. To get to the 78-card total, tarot decks also include 22 character or storytelling cards (called the Majors) and 4 more face cards (one for each suit).

The four suits are associated with four broad areas of life, and this is where we start to see some potential application for increased awareness/paying attention.

Our four standard suits (different deck designers play with different names for these, but what each of the the four cover remains consistent).

  • Wands (like clubs in a standard deck) are tied to fire, power, energy, and identity.
  • Cups (analogous to hearts) are tied to water, relationships, emotion and intuition.
  • Swords (spades) are tied to air, intellect, problems and problem-solving
  • Pentacles (diamonds) are tied to earth, money, the tangible world, and work.

These four categories can also apply in similar ways to parts of an individual’s life: their will/identity, emotions/relationships, smarts/mindset, and work/physical body.

Breaking down the bits of our life as each suit does (Ace through 10, for example,  cover iterations or elements of that suit’s focus) gives us a chance to be still and observe. It teaches tarot students – adults and young people alike – to pause and look at how different areas of their life interact.

It becomes a practical form of mindfulness or meditation. It gives the user something to look at, to focus on, which makes stillness and attention easier at any age.

And if parents are worried about potentially scary images or ideas (the Devil, for example, or the 10 of swords, if you’ve seen that image in a traditional deck), we cover these cards with the intent of neutralizing the fear, and showing how they can offer insight, fully separate from any religious imperatives.

These are the decks I recommend for child-users (recommendation based on images alone. Not all are equally easy for learning the system of tarot).

Several are available at our local Barnes & Noble, and I will bring decks from my own collection for those who don’t want to buy a deck, or who want to see some options before they choose their own.

I discovered tarot as an adult, and it was the tool that taught me how to think visually. I am excited for the chance to introduce children to the psychological tool that tarot can be, building self-awareness and a vocabulary of connections.

What is Tarot?

The basic answer begins with the physical deck itself.

A tarot deck is made up of 78 cards, 52 of them analogous to the 52-card deck you are familiar with for poker, Gin Rummy, and Go-Fish.

Their familiarity is part of what makes them the every-day level of “sharing.” Minor Archana, they’re called. The little secrets.

Another 4 cards belong to the minors as well. A fourth face card for each suit. Instead of the Jack/Queen/King arrangement of the traditional deck, Tarot decks include Page/Knight/Queen/King.

78-52 -4= 22

The last 22 are the archetypal or storytelling cards, and these are the cards least-familiar to the average card-player: The Major Arcana. The skookum secrets.

These include the kinds of cards that can look scary – Death, or the Devil, for example. And what about all that nudity? Don’t worry, we’ll get there.

Or avoid it. You know what I mean.

Tarot is the overarching term I use to describe both the physical decks I use, the act of laying out cards, and the practice of discussing what the images on those cards represent.

So when I say, “I do tarot,” I am saying that I have a comfort with and an understanding of ways to use these 78-card decks, some of which I’ll share on this blog over time.