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.