Monday, June 22, 2015

TarotBot by Liberus

Many Tarot apps are designed to replicate the experience of using a deck – shuffling, picking the cards and placing them into a spread.  TarotBot aims to evolve tarot into a new medium.  Aron Price, the brains behind Liberus, decided that his TarotBot program would focus on helping people gain insights into the cards by focusing on the images instead of the animations and other potential distractions.

The TarotBot offerings are an amazing collection of 30 apps that brings out the collector in everyone. The Il Meneghello edition decks provide a beautiful way to see the Tarot in a new way and really get a chance to study the images and symbols.  These decks include Tarot Vacchetta, Soprafino , Tarot Visconti  and Tarot of Bugs. There are several decks that are more mainstream that still don’t conform to the standard imagery - Joseph Vargo’s Gothic Tarot and The Baroque Bohemian Cat Tarot (which comes with cat information as part of the card interpretation) are just two of those.  And yes, there is a RWS deck available as the TarotBot Android app.

The app opens to a simple menu that looks like many other Tarot app menus.  But there are a couple of items that are not part of most apps, About Tarot and About the Artist. About the Tarot is a short examination of Tarot and Cognition, followed by a description of the different spreads that come with the app. About the Artist is a brief description of the artist and their choice of imagery.  Both of the About entries have links to web sites (as available) in order to learn more about them.  They are very nice additions to the apps that don’t attempt to do too much, but do provide some insights beyond the card interpretations.

Browsing the cards is very easy to do, with the icons at the top of the screen to switch among the suits and Major Arcana. All of the cards link to a full screen card that makes it easy to study the details. There is a link to the interpretation screen where you are able enter your own custom text.

The interpretations for each card are best described as sparse. With few exceptions, each deck provides a keyword and a few sentences or phrases for each card, divided into In General and More Directly. These are meant as hints or suggestions about the meaning of the card rather than a definitive or verbose explanation.  By not telling us how to interpret the card too explicitly, we are forced to look at the image and decide for ourselves what they mean to us at that point in time. That is a big part of what Aron Price wanted to create with TarotBot.

Aron studied cognitive engineering at Ohio State and wanted to apply that to divination.   In his own words, “First I considered divination from a cognitive perspective and quickly saw that when a person considers a card and how the meaning of it might apply to their situation, they are actually looking at their issue from the perspective of the card's archetype.

“The process of looking at a problem from a variety of perspectives in order to better understand it is one of the core techniques cognitive engineers use.

“Thus when I designed the app I attempted to streamline the tarot reading process into reviewing cards in relation to an issue to trigger potential insights.

“Where other developers focused on fancy shuffling and card drawing animations I was trying to make something that would help people gain insights into themselves through self-reflection.”

With this focus, the difference between TarotBot and other Tarot apps stands out.  I highly recommend trying one of the Liberus apps not only for the decks, but for the chance to really be able to gain some insight into the cards and yourself. All of the decks can be found at  With plenty to choose from you are sure to find at least one that calls to you.

And if you really want to customize the program, you can!  TarotBot uses a collection of 72 card images, so if you have a digital deck as images you can place it on your tablet or phone and use that.  The cards need to be named 01.jpg-79.jpg.  Copy them to a folder on your device named tarotbot.custom. Open TarotBot and under Options  choose Use Custom Deck.

Although TarotBot has not been updated in a couple of years, Aron has plans to update it in a big way. “Since I created TarotBot I have moved on to developing artificial intelligence for home automation, my hope is to one day come full circle and update TarotBot with my new intelligent app design.”  He will be bringing the Liberus website back and updating the code base later this year.  If you are interested in tinkering under the hood, the current TarotBot code is available through GitHub (

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