Though tarot got its start in Renaissance Italy as a unique set of playing cards, today it is often used for divination and contemplation.

In tarot divination, cards are laid out in a spread, and read in relation to one another to see what they have to say about a given situation.

Devin Kreuger, director of research affairs at UTM, reads tarot in the fall term primarily for faculty and staff, but has also previously read for students as well. Each reading costs $20, and all of the proceeds go towards the UTM United Way campaign.

In Kreuger’s office, on the wall behind his desk hangs a print by Ciro Marchetti, the American tarot artist who created one of his favourite decks. The print depicts the Fool from the deck called Legacy of the Divine Tarot, with a montage of other characters surrounding him. While it may seem ironic to find references to tarot reading within an office dedicated to research, Kreuger thinks otherwise.

Kreuger compares tarot to a mirror, in that it reflects things that you aren’t seeing consciously. “I think that the cards are a great tool for considering what’s happening in our lives and where we’re going from different angles,” he says.

Kreuger has been reading tarot since he was a teenager. The ideas of magic, fate, and destiny appealed to him. When learning to read the tarot, he began with Eden Gray, whose books gave him a foundation for how to read its symbolism, and how to approach the structure of its 78 cards.

There are several tarot decks, available in different styles. Kreuger initially  started with the popular Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot. His collection has since then grown to nearly 50 decks.

“The cards give us little warnings,” says Kreuger, “[For example,] you might want to pay more attention to this, because it looks like you could be heading towards something negative here.”

“I don’t believe that anyone’s future is set in stone,” he adds. “I believe [that] we all have free will.”

Reading the cards requires certain skills. “You have to translate the symbolism and the knowledge that you have into where it has shown up in the reading,” he says. It’s important to consider how one card relates to other cards in the reading.

Is there a science behind it?

For Kreuger, tarot reading is a “performance art”.

“The cards and I are going to tell you a story,” he says. “I don’t know what that story is until I start. There’s not a lot of science to it, but it’s an art form.”